Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Behind the scenes in herbaria

Herbarium tour, AEM 2014
Image: L. Marsh 
If you missed out on the very popular guided tours of the University of Leicester Herbarium which so many attendants at the recent BSBI Exhibition Meeting enjoyed, you may have read yesterday's note about Peter Sell and the decades he spent in a herbarium, and thought... yes, but what exactly was he doing in there? And, more importantly, why?

There are some excellent videos around which answer those questions, offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse into what goes on at two national herbaria. This video is from RBGE and this one and this are both from Kew

What goes on in any herbarium is basically the same, whether it's a national collection or a cupboard in your bedroom. You are preserving a plant for future use and reference - whether that's to help your personal ID skills or for internationally-important research. That's the 'why' of herbaria - and the supporting data you include on your herbarium label covers where the specimen was found, when, by whom, growing with what... all the things you and your fellow botanists need to know about the plant you collected in the field!