PLANT COLLECTION - GENERAL GUIDELINES

Spring 2007



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 for this class.  (No fair turning in your 6th grade leaf collection or something for RLEM.)

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 Texas Cooperative Wildlife Collection and Kiwanis Nature Trails. 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 (e.g. p. 1 and p. 2 of the Batt) of folded newspaper and include a specimen label data form. Don't tape, staple, clip, or glue anything.  You will not be mounting your plants.

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.  The full collection (15 new plants plus the original 5, corrected, WITH OLD AND NEW LABELS, PLUS NEW AND OLD SUMMARY SHEETS) is due at the start of  your lab period on the date indicated on the syllabus. If you fail to turn in the first 5 plants along the way, you will only be allowed to turn in 15 plants at the end. Your first 5 plants MUST be part of your final collection--do not swap anything out.

5. Hand in a COLLECTION SUMMARY SHEET  with the first 5 and with the full collection.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 by family 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). Give each specimen a different number (your collection number) and keep all information for the specimen associated with this number. Submit this log for review each week 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, according to the instructions of your TA.  If you cannot press in the field, put your collected plants into plastic bags, keep them cool and moist (but do not freeze them!), and press them as soon as possible (preferably the same day.) For keying, 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 (wrapped in wet paper towel or newspaper in a baggie or plastic container) or may be frozen for longer storage but poorer quality. It will not be good for pressing. 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). 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.  You are free to work in Rm. 004. This room has dryers, books needed for identification, and the reference herbarium. Please don’t remove books from 004. Access to room 004 for study and keying specimens is available every week day, except during lab practical weeks.

3. PRESERVATION:  Dry your polants as soon as possible after pressing.  NOTE:  When using the dryers in Rm. 004, allow AT LEAST 5 days (total--(the press can be taken out and put back in). You may also try using a box fan blowing through the press at home.  Wet specimens are unacceptable.

 IMPORTANT  !!!  

GRADING

1. Complete and correct name (3 points per specimen): This includes family name, genus name, specific epithet and authority. Get the authority when you key--don't wast time going back to look it up later.  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:
a) habitat description--as complete as possible--include at least four things: soil type, moisture, sun/shade, other plants, land use, etc.
b) additional information (flower or fruit color, height of your particular plant, etc.),
c) 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...") For more examples, see this page.
d) your name,
e) the number you gave your plant when you collected it,
f) growth form (herb, vine, tree, or shrub), and
g) 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.

Don't forget to include on the label:
h) citation--author or title of book you used to key, and page number where description of plant appears. Get this information when you key the plant out! 

***IMPORTANT: If you correct one of your first 5 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. Try not to turn in things in bits.  Put nothing in plastic--it will mold.  Loose parts go in a paper envelope.  There should be no loose soil.  DON'T collect abnormal or damaged plants. Very WET specimens will not be accepted.  For more information, see the course FAQ.

***If you collect anything more than normally sharp or with with stinging hairs or with irritant sap, please label the outside of the newspaper and the top of your collection sheet in  BIG RED LETTERS.  E.g. "Stinging hairs!" or "Caution--prickly!!"

4. Diversity.  We want you to explore all the wonders of the local flora. Points will be allocated as follows. Collection includes:
    a)  both only-flowering and only-fruiting specimens (3 pts.)
    b)  both woody and herbaceous plants (3 pts.)
    c)  at least one member of the Asteraceae (3 pts.)
    d)  both monocots and dicots (3 pts.) and
    e)  plants 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 violates one of the following rules: 

 Spring Non-Collectible and Restricted Plants

5. 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 and 5 points per day for the full collection.  Early is good!