By Mason Heberling
Do you think Punxsutawney Phil was ever overcome by the beauty of this very violet 71 years ago? Or perhaps he nibbled off a leaf or two? After all, legend has it that Phil is over 100 years old! This specimen of Labrador violet (Viola labradorica) was collected near Phil’s home in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on June 2, 1948 by Carnegie Museum botany curator Leroy Henry.
In case you wondered, on Groundhog Day 1948, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter.
This specimen was imaged recently (along with many others in the violet family) and is publicly available online.
Check back for more! Botanists at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History share digital specimens from the herbarium on dates they were collected. They have embarked on a three-year project to digitize nearly 190,000 plant specimens collected in the region, making images and other data publicly available online. This effort is part of the Mid-Atlantic Megalopolis Project (mamdigitization.org), a network of thirteen herbaria spanning the densely populated urban corridor from Washington, D.C. to New York City to achieve a greater understanding of our urban areas, including the unique industrial and environmental history of the greater Pittsburgh region. This project is made possible by the National Science Foundation under grant no. 1801022.