How to Make a Wildflower Collection


How to Make a Wildflower Collection

Wildflower collections allow you to learn and appreciate the flowers native to your area.  To become familiar with various flowers, you may collect and dry flowers and then mount them on herbarium paper or you may wish to make a photographic collection which preserves the flowers within their environment. Directions will be given for both types of collections.

Tips for Conservation:

  • Know taxa which are locally or nationally rare or protected
  • If you encounter a plant that is unfamiliar to you, assume it is rare
  • Only collect multiple specimens of common taxa that are locally abundant
  • Collect only the number of specimens needed for the collection
  • Never collect the only plant of a population
  • Care properly for the specimen you collect
  • Collect out of the site of the public if possible
  • Avoid unnecessary damage to the collection site
  • Obtain permission of the landowner on private property
  • Obtain necessary permits for collecting on public land
  • If you discover a new plant, notify the appropriate conservation official

Before collecting, know the following:

  • Rare & protected flowers in your area
  • Parts of simple & compound flowers
  • Differences between monocots & dicots
  • Parts of flowering plants
  • Parts of the seeds

Materials needed for photographic collections:

  • 35 mm camera & film
  • insect repellant
  • boots, preferably waterproof
  • long sleeve shirt and jeans
  • notebook & pencil
  • wildflower keys
  • labels & black ink pens
  • photographic  scrapbook

Materials needed for herbarium press collections:

  • plant press
  • small shovel
  • scissors or clippers
  • bucket & water
  • insect repellant
  • boots, preferably waterproof
  • long sleeve shirt and jeans
  • notebook & pencil
  • wildflower keys
  • labels & black ink pens
  • single edge razor blade
  • herbarium paper or 12"x18" art paper ( 1 sheet per flower)
  • Elmer’s glue
  • poster or art board for cover

Photographing flowers:

  • Take a close up picture that shows detail of the individual flower & its parts
  • Take a picture of the entire plant so the overall size of the plant can be judged in comparison to the other plants around it
  • Make sure both pictures are clear with the right amount of light or you’ll have to photograph again
  • Record the name of the flower, place collected, and date collected in your notebook before photographing another wildflower

Collecting & pressing flowers:

  • Collect the entire plant ( root, stem, leaves, & flowers) unless the flower is rare or protected in your area
  • Record the name of the flower, place collected, and date collected in your notebook before collecting another wildflower
  • Rinse off any dirt from roots & trim off dead or damaged leaves & flowers
  • Use a single edge razor blade to carefully trim off the back side of thick or woody stems & roots so they will lie flat ( about .3 to .5mm thick)
  • Trim off the back side of thick composite flower heads so they will lie flat
  • Carefully lay the plant, flower side down, in your press with newspaper above & below it to absorb moisture
  • Arrange the parts of the plant the way you want them to be mounted on your herbarium sheets
  • Make sure all parts of the plant are inside the press before adding more layers and more wildflowers to be dried
  • Dry the plant for several days to a week, preferably in front of a fan, until all moisture is removed 

Labeling:

  • Use herbarium labels only
  • Write labels in black ink & do not scratch out mistakes or use liquid paper to cover them
  • Include both the common & scientific name for your plant along with the date and area where the plant was collected and the name of the collector
  • Use Elmer’s glue to attach the label to the lower right hand corner of your herbarium paper or photo album

Mounting dried wildflowers:

  • Carefully remove the dried flower from your press & trim off any parts that might have gotten damaged during pressing
  • arrange the plant on the herbarium paper so that no plant parts hang off the edge & so the plant looks "good" on the page
  • If the plant is too long for the page, use scissors to clip out a section from the stem so the plant will fit the paper; arrange the plant on the paper so there is a small space (1 to 2 cm) indicating where a stem has been sectioned
  • use Elmer’s glue to attach the plant to the herbarium paper and allow the glue to dry completely before placing it with other herbarium sheets
  • complete the label at the bottom of herbarium paper with black ink
  • if using art paper, glue your completed label to the lower right hand corner of your paper 
  • number your pages in order in the lower right hand corner of the page
  • After the glued plants & labels are completely dry, lay the herbarium sheets on top of each other in the correctly numbered order
  • Use a 12’x18" sheet of art paper to make a table of contents using the common names for your wildflowers & place this on top of your herbarium sheets
  • Make a hard front and back cover from poster board, art board, thin wood, etc. for you wildflower collection
  • Use ribbon or string to bind the covers together into a portfolio, being sure not to punch holes in your herbarium sheets
  • include the following things on your cover — title (wildflower collection), your name, date submitted, subject, class period, & teacher’s name

Finishing the photographic collection:

  • Include a close up of the flower head and a picture of that entire plant on a single page of your photo album
  • Never put more than one type of flower per page
  • attach the label in the lower right corner so that it does not touch any part of the photographs
  • number your pages in order in the lower right hand corner of the page
  • remove any excess page in the album
  • Make a table of contents with page numbers and the common name of the flower
  • include the following things on your cover — title (wildflower collection), your name, date submitted, subject, class period, & teacher’s name

  Click here to view examples of wildflowers native to our area

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