Irving Biodiversity Collection
K. C. Irving Environmental Science Centre, Acadia University
32 University Avenue, Wolfville, Nova Scotia B4P 2R6

Dr. Sam Vander Kloet

Dr. Sam Vander Kloet Memorial Herbarium Fund

Sam Vander Kloet The Dr. Sam Vander Kloet Memorial Herbarium Fund will provide support and infrastructure to the E. C. Smith Herbarium in its efforts to actively collect and conserve local flora.  The Fund will be used to support academic activities of students and staff through fund-specific needs, such as, but not limited to, equipment and supplies as well as travel and related expenses for fieldwork and conferences. 

The Dr. Sam Vander Kloet Memorial Herbarium Fund has been established by family, friends and colleagues in memory of former professor Dr. Sam Vander Kloet to recognize his many contributions to Acadia University and the environment.  Dr. Vander Kloet was a long-standing member of the Biology Department, arriving in 1972 as an Assistant Professor and later becoming the Director of the E. C. Smith Herbarium.  Throughout his career, Sam was well respected as both a scholar and mentor.

This fund was established in 2012 by donations made in Dr. Vander Kloet's memory. Anyone may contribute at any time. A charitable tax receipt will be issued in accordance with guidelines established by the Canada Revenue Agency.

If you would like to make a contribution to this Fund, please click the "Donate Now" button and select "Dr. Sam VanderKloet Memorial Herbarium Fund" from the drop-down list.

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Dr. Sam Vander Kloet

A Tribute

by David J. Garbary, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia

The Legacy of Sam Vander Kloet

This issue of Botany is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Sam Vander Kloet and highlights some of the research and collaborations he inspired. This collection of papers provides a tribute to Sam, and the short obituary that follows this introduction provides a flavor of Sam’s personality and highlights his impact on his students, colleagues, and collaborators. While Sam’s primary research focus was the taxonomy of Vaccinium (e.g., Blueberries), to which he contributed a seminal North American monograph, he also contributed numerous detailed papers on the taxonomy of the family Ericaceae as well as their underlying biology. This collection of papers, of which Sam is a co-author on four, provides insights into Sam’s interests in plant biology and the importance of plant taxonomy as a foundation for ecological, horticultural, and ethnobotanical advances.

The legacy of a taxonomist rests in the first instance with the taxonomic insight that their work brings to their organisms. Additional legacies include the actual collections on which those decisions were based and the use of the living materials as genetic resources. The latter is emphasized in Hummer et al. (2012) who highlight the breadth of the living resources that Sam provided and their current status in various genebanks. The chemical composition of flowers and fruits can provide insights into not only the taxonomy of plant assemblages, but also into the ecological importance of these compounds in nature. The two contributions of Forney et al. (2012a, 2012b), both co-authored by Sam, are in this vein. Sam was always interested in blueberries as food, and Ehlenfeldt and Ballington (2012) present research relevant to future utilization of Vaccinium and the role of plant breeding in this exploitation. The role of plants as sources of medicine by aboriginal peoples and their potential application in modern medicine is highlighted by Ferrier et al. (2012) in their evaluation of tropical Vaccinium species for potential treatment of type II diabetes.

In addition to his expertise as a herbarium taxonomist, Sam was a superb field biologist. Thus, it was never "just" a matter of having a correct name for a plant; Sam was concerned about the ecological roles of those plants and how the taxonomic differences played out as adaptations in nature. Until the end, Sam was opening new chapters in the evolutionary book of ericads on topics as diverse as the anatomy of stems and the placement and fate of seeds dispersed in scats. Such concerns are highlighted in Rowland et al. (2012), Pereira and Mourato (2012), and Hill et al. (2012).

While Sam was never formally a supervisor of mine, he was one of my key mentors, and I gained the intellectual excitement of doing taxonomy and working with plants from him. I never passed by Wolfville without attempting to touch base, share a glass of white wine or a beer, and regale him with my latest projects. My collaboration in the completion of Hill et al. (2012), presented here, is a highlight of my career.

