In it broadest sense, Botany is the scientific study of both plants (e.g. ferns, mosses, flowers, trees etc.) and fungi (e.g. mushrooms and lichens). The botany collection contains over 50,000 dried plant and fungal specimens, representing about one third of all species in Manitoba. The collection includes over 2,200 specimens of wood obtained from all over the world, one of the largest collections of its kind in Canada. The Museum also houses about 15,000 specimens from the Whiteshell Nuclear Research Establishment herbarium, which closed in 1988.
Botanical research at The Manitoba Museum has mainly been ecological, examining how plants and fungi interact with each other, animals and the environment. Research projects have included the pollination ecology of tall-grass prairie plants, fire ecology in the boreal forest, and the taxonomy and distribution of Bugseeds (Corispermum) and Water-lilies (Nymphaea) in Manitoba. The abundance, distribution and ecology of nationally rare plants, including Western Silvery Aster (Symphyotrichum sericeum), Buffalograss (Buchle dactyloides), Western Prairie Fringed Orchid (Platanthera praeclara), Small White Lady’s-slipper (Cypripedium candidum) and Smooth Goosefoot (Chenopodium subglabrum) has also been a major focus.
The purpose of this research is to better understand the composition, structure and resiliency of plant communities. As humans depend on fully functioning ecosystems to provide them with their basic needs (i.e. clean air, water, food etc.), knowledge about plants is required to assist in making wise resource management decisions. Knowledge of rare plant biology is useful for conserving these species.