The RSABG Research Library houses a display case showcasing some of the library’s holdings, such as beautiful historic books, journals, photographs, and items from the Garden’s archives.
Visitors to the library are treated to a changing display of items from its collections that depict how the library is supporting the educational mission of the garden.

Displays have featured the Theodore Payne archives, wildflower books, orchids as art, neighborhood native plant gardens, and botanists Carl Linnaeus and Samuel Parish.
Past Exhibits:

Darwin's Sexy Orchids:

Case One

Case Two 

Case Three





Research Facilities

RSABG has excellent facilities for research and education in systematic and evolutionary botany.


The integrated herbaria of RSABG and Pomona College contain approximately 1.1 million specimens and are available for research and education. Faculty, staff and students are frequently engaged in the collection of specimens for the herbarium. An extensive collection of wood and pollen microscope slides and DNA is also maintained.


Two laboratories (The Laboratory of Plant Anatomy and Morphology and the Laboratory of Molecular Systematics and Evolution) are available for use by resident scientists (students, post doctoral fellows, faculty and research associates) and visiting scientists. The molecular lab is well equipped for diverse molecular approaches, including DNA fingerprinting and sequencing, and serves as the DNA sequencing facility for The Claremont Colleges. These laboratories also serve as the Core Genetics Facility for The Claremont Colleges. The Anatomy Lab is likewise well equipped, including equipment for producing permanent microscope slides, and various microscopes, notably a scanning electron microscope [SEM]. The Garden also has a series of Apple- and Windows-compatible microcomputers, laser, color and slide printers, digital cameras and slide and flatbed scanners.


An excellent botanical library is housed at the Garden. The libraries of The Claremont Colleges greatly enhance the information resources available to students.

Plant Growth Facilities

Students and researchers also have access to excellent facilities for growing research plants including greenhouses, growth chambers, shade houses and experimental plots.

J. Travis Columbus

Research Scientist, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Professor of Botany, Claremont Graduate University

Systematics of grasses (Gramineae)



This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

Research interests:

My research involves the evolutionary biology and taxonomy of grasses (Gramineae), especially Chloridoideae, a subfamily of some 1400 warm-season, mostly subtropical and tropical species. My goals are to discover the phylogenetic relationships among the taxa, improve the classification, and learn about the evolution of traits, especially inflorescence architecture, breeding system, leaf anatomy, and photosynthetic pathway.

Employing DNA sequences from the nuclear and chloroplast genomes, my collaborators and I are estimating phylogenetic relationships both across Chloridoideae, by sampling many genera, and within genera, by sampling all species and intraspecific taxa. In the latter case, we have sampled all species of Bouteloua (grama grasses), a New World (predominantly North American) genus of 57 species, and are pursuing Muhlenbergia (muhly grasses), which comprises 147 species and has a similar geographic distribution. The grama grass research began with a study of Bouteloua sensu stricto and nine satellite genera (comprising a subtribe, Boutelouinae, in part). Concordance between the nuclear and plastid phylogenies led to taxonomic expansion of Bouteloua to include the satellites and render the genus monophyletic. Interestingly, these data point to a multiple origin of sexually dimorphic spikelets within the genus, and a trend towards fewer-flowered, deciduous inflorescence branches.

My approach to systematics is grounded in molecular phylogenetics and generous taxon sampling. Good sampling of taxa and analyses of DNA sequences from multiple genomes lead to robust estimates of organismal phylogeny. From these phylogenies, improvements to the classification can be made and a better understanding of trait evolution gained. I am a strong believer in field studies, not only to collect material (pressed specimens, seeds, and pickled material for anatomical study) for laboratory and greenhouse studies, but to gain knowledge of populations and their habitats.

I enjoy collaborating with hard-working, motivated students, no matter what group of plants interests them, who desire broad-based education and research experiences that include field studies, morphology, anatomy, chromosome biology, phylogenetics, taxonomy, and geography.


