In accordance with Western Carolina University’s policies in response to Covid-19, Highlands Biological Station is currently closed to the public with the exception of the Botanical Garden trails, but does remain open to researchers and faculty on a limited basis; please contact the HBS office (828-526-2602) for information on reservations, rates, and Covid-19 policies.  We currently plan to offer our field courses, workshops, Grant-in-Aid program, and HBS Nature Center programs in summer 2021, with Covid-19 safety protocols in place (TBA).​ Please bear in mind, however, that University policy and HBS program plans are subject to change in light of developments with the pandemic this winter and spring, and those interested in attending HBS courses or programs or utilizing HBS facilities in spring or summer 2021 should check the HBS website regularly for updates.

HBS Herbarium, Botanical Gardens, & Other Collections

The strongest collections at HBS include the Highlands Biological Station Herbarium (HBSH) and the living collections of the HBS Botanical Gardens. Additional regional biological and mineralogical collections are maintained for reference and teaching.

HBS Herbarium

The HBS Herbarium (HBSH) consists of a small (~3,000 accessions) regional collection, mainly focusing on the flora of the southern Appalachians.  The collection includes late 19th and early 20th-century specimens of significance, including accessions from the early Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Wheeler Collection from the now-defunct Biltmore Estate Herbarium.  HBS is a member of the SERNEC (South-East Regional Network of Expertise and Collections) consortium, which contains searchable digitized images of all of our herbarium specimens.  Click here to search the HBSH in SERNEC.

HBS Botanical Garden

The HBS botanical gardens include the focal 12-acre native plant historical garden surrounded by a constellation of smaller demonstration gardens throughout the 24-acre HBS campus.  Founded in 1962, the central Highlands Botanical Garden is the highest (3800′) exclusively native botanical garden in the eastern US.  This research, conservation, and teaching garden, accessed by over 2 miles of trails and boardwalks, showcases over 400 vascular and non-vascular plants native to the southern Blue Ridge Escarpment region in a naturalistic setting on the shores of Lindenwood Lake, with well-developed cove forest, upland woods, riparian, and bog & wetland habitats.  The HBS demonstration gardens include a rock outcrop garden, moss garden, fern trail, pollinator conservation garden, Cherokee enthnobotany garden, rain gardens, and demonstration gardens for home gardening and landscaping.  Click here for a map of the HBS gardens and grounds.


Other HBS Collections

HBS maintains several additional teaching / reference biological collections.  Current strengths lie in regional moths, lichens, aquatic insects, terrestrial mollusks, songbird and small mammal skins, and fish of the southern Appalachians.  HBS also maintains an extensive regional mineralogical collection.  These collections are in the process of being databased and will be detailed on this site.