Diane M. Ferguson,
Ph.D., Herbarium Manager, LSU & LSUM (modified April
- Always collect
material with reproductive structures, i.e. flowers, fruits,
cones, spores . Sterile material has little, if any, scientific
value. I cannot identify sterile material or put it into
the LSU Herbarium except under rare circumstances.
- Press material
as soon as possible, either in the field or soon thereafter.
Flowers wilt very fast in the Louisiana heat. Avoid mixing
up specimens, especially between localities. Invest in a
- Take copious
notes in the field for your labels (see below). Don't rely
on your memory.
- Press specimens
in newspaper. A herbarium sheet is 11.5" x 16.5".
Shoot for collecting a specimen slightly smaller. Use a
standard newspaper sheet folded in half (The Advocate) or
a piece of campus newspaper (The Daily Reveille). Press
large collections in more than one sheet if necessary. Mark
with a waterproof pen. NEVER mix separate collections in
the same sheet of newspaper. NEVER tape a specimen to the
- Do not overlap
plants/parts within the newspaper. Trim as necessary to
reveal reproductive structures. Try to press so that both
side of leaves and flowers are shown.
- Small herbs:
Collect the whole plant, and enough plants to fill a sheet
(use sound judgment, don't take a whole population!). Include
the roots (remove dirt).
- Large herbs,
grasses, sedges: Collect base of plant with roots (remove
dirt), stem, representative leaves, and reproductive structures.
If whole plant won't fit on a single sheet, break it up
and present it on more than one sheet (see below).
- Frail and delicate
petals: May need to be dried between wax paper or they will
stick to newspaper.
- Shrubs, trees:
Collect a representative stem/twig, with reproductive structures.
For trees, a sample of wood and/or bark is sometimes useful
but not required.
- Aquatics: Best
if "floated" on a piece of mounting paper first
lichens, and fungi: Place in brown paper bags and dry. Pressing
- Once the plants
are in a press with blotters, etc., place them in a plant
drier to prevent molding. Place oversized structures (wood,
big fruits) in a paper bag for drying.
for herbarium specimens: Information and presentation
- All herbarium
labels must be printed/photocopied onto white ACID FREE
archival paper such as "Perma life" or "Techna
clear". This type of paper can be found at better stationary
stores or at herbarium supply companies (like Herbarium
- If making any
handwritten annotations on the label post-printing, the
pen should have permanent, fade proof, archival black ink.
Wholly handwritten labels are to be avoided.
- Labels are about
the size of a 3" x 5" index card. Anything larger
One example label
that is MINIMAL:
about the label:
- The herbarium
to which the specimen will be accessioned goes on the top.
If not LSU, then change it accordingly.
- Always put the
state where the specimen originates. If not Louisiana, then
add the correct state.
- Place the Latin
family name first. CHECK SPELLING!! No italics, no underline.
- Write out the
entire Latin name or "binomial" (or trinomial)
for the specimen, if known. Italicize or underline. CHECK
- The authority
of that binomial should follow the Latin name. Most floras
and technical books have the authority in them. Author names
can also be found at the PLANTS
database site of the USDA. Author names are not italicized
- Always include
the parish or county where the plant was collected.
- Give an exact
locality, preferably with GPS coordinates. A person should
be able to read the label data and use it to go back to
the exact site where the plant was collected. Inclusion
of driving directions is common. Note if the plant is in
a managed area, such as Kisatchie National Forest (+district),
Joyce Wildlife Management Area, Lee Memorial Forest of LSU,
- Describe the
plant, especially details that are lost after the plant
is pressed and dried. Details may include habit (tree, shrub,
herb, etc.), root type, plant height, flower color and shape,
- Describe the
habitat the plant is found in. Give a brief listing of lighting,
soils, wetness, or list a specific habitat type like "pine
savanna" or "cypress swamp". List any key
plants that grow in the same habitat.
- Note whether
the plant is abundant or rare in that locality.
- Place your name(s)
as you want it at the bottom of the label and
- Follow your
name by a collection number. Each collection gets a unique
- Put the date
on the specimen. Do not use numbers for the month, as they
easily get confused with the day.
Notations (not applicable to all labels):
- Cultivated plants
are special cases. A notation should be made in the description
of the plants that it's "cultivated" and under
what circumstances, i.e. in someone's yard, house plant,
grown as a crop, etc. However, plants that are escapes or
weeds are collected as above, and can be noted as such if
- Sometimes a
"determiner" identifies a specimen for you. That
person should be acknowledged somewhere on the label, along
with the date, i.e. "Det. by D.M. Ferguson, Jan. 2001"
- If the collection
is to be cited in a study or publication, a note that the
specimen is a "voucher" can be made in the separate
paragraph at the bottom of the label, i.e. for the live
oak example above: "Voucher specimen for the checklist
of the plants on the LSU campus, Baton Rouge."
- Common names
can be included on the label, either below the Latin name
or somewhere in the plant description. A common name is
not a substitute for a Latin name.
With these 4 suggestions,
the new label would look like this:
These are common
and come in two types:
- A single large
collection that won't
fit onto one herbarium sheet. Make 2 (or more if needed)
identical labels. Somewhere on each label type in "Sheet
1 of 2", "Sheet 2 of 2" etc. to designate
the collection should remain together even though it spills
over onto another sheet. DO NOT assign each half, third,
etc. it's own collection number, or refer to the collections
as a, b, c, etc.!!!
- Bulky specimens
and other associated materials. Large fruits (think coconuts),
bark, pieces of wood, etc., after properly dried should
be placed into a plastic zip-loc bag if possible and be
given a duplicate label of the original, placed in the bag.
The "Sheet 1 of 2" etc. is not necessary. Do not
refer to the collections as a, b, c, etc.!! This also applies
to spirit collections.
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