Herbarium : 19 posts by 7 authors.
This is an unusual request to all of you. I was thinking of making a herbarium of local plants this summer with my son and daughter. What do I need to make a professional herbarium–something which can be useful in gaining further insights later? Since I have no previous experience, please guide with basics such as materials, process etc.
I will be grateful for any insights.


May I know why you wish to make herbarium specimens and where do you live?


You want to make herbarium specimen to dry for posterity for science or //and for making botanical art pieces  for framing ( you have a rich fern population  they make great art pieces)

Its not at all difficult
just laborious and  you need to keep  a log of serial number date of collecting botanical names place of collection and any and all data you want to save  and meticulously write at least your serial number and date on the newspaper where you are pressing them..the names or serial  number of your collection written down on the newspapers where you press them initially

and get any many different ones to show the natural variation that nay be in any given wild population so they would be your erial number xyz folowed by a b c d etc otr small i, ii, iii iv etc

other wise a mess follows
I have done it and had to throw out  several  because i had no way of knowing what they were once dried out

Also its a fun thing for children to learn
of course theirs is usually  just a fun thing

and this site says its not rocket science , I love that sentiment

and who knows
it may direct their future lives

its pure bliss when what you love becomes your professional calling….

some very good instructions are on the net , at utube from a herbal site

I looked at these s RBGE utubes before hitting the send button, its really quite complete  as far as demos go…
Read up some in writing…
one recent one i see is a pdf …
and a blog

ONE thing a professor at BHU had told me  that in india one perhaps needs to rinse out and dry the specimen in some sort of alcohol solution or potassium permanganate  to deter the fungi that grow.. before putting them in newspapers for pressing,   i tried it once but  … how does one know that i had killed off all spores etc…also a theoretical   problem with that is flowers will wither etc,and chemical analysis later may be interfered with,   I donot know exactly what folks do in India…

ask …
they would know they are currently professors…  and go on collecting trips I am sure they dont only take pictures they must be making herbarium too…

then for permanent mounting and saving …getting supplies to be acid free and all those tapes labels envelopes that see thru for small items or fallen flowers or seeds etc,  if you want to make it like at the NYBG or MOBOT you would have to get your  relatives to ship them to you do some search, many years ago I had  found some sites that had catalogs for botanical herbarium making and also they had library related acid free supplies…

BSI at Kolkata does a course of herbarium making  at some campus in salt lake  you could ask Tapas da
or do search it at BSI site


My point was a bit different?

There is no point making herbarium collections just for fun and for hobby.
I am sorry but I dont know your background properly and neither do I know your location.
If I had known your location then I would have suggested the name of nearest herbarium from your place which you can visit to study specimens if you need.
Some people so specimen collections for fun and infact there are some rare species which are going extinct, for example Panchmarhi is a favorite destination for botany students, and they go every year in team and every year they collect same plants and some rare species, just to prepare report for their degree course. To me its WRONG !!! But its my personal view.


…, Point well written and taken on my part
May be you should take it up with botany departments at colleges and universities  and conservation agencies and the environmental departments

you are passionate about it

good luck

I’ll let … tell you what you asked

Based on all the cases he has been showing here I personally dont think Ashwini had any such notion as decimating plants you are thinking of…
but still its a good notion to sound the alarm

we all will pay heed to your sentiments. I am sure…

When are you going to show us some more of your orchids


Thank you Didi for those interesting links, something novel to me. At the same time I also subscribe to the conservation view.


Thank you … for your advice and comments. …, I live in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh at an altitude of about 1700-1800m and study plants, birds, butterflies and moths as a hobby. I have mixed aims in starting and maintaining a herbarium:

I want to collect plants to study them in greater depth than merely photographing them allows. I have been uprooting some plants in any case to have a closer look and to photograph them in better conditions and to look under a microscope, so why not preserve them and keep them available for future reference.
I will not deny the fun element. I began studying them in the first place because of the joy it afforded me. 
Also as an activity with children it will combine hours of fun with study and hopefully will instil in them a degree of concern for nature. 
But you have raised valid points in asking the purpose of such a project. First, I feel not enough is done to study the plants of my area and hence any careful collection will set a basis for present/future studies. Second, photographs of a specimen are not always enough to correctly identify and leave room for further more detailed investigations. Third, an actual plant helps me look closer and study features that I either overlook in the field or fail to study properly. 
As a rule if I do not see several specimens of the same plant, I DO NOT collect a specimen. This way even if I inadvertently take a rare plant, I can be sure that I am not destroying the only existing sample. Furthermore, by bringing attention of the experts on this group to a rare species, wherever encountered, I hope to help save/revive the plant with expert advice.
Since I have not yet embarked on a collection, I welcome your views on this matter further.


