Botany on the Frontier: Alice Eastwood's Collection

Helianthus pumilus (bush sunflower), an early herbarium voucher specimen of Alice Eastwood's dated 1886 (UCM 9856).

The University of Colorado Herbarium contains the most comprehensive collection of Colorado plants in the world, including this specimen of Helianthus pumilus (bush sunflower) collected by botanist Alice Eastwood. Nearly 500,000 specimens are currently housed at the facility. Early collections arrived as a result of the work of Francis Ramaley and his students, as well as from the Colorado State Historical Society in Denver.

At the time, the Colorado State Historical Society housed the early work of an up-and-coming botanist by the name of Alice Eastwood. Dr. William A. Weber, curator emeritus of the University of Colorado Herbarium claims, "the real beginning of the herbarium [at the University of Colorado] was our acquisition of the early collections of Alice Eastwood, Colorado's first resident botanist."
Alice Eastwood moved to Colorado as a child. Unable to afford college, she became a high school teacher in Denver. A self-taught and unrelenting botanist, Eastwood traversed the countryside via horse and railroad in search of plants. Her experiences later awarded her a position as curator of botany at the California Academy of Sciences. Over a period of forty years, she oversaw the acquisition of 340,000 botanical specimens at the institution.
Many plants have been named after Alice Eastwood: Salix eastwoodiae (mountain willow), Aliciella triodon (coyote gilia), and Aliciella latifolia (broadleaf gilia) are just a few. Eastwood also wrote many articles and books. She maintained her own herbarium and published A Popular Flora of Denver, Colorado in 1893.
The herbarium at CU holds over 1400 specimens from Eastwood's collections. These collections were originally housed at the Colorado State Historical Society in Denver. They arrived at the herbarium in the 1940s.
Learn more about Alice Eastwood:
Photos at the California Academy of Sciences