What Does the Vascular Plant Herbarium Collect?

The Mountain Lady’s Slipper is a relatively rare plant in Alberta (six to 20 occurrences in an identified area) and it can be found in protected areas at low elevations within Waterton Lakes National Park.

The generic name Cypripedium is derived from the Latin Cypris meaning Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, and podiom meaning "small foot" referring to the slipper-like shape of the pouch or lower petal. The specific epithet montanum means "of the mountains."

William Copeland McCalla (honorary doctorate in law from the University of Alberta) was the collector of the specimen in the photo. He was a Calgary school teacher by day, but also a dedicated collector and photographer of native plants.  In 1959, the University of Alberta purchased the McCalla Herbarium which consisted of 14,000 mounted sheets and 730 photos and negatives.

The Vascular Plant Herbarium is one of our ever growing resources for research and teaching. The Collection aids in the study of diversity, distribution and ecology of a variety of cordilleran, prairie, arctic and alpine plants. There are specimens in the Collection which date from 1835 to the present and help show how species are evolving.

Photo Credit:

Cypripedium montanum Douglas ex Lindley

Common name: Mountain Lady's Slipper

Orchid family (Orchidaceae)

Fast Facts: 

  • Established in 1912
  • Over 120,000 specimens in the Collection
  • Geographic scope spans the world with strong representation of Alberta and northern Canada
  • The collection became so big that in the 1980s the herbarium was split into the Vascular Plant and Cryptogamic Herbariums. 
  • Involved in projects such as rare plant monitoring and floristic inventories