The St. George Village Botanical Garden Herbarium is a collection of over 6,000 dried and pressed plant specimens which represent about 80% of the plant species known to be growing in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is registered as SGBG in Index Herbariorum, an international directory of research herbaria. In 2018, specimens were barcoded, databased and digitally photographed by Dr. Michael Thomas following an conservation assessment funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Science Collections Assessment for Conservation Program.
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Living Collections | Herbarium | Nursery Facility
About the Collection
These specimens are physical examples of plants that were collected at a documented location and time. There are examples of specimens that have been collected during the last 50 years which are no longer found growing in particular sites, but the herbarium specimen remains as proof it existed in a particular time and place. This very important research and historical collection is open to researchers by appointment only.
The specimen collection originated in the 1960s. The herbarium represents a combination of donated specimens that were formerly stored at the University of Virgin Islands at St. Croix campus which included collections of preserved plant specimens from the USVI research, collected primarily by scientists from the Smithsonian Institute and the New York Botanical Garden as well as additional collections by more than a 60 local and regional collectors (Abbott, Davis, Fosberg, Hamada, Hayes, Jones, O`Reilly, Proctor, and Sachet). Specimens from the USVI collection were transferred to SGBG due to concern of long-term conservation and insect damage that was occurring at the time. In 2019, the USVI Department of Natural Resources transferred about 1000 specimens to SGBG as well. Plant specimens are conserved in 6 standard herbarium cabinets as dried, mounted vascular plants and algae with labels on 100% acid-free rag paper.
The collection contains approximately 6000 sheets from 170 families and more than 3200 species from more than 8 countries (US mainland (Florida), Puerto Rico, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Netherlands Antilles, and Trinidad) including species of extremely rare and endangered plants.
Currently, Dr. Michael Thomas is serving as the acting Curator. Historically, Mrs. Margaret Hayes, a local resident and self-taught horticulturalist, served as the volunteer curator and expanded the collection significantly during the 1980-90s. Following the sale of Margaret’s family business – Cruzan Gardens in 1998, she worked tirelessly at the herbarium of St. George Village Botanical Gardens, cataloging the plants of St. Croix and learning and understanding cultural knowledge about these plants. She was an authority on the plants of St. Croix and could identify and give the known history of many species. Originally born in New Zealand in 1924 she was her school’s valedictorian before training as a teacher in Australia and England from 1946 to 1948. She then went to work for Shell Oil in South America and was in Argentina the day Juan Peron came to power. Margaret first came to St. Croix in 1955 while traveling on holiday from her work as a teacher and schoolmaster in Maracaibo, Venezuela. There she met Alfred Hayes at the Buccaneer and they were married on Jan. 30, 1956. Shortly thereafter, they opened Hayes & Co. as general merchants on land leased from Stacy Lloyd at Bassin. In 1963, she started Cruzan Gardens and in 1965 they bought R.S. Flemming & Co. and renamed it Cruzan Motors, selling GM and Isuzu automobiles. Margaret’s passion for learning and teaching was evidenced at Cruzan Gardens by the plants that she grew and the indigenous plants she promoted. Margaret Hayes died at the age of 84, on Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008 at the Gov. Juan Louis Hospital after a brief illness.