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Task 7: Herbarium specimen

Task 7: Make a herbarium specimen

Monday 13th July - August 2020

Background

You too can practice the skills it takes to be a great scientist - you don’t even need a lab or test tube! A really important task botanists have performed for hundreds of years is making dried pressed ‘herbarium specimens of plants they find. From new species discovery to records of what is flowering at a particular time of year – these specimens can tell us a lot about the past, present and even future of our world! 

Task

Have a go at pressing a plant (or a bit of a plant – a flower will do!) so we can make them into herbarium specimens. Your plant can be from your garden, the pavement outside your home, your kitchen or windowsill, or even from a vase of flowers! Please do not take anything from the wild and be careful about spiky plants and plants that you might be sensitive to. A daisy in the lawn will be perfect! Think about how you are going to dry and flatten your plant, and not let it go mouldy. What information do you need to record when the plant is fresh because you might lose it in the dried specimen?

Take photos of your fresh and dried plants and share them with other PlantTaskmasters by posting on Twitter - remember to include @slcuplants and #PlantTaskmaster.

Follow-up  

Join us in August 2020 for our interactive session when the Cambridge University Herbarium Curator, Lauren Gardiner, will tell us more about how to preserve your chosen plant, what details you need to record, and how similar specimens held in fabulous collections all over the world are used to study a wide range of fascinating and sometimes surprising topics! Check @slcuplants account for updates on the date of the session.