PLANT COLLECTION GUIDELINES
1. FIELD NOTEBOOK: Keep a field notebook in which collection data can be recorded. Assign each specimen a different number (your collection number) and keep all information for the specimen associated with this number. Make your log day by day IN THE FIELD--don't do it from memory! For safety purposes, it is recommended that you go on collecting trips with at least one other person. Field notebooks should be deposited at the herbarium when collecting is finished. They will serve as a historical source and can be used to generate missing labels.
2. WHAT TO RECORD IN YOUR FIELD NOTEBOOK: 1) habitat description--as complete as possible--ex: soil type, moisture, sun/shade, associated plants, habitat (roadside, field, pasture, creek bank, etc.), 2) additional information (flower or fruit color, height of your particular plant, etc.), 3) location - be specific--i.e., "roadside ditch along E. side Hwy. 231, 2 mi S of Jct. University Avenue in Troy, 4) your name, 5) the number you gave your plant when you collected it, 6) growth form (herb, vine, tree, or shrub), and 7) date of collection--do not use numbers for the month; abbreviate it or write it out. Make these notes in your collection log while in the field, and record your own observations, not information given in a key. You will later transfer all of this information to your labels.
3. MAKING A COLLECTION: You can make high quality specimens by pressing the plants while in the field and drying them as soon as possible. DO NOT BRING FRESH PLANT MATERIAL INTO THE HERBARIUM! This could introduce insects that can damage the collection. If you cannot press in the field, put your collected plants into plastic bags, keep them cool and moist, and press them as soon as possible (preferably within a few hours!). DO NOT BRING PLANTS INTO THE HERBARIUM TO PRESS THEM! For identification purposes, you'll want to collect and plastic-bag a small bit of fresh plant material in addition to the pressed specimen. This extra fresh material will keep up to a week or two in the fridge or may be frozen for longer storage but poorer quality. It will not be good for pressing but will be very useful when you identify your plant. You'll find that identification through the use of your key is easier if you have fresh material. Flat, dry plants are much more difficult to key. Do not collect cultivated material--nothing planted in yards, in flower beds, etc. Cultivated material will not be accepted. Be careful with parks, golf courses, cemeteries, etc.--the trees and shrubs there are often planted. When filling your plant press, begin at the bottom and work up. This way you minimize disturbance of previously pressed plants. Place each plant in a single fold of newspaper, layer with the next cardboard and blotter and so on. Do not over stuff plant material into a press. Be neat. Make sure the plant fits nicely into the press. If needed, bend plants into a 'V' or 'N' shape before pressing. Parts that stick out won't dry properly and may get broken off. Remember, if your plant fits into your press it will fit onto a mounting sheet. When pressing try to orient leaves so that you can see both upper and lower surfaces. Press flowers so the interior reproductive structures are visible (open faced). For ferns with sori located on the lower surface of the leaf, make sure to turn one leaf with sori over when pressing your specimen. For most projects, a duplicate of each collection should be made for exchange purposes.
4. SELECTING A SPECIMEN: STERILE MATERIAL WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. For flowering plants either flower or fruit (preferably both) must be present in the dried specimen. For gymnosperm cones should be includes and for seedless vascular plants reproductive structures (sporangia) must be present. Root parts are required for herbaceous species. Press enough material to essentially fill half a sheet of folded newspaper--about 11" x 16". Small species should be represented by several individuals, large herbs should be folded (not cut), and woody plants should be trimmed so that critical characteristics (leaves, flowers, fruits) are present in the preserved specimen. Remove all soil from the roots BEFORE pressing the plant. Moldy, messy, moist, and/or inadequate specimens are not acceptable.
5. PRESERVATION: Press your plants in a single fold of newspaper in a standard plant press. Do not use “slick” paper such as found in magazines and some sales papers. Once pressed, a plant dryer is available for use in the Herbarium. Specimens placed in the dryer should be dry within 24 hours (thick succulent plants, like cacti, will require more time). DO NOT leave your press in the dryer for more than 24 hours without checking to see if the plants are dry. Remove the dry plants from the press and place the wet ones back in the dryer. Once dry, remove the plants from the press and keep them in the newspaper in which they were pressed. Plastic or cardboard boxes can be used to help to protect them until they are identified and labels made.
6. IDENTIFICATION: Use the Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas, Guide to the Vascular Plants of the Florida Panhandle, or any other identification manual to determine the identification of your plants. Remember to check your identification by comparing your specimen against material in the herbarium, or on-line with the Alabama Plant Atlas. In this way, you can be 100% sure of all your identifications. (SEE RULES FOR HERBARIUM USE BELOW). The nomenclature for most all plants deposited in the Herbarium follows that used on the Alabama Plant Atlas. Therefore, you will need to check the name of each plant you identify against the name published on the Alabama Plant Atlas website. Your labels should be prepared using the nomenclature listed in the Alabama Plant Atlas. It is available online at http://www.floraofalabama.org/.
