The University of Florida Herbarium staff works with researchers to facilitate the processing of submitted specimens. Collections are accepted in accordance the herbarium’s Collection Acquisitions Policy.
It is the responsibility of the collector to properly prepare, label and sort specimen sets. The herbarium will mount and accession the specimens and distribute duplicates once they are submitted for processing. The following checklist will help collectors understand the specimen set requirements so we can accomplish our joint goal.
Before You Collect
- Consult with the Collection Manager to make sure we have the resources and funds available to store and process your specimens. If you are writing a grant project, you should consult our Estimated Cost of Services and Supplies document.
- Obtain the permits necessary for collecting and securely keep copies. The Herbarium will require them in order to process your specimens. There are many considerations. Our document Florida Plant Collecting and Transport: Regulations and Permitting should help. Foreign permits may take up to a year to obtain and may not even be possible. The UF Herbarium will not accept or store specimens that lack proper collecting permits.
- Obtain the collecting equipment you will need for your project. Researchers are responsible for providing their own collecting materials and plant presses. In limited cases, the herbarium may check out materials and presses for small projects of short duration. But, most of the materials in the herbarium were purchased by researchers for use in their own projects.
- Review Preparation of Specimens for Deposit as Herbarium Vouchers and Guidelines for collecting vouchers and tissues intended for genomic work (Smithsonian Institution): Botany Best Practices.
When You Collect
- Press ample material for identification purposes (flowers / fruits) and to fill a herbarium sheet. There is a balance between having too much material for a sheet and too little. Be mindful that herbarium sheets are 11 1/2″ X 16 1/2″ and typical plant presses are 12″ X 18″. Each specimen costs us from $6-8 to process. The herbarium only accepts specimens of scientific importance and reasonable quality. The Ordway-Swisher set is an excellent example of properly prepared specimens.
- Photographs of the fresh plants are encouraged. These will, ultimately, need to be consistently named with your name and collection number.
- Make enough duplicates for distribution and sending to experts to assist with problem identifications.
- Keep a field notebook and don’t trust anything to memory.
- Number your specimens on the paper they are pressed in.
- Record all of the standard scientific and georeferencing data to accompany the specimens. See our preparation guide for details.
Specimen Storage and Handling
- Be sure the specimens are pressed, completely dried and neatly organized. Material should not extend beyond the papers holding them and fit in a standard herbarium shelf (12″ X 18″). Loose fruits should be secured in temporary packets or the edges of the paper should be folded so they won’t roll out.
- Fumigate or freeze the specimens in accordance with the Florida Museum of Natural History and Herbarium fumigation policy.
- Assigned space. Consult with the Collection Manager so space may be found to accommodate the specimens. Specimens MUST be stored in herbarium cabinets.
- Storage protocols. Unmounted material should be stored with a cardboard flat underneath. Each shelf should be labeled with a tag (E.g., “Perkins May 2014 vouchers”). Unmounted material may shed debris and should be stored below any mounted specimens in the case.
- Insect damage control. Regularly monitor your collections for insect infestations. Please immediately report any evidence of insect activity.
- Submit copies of all permits with the specimens. Please put the collection numbers on the permits so it is clear how they match up with the specimens.
|Permit||Yes||Applied For||Doc. Attached||No||Not Applicable|
|Import / Export|
|Endangered Species (state/region)|
|Endangered Species (Federal, USFWS / country)|
|Material Transfer Agreement: This can not be executed by Museum staff. It has to be institutionally executed by certain UF administrators as designated by the UF Provost.|
|Noxious Weed (federal / country)|
|Noxious Weed (state / region)|
- Please verify in writing or via email that a set was deposited in the country of origin, or land agency, as per obligations, if applicable.
- Provide us a copy the associated field notes (PDF is fine). We have a copy machine here that makes PDF, if you want to use that.
Specimens Data and Labels
- MS-Windows users are highly encouraged to use PLabel to generate labels. This program works seamlessly with our in-house database and includes some built-in error checking. If you are a Mac or Linux user, or feel you must use another program, the data structure must match the PLabel data structure (or, see exception*). The PLabel Quick Guide includes directions for the preparation of files for import into PLabel.
*Exception: we are now also accepting label data in Symbiota / SEINET data format. Please consult with the Collection Manager in connection with this alternative.
- Permit information should be entered in the note field for each specimen associated with a collecting permit.
- Voucher specimens (such as for florisitic projects or molecular studies) should include the title of the project in the note field or on an added slip (annotation).
- Specimen labels must be prepared with archival ink on archival paper. They should be trimmed neatly. There should be enough labels for each specimen sheet, duplicates and multiples for bulky materials that will be foldered or boxed.
- Insert the labels into the specimens with the appropriate number of labels for each specimen.
Specimen Set Organization
- Definition. A set is a representative batch of specimens. This is generally one of each species (not collection number), but may include multiples of a species to document varied morphology and habitat.
- Sort the specimens into sets, as follows:
- First set: This is usually the best and most complete set for mounting at FLAS. If the first set must be deposited in a host country or with a land owner herbarium, such as a government agency, then FLAS gets the next set.
- Duplicates for expert determination. If you have problem species you want to be examined by an expert for identification, stack them with the name of the person and acronym of the herbarium (based on Index Herbariorum) they work at. You should contact expert to be sure they are willing to accept the duplicate as a gift for determination.
- Duplicate sets 1, 2, 3 …: These sets are typically exchanged (traded) with other herbaria. Each set should only have good quality, fertile, material and one of each species (not collection number). You may suggest the acronym of the herbarium you would like the set to be sent to.
Submission of the Sets for Processing. Once your sets are ready, inform the Collection Manager. The FLAS set will be reviewed. Specimens meeting our criteria will be put in our mounting queue. Duplicates will be distributed unmounted as receiving herbaria prefer to use their own materials and methods for specimen preparation. In addition, you will need to provide the following:
- Submit your label data in electronic form in PLabel data structure to the Collection Manager.
- Provide metadata in regards to your methodologies for collecting the set. I.e., GPS model used, method for collecting GPS coordinates (site vs. individual plants).
- Submit the photographs that accompany the specimens. These should be consistently named with your name and the collection number of the specimen.
- Provide copies and/or citations of related current or forthcoming publications relevant to the specimen set.