Herbarium Specimen Collecting Guide

We are very conscious that we are exploring a fragile environment. We collect our specimens according to guidelines from the National Herbarium Melbourne. We collect no more than 15% of the community of plants in the collecting area. Collected plants are pressed, and detailed information about the plant, its location, habit and habitat are recorded. Those specimens are then given to the herbaria of Melbourne and Sydney. The following is from our document

Beckler's Botanical Bounty:  Guideline  for artists collecting and pressing  herbarium specimens

If you are interested in seeing the full PDF document, please contact us and we can forward it on to you.

Guidelines  for  Artists  Collecting  and  Pressing  
This  document  provides  guidance  to  BBB  artists  on  how  to  collect,  press  and  record   information  regarding  their  BBB  plant  specimen.  It  also  gives  an  example  of  types  of   equipment  you  may  need,  and  how  to  fill  out  a  herbarium  label.    
Collecting  for  the  BBB  Project  
To  meet  the  objectives  of  the  BBB  project  it  is  recommended  that  each  artist,  collecting   each  plant  specimen,  consider  the  following  general  instructions:  
  •  First  choose  a  plant  species  you  wish  to  illustrate  before  collecting  herbarium   specimens.  
  •  If  collecting  in  a  National  Park  (e.g.  Kinchega  National  Park)  you  can  only  do  so  with  a  current  collectors  permit  or  if  you  go  with  someone  who  has  a  permit.  
  • When  collecting  any  one  species,  collect  enough  to  aesthetically  fill  a  herbarium   sheet,  keeping  in  mind  the  collecting  guidelines  of  collecting  a  maximum  of  15%   of  plants  from  any  given  community  of  plants.  These  are  strict  requirements  if   collecting  in  a  National  Park with a current collector's license
  • Collect  plants  in  flower  and/or  fruit.  These  are  usually  critical  for  identification.  
  • Make  specimens  large  enough  to  present  a  fair  sample  of  the  plant,  its  manner  of  growth,  branching  and  so  on.  
  • Look  at  plant  specimens  with  the  eye  of  what  would  make  the  best  paintings.  Specimens  should  be  representative  of  the  plant.  
  • Take  good  quality  photographs  of  the  plant  in  situ  and  include  a  scale  measurement  like  a  ruler  or  common  recognizable  item,  include  reference   photos  of  the  location  in  the  field,  including  any  landmarks.   
  • Choose  quality  plant  material  not  quantity,  herbaria  are  short  of  resources  and   only  want  quality  voucher  specimens.     
  • If  the  plant  is  tightly  tangled  separate  the  pieces  so  botanists  can  observe  the  plant's details. Herbaria  generally  don't  like  soil  remaining  on  the  roots. If  soil  is   considered  significant  place  some  in  a  cellophane  bag  and  attach  to  top  right   corner  of  sheet.    
  • Collect  enough  plant  material  for  3  -­‐  4  herbarium  sheets,  keeping  in  mind  the   collecting  guidelines  of  collecting  a  maximum  of  15%  of  plants  from  any  given   community  of  plants.  One  each  for  NSW  and  Victorian  herbaria,  one  to  retain  for   our  own  BBB  reference  collection  and  one  to  accompany  the  artwork.  It  is  best   to  press  the  very  sample  your  painting  is  done  from.  You  may  collect  more  plant   material  in  order  to  create  your  painting.    
  • All  specimens  must  be  labelled  with  a  jewellers  tag  with:  Name  of  plant,   Date,   Voucher  number,     BBB  year,   Name  of  artist  
  • Try  to  press  plants  and  record  information  in  the  field,  do  not  rely  on  your   memory.    Take  all  notes  on  location,  including  a  GPS  reading.     
  • When  pressing  a  specimen,  carefully  spread  out  structures  (i.e.  leaves,  flowers)   so  that  diagnostic  features  are  clearly  evident.  Make  sure  that  both  the  upper   and  the  lower  leaf  surface  are  visible  by  turning  over  some  leaves.  
  • Specimens  in  newspaper  must  have  written  along  the  bottom:  Name  of  plant,   Date,   Voucher  number,  BBB  year,   Name  of  artist  
  • The  collector  should  write  all  information  into  their  own  recording  booklet  in  the   field,  then  copy  this  into  the  BBB  label  book  kept  at  the  hall.  
  • Check  pressings  after  a  day,  if  the  paper  is  still  damp  change  the  paper  to  avoid   mouldy  growth  and  continue  to  check  every  day  or  two  until  dry.     
  • Pressing  long  items,  start  from  the  bottom  right  corner  as  if  it  is  above  the   herbarium  label  pointing  up  towards  the  top  of  the  sheet,  then  fold  down   towards  the  bottom  left,  then  up  to  top  left,  creating  a  zig-­‐zag  pattern.     
  • For  bulbs,  slice  the  bulb  in  half  from  the  bottom  where  the  roots  are,  slicing  up   the  stem  without  it  detaching  from  the  plant.  Then  slide  the  top  half  across   slightly  in  order  to  diminish  the  bulkiness  for  pressing  and  storage  purposes. 

