PLANT COLLECTION - GENERAL GUIDELINES

Spring 2000

YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS!!!

1. Collect, identify, and prepare specimens of 20 angiosperm species from at least 15 families. All material must be collected this semester forthis class.
2. Your specimens must be flowering plants(no ferns or gymnosperms) and they cannot be taken from the main campus of Texas A&M University. Do not collect cultivated material--nothing planted in yards, in flower beds, etc. Cultivated material will not be accepted. Collect only wild plants. Please don't collect in Lick Creek Park, Bee Creek Park, or the Arboretum. Avoid the Kiwanis "Nature" trail. Be careful with parks, golf courses, cemeteries, etc.--the trees and shrubs there are often planted. National and State parks are a no-no-without a permit

 3. Press and enclose each specimen in 1/2 sheet of folded newspaper and include a specimen label data form. Don't tape, staple, clip, or glue anything

4. Hand in an initial group of 5 specimens for grading during your lab period on the date indicated on the syllabus. This group will be graded and returned so that you can see how you are doing. Ten more plants will be due on the date indicated. The full collection (5 new plants plus the original 5 and the subsequent 10, corrected, WITH OLD AND NEW LABELS, PLUS THE OLD SUMMARY SHEETS) is due during your lab period on the date indicated on the syllabus. If you fail to turn in the plants along the way, you will not be allowed to turn in a full collection at the end. Your first 5 and next 10 plants MUST be part of your final collection--do not swap anything out.

5. Hand in a COLLECTION SUMMARY SHEET or SHEETS with each group.Please provide: 1) your name, 2) your lab section, 3) your collection numbers and your identifications (family, genus, specific epithet). Other items on the collection summary sheet are used for grading. Please list plants in alphabetical order and turn in the plants in the same order as the list. The plant press MUST be returned when you turn in your final collection.
 
 

PROCEDURES


1. COLLECTION: Keep a field log in which collection data can be recorded (see sample page). Assign each specimen a different number (your collection number) and keep all information for the specimen associated with this number. Submit this log for review after each collecting trip and when you turn in collections. Make your log day by day IN THE FIELD--don't do it at turn-in time!
You can make high quality specimens by pressing the plants while in the field and drying them as soon as possible. If you cannot press in the field, put your collected plants into plastic bags, keep them cool and moist, and press them as soon as possible (preferably the same day!). For identification purposes, you'll want to collect and plastic-bag a small bit of fresh plant material in addition to the pressed specimen. This extra fresh material will keep up to a week or two in the fridge or may be frozen for longer storage but poorer quality. Flat, dry plants are hard to key.

2. IDENTIFICATION: You'll find that identification through the use of your key is easier if you have fresh material and work in the laboratory. Also, your T.A. and lab coordinator are there to help (but not provide names). Again, read Keying Guidelines for help on which books to use. Remember to check your identification by comparing your specimen against material in the student herbarium. In this way you can be 100% sure of all your ID's before you turn anything in.

3. PRESERVATION: Press your plants according to the instructions of your T.A. (See W&K, p. 69-72). You are free to work in Rm. 004. This room has dryers, books needed for identification, and the reference herbarium. Access to room 004 for study and keying specimens is available every week day, except during lab practical weeks. Some dryer space is available in 004. Allow enough time for plants to dry (the press can be taken out and put back in). Wet specimens are unacceptable.

4. IMPORTANT: We don't mind if you go on collecting trips together, but you are required to collect, press, identify, and label YOUR OWN plants. Do not work on your collections together. You are not allowed to trade plants or have anyone collect or identify plants for you. Such actions will be considered scholastic dishonesty and will be dealt with accordingly.

5. The best time to start your collection is NOW!

6. Have fun! This is a great excuse for blowing off everything else and going out to romp.

GRADING

1. Complete and correct name (3 points per specimen): This includes family name, genus name, specific epithet and authority. Read Keying Guidelines to learn which books to use and how to check your identifications later. Spelling counts. Please use "-aceae" family names. Common name is not required.

2.Complete data (1 point per specimen): This information will include: 1) habitat description--as complete as possible--include at least four things: soil type, moisture, sun/shade, other plants, land use, etc. 2) additional information (flower or fruit color, height of your particular plant, etc.), 3) location - be specific--i.e., "roadside ditch along E. side Hwy. 6, 2 mi N of Jct. with FM 1640, 6 mi. S. of College Station" is much better than "roadside S of College Station", and be sure to include nearest city. (If you don't think we will recognize a word as a town name, write "town of...") 4) your name, 5) the number you gave your plant when you collected it, 6) growth form (herb, vine, tree, or shrub), and 7) date of collection--do not use numbers for the month; abbreviate it or write it out. Make these notes in your collection log while in the field, and record your own observations, not information given in a key. You can later transfer all of this info to your labels.

***IMPORTANT: If you correct one of your first 5 or next 10 plants, be sure to include BOTH labels in the final collection.

3. Complete specimen (1 point per plant): STERILE MATERIAL will not be accepted at all: either flower or fruit (preferably both) must be present in the dried specimen. Root parts are required for herbaceous species. Press enough material to essentially fill half a sheet of folded newspaper--about 11" x 16". Small species should be represented by several individuals, large herbs should be folded (not cut), and woody plants should be trimmed so that critical characteristics (leaves, flowers, fruits) are present in the preserved specimen. DON'T collect abnormal or damaged plants. Very WET specimens will not be accepted.

4. Diversity. We want you to explore all the wonders of the local flora. Points will be allocated as follows: Collection includes both only-flowering and only-fruiting specimens (3 pts.), both woody and herbaceous plants are included (3 pts.), at least one member of the Asteraceae is present (3 pts.), both monocots and dicots are present (3 pts.), and plants are taken from 3 or more localities (3 pts.) When the final grade is determined, one point will be deducted from the total for each family less than 15 that you have. Only correctly-identified, acceptable specimens count. We won't count it if it's sterile, cultivated, very wet, or on the following NOT COLLECTIBLE list.

 The following species are restricted or not allowed.

5. Presentation. 10 points based on neatness and presentation. Plants are in alphabetical order, plants are in same order as list, newspapers are neat, no loose soil, labels are legible, and so on.

 6. Time. Because it takes so long to grade collections, we must have them all in on time. Late penalties are 1 point per day for the first five plants, 2 points for the next 10, and 5 points per day for the full collection.

WHAT FROM THE FIRST FIVE CAN I CORRECT?

Spelling errors
Misidentifications
Label Data
Damp Plants
Raggy Newspapers
Loose Dirt
Over-tall plants can be carefully re-folded.

WHAT FROM THE FIRST FIVE CAN I NOT FIX?

**You may not substitute good specimens for bad. The SAME plants must be used.
**You may not take out a non-collectible or any other plant which is not accepable--e.g., sterile, obviously cultivated, or not an angiosperm. Check these things very carefully the first time around!
**Late points

Piglet likes dandelions best...

Return to the Botany 301 homepage or to the Table of Contents for the lab.


Last modified January 4, 2000 by Monique Reed