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How to Collect Plants

Collect Three of Each Species if Possible

Then we can share them with other herbaria.

Which Plants To Choose

Select plants from natural areas or areas which have been invaded (avoid cultivated garden plants).

Select a typical individual (no runts or giants).

Carefully uproot with a trowel or digging knife.

Be sure to get the roots, foliage, and flowers (and ripe fruits, if possible).

Woody plants: get a flowering branch and a leafy branch.

Too large? Edit judiciously and fold smartly so it fits in newspaper (11 × 17 inches maximum size). Make sure upper and lower side of leaves are visible. Trim off anything that hangs out of the newspaper!

Collection Data

Number your collection newspaper, and enter in a notebook: your collecting number, date, precise location, abundance, type of habitat (marsh, roadside, etc.), sun or shade, dry or wet, elevation, a few of the common associated plants (use Latin names)

Note color of flowers or fruits, height of plant, and if runners are present (stolons or rhizomes)

Specimen Preparation

Plant Press
Plant Press photographed by Catherine Hovanic. Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.

Press between cardboards until completely dry (without pressure, it will wrinkle and be worthless). Daily changing of newspapers helps blot dry the specimen(s) without molding. Encourage air circulation around the press. Commercial plant presses (with cardboard ventilators, endboards, & straps) are available from biological supply houses and some college bookstores, if you desire one.

You still can make perfectly good collections without a plant press.  Just devise an approach which will prevent breakage and ensure thorough drying by changing the papers regularly.

Flat dry specimens are fragile, so store where they will stay dry and nothing heavy will be dropped on them.

Type up herbarium label data, using your notes, and include State, County, lat/long or TRS, and air distance to the nearest permanent landmark, using a good map. One label in each specimen. Also prepare a list of all specimens, to include with shipped package.

Wrap specimen(s) like a birthday present, in large newspapers, making firm bundles (if the specimens slide around in transit, they will crumble and be ruined). Armor bundle(s) with cardboard attached by string or tape, and mail firmly packed (but not crushed) in a sturdy box.

Ship to:
David Giblin, Collections Manager
Noxious Weed Project, Herbarium
Box 355325
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-5325

Upon arrival, the herbarium will fumigate your collections in the freezer, then permanently mount the plants on heavy archival paper, with your label data attached.

Collection Protocol in More Detail (PDF)

 




Updated: March 8, 2015
Copyright 2000-2017 Washington Native Plant Society. All rights reserved.

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