The Otis Douglas Hyde Herbarium collects and houses voucher specimens of all accessioned plants in the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, horticulturally significant plants, and plants that reflect the research and project efforts of faculty, staff and students at UW Botanic Gardens.
The Hyde Herbarium has been forty years in the making. Although former director Brian Mulligan and former curator Joe Witt occasionally collected specimens of Arboretum plants, there was little done to archive them. In the 1960s a unit of the Arboretum Foundation was established to begin a real collection. For many years led by Vera Frasier, a primary advocate for the development of the Herbarium, this core group of volunteers (with a few changes over the years) still meets twice a month and contributes greatly to specimen collection and processing. Without their involvement and dedication, a herbarium for the UW Botanic Gardens would not be here today.
In 1983 Charles H. and Otis Douglas Hyde made a gift to establish a true herbarium. As a result, the Hyde Herbarium was developed and opened at the new Center for Urban Horticulture in 1985. Simultaneously, Dr. Clement Hamilton was hired to lead the Herbarium and direct students in taxonomic research. Under his vision, the Herbarium set out to be one of the premiere horticultural herbaria in the country. When Dr. Hamilton left in 1999, Dr. Sarah Reichard, a former graduate student who had worked to develop the herbarium in its early years, assumed responsibility as Curator.
Volunteers play an integral role at the Herbarium. Not only did volunteers advocate for the creation of the herbarium in the early years of the Center, they have also done the lion's share of the collecting and mounting work. Plants have been collected from the Washington Park Arboretum by members of the Herbarium Committee since the early 1970's, and individual volunteers and CFR students since the mid-1980's. More recently, volunteers have begun collecting and identifying weeds from the Union Bay Natural Area, local parks and other urban haunts.