Fewer students study botany, more plant collections closing
MOUNT IDA, Ark. (AP) - Scientists say knowledge of the world's plants is disappearing as fewer students choose to study botany.
The number of research universities offering botany degrees has decreased by half since 1988.
Botanists said with fewer students able to communicate about, identify and use the plants around them, conservation, the development of medicines and alternate fuels will suffer.
The University of Missouri announced May 18 it would join several other large universities nationwide and close its herbarium and donate its more than 200,000 plant specimens to the Missouri Botanical Gardens.
Some scientists are bucking the trends. Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission botanist Theo Witsell has collected more than 70,000 plant specimens over the last 12 years and started a herbarium - now the fastest growing in the state.