Over 10,000 specimens for the Herbarium are mounted annually. These include gifts and exchanges from other herbaria as well as specimens collected on expeditions by RBGE staff and students, and from the research plant collections. The mounting team are also responsible for cleaning and repairing older herbarium specimens.
How it's done
Each dried and pressed specimen, together with a detailed label and a paper capsule containing a representative sample of relevant plant parts, is glued to a 42.5 x 26 cm herbarium sheet. Once dry, stems and leaf tips are given further support by 'strapping' with paper tapes. Bulky specimens are also stitched. The mounting board, label paper, capsules, tape and PVA (polyvinylacetate) glue are all archival quality. Brown polyester/cotton thread is used for stitching.
Bryophytes are preserved in paper capsules mounted on herbarium sheets. Conifer species which tend to fragment (e.g. some Picea and Abies) are soaked in alcohol then immersed in 50% aqueous glycerol prior to mounting.
Fruits too bulky to remain with the herbarium sheet are cross-referenced with the herbarium sheet and packed in acid-free boxes for inclusion in the carpological collection. Other specimens unsuited to pressing and mounting may be preserved in three-dimensional form in the spirit collection. Many specimens will also have an associated DNA sample and photograph.
For more about how to mount a specimen, download the information sheet from the box on the right. For further information please contact the Herbarium staff.