The botanical world is a smaller place without him.


I thank all of the authors for their contributions to this commemorative issue of Botany and for their patience in seeing this project come to fruition. In addition, thanks must go to Christian Lacroix who supported the vision of this project from the outset and to Lori Cayer for her assistance in guiding me through the associated editorial process. Finally, I thank Ruth Newell and Rodger Evans for contributing the biographical summary.


Hummer, K.E., Jamieson, A.R., and Newell, R. 2012. Beyond
  botany to genetic resource preservation: the S.P. Vander
  Kloet Vaccinium collections. Botany, 90(5): 337–346.

Ehlenfeldt, M.K., and Ballington, J.R. 2012. Vaccinium species
  of section Hemimyrtillus: their value to cultivated blueberry
  and approaches to utilization. Botany, 90(5): 347–353.

Forney, C.F., Javorek, S.K., Jordan, M.A., and Vander Kloet,
  S.P. 2012a. Floral volatile composition of four species of
  Vaccinium. Botany, 90(5): 355–363.

Forney, C.F., Kalt, W., and Vander Kloet, S.P. 2012b. Comparison
  of berry composition of selected Vaccinium species (Ericaseae)
  with Gaylussacia dumosa. Botany, 90(5): 365–371.

Pereira, M.J., and Mourato, C. 2012. Effects of bird ingestion
  on seed germination of Vaccinium cylindraceum (Ericaceae),
  and endemic species of the Azores archipelago. Botany,
  90(5): 373–377.

Hill, N.M., Vander Kloet, S.P., and Garbary, D.J. 2012. The regeneration
  ecology of Empetrum nigrum, the black crowberry,
  on coastal heathland in Nova Scotia. Botany, 90(5):

Bell, D.J., Drummond, F.A., and Rowland, L.J. 2012. Evidence
  of functional gender polymorphisms in a population of the
  hermaphroditic lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifo
).Botany, 90(5): 393–399.

Ferrier, J., Djeffal, S., Porter-Morgan, H., Vander Kloet, S.,
  Redzic, S., Cuerrier, A., Balick, M.J., and Arnason, J.T. 2012.
  Anti-glycation activity of Vaccinium spp. (Ericaceae) from
  the Sam Vander Kloet Collection for the treatment of type II
  diabetes. Botany, 90(5): 401–406.

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Dr. Sam Vander Kloet


written by Ruth E. Newell and Rodger Evans, Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia

On the evening of 21 January 2011, Sam Vander Kloet passed away suddenly while out for one of his daily evening walks. Sam used his walks to not only wind down from the day’s activities but also to ponder the many facets surrounding the taxonomy, ecology, and potential human impact of his many ongoing blueberry research projects. Losing Sam so suddenly that night was a tremendous shock to his family, friends, and colleagues, and leaves a large hole in the local, national, and international communities in which Sam played such a significant role.

Born on 18 February 1942 in Hiedenskip, Friesland (the Netherlands), Sam moved with his family to Canada in 1947. They eventually bought a farm and settled near Petrolia, Ontario. Not satisfied with working on the family farm, Sam’s curiosity and love of reading led him to take courses from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He eventually received a BA in Classical Studies in 1968. His study focus subsequently changed, however, after taking several botany courses from Dr. Roland Beschel. Sam went on to complete his PhD in Botany in 1972, initially under the supervision of Dr. Beschel, but subsequently under the guidance of Dr. John McNeill upon Dr. Beschel’s untimely death.

Sam’s thesis, entitled "The North American Blueberries Revisited: A Taxonomic Study of Vaccinium & Cyanococcus Gray", was the start of a lifelong curiosity and passion to understand the relationships, reproductive biology, ecology, and evolution of blueberries and their closest relatives. These multifaceted investigations ultimately led to Sam becoming one of the world’s foremost authorities on this group of plants.

