Need Help Preserving

Discussion in 'Plants: Science and Cultivation' started by Teresa of the Blue Ridge, Jun 29, 2003.

  1. Teresa of the Blue Ridge

    Teresa of the Blue Ridge Member

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    Location:
    Virginia, USA
    I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. I am currently working with an elder in my tribe who had worked with a woman who wanted to make a catalog of the plants our tribal people used.

    They went out and cut specimens and stored them in newspaper. Well, this woman working with my elder has since left the country. Now we have several boxes of items, just sitting there.

    My idea was this: make a scrap book utilizing the specimens and writing down the "local" name of the plant, and then researching the "scientific" name, common uses, where to find, when to pick, etc...

    I'm looking for a way to preserve what we have already. I was remembering as a child, taking 2 sheets of wax paper and putting colorful fall leaves in between and ironing them to seal. However, I'm not sure this is the most beneficial way to preserve.

    Can anyone help?

    Thank you in advance - Teresa
     
  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Hello Teresa,

    Collected plant material such as you have is typically preserved by mounting (gluing, taping and other methods) the dried plant material on white or cream-coloured archival paper.

    How to Collect, Press and Mount Plants from the Montana State University Extension Service.

    While some people have cabinets where they store their specimens in private collections, most people that need to preserve plant specimens for scientific research or documentation purposes place them in an herbarium. Herbaria tend to be associated with universities or colleges, and two that are near you are The Massey Herbarium in Blacksburg, Virginia and the University of Tennessee Herbarium in Knoxville. I recommend making an appointment to visit one of these herbaria to familiarize yourself with how the specimens are stored, methods that are used and so on. They may also be able to give hands-on instruction. Also, an herbarium is the ultimate resource in determining the scientific names of plants.

    Your plans for documentation (local name, scientific name and so on) sound excellent. I'd like to suggest that you find a way to share your work, whether it be in book form or on the Internet or some other method. It still occurs too often that local or cultural knowledge is underrepresented in the understanding of plants.

    If you have more questions, please ask, and best of luck with your endeavour.
     
  3. Teresa of the Blue Ridge

    Teresa of the Blue Ridge Member

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    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I will definitely contact those resources. And I will share the final product. If anyone has any other advice to offer, I would appreciate it.
     
  4. Shaista

    Shaista Member

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    Though I am not working with such preservations but I had a chance to see other fellows preserving their specimens for identification. I am also interested to learn how to preserve plants, and I've read some articles regarding specimen preservation. It may be helpful for you to follow these simple steps:
    1. Select the plant specimen and tag it by assigning a number or name.
    2. You should bring your specimen in some plastic bag.
    3. Before pressing your specimen, clean up the plant by a brush to remove soil and blot off its moisture.
    4. Then arrange your specimen on a sheet of newspaper.
    5. Now make layers, first two newspaper sheets above and below the specimen and then place two more pieces of blotting paper outside the newspaper sheets. Finally two pieces of corrugated cardboard. For better ventilation.
    6. Now press these layers by using a plant press (You can build it yourself). Place some heavy objects over it like iron weights or bricks.
    7. Observe your specimen after every 2-3 days, you must change damp papers with dry blotting papers. And your specimen will be dry with in 15-20 days.

    For more details click here ….. More Help …. This web page can help you a bit. Best of luck with your work.
     

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