Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

BHSU Herbarium Director Mark Gabel shows an example of one of the facility’s 50,000 botanical and fossil plant specimens.
BHSU Herbarium Director Mark Gabel shows an example of one of the facility’s 50,000 botanical and fossil plant specimens.
Black Hills Pioneer photo
May 7, 2016

City of Deadwood, BHSU Partner to Document Chinatown Botany

The city of Deadwood and Black Hills State University are working together to scientifically document the types of plants that were grown by the Wild West town's Chinese population during its early days, reports the Black Hills Pioneer

The city has botany samples that were taken during archaeological digs done in the early 2000s, and BHSU has its herbarium with 50,000 existing plant and plant fossil specimens. The archaeologists also collected seeds and plant fragments from privies and ceremonial pits.

In addition, a Deadwood resident wrote a book about the history of the Chinese in the town and has hand-written letters from a prominent Chinese merchant. Those letters help document items being brought to Deadwood from San Francisco. Other documents from merchants show what was being sold. 

Herbarium scientists also plan to grow 20 to 30 plant species they believe were grown by Deadwood's Chinese population but which have not been collected on site. 

The Chinatown plants will be added to the BHSU herbarium database, and scientists will interpret the various uses for the plants. The preserved specimens will be given to the city of Deadwood and stored in its archives. 

Read more about science on the Black Hills Knowledge Network


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