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Fungi of China

The herbarium I direct holds about 300,000 specimens of fungi. They're all dried or otherwise preserved, and each has its own unique story. One set with a particularly poignant story is our Fungi of China collection, held here since about 1930. They document the biodiversity of China, and they're here because of the determination of Cornell alumni S.C. Teng and F.L. Tai, two Fathers of Chinese mycology. Following the Japanese invasion, these precious specimens were spirited out of China by ox-cart, traveled by ship halfway around the world, and were stored safely at Cornell while their counterparts in China were destroyed during World War II. Now we're dividing our specimens so this important legacy can be returned to its homeland.

Photo: Kent Loeffler