7. MAKING A LABEL: Labels should be neatly typed (12pt font, approx. 3.5" x 4"). It is best if labels are generated on a computer. Note that the genus and specific epithet are italicized. Labels MUST be prepared on 100% acid-free paper. Follow the format below when preparing labels. A label is required for the specimen to be deposited at TROY as well as for the duplicate collection to be used as exchange.
PLANTS OF ALABAMA
Chrysopsis gossypina (Michx.) Ell. ssp. hyssopifolia (Nutt.) Semple
Riley Road (dirt) 0.22 mile north of Gantt-Red Level Road. Xeric sandy roadside bank in full sun.
Commmon. Ray flowers yellow, stems wooly towards the base.
31.417222° -86.526833°. Elevation 226 feet.
A. R. Diamond #21585 11 September 2010
Troy University Herbarium (TROY)
Specimens that are A) adequate, B) neatly pressed and dried, C) with a proper label, D) and represent new counties for which a specimen does not exist in the herbarium are now potentially ready to be mounted. Not all specimens will be mounted for the TROY herbarium. Good specimens for which a mounted specimen already exists in the herbarium may be used for exchange with other institutions. The curators of the herbarium will decide which specimens to be included in the collection and which are suitable for exchange. The Curators must approve all specimens BEFORE they are mounted.
Mounting Guidelines for the TROY Herbarium
PLANTS ARE ONLY MOUNTED BY TRAINED HERBARIUM WORKERS OR
UNDER THE DIRECT SUPERVISION OF ONE OF THE CURATORS!
1. Plants are only mounted on acid-free herbarium sheets.
Mount the herbarium label in the lower right corner of the sheet using Elmer’s
white glue. Make sure that the label does not hang over the edges of the
herbarium sheet. Run a single line of Elmer's glue along the top edge of the
label. Turn the label over and line it up with the bottom and right edge of the
herbarium sheet. Then with an upward motion push the label into place.
2. Examine the plant and determine which side should face up to display as many floral and vegetative features as possible. "Dry fit" the specimen(s) on the herbarium sheet experimenting with different arrangements. Make sure the plants do not overlap onto the label or off of the edge of the herbarium sheet. Avoid congregating many small plants in the center or in a corner, spread them out uniformly. Also try not to mount multiple plants with the thick portion (usually the root) in the same location on the sheet.
3. After "dry fitting" the plants on the herbarium sheet pick them up one at a time and glue the backside using Elmer’s white glue. For small specimen’s tweezers may be used to hold the plant while gluing. Concentrate on gluing main stems and larger leaves where they will contact the herbarium sheet. Put dots of glue on fruit, flowers and smaller leaves and stems. Do Not Use Excessive Glue! Place the specimen, glue side down, on the acid free herbarium sheet and press lightly. Avoid sliding or moving the specimen once it has been glued. Remember to not let the plant overlap the label or hang off the sheet. NEVER use scissors to trim a plant after it has been mounted.
4. Any fragments (loose flowers, seed, leaves) should be placed in a fragment envelope, which is then glued to the herbarium sheet. Make sure the envelope does not hang over the edges of the herbarium sheet. Do not glue the envelope over the mounted specimen. Contact one of the Curators for information on the procedure for making packets.
6. Add lead weights as needed to hold down the plant and fragment envelope. Generally, you cannot use too many weights. The goal is to hold down as much of the plant as possible until the glue has completely dried. Avoid placing weights directly over exposed glue. Damage will result when trying to remove a glued weight from a specimen.
7. Let the specimen dry for about one day, then check for glue dryness. Also, check for plant parts that were not glued down properly. You can do this by carefully turning the specimen over and looking for any parts not attached to the herbarium sheet. If such parts are found, glue them down and wait another day and repeat the process. If loose pieces are found or were broken off and you're unsure of how to glue them back, place them in the fragment envelope associated with the sheet. Once a specimen is successfully mounted, it must be stamped and accessioned, then databased and photographed before it can be filed in the cabinets with the main collection. Students should consult the Curators for specific procedures for data basing their collections.
8. Master’s students, undergraduates working on projects in which herbarium vouchers must be made, and faculty must follow these guidelines, including mounting and data basing their specimens for inclusion into the collection. Failure to follow these procedures will possibly exclude the specimens from being included in the collection.