Arizona volunteers catalog thousands of plants
The Cochise County Herbarium helps residents identify ordinary and unusual plants found in backyards, alleyways, mountains, and deserts.
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Lumer points out that Ballard is the go-to guy who enters all the data on the Web site. So far, there are 2,697 entries in the database.Skip to next paragraph
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When asked what was the most amazing thing he found, Ballard replied, "The most amazing thing will be what I haven't found."
Several years ago, Lumer went back to college and earned a doctorate in botany. With her degree came the urge to find a place that would serve as a repository for all the plant life found in the sky islands and high desert area of the county.
The herbarium is currently in a former potting shed on the University of Arizona South campus in Sierra Vista and is quickly outgrowing the small, 8-by-12-foot facility. Several cabinets hold thousands of files. A long counter provides a table to work on while identifying and mounting the specimens. In one corner, a computer awaits the input of new data; another holds a bookcase stacked with reference books. There is little room to move around.
Lumer has managed to get half-a-dozen more needed storage cabinets, but there is no room for them in the facility.
All the volunteers would like to see the herbarium receive more attention and find a new home where there is room to carry on their work. Overhead expenses are a concern.
"We don't have to pay any rent here," said Lumer. "I don't know how we'd pay for something larger."
"I knew nothing about plants when I started this. Then I got addicted," added Ms. Sprecher.
Lumer explained, "When you have a passion for plants, you have it for the rest of your life."
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