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DIY: Create a Plant Herbarium

| 3/16/2010 9:44:35 AM

D.BellDesiree Bell is inspired by botanicals and natural materials. She is a vegetarian who has a certificate in herbal studies and a certificate from Australasian College of Health Sciences in Aromatherapy. When she isn't in her suburban garden, hiking or crafting, she is teaching pre-k with an emphasis on nature and gardening. For more ideas on Simple Living With Nature you can visit her blogs at 

Creating a plant herbarium this spring and summer will be a rewarding endeavor. When I took an herbal studies course from Jeanne Rose one of the assignments was to create an herbarium. Browsing through the pages of the herbarium collection I created, and reading the labels, brought back memories of when and where I collected them. For example, the poppy I picked in my grandmother's yard, the borage I collected in a friend's garden, some herbs I had collected 5 months before my daughter was born, which was 15 years ago, and others reminded me of places I had visited.

An herbarium collection contains plants that have been pressed, dried flat and mounted on sheets of heavy, acid free paper and labeled with essential collected data. This procedure follows a time-honored practice. Herbariums are essential for the study of plant taxonomy, the study of geographic distributions and the stabilizing of nomenclature, which is an international system of standardized new Latin names used in biology for kinds, and groups of kinds of animals and plants.

A specimen for a plant herbarium may consist of a whole plant (a small herb) or parts of large trees and bushes. There are many different types of collections. One type includes carpological, which is the branch of botany that relates to the structure of seeds and fruit, economic botany, essential oils, wood samples and specimens that are stored in spirits.

Pages from my personal herbarium collection.
Photo by Desiree Bell

Carlos Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial and nomenclature. His herbarium, which includes 14,000 plants, now belongs to the Linnean Society of England in Piccadilly, London. His specimens can be accessed online at

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