Before taking any plant material, ask yourself whether it is appropriate to collect specimens:
- Do you have permission to collect specimens?
- How common is the plant at the site?
- Would taking a specimen destroy the plant?
- Do you think the plant may be a threatened species?
- Would photos be adequate?
If you do not have permission to collect at the site, you must gather information about the plant in other ways.
If you do have permission to collect, you may still decide it is inappropriate to take a specimen, depending on the answers to the questions above.
An ideal herbarium specimen must be as representative as possible of the population it comes from, it must have accurate collecting data recorded, and it must be well preserved. A specimen can be one plant, a portion of one plant, or several small plants of the same species collected from a single site at the same time. Material collected from a plant at different times of the year must not be mounted on one sheet. Each herbarium sheet must display one species only.
Do not over-collect or deplete populations of native plants by taking more material than is necessary. If a plant is scarce in an area, collect only small representative portions. Take care not to damage the surrounding vegetation or habitats in the process of collecting.