Dr. Shirley Tucker

When Dr. Shirley Tucker retired from Louisiana State University in 1995, she never lost her love of the botanical world. Instead, she brought her expertise and her lichen collection to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, where, for the past thirteen years, she has continued her studies of floral anatomy and California lichens.

Dr. Tucker began her journey in the botanical world as a child visiting her father's greenhouse on the University of Minnesota campus, where he was Professor of Plant Pathology. She received her Bachelors and Masters degrees at the University of Minnesota and developed a passion for plant anatomy. Her doctoral work was completed at the University of California, Davis in 1956. In the decades since, her research accomplishments have been widely recognized, and have earned her numerous accolades. She has published over 140 papers on floral morphology, plant systematics, and the lichens of California, of those 35 post-retirement. She has even studied the anatomy of plants grown in the zero gravity environment of the space shuttle. It is a significant measure of the importance of her work that she was supported by the National Science Foundation nearly continuously from 1957 to 2000. Among her notable achievements, Shirley was president of both the Botanical Society of America and the American Society of Plant Taxonomists. She is a Fellow of the Linnean Society, and has received numerous awards recognizing her contributions.

When Shirley began her relationship with the Botanic Garden in 1995, she brought her immense passion and knowledge of plants, as well as her extensive collection of lichens. Today, our lichen collection in the Herbarium contains over 40,000 specimens and is one of the most extensive collections of California lichens in existence. It is the basis for collaborations with lichenologists from around the world.

Shirley also brought her lifelong enthusiasm for teaching, and has continued to mentor students of lichenology, including some of our own docents. Shirley has been an ardent supporter of the Botanic Garden, and we are honored by her long association with us.