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How the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada National Collection of Vascular Plants is Organized

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) National Collection of Vascular Plants (DAO) starts with the most primitive vascular plants that existed with the early dinosaurs and proceeds to those that evolved more recently along the major lines of evolution. For example the collection begins with ferns and fern allies, continues to conifer trees, pondweeds, grasses and sedges, then lilies and orchids. Willows and buttercups begin another series of branches which ends with mints and sunflowers. This traditional sequence is the same as that used in many botany textbooks.

The evolutionary or relationship sequence is useful for finding things in some complex groups. For example, the sedges are given MacKenzie's numbers reflecting relationships. A particular species can have many names but only one number so all synonyms are filed together. This forces all related material together more so than an alphabetical system which results in related specimens with different names being widely scattered. Within each species the specimens are organized into geographically coded folders:

There is a particularly good representation of crops, crop relatives, and horticultural plants. Among the vouchers for cultivated plants are many examples of important cereal cultivars (Avena, Hordeum, Triticum) including Triticum aestivum "Marquis", the short-season Marquis Wheat developed by AAFC researcher Charles Saunders in 1906. This famous cultivar promoted the development of agriculture in the Canadian Prairie Provinces and became a major crop in the Canadian agricultural economy. It also supplied food for much of Europe during the First World War. Many other collections of cultivated plants are maintained and include:

The voucher specimens for major published work on the flora of Canada (such as the recently published "Flora of the Yukon Territory," NRC Press, 643 pp.) are contained in the collection where they are available for checking and as a foundation for future research on the native.

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