Herbarium: Algae

Algae are a diverse group of aquatic organisms. They are photosynthetic and range from single cells to kelps 60 metres long.

The algal or phycological collection includes 90,000 specimens of seaweeds or macroalgae, some dating back to 1812. Much algal diversity also exists at the microscopic scale, but these groups are typically not well-represented in herbaria. A major contributor to our algal collection was Dr. Robert Scagel, a professor in the Department of Botany from 1952 to 1986. When Dr. Scagel was first appointed at UBC, the algal collection took up less than one herbarium case. Under his direction, and with the help of graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, the collection grew to its present size.

The collection is the world’s best for Pacific Northwest seaweeds, and it contains well over a hundred type specimens, important for the original description of new species. Starting in the 1990s curator Dr. Sandra Lindstrom became a key contributor to the collection, submitting more than 4,500 specimens from her work on Alaskan seaweeds.

Using the Collection

The algal collection has in excess of 90,000 specimens with the majority of these from the northeast Pacific.

This collection focuses on the diverse seaweed flora of the northeast Pacific from Oregon to Alaska, including many type specimens. Other regions that have good representative collections include California, Mexico, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Mauritius, East Africa and Japan. Genera with comprehensive representation include: most kelps (especially Alaria, Laminaria, and Saccharina), and common green (Ulva) and red algal genera (Chondracanthus, Mastocarpus, Mazzaella, Palmaria, Porphyra, Prionitis, etc.).

Algal groups other than green, brown and red seaweeds (including Chrysophyta, Cyanophyta, Pyrrophyta, and Xanthophyta) are also represented by a small number of collections. The crustose coralline red algal collection constitutes the second-largest assemblage of coralline specimens in North America. All known species of seaweeds occurring in the region are represented, but less common species are represented by relatively few specimens.

Type Specimens: 131

You can search the Herbarium’s algal specimens through our online database.

If you would like to access the Herbarium’s algal collection for research purposes, please contact Linda Jennings (see contact information on the left).

For studies showing how the Herbarium’s algal collection has been used, please see our Articles & Papers page.