The collections of non-vascular cryptogamic plants (i.e., fungi and slime molds, lichens, algae and bryophytes) held by the Academy are among the oldest and historically richest in North America. Although the collections are modest in size, a significant portion represents type and authentic material dating from the very beginning of study of each group in the New World. Indeed, the herbarium of G.H.E. Muhlenberg contains type material of lichens named by Eric Acharius (1810, 1814) and bryophytes named by Hedwig (E.G. Britton, undated annotations with specimens).
The mycological herbarium of the Academy consists predominantly of exsiccati received as exchange and gifts over the course of the last century and a half. By far the most historically important portion of the mycological herbarium is the personal herbarium of Lewis David von Schweinitz whose works form the basis for American mycology.
The Myxomycetes, or slime molds, are arranged alphabetically according to genus and species. The basis of the Myxomycetes collection is the herbarium of George A. Rex, an early worker in the group.
The Ascomycetes (cup fungi), Basidiomycetes (mushrooms, bracket fungi), Zygomycetes (no common name) and Chytridiomycetes (water molds) are arranged according to the system of Engler & Prantl by family and then alphabetically by genus and species.
The algal herbarium contains approximately 25,000 specimens of freshwater, marine, and terrestrial or subaerial algae from all of the main divisions (Chlorophyta, Rhodophyta, Phaeophyta, Pyrrophyta, Cyanobacteria). The collection includes micro- and macroalgae, most mounted on herbarium sheets or in packets. The collection also includes a set of permanent slides of Zygnemataceae (filamentous conjugating green algae) assembled by E.N. Transeau. Diatoms are housed separately in the Diatom Herbarium.
The algal herbarium is arranged by division, with genera arranged alphabetically. Algal collectors represented include Francis Drouett (late Curator of Botany at ANSP), L. Lesqueraux, F. Wolle, and R. Patrick. A few algal specimens were collected by G.H.E. Muhlenberg and Meriwether Lewis, and these are housed in the eponymous collections in the Types Room.
The lichen herbarium is the smallest of the cryptogamic herbaria and has been called "a national treasure" (botany correspondence with P.M. Jorgensen, 1997). The collection includes the oldest lichen herbarium in America, that of G.H.E Muhlenberg and the personal herbarium of Lewis David von Schweinitz, a prolific 19th century collector of fungi and plants. John W. Eckfeldt, a physician from the Philadelphia area and lichenologist of the latter part of the 1880’s also amassed a large herbarium through both his own collecting and correspondence with other contemporary lichenologists. Eckfeldt’s herbarium, which was donated to the Academy before his death, contains a large amount of type and authentic material. Later collections of F.W. Pennell et al. in South America, K. Anderson in New Jersey, and W.L. Dix have also been added to the collection. See a partial list of lichen collectors represented in the herbarium.
The collection was first curated by Edward Tuckerman in 1858 when he began to examine and identify specimens from the herbarium of Lewis David von Schweinitz. Several species described by Tuckerman are thus based on material from the Schweinitz herbarium. John W. Eckfeldt then began curation of the collection in the 1880’s until he left the position to concentrate on his medical practice. Post-retirement, Eckfeldt returned to curate the collection until loss of eyesight forced him to retreat again to the study of vascular plants. After Eckfeldt’s death in 1933, William L. Dix took over curation of the collection and reported on the Cladoniaceae of Pennsylvania. He also studied the lichens collected by Francis W. Pennell in South America. Following the death of W.L. Dix the lichen herbarium fell into an inactive state until David Hewitt and James Lendemer began a search for type specimens. Mr. Lendemer has since taken an active role in curating the collection.
Over a period of two years, the Academy’s lichen herbarium was searched for unmarked types; this resulted in the publication of a type catalogue (Lendemer & Hewitt, 2002). At this time, the type collection of lichens includes more than 300 specimens representing type or probable type material of more than 246 nominal taxa named by E. Acharius, T. Ahti, M. Anzi, F. Arnold, O.G. Blomberg, I.M. Brodo, O.V. Derbishire, M.J. Dibben, W.L. Dix, J. Döbbeler, J.W. Eckfeldt, R.S. Egan, J.A. Elix, C.F.E. Erichsen, T.L. Esslingler, B.E. Fink, E. M. Fries, T.M. Fries, D.J. Galloway, V. Gyelnik, M.E. Hale, A. Halsey, R.C. Harris, H.E. Hasse, J. Hedrick, R.H. Howe Jr., A. Hue, J. Hulting, H.A. Imshaug, H. Kashiwadani, L. Lindblom, A.H. Magnusson, G. Malme, A. Massalongo, J. Motyka, J. Müller Argoviensis, T.H. Nash III, T. Nuttall, W. Nylander, J. Poelt, B.D. Ryan, J.L. Russell, L.D. von Schweinitz, M. Servit, J. Steiner, M. Steiner, E. Stizenberger, E. Timdal, J. Torrey, E. Tuckerman, K. Verseghy, E.A. Wainio, C.M. Wetmore, H. Willey, and A. Zahlbruckner.
The lichen herbarium is currently the most active of the crypotgamic herbaria and has established exchange programs with a large number of other institutions. Recent acquisitions include full or partial sets of more then a dozen exsiccati including Lichenes Alpium, Lichenes Etruriae, Lichenes Exsiccati ASU, Lichenes Exsiccati COLO, Lichenes Exsiccati MIN, Lichenes Minus Cogniti Exsiccati, Lichenes Selecti Scandinavici Exsiccati, Lichenes of Eastern North America Exsiccati, and Teloschistiaceae Exsiccati. In addition to material received via exchange and gifts all of Mr. James Lendemer's collections (2000-present) have been deposited at PH. His current research interests center on the lichen flora of eastern North America (primarily New Jersey and Pennsylvania) and the systematics of the genus Usnea (Lichenized Ascomycetes).
The PH lichen herbarium is arranged alphabetically by genus and species and, is currently being updated systematically to follow the standardized checklists of Esslinger & Egen. It should be noted however, that groups currently under study (specifically Usnea) by Mr. Lendemer follow his arrangement and not that of Esslinger & Egan. All exsiccati specimens have been distributed into the general herbarium with the exception of Edward Tuckerman's Lichenes Americanae Septentrionalis that remains in its original bindings and is stored with the type collection. All primary types (holo-, lecto-, neo-, isolecto-, iso-, paralecto-, and epi-) have been segregated from the general collection and are stored with the type specimens of vascular plants. Probable type material and, original material of unpublished names are also stored with the primary types.
The bryophyte herbarium has important holdings of mosses, liverworts and hornworts. The collection is arranged alphabetically by genus and species and consists of circa 75,000 specimens with a large back-log estimated to be of similar size. The personal herbaria of G.H.E. Muhlenberg, L.D. von Schweinitz, F. Wolle, M. Robertson, and J.W. Eckfeldt have been incorporated into the collection as have the herbaria of the University of Pennsylvania and the Wagner Free Institute (J. Mears 1977, unpublished). Several thousand specimens, mostly from the neotropics, are currently in the process of being databased and repacketed by the Missouri Botanical Garden for inclusion in the bryophyte portion of TROPICOS. The PH collection also includes a large backlog of unaccessioned mosses from the United States and Europe, a large portion of which were originally part of the herbarium of Marian Robertson; these were deposited here at the time of her death. A list of collectors represented in the herbarium was also prepared by James Mears.