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Herbarium Preparation A herbarium is a museum and a database of dried, pressed plant specimens.

Each specimen is a voucher deposited for future reference because a herbarium is a repository of information: geographical distributions, taxonomic, biological and ecological data. Additionally, more detailed information can be retrieved as well: palinological, micromorphological, structural and ultrastructural, and if a sufficient quality of specimens exists, biochemical and molecular information. 1. Collecting specimens What to collect? We will NOT collect rare or endangered species. For common species, collect several representative specimens, especially if they are small or have only a few flowers, leaves or fruits. You must have enough to dissect during identification, with some left to mount and preserve! For herbaceous plants the specimen(s) should include if possible all plant parts (underground parts, stems, leaves, flowers and fruits). For trees and shrubs collect leafy shoots, flowers and/or fruits. As a general rule, sterile (non-flowering or -fruiting) specimens will not be accepted. Large parts, such as cones, large fruits, seeds and needle leaves, can be stored in boxes, bags or envelopes associated with the specimen. When collecting, keep in mind that the final specimen, after pressing and drying has to fit on a herbarium sheet of 41.5 x 29 cm.

Field notes Each collection in the field should be assigned a collection number: e.g. R. Smith 5. Data for each collection should be entered in a field notebook. You MUST note the following information: - Date & geographical location. - Habitat characteristics (wet, dry, species association and substrate description) Also make notes on any plant characteristic that may not be obvious from the dried specimen; e.g. colour, fragrance, etc. See the content of the herbarium label for more information.

2. Pressing and drying plant specimens

The purpose is to extract the moisture, so that plants do not rot or go moldy. Pressing and drying preserve the morphological integrity of the plants, which can be then mounted on herbarium paper and stored for a long time. Pressing plants immediately after collection results in the best herbarium specimens. Samples that are let to wilt prior to pressing will produce inferior specimens. During a short field trip, you can take along a large plastic bag, but make sure plants do not wilt! A light plant press or even an old phone book give better results. A plant press consists of a wooden frame (for rigidity), corrugated cardboard ventilators (to allow air to flow through the press), blotter paper (to absorb moisture), and folded newspaper (to contain the plant material). The plant press is tightened using straps with buckles or bolts with wing nuts. The objective of pressing plants is to extract humidity in the shortest period of time. Plants should be carefully arranged as they are placed in the press to maximize preservation of diagnostic features. Leaves, flowers, and fruits should be spread out so that they do not overlap and can be observed from different perspectives. The collection number should be clearly written on the outside of the newspaper containing each plant specimen. The plant press must be kept tight; this prevents shrinkage and wrinkling of the plant material and yields specimens that are easier to mount securely on herbarium paper. The pressed plants must be thoroughly dried prior to storage and mounting. Best results are obtained with the use of an electric drier that holds the presses and provides steady bottom heat between 95F and 113F. In the absence of a drier make sure you replace the blotter paper periodically until the specimens are dry. Rapid drying promotes the best retention of plant color, but excessively high temperatures or long drying periods can result in blackened, discolored, and brittle specimens.

3. Identification of plant specimens

This is by far the most difficult task, and one main objectives of this course is to teach you how to do it. It is important to begin with a literature review to see if

a regional flora is available from that particular geographical area. The identification of unknown plant material is done with the use of dichotomous keys; published plant descriptions, illustrations and photographs; and comparison with properly identified herbarium specimens. A microscope is essential for the observation of many diagnostic features.

4. Herbarium specimen labels A plant specimen is worthless without label data. Label data is a form of field data and must be accurate. The following are important elements:
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Scientific name: genus, species, authority, infraspecific information Determiner of the scientific name: the name of the person who identified the plant Detailed location; the location is used by researchers on several levels: for general mapping to region, county or province; for detailed mapping, as in GIS computer applications; to physically locate the plant(s) in order to obtain further research material. The location should consist of: country, state or province, county or municipality and a description of the location in reference to roads, road junctions, mile markers and distances from cities and/or towns. Latitude and longitude, section, township and range, and elevation may also be helpful. A location taken with a Global Positioning System (GPS) is a desirable complement to the locality description. Habitat: the type of plant community where the plant is growing and, if known, other plants growing in association Plant habit: describes the form of the plant (tree, shrub, vine, herb) and its height. Examples: tree, ca. 35 m tall; sprawling herb Frequency: is the plant rare, occasional, frequent or common? Plant description: describe characteristics of the plant which may be lost upon drying, such as flower/fruit color and fragrance, leaf orientation and aroma Collector name Other collectors present with the collector Collection number: a sequential straightforward numbering system (1,2, 3, ...) is preferable. Date of collection. See a couple of examples below:

Wilfrid Laurier Herbarium

No: (Collector & #). Scientific name Common name Detailed location; altitude Habitat & other observations Collected by Identified by Date

Herbarium of the University of Florida Striga gesnerioides (Willd.) Vatke <Gesneriaceae> POLK COUNTY: Just S. of Bartow city limits, mi. E. of US 17, along S. side of Clear Springs Rd. 2 populations: 1800 ft. E. of railroad tracks and 45 ft. S. of center line of rd.; 400 ft. further E. and 95 ft. S. of center line. Flws. lt. purple; infrequent. coll. David W. Hall # 1946 17 August 1993 with Chuck Nance and Allen Ake det. D. W. H.