List  of  Equipment  for  Collecting  Herbarium  Specimens  
The  following  equipment  is  recommended  for  field  collections  and  pressing  of  plant   specimens:      
  • Field  press.  Typically  2  frames  as  pictured  below.  
  • Newspaper,  corrugated  cardboard  
  • Rope  (e.g.  sash  cord)  or  webbing  straps  with  claw  buckles:  minimum  length  needed  1.5  m.   
  • Personal  field  recording  book  and  pencil  
  • Tie  on  label  tags  
  • Pair  of  secateurs  and    trowel  
  • Collecting  bags:  Snap  lock  plastic  bags,  in  a  several  of  sizes    
  • Plastic  containers  or  bucket  
  • GPS:  you  may  have  one  on  your  smart  phone 

General  Herbarium  Specimen  Collection  Guidelines  
  • Herbaria  are  generally  short  of  space  and  resources,  therefore  it  is  important  to   make  quality  specimens.    
  • Specimens  should  be  representative  of  the  plant.  Specimens  should  look  like  a   living  entity.  If  sizes  vary  in  the  population,  collect  a  range.  
  • Use  the  space  on  the  herbarium  sheet  wisely  (approx.  17  x  11  inches).  Occupy   the  whole  sheet  but  not  to  the  edges  (leave  at  a  couple  of  cm  gap  around  sheet   edge).  Keep  in  mind  the  15%  restrictions  on  removing  plants.  
  • If  collecting  small  single  plants,  consider  including  more  than  one  specimen  to   occupy  the  whole  the  herbarium  sheet.    
  • Woody  specimens  ~ if  about  the  size  of  a  50  cent  piece,  press  with  specimen  but   use  extra  newspaper  to  flatten  out.  Large  fruit  and  cones  should  go  in  separate   herbarium  boxes.  
  • Key  information  needs  to  be  captured  in  the  label  (see  below).    For  example   include  (were  relevant)  flower  colour,  smell,  soil  type,  aspect  etc  
  • Herbarium  specimens  are  used  for  many  purposes  these  days  e.g.  molecular   analysis.  So  it  is  important  to  keep  quality  documentation  and  scientific  details   throughout  the  project. 

The  label  
The  information  recorded  on  the  label  is  as  important  as  the  specimen  itself.  Even   though  a  specimen  may  have  been  well  collected  and  carefully  prepared,  it  will  be  of   negligible  scientific  value  unless  accompanied  by  basic  collecting  data  and  field  notes.       

Filling  out  the  Label    
Fill  in  as  much  as  you  can  in  the  field.   Leave  any  point  blank  if  unknown,  someone  will  help  you  later.   An  example  copy  of  the  label  is  in  your  personal  recording  booklet.
Essential  Label  Information  
Legible  handwriting  on  the  label  makes  databasing  more  possible.     
Plant  Family:  

Authority:  this  is  the  person  who  originally  named  the  plant  

Infraspecific  name:  this  means  the  name  of  the  subspecies  or  variety,  any  name  below   the  rank  of  species   

 Det:  this  stands  for  determinavit,  this  is  the  person  who  identifies  the  plant  collected  

Date:  of  the  determinavit     

Collector:  name  of  person  making  the  collection      

No:  this  is  the  herbarium  label  number  in  sequence  in  the  BBB  label  book        

Date:  of  this  collection      

Additional  Collector(s):  name  others  who  are  with  you      

State:  NSW      

Alt:  altitude  reading  if  you  know  it         

Depth:  refers  to  water  collections     
Grid  Ref:  leave  blank      

Lat:  latitude  reading  essential  in  any  form   It  is  helpful  to  indicate  the  source  of  the  geocode,  such  as  GPS  or  map      

Long:  longitude  reading  essential  in  any  form      

Locality:  describe  where  you  are,  place/area  name,  include  road  names,  road  junctions   and  distance  from  nearest  place/town  name  or  landmarks     

Other  Useful  Label  Information  
Note  any  information  on  characters  and  field  observations  that  cannot  be  observed  from   the  pressed  specimen: 
Substrate:  describe  the  soil  type  on  which  the  specimen  is  growing  
Host:  name  the  host  if  your  plant  is  growing  on  another  plant      

Habitat:  include  a  brief  description  of  where  the  plant  is  growing  describe  where  the   plant  is  growing,  the  type  of  plant  community  and  environmental  conditions  eg.   grassland;  grazed  paddock;  weedy  roadside  etc.,  name  other  plants  growing  in   association,  if  known      

Habit:  record  the  growth  form  (e.g.  tree;  shrub;  vine;  herb)  and  height  (e.g.  dense  shrub   to  2  metres  high;  sprawling  herb).  For  trees,  record  the  bark  type  and  extent  (e.g.  rough   bark  up  to  2  metres  on  main  trunk,  smooth  above).  Bark  type  is  especially  important   in  Eucalyptus.  Also  record  the  colour  of  fresh  stems,  leaves,  flowers,  odour  etc.  Note   abundance:  number  of  plants  at  site,  frequency  in  the  area  (rare,  occasional,   frequent/common  or  abundant).      

Notes:  include  any  other  interesting  or  unusual  information.  Insert "Project  Beckler's Botanical  Bounty  painting  by  ...  [your  name]"    

Dupls:  this  means  duplicates  of  the  voucher  specimen.  In  this  case  circle  it  and  write   BBB  and  NSW,  include  global  registered  standard  herbarium  code.      
Cult:  this  stands  for  culture,  ie  tissue  culture  for  propagation,  ignore  this  and  leave  blank   or  strikethrough.      

Slide:  this  means  a  microscope  slide  ie  for  spores  of  fungi.  Leave  this  blank  or   strikethrough.     

Photo:  make  sure  to  take  a  photo  and  circle  this,  note  name  of  photographer  as  these   can  be  offered  to  RBG  for  online  reference  and  Flora  of  Australia,  strike  thru   transparency        

Carpol:  this  stands  for  carpological  which  means  there  is  a  separate  fruit  collection  ie   bulky  item  in  a  separate  box      

Spirit:  this  means  there  is  a  separate  collection  of  delicate  plant  parts  preserved  in  spirit   solution      

Voucher:  circle  this               

More information can be found on the website of the Royal Botanic Garden Melbourne. The following may be interesting.

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