Guidelines for creating plant specimens for submission to the Bell Museum of Natural History
The University of Minnesota Herbarium, Bell Museum of Natural History, strives to align procedures with national museum standards. We assess each potential acquisition for its contribution toward our mission and goals and for specimen quality. It is not practical or desirable to accept every specimen offered for inclusion in the Museum's research collection; if specimens are not of sufficient quality they may be transferred to the teaching collections or used in our exchange program or simply not accepted. This guide is intended to provide the basic framework to insure high quality museum specimens. It is also important to note that once specimens are deposited in the museum, they become the Museum's property and are subject to Museum policies. Once specimens are accessioned they are generally available to all botanical researchers with the exception of type specimens (reserved for those doing revisionary or nomenclatural research).
Requirements for submitting specimens
- consist of a significant portion of the stem showing leaf attachment and both surfaces of leaves
- contain reproductive parts
- be completely dried and flattened - a certain degree of care must be taken at the time of pressing in order to obtain properly dried material
- be clean of soil
- fit within an area of approximately 11 X 14 inches (larger specimens can be bent, broken into a V, or cut in portions; do not curl or wind specimens in a circle; note that commercial plant presses are larger than herbarium sheets).
- be sure to allow for the specimen label to be attached in the lower right hand corner of the herbarium mounting sheet; this may make a difference in how you arrange the plant for drying
- aquatic specimens should be floated on regular letter paper for drying; do not dry on newspaper or parchment paper - it is nearly impossible to remove specimens from such paper
- be identified to scientific name
- have a printed/typed specimen label
Specimen labels should be no wider than 3.5 inches, printed on acid-free or quality bond. The data should be arranged in a logical fashion such as:
Scientific name of plant and Authority
Country (if other than USA)
State, county, park or other special area, further locality specifics, township, range, section (if available).
(be sure to indicate if using min/deg/sec or decimal degrees).
Abundance (if noted).
Flower color and other plant features (if noteworthy).
Collector name, collection #
Collection date (spell month)
Collection permit #, issued by agency name (if collecting occurred under permit)
It is not necessary that you provide mounted specimens. However, if you wish to do so, please contact a curator to learn our preparation protocols.
Common mistakes made in collecting:
- Too much material is collected; resulting in obscuring of diagnostic characters
- Only a single flower or leaf is collected
- Plant did not get pressed soon enough and wilted; resulting in obscuring of diagnostic characters
- Plants were not pressed carefully enough; resulting in crumpled material obscuring diagnostic characters
- Collector forgot to leave room for a label; requiring that portions of the plant must be broken off and discarded
- Collector forgot to leave room for a label in the lower right hand corner; requiring that the plant must be reoriented to fit herbarium sheet, subsequently obscuring some characters
- Insufficient locality information is provided; future researchers cannot return to the collecting site
Return to plant home page.