Herbarium specimen for clearcut identity of any plant is highly indispensable. The dreawings and photographs can not tell you the desired details which the preserved specimen in a recognised herbarium with all field details appended in the Herb. label on the mounted sheet.We had surveyed Dharamsala area long back in 1971 and published account of medicinal plants of Dharasala Forest circle.I have endeavoured to establish herbarium & Museum st Ayurvedic Research Institute Jogindernagar where I served as Asst Botanist & Botanist since 1969 to !986 before being invited by the Dr YSP ,UH&F Nauni Solanto lead the researches on Medicinal plants.In the University too, A good Herbarium has been established with collection from all over Himachal Pradesh till my retirement as Prof & Head,Forest Products in March,2010. If you can spare a couple of days you should visit Nauni,Solan to get first hand details.If required you can put a call to me and I shall arrange for your visit and stay in University campus.


that sounds wonderful


Thank you … I have your excellent work on the medicinal plants and refer to it regularly. Your kind offer to arrange my visit/stay at the university campus at Solan is very inviting and one day when I am ready to do justice to such a visit, I will request your help.


So there you have it …

… response should help the quiet the fears but do tell us and … what not to uproot

it would help us all and would be an asset here in the database

… Conservation notions are wonderful but it has its place

elsewhere uprooting weeds is a necessity…  when it gets in my spinach and salads bed..  not all ruellia are harmless, some are outright poisonous… am i going to take a chance of kids eating those leaves along with my lettuce or young spinach or rocket leaves?

uprooting the weeds to clean up the garden/ lawn

and while I am at it am going to make a set of dried/pressed specimen… i dont see any harm in that!!!

Some good links are already there in … response.
However, I believe (you may agree or not) that making a herbarium is a laborious but possible exercise, BUT maintaining it is certainly difficult and requires use of chemicals as repellents/ insecticides/ fumigants. After one or two years specimens are attacked by insects which is difficult to control. Many of the herbarium specimens are destroyed because of this despite of having even trained staff.
My opinion is to make a virtual flora (collection of photographs) of the area rather than herbarium which is most often meant for hard core taxonomists. You already have many quality photographs with fine details of morphology. AND every body know that how easy is to maintain a virtual flora (collection of digital pics).


… makes a nice point but i differ in one aspect… I feel if you so desire, go ahead..
no harm in starting and experimenting..

… has made a useful suggestion
put moth balls in the box where you keep them

and if you make it the way the teacher in the Herb link is doing 1 and 2
keeping it to letter size and storing them in plastic sleeves meant for storing letter size pictures or printed papers  and storing the three ring binder in cool air tight place with those moth balls one or two

and I would get a pesticide company  to put a couple of dots of their cream they use for silver fish, i get them to do  the dots on a piece of wooden circles // coasters i dont use to stick in boxes where i have  old books etc i want to protect from white fish

your herbarium may be safe anyway
esp in Dharamsala where its so cool most of the time

Do cockroaches and those pesty grain insects attack stuff in your kitchen??then you need to protect your collection

its when you come down later to the gangetic plains  etc you’ll have a lot more problems

but I dont see why you cant start and see how it goes

and how you deal with the laborious process

start with your ferns
and some stuff like those difficult to pin down violas you had…
and the latest  gentian or not specimen

i would love to see these two years down the line

OLD VEDIC trick of keeping palm leaf manuscripts may be worth remembering

old temples bind these tightly in 100% cotton khadi dyed red… for some reason it has to be red
and then hang from the ceiling (air circulated around them is what I have been told.. but there may be other reasons  I HAVE NOT TRIED THIS EXACTLY.

but i do follow this following one, I learnt it from some old Ayurvedic doctors ..
in  spring when the leaves have just become nice lush green and juicy  ie mature the bitter neem leaves twigs  a few every so often in the leaves of the books keeps insects  away
and the leaves for some reason donot stain the leaves ..not enough tannin I guess
where as some mehendi leaves left similarly stained my book  horribly

but for preservation this neem leaf trick has worked  in a couple of different climate types  including hot and humid gangetic plain…

anyway…    start..

all that will happen is you’ll have fun
some successes
and have fun (just dont pick//uproot rare stuff or what Pankaj tells you not to pick)) and who knows?
may be a second career


I do not know if you get all emails from indiatreepix so am sending this to you again

Attachments area
Preview YouTube video How to Make an Herb Press and an Herbarium, Part 1
Preview YouTube video How to Make an Herb Press and an Herbarium, Part 2


Thank you … for forwarding me … email and for the additional advice. I do not subscribe to all emails and would have missed Dr Rawat’s reply if not for you. Thank you Dr Rawat. I am beginning to appreciate the difficulties involved (and a little more tickled because of it). I am prepared to give it a go and learn along the way. I will make sure to heed Pankaj ji’s caution. I have already got such valuable advice that the job is made a little easier and I will keep on seeking your help when I hit an obstacle. I will also keep documenting what I see on camera and build a virtual database. 

I do not have cockroaches at home and have rarely got silverfish but naphthalene balls and neem leaves should be good. Ushadi had pointed to some excellent videos and I got a ton of useful information the previous evening.
I will keep you updated on my progress, however slow…


I thought this thread talked of rare species, Didi.


no, … it is about herbarium making from start


In this thread I placed the word “conservation” only after the concern regarding rare species was raised (following your 1st reply mail), Didi


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