Exploring the science of plants, from the field to the lab

Elizabeth Eaton Morse

A Unique and Lovely Little Fungal Collection

Posted in Nuggets from the Archives on April 7, 2014 by Ellen Bloch

Ellen Diane Bloch is the Collections Manager of the Cryptogamic Herbarium, part of the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium. The Cryptogamic Herbarium includes the fungi collection.

Eaton's Fungal Collection
The fungal collection of Elizabeth Eaton Morse

One of my favorite discoveries in the 30 years that I have worked in the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium is an odd and beautiful collection of fungi. Packed away in a charming box from Hink’s Department Store in Berkeley, California, is an assortment of nearly 40 specimens collected in Mount Desert Island, Maine, in 1935. How did these dried fungal specimens from Maine come to be placed in a box from a California retailer and then end up at The New York Botanical Garden?

To answer that question, it helps to know that the fungi were collected by Elizabeth Eaton Morse, who devoted much of her life to collecting and studying fungi. Born in Framingham, Massachusetts, in 1864, Morse taught elementary school for several years before entering Wellesley College, where she graduated with a diploma from the School of Art in 1891. After decades of teaching and supervising in Massachusetts and New York City schools, Morse returned to Wellesley College, receiving a B.A. with a major in botany in 1926.

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