Sam began his teaching career in the Biology Department of Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, in 1972. In addition to his professorial duties, he was also Curator of the E.C. Smith Herbarium and took on the added responsibility and challenge of keeping the small, dilapidated greenhouse in back of Patterson Hall (then home of the Biology Department) in working order. This was where he kept his expanding research collection of living blueberry plants gathered during numerous forays that spanned the globe from Newfoundland to Central America and southeast Asia, and where he conducted his germination and pollination experiments.

During his tenure at Acadia University, Sam taught a variety of botany courses, but among students and colleagues he was best known for Biol. 3293 (Flora of Nova Scotia). Sam strongly believed in the educational value of getting students into the field, and thus, the first 6 weeks of flora class entailed multiple field trips. Sam’s field trips were not only educational but also often memorable. There exists a lighthearted exposé about Sam that was written and illustrated by students in the Acadia University Biology Department many years ago. It is entitled "The Illustrated Art and Science of Vanderkloeting". It begins by defining the term "vanderkloeting" as the practice of overcoming an impenetrable natural obstacle course at an unbearable speed for the purpose of observing living plants before they get away. It further defines other vanderisms such as vanderspeed, vanderboots, and vanderberry.

Sam was a dedicated researcher, keen collaborator, and prolific writer of scientific papers and articles. Sam’s CV includes in excess of 70 peer-reviewed articles, at least two book chapters, and most significantly a monograph on the genus Vaccinium in North America, published in 1988 by the Research Branch of Agriculture Canada. This project was the culmination of 17 years of research and had the goal of providing a classification of blueberries that was, as Sam wrote, both "biologically sound and taxonomically robust". Judging from the ensuing demand for this publication, he successfully achieved his goal. Sam’s taxonomic prowess is reflected in his being responsible for describing six species along with three sections within the genus Vaccinium.

During his career he participated in the Acadia Arctic Biological Expeditions (NORPLOY) (1973, 1974), the Herbert Expedition to Mt. Kumbak, Papua New Guinea (1975), an expedition to Mt. Annapurna Region of Nepal (1992), and the Hiep Expedition to northernmost Vietnam (1997).

In 1998, he was elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society, London, UK.

Although Sam officially retired from the Biology Department of Acadia University on 30 June 2001, his research on blueberries never stopped or even slowed down. He was made an Honorary Research Associate in the Biology Department and for a number of years acted as University Botanist making contributions to both the E.C. Smith Herbarium and the recently established Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens. Sam also continued to teach all who would listen about the flora that surrounds them. For many years Sam played an integral part of an annual biology field course held at the Las Cuevas Research Station in Belize.

Sam also continued to maintain a now unrivalled collection of living blueberry plants from around the world. His collection was moved to the KC Irving Environmental Science Centre greenhouses in 2006 prior to the original greenhouse being bulldozed to make room for the new Biology Building that sits behind Patterson Hall. Today, many of Sam’s original plants are still housed in the display greenhouses at the KC Irving Environmental Science Centre.

Sam was a respected scholar and a beloved mentor for many students. Among many other things, he will be remembered for his larger than life personality, his successful avoidance of using a computer, his laugh that was frequently heard emanating from the Acadia Biology Department coffee room, and his amazing knowledge of Latin. He took great delight in enlightening his colleagues during coffee room discussions with respect to this language. Sam’s favorite mode of transportation was the bicycle, and he could be seen daily in all seasons travelling Hwy 1 between Wolfville and Kentville or in outlying communities. In the warmer months, he would use this road time to keep an eye out for interesting plants. Sam leaves his wife Carol, son Peter, daughter Julie, sisters Anne and Teresa, and brothers Albert and John.

Sam's Legacy Garden

In the Spring of 2012, students, staff and friends got together to honour Sam by planting a garden of blueberries. Sam's beloved bicycle watches over the crop from season to season.

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