In December of 1917, Samuel Mills Tracy (1847-1920) donated his Gulf Coast collections, and library, to Texas A&M University. The S. M. Tracy Herbarium originated shortly thereafter in the early 1930’s, based in part on his collections. The herbarium’s Index Herbariorum acronym (TAES) is in reference to the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station (now Texas AgriLife Research) which is the state agency where the herbarium was administratively housed. The herbarium is currently housed in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Additional recognized collectors in the herbarium include: V.L. Cory, F.W. Gould, J.J. Jiménez, F.J. Lindheimer, J.L. McGraw Jr., G.C. Nealley, H.B. Parks, C.G. Pringle, I. Shiller, G. Watson, S.E. Wolff. The herbarium also houses collections from several National Park Service Units to include Big Thicket National Preserve (Texas), Padre Island National Seashore (Texas), Natchez Trace National Parkway (Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi), and Palo Alto National Battlefield (Texas).
The Tracy Herbarium is the third largest herbarium in Texas and includes specimens from every continent with a significant emphasis in Texas, the southern United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean. TAES maintains one of the largest collections of grasses in the southern US and has ample representation from most vascular plant families. In addition, TAES contains substantial collections of non-vascular plants, and the largest collection of fungi in the state. The collection currently houses nearly 360,000 specimens and adds approximately 2500-3000 new accessions per year. The type collection at TAES consists of 199 specimens of which 130 are Poaceae, 19 Asteraceae, 17 Cyperaceae, and an additional 15 holotypes.
In 2012 the S.M. Tracy Herbarium received a $500,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant to incorporate the Texas A&M University Department of Biology Herbarium (TAMU) into the S.M. Tracy Herbarium. This funding, through the Collections in Support of Biological Research Program (CSBR), allowed TAES to fully incorporate the orphaned collection, purchase additional cabinets, and relieve significant overcrowding in the collection cabinets. The two previous collection databases were consolidated and are available to the scientific community, and the public, through the iDigBio Portal.