catalpa tree

Dr. Hill is shown here with examples of specimens in the world-famous
Missouri Botanical Herbarium, the research collection of pressed, dried,
labeled plant specimens, a large portion of which is housed in the Monsanto
Building. This specimen is of a catalpa tree, though Dr. Hill studies the
members of the plant family Malvaceae (which includes cotton and hibiscus,
and many others). This collection of over 5 million specimens is carefully
organized by taxonomic group in compactor shelving units that move on
rails embedded in the floors in special rooms. This saves a tremendous
amount of precious floor space, and the carefully insulated rooms are
kept at low temperatures to prevent the establishment of certain insects
that would otherwise burrow through and eat the specimens. Temperature
control of pests eliminates the many concerns on the use of toxic chemicals
to prevent these infestations. One can generally assume that if a chemical is
toxic to insects, it can also harm people.

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