Field notes

Field notes

Every herbarium sheet should have an information sheet attached to it. It is important to gather additional information about the plant specimen at the time of collection. Colours, shapes, sizes and odours can change during the drying process, so it is important to note these features while the specimen (and your memory) is still fresh. The following basic details should be noted:

  • Name: Name of the collector.
  • Date: Date when the specimen was collected.
  • Locality: Be precise; use the following format: 1. Country, 2. Ecological region (e.g., Northland), 3. Closest city/town, 4. Name of property and/or area, 5. actual location (e.g., off edge of milking shed near pond). If you can, obtain a grid reference and altitude of the position (from a GPS unit or topographical map).
  • Habitat: Include details of the site where the plant was found e.g., physical conditions (wet? dry? exposed?), soil type (sandy? peaty?), aspect (north facing? south facing?) type of vegetation cover (tall forest? open pasture? scrub?), associated plant species.
  • Habit: Include details of form (e.g., tree, shrub, climber), height and/or breadth, abundance.
  • Stems: For tree species, “guesstimate” of height, note bark colour and texture, do buttresses occur, are there thorns? For herbaceous plants, note the presence of hairs and the smoothness, the shape of the stem in cross-section etc.
  • Leaves: How are the leaves arranged (e.g., alternate, opposite, simple, compound), what is their colour, is it the same on both sides, shape, texture, and sheen. Is the plant evergreen or deciduous? Does it show heterophylly (different shaped leaves on the same plant, different adult/juvenile leaves)?
  • Flower and/or inflorescence (group of flowers): Note their size, shape and colour if they are present. Also note their position e.g., terminal, axillary. Is the plant monoecious (male and female flowers on the same plant) or dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants).
  • Fruit/seeds: Note colour, shape, size, dispersal mechanism etc.
  • Other information: Anything not covered above that will help to identify the specimen.

This page last updated on 23 Sep 2012