Abstract

In the wide scenario of herbaria housed in the Italian Universities there are very few examples of structures mainly devoted to forest sciences and fungi in forest ecosystems. The “Regio Istituto Superiore Forestale di Vallombrosa” (Tuscany), established in 1869, was the first example of a structure that housed an herbarium with exsiccata of forest trees. In Italy, the southernmost laurea degree course in “Environmental and Forest Sciences” concern the Department of Agricultural and Forest Sciences in the University of Palermo (Sicily). Two herbaria (CAT and PAL) are currently present in Sicily with the following specialties: a) Vascular plants, bryophytes, and algae of Mediterranean area, specially Italy, Sicily, and Cyrenaica (Libya) [CAT]; b) Sicily; Mediterranean basin; Canary Islands; South America; Somalia; South Africa; Australia [PAL]. As a result of University reform introduced by the Italian Government, faculties were transformed into mega-Departments. The Department of Agriculture and Forestry was thus established in January 2013 as a substitute for the Agricultural Faculty. The Department includes botanists, agronomist and foresters whose research activities in the field provides for the collection and identification of numerous herbarium specimens of forest trees andfungi. Besides in the subject “Forest Botany and Mycology” all students are required to submit for the final examan herbarium of dried plants and fungi collected during the lessons in the field including at least 25 species. The new herbarium currently holds ca. 5131 specimens (plants, shrubs, fungi) but this number is expected to increase rapidly. The fungal section is a valuable resource that holds also voucher collections of macro- and microfungi including: 1) plant pathogenic fungi and dried organs of diseased plants showing symptoms and signs, 2) fungi that are deadly poisonous to humans when consumed, and 3) fungi that are useful for commercial applications (e.g. industrial processing, bioremediation, medicinal, antagonists of plant parasites, cultivable edible mushrooms). The newly-formed forest trees section is particularly rich in specimens from the Mediterraneanmaquis. A relevant section is represented by Tamarix L. species as a result of numerous collections of tamarisk carried out in several Italian regions. Specimens of plants are pressed, dried, and mounted on sheets while cryptogams are stored in folded paper envelopes. The herbarium is temporarily housed in the former library of the Institute of Plant Pathology of the former Faculty of Agriculture but the future goal is to have a larger space that includes also other types of scientific collections.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Pagine158-158
Numero di pagine1
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2014

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