5. Mounting herbarium specimens

Mounting is the process of attaching a dried pressed plant and its label to a sheet of heavy paper. This provides physical support that allows the specimen to be handled and stored with a minimum of damage. Prior to attachment, the specimen and its label are laid out on the paper to allow maximum observation of diagnostic (usually reproductive) features as well as the range of variation in vegetative structures, including both sides of the leaves. Plants are generally positioned in a life-like arrangement (that is, with roots or lower stem toward the bottom of the sheet and flowers toward the top). When laying out the plant, be sure to leave space on the sheet for the specimen label. A paper envelope or packet should also be attached to the sheet to contain any fragments of the specimen that break off over time. Once the optimum arrangement of the specimen has been determined, it is attached to the sheet using a combination of glue and strips of gummed linen cloth tape. Glue is used sparingly to attach the larger portions of the plant, such as stems, large leaves, and fruits. Gummed linen mounting strips are then applied to reinforce portions of the plant that might be torn loose as the specimen is used. Large or bulky items may need to be sewn onto the sheet with a sturdy linen thread. The objective is to secure the specimen firmly to the mounting paper, while leaving some pieces of the plant loose enough to be removed if necessary. Excessive applications of glue that embed flowers and seeds on the sheet may make it impossible to observe diagnostic features or to remove samples, thus rendering the specimen useless for scientific study. The best way to learn proper mounting procedures is through hands-on training and practice with a variety of plant specimens. Because herbarium specimens are intended for long-term study and storage, it is critical that that all supplies used for mounting be both durable and archival. Archival denotes materials that are free of acids and other compounds that may cause them or the specimen to degrade or discolor over time. Consequently, the mounting paper, label paper, packet paper, ink, glue, mounting strips, and storage folders should all be acid free and designed for long-term stability.

In botany, a herbarium (plural: herbaria) sometimes known by the Anglicized termherbar is a collection of preserved plant specimens. These specimens may be whole plants or plant parts: these will usually be in a dried form, mounted on a sheet, but depending upon the material may also be kept in alcohol or other preservative. The same term is often used in mycology to describe an equivalent collection of preserved fungi, otherwise known as a fungarium. The term can also refer to the building where the specimens are stored, or the scientific institute that not only stores but researches these specimens. The specimens in a herbarium are often used as reference material in describing plant taxa; some specimens may be types.

A xylarium is a herbarium specialising in specimens of wood. A hortorium (as in theLiberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium) is one specialising in preserved specimens of cultivated plant.

1 Specimen preservation 2 Collections management 3 Uses 4 Largest herbaria 5 See also 6 External links 7 References



Preparing a plant for mounting

To preserve their form and color, plants collected in the field are spread flat on sheets of newsprint and dried, usually in a plant press, between blotters or absorbent paper. The specimens, which are then mounted on sheets of stiff white paper, are labeled with all essential data, such as date and place found, description of the plant, altitude, and special habitat conditions. The sheet is then placed in a protective case. As a precaution against insect attack, the pressed plant is frozen or poisoned and the case disinfected. Certain groups of plants are soft, bulky, or otherwise not amenable to drying and mounting on sheets. For these plants, other methods of preparation and storage may be used. For example, conifer cones and palm fronds may be stored in labeled boxes. Representative flowers or fruits may be pickled in formaldehyde to preserve their three-dimensional structure. Small specimens, such as mosses and lichens, are often air-dried and packaged in small paper envelopes.

No matter the method of preservation, detailed information on where and when the plant was collected, habitat, color (since it may fade over time), and the name of collector is usually included.



A large herbarium may have hundreds of cases filled with specimens.

Most herbaria utilize a standard system of organizing their specimens into herbarium cases. Specimen sheets are stacked in groups by the species to which they belong and placed into a large lightweight folder that is labelled on the bottom edge. Groups of species folders are then placed together into larger, heavier folders by genus. The genus folders are then sorted by taxonomic family according to the standard system selected for use by the herbarium and placed into pigeonholes in herbarium cabinets. Locating a specimen filed in the herbarium requires knowing the nomenclature andclassification used by the herbarium. It also requires familiarity with possible name changes that have occurred since the specimen was collected, since the specimen may be filed under an older name. Modern herbaria often maintain electronic databases of their collections. Many herbaria have initiatives to digitize specimens to produce a virtual herbarium. These records and images are made publicly accessible via the Internet when possible. [edit]Uses Herbaria are essential for the study of plant taxonomy, the study of geographic distributions, and the stabilizing of nomenclature. Thus it is desirable to include in a specimen as much of the plant as possible (e.g., flowers, stems, leaves, seed, and fruit). Linnaeus' herbarium now belongs to the Linnean Society in England.

Specimens housed in herbaria may be used to catalogue or identify the flora of an area. A large collection from a single area is used in writing a field guide or manual to aid in the identification of plants that grow there. With more specimens available, the author of the guide will better understand the variability of form in the plants and the natural distribution over which the plants grow. Herbaria also preserve a historical record of change in vegetation over time. In some cases, plants become extinct in one area, or may become extinct altogether. In such cases, specimens preserved in an herbarium can represent the only record of the plant's original distribution. Environmental scientists make use of such data to track changes in climate and human impact. Many kinds of scientists use herbaria to preserve voucher specimens; representative samples of plants used in a particular study to demonstrate precisely the source of their data. They may also be a repository of viable seeds for rare species.[1]