The E.C. Smith Herbarium houses the largest collection of dried plants fungi and lichens in Atlantic Canada. The herbarium moved into the world-class K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and became part of the Irving Biodiversity Collection in 2002, along with the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens and the Acadia Seed Bank.

The preserved specimens and associated data in the E.C. Smith Herbarium are available for scientific study and biodiversity conservation purposes, particularly within the Acadian Forest Region. Our goal is to generate new knowledge that can foster sustainability efforts in the region and beyond.

Since 1910, we have collected, preserved, and digitized more than 200,000 specimens to document the region’s biodiversity and threatened species and ecosystems. We share this knowledge with conservation-minded researchers, decision-makers, and the global scientific community.

In the E.C. Smith Herbarium, every specimen is collected in the wild and annotated with vital information such as its location, habitat, local abundance, and population health. Specimens are mounted, labelled, scanned, digitized, and filed. They are available online as scanned images, onsite for review with permission from the Collections Manager, or via the mail with permission and assistance from the Collections Manager. Specimens are frequently used by researchers for processes such as DNA sequencing and morphological analysis.

Who is E.C. Smith? »

DATA – Researchers, decision-makers, and the global scientific community can explore the E.C. Smith Herbarium’s rich array of specimen data online:

Field Season 2021

The K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre houses the largest biodiversity collection in Atlantic Canada and continued growth of this massive library of biological information is imperative to science and conservation. In 2021, Irving Biodiversity Collections Manager and E.C. Smith Herbarium curator Alain Belliveau and staff spent time in the wilds of the Acadian Forest Region. Staff included Katie King, a third year Biology student and Christie Hagerman, a recent Acadia Biology graduate. Both participated in rare species surveys and in specimen and seed collections.

The year 2021 was outstanding for finding and documenting some of the region’s rarest species, and also for collecting more seeds than ever for the Acadia Seed Bank. With regards to seeds, more than 100 different species were collected, representing well over 200,000 individual seeds. Some species like Eastern Mountain Avens are in critical need of seed collection because they are struggling in the wild and in situ conservation is not guaranteed. 

Collection efforts were remarkable in large part to Herbarium staff members Katie and Christie, and also the wider community of volunteers, naturalists, colleagues, and funders that kindly collaborate with the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre to foster the conservation of biodiversity in the Acadian Forest Region.

To read more about field season 2021 click here.

Herbarium student Christie in the Cape Breton Highlands

How you can help

Opportunities are always available for students or volunteers, ranging from specimen preparation to spending some time outdoors studying plants, lichens, and fungi, or to making a donation. Please contact Herbarium staff for more details. 

The E.C. Smith Herbarium logo features a regionally rare, subalpine/boreal, carnivorous plant species called the Pinguicula Vulgaris, the common butterwort.


E.C. Smith Herbarium  
K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre
32 University Ave, Wolfville, NS B4P 2P8
phone: 902 778 0852