Tuesday 22 October 2013

Which herbarium is Chris in this week? 

Herbarium volunteers at Hancock Mueum I
Image: C. Metherell
Chris Metherell has spent so much time recently in herbaria but that's par for the course if you want to write a BSBI Handbook!

A fortnight ago, Chris was looking at Euphrasia sheets from the British Museum's collection, but last week he was happy to switch roles, from researcher to herbarium volunteer. Chris put the Eyebrights on hold and went in to the Herbarium at the Hancock Museum, where he and four fellow volunteers unloaded the newly arrived crates of herbarium sheets from the old Newcastle University Herbarium. 

Herbarium volunteers at Hancock Museum II
Image: C. Metherall
Chris's team have now made a start on incorporating the sheets into the main collection, so that they can be accessed easily. The cataloguing process takes a while - every detail has to be correct! - but this gives you a chance to examine the specimens and pull out any sheets which need to be repaired or remounted. 

When volunteering in a herbarium, listen out for the little squeals of delight that signal a volunteer noticing an interesting specimen or collector's name.  Chris tells me that he and his team found several sheets collected by John Storey, a well-known local nineteenth century botanist.

They were also delighted to discover specimens collected by John Hancock and Albany Hancock, the founders of the Hancock Museum. Fitting that those sheets have "come home" at last.  

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