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How to Make a Herbarium

The entire purpose of a herbarium is to preserve specimens of plants in a dried form. It is to identify them and share with others. It is a hands-on educational process we all can do. It is a useful identification aide and reference and a great learning exercise. A fun project with children under supervision.

Simply, it can be a grand collection of your own garden, your neighborhood, county, zone, or region. Whatever your choice is, the continent or the world!

Sometimes these can make wonderful wall hangings, all from an afternoon project.

Supplies are simple: a press, a scrapbook, paste or tape for mounting, and labeling materials.

When collecting and identifying trees, shrubs, and woody vines, be sure to collect enough length of the twig to show several leaves. Try to include the flower and the fruit. But do not take more than you need.

For herbaceous plants, even the root can be included.

When collecting, do not select the largest nor the smallest, but something typical of the growing material.

Be careful not to pick legally protected species. There could be a fine involved. Find out what the endangered list is for your state. Also, do not collect in national or state parks or botanical gardens.

When collecting a specimen that may be larger then your pages, fold in a "Z" pattern and place in. It will add interest.

Collect mid to late afternoon. That will give the plant a chance to dry off from the dew.

Place on a clean, white, piece of paper. The kind that blots well. Actually paper that bleeds ink well works nicely because it will absorb the moisture. 

This process is just like pressing flowers for a craft project. 

Make sure that you've identified and have labels ready for the finished plant.

Place papers under weight. Books, cinder blocks, anything that will keep even pressure on the project.

In a week or so....check on the progress.

Once dried, final placement of the plant material an be done.

Even using a glue gun lightly will work for anchoring the specimen.

Have fun hunting, saving, and creating a heirloom for the future.