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 Herbaria
 What are they?

Why make them?

- a collection of preserved
plant specimens

-These specimens may be

whole plants or plant parts
and these will usually be in
a dried form, mounted on a
Herbaria: what are they?
Organized collections of
carefully preserved and
documented plant

It were organized by major group, then

alphabetically by family, genus, species, and – if
there are slews of specimens – by state or even
county within state.
The project aim
• Agronomy/Forestry - locate wild plants that have potential as new crops; document plants used as
crops and forage; locate and identify relatives of cultivated species for use in breeding programs;
identify and document the spread of weeds
• Anthropology/Archeology - identify seed, wood and other plant remains from archeological sites;
document plants used by people (ethnobotany)
• Ecology - locate and document plant communities or individual species; identify and document
invasive species
• Entomology - locate food plants and habitats for insects; document pollination ecology
• Environmental Regulation - identify plants in an area in order to define the habitat and designate an
environmentally and legally appropriate use for the site
• Forensics - identify plant fragments that might yield evidence in legal cases; in some cases plant
fragments may be used to determine if a person was in a certain place
• History - retrace itineraries of early naturalists; track down early place names; determine historic
plant ranges
• Horticulture - identify native and cultivated plants; find plant locations; document cultivars
• Pharmaceutical Research - locate wild plants as possible
source of medicines
• Poison Control and Medical Care - identify plants in cases of
• Veterinary Science - identify forage and poisonous plants
• Zoology - identify animal food plants; locate animal habitats
The Herbarium
contains mostly
vascular plants,
but the fungal
and bryophyte
collections are
becoming more
Specimens have two parts …
The plant
and …
and the label
The label is critical.

The identity of the plant

specimen can be checked.
Some useful cabinets to know…

Range Class

Accessible 8-5, M-F

Identification is not easy
• Every taxonomist has found mistakes of their
own to correct
• Every taxonomist has had others correct their
• ‘New’ species are not new; they are species
that have not yet been recognized – not even
by experienced taxonomists.
• Identification is not always easy; compare
with specimens, not pictures.
Citing authorities
Adds little information.

State which reference you used for identification

How to make a Herbarium?

1) Collecting the plants

2) Pressing and Drying
3) Mounting
1) Collecting the plants

 Choose good representatives of the plants species

 Be careful that these plants must include root, stem,
flower and fruit
 Take notes and record by taking photos in the field at the
time of collection,
 Note these factors below:
“Date, collection number, location, habitat, habit,
special characteristics”
• Collect specimens in dry conditions, a good
time being mid-morning, after the dew has
dried but before the heat of the day causes
plants to wilt.
• If specimens are at all wet or you need to
wash soil off the roots then dry them carefully
before pressing.
• Use a pencil for these notes rather than a pen
because any damp/wetness can cause ink to
smudge and be unreadable
Making specimens
Other tools needed

Field notebook
Clippers and digger
GPS*, altimeter**
Field press**
The equipment for collecting are
- Plants must be clean before pressing
- They must also be put in a plastic bag or nylon bag, if it is hot they
must be watered to be fresh
- Place your plant between folded-out sheets of newspaper, although
flimsy or greaseproof paper is preferable for delicate material
- Arrange the plant carefully, trying to avoid overlapping.
- When you have finished arranging the specimens within the
newspaper sheets (or whatever combination of papers you have
chosen), you then need to intersperse them between corrugated
card sheets to aid ventilation.
- Finally place everything in your press and tighten well.
• For the first two to four days you will need to check daily and
change the blotting paper and/or other surrounding papers,
and retighten the press, but as the plants dry these checks can
become less frequent.
• Warmth may be used to improve the drying rate, An oven set
at 50°C may be used but the heat must be no higher, otherwise
the specimen will become very brittle and damaged.
Materials for pressing

 Plant press
 Newspaper
 Greaseproof or flimsy paper for delicate
 Blotting paper
 Corrugated card
Processing plants
Fertile and Sterile speciment
 t is very important to collect fertile material if
at all possible.
 Collect flowers and if possible fruits for each
 Get mature and immature twigs, especially in
vines, etc.
How to fold
 Mosses, cones, fruits, Cuscuta flowers, cacti,
and some other succulents, can be put in
small paper bags, each numbered on the
front, and dried unpressed. If stored in plastic
bags, they rapidly mold, even after drying
 A herbarium label should contain the
 Institution with which the collector is affiliated
 Genus, species, author names
 Family name
 Date of determination of name
 Locality
 Vegetation and habitat
 Plant description
 Collector's name
 Collecting date
• The New York Botanical Garden
• Plants of Bolivia

• Poulsenia armata (Miq.) Standl. Moraceae

• det. M. Nee, 1991

• Depto. Sta. Cruz, Prov. Ichilo, Parque Nacional Amboro, Rio Saguayo
near mouth of Quebrada Yapohe. Secondary tropcal evergreen forest
enar camp around abandoned slash and burn plot.

• Young tree, 2 m. tall; sap milky

• Coll: M. Nee 40910

June 11, 1991
Specimen data
Core information is from herbarium specimens

Collections data:
 Scientific name
 Collection date
 Collector name & number
 Location
 Soils
 Habitat (incl. topography)
 Vegetation community
 Associated species
 Plant features, e.g. colour
Collection and determination