Ph. D., University of California, Berkeley, Department of Integrative Biology, 1996
M. S., New Mexico State University, Department of Animal and Range Sciences, 1988
B. S., New Mexico State University, Department of Animal and Range Sciences, 1986

Recent courses taught:

Agrostology (study of grasses)
Botanical Latin
Botanical Nomenclature
Principles of Plant Systematics

Recent papers:

Columbus, J. T., and N. F. Refulio-Rodriguez. 2004. The chromosome number of Schaffnerella gracilis (Gramineae, Chloridoideae). Aliso 21: 31–32.

Kinney, M. S., J. T. Columbus, and E. A. Friar. 2003. Molecular evolution of the maize sex-determining gene TASSELSEED2 in Bouteloua (Poaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 29: 519–528.

Columbus, J. T., H. L. Bell, R. Cerros-Tlatilpa, M. P. Griffith, and J. M. Porter. 2002. Schaffnerella rediscovered! (Gramineae, Chloridoideae). Aliso 20: 45–50.

Roalson, E. H., J. T. Columbus, and E. A. Friar. 2001. Phylogenetic relationships in Cariceae (Cyperaceae) based on ITS (nrDNA) and trnT-L-F (cpDNA) region sequences: Assessment of subgeneric and sectional relationships in Carex with emphasis on section Acrocystis. Syst. Bot. 26: 318–341.

Columbus, J. T., M. S. Kinney, M. E. Siqueiros D., and J. M. Porter. 2000. Phylogenetics of Bouteloua and relatives (Gramineae: Chloridoideae): Cladistic parsimony analysis of internal transcribed spacer (nrDNA) and trnL F (cpDNA) sequences, pp. 189–194. In S. W. L. Jacobs and J. Everett [eds.], Grasses: Systematics and Evolution. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, Australia.

Columbus, J. T. 1999. Morphology and leaf blade anatomy suggest a close relationship between Bouteloua aristidoides and B. (Chondrosium) eriopoda (Gramineae: Chloridoideae). Syst. Bot. 23: 467–478.

Columbus, J. T. 1999. An expanded circumscription of Bouteloua (Gramineae: Chloridoideae): New combinations and names. Aliso 18: 61–65.

Roalson, E. H., and J. T. Columbus. 1999. Glume absence in the Orcuttieae (Gramineae: Chloridoideae) and a hypothesis of intratribal relationships. Aliso 18: 67–70.

Columbus, J. T., M. S. Kinney, R. Pant, and M. E. Siqueiros D. 1998. Cladistic parsimony analysis of internal transcribed spacer region (nrDNA) sequences of Bouteloua and relatives (Gramineae: Chloridoideae). Aliso 17: 99–130.

Peterson, P. M., and J. T. Columbus. 1997. Allelic variation in the amphitropical disjunct Scleropogon brevifolius (Poaceae: Eragrostideae). BioLlania, Edicíon Especial 6: 473–490.

Columbus, J. T. 1996. Bouteloua chihuahuana (Gramineae), a new nomenclatural combination. Aliso 14: 227.

Present and former graduate students:

Vanessa E. T. M. Ashworth (Ph. D., 1999)
Hester L. Bell (Ph. D. Candidate)
Rosa Cerros Tlatilpa (Ph. D., 2004)
Naomi S. Fraga (M. S., 2005)
Elizabeth A. Kempton (Ph. D. student)
Gilberto A. Ocampo-Acosta (Ph. D. student)
Nancy F. Refulio Rodriguez (Ph. D. Candidate)
Eric H. Roalson (Ph. D., 2000)
Maria Elena Siqueiros Delgado (Ph. D., 2001)

Ferns (LAM)

In February of 2004, the vascular cryptogamic collection of the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum herbarium (LAM) was transferred and integrated into the collection at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSA-POM). Some 9400 specimens were integrated in this transfer. Along with the specimens, came two websites once hosted by LAM. These now reside on the RSA-POM herbarium website, care of Kenneth Wilson.

Cultivated Dryopteris Ferns
Alien Ferns In Hawaii