The Botany Collection

botanyThe Ray J. Davis Herbarium (IDS), was established in 1931 by Davis, a professor of botany at Idaho State University from 1930-1965. Davis systematically collected specimens from throughout Idaho each summer, culminating in the publication of “Flora of Idaho” in 1952 (now out of print). During Davis’ tenure the collection grew to over 35,000 specimens. In 1965, Dr. Karl Holte became curator. He and his students built the collection to over 60,000 specimens through their many floristic surveys of Idaho

A well known botanist, teacher and conservationist, Dr. Holte retired in 1997, but continues to actively serve as Curator Emeritus of the Herbarium. Dr. Rick Williams was appointed curator in 2008, and continues to pursue his research in pollination biology at the Rocky Mountain Biological laboratory in Colorado each summer. The Herbarium currently holds over 70,000 specimens of vascular plants, over 3,000 specimens of lichens, and 30 type specimens. Two of the type specimens, Hackelia davisii andCirsium davisii, are species discovered by and named in honor of Ray J. Davis.

The geographic scope of the bulk of the collection is Idaho and the surrounding western states. There is also representative and comparative material from throughout the United States and some foreign material. The emphasis of the collection is the flora of Idaho, particularly Southeastern Idaho.


As part of the digitization project (SWITCH) a searchable online database is hosted by the Pacific Northwest portal at the University of Washington. Records from the Ray J. Davis Herbarium are identified with the prefix IDS loans of those collections should be directed to the director of Ray J. Davis Herbarium.


Intermountain Regional Herbarium Network

Idaho Native Plant Society


The work at the herbarium could not be completed without the contribution of numerous volunteers over the years. Students and members of the community have donated
collections, mounted specimens, entered information into the database imaged specimens and filed collections.

Volunteering for its own sake may be enough reward for some people, but seeing numerous plant collections is a great way to learn plant names and how the plants are
classified into families. Many of our volunteers have commented that their experience in the Herbarium was a deciding factor when they successfully applied for plant related

For more information please contact:

Dr. Rick Williams
Curator of Botany, Life Sciences Division Head
(208) 282-2948

Ms. Janet Bala
Collections Manager Life Sciences
(208) 282-2815

Dr. Karl Holte
Curator Emeritus