Collecting specimens and photographs

Plant names are originally based on specimens deposited in herbaria. Taxonomic work relies on them absolutely. Subsequent identification of plants also relies to a great extent on specimens; do not expect that a field guide will completely remove the need to collect specimens in tropical rain forest, if the names are to be as accurate as possible and scientifically respectable.

You certainly should collect specimens as part of the work towards all but the least technical field guide. The well-stored specimen provides a permanent regard of a name used, for instance in a scientific publication, or for a published photograph, which can consulted much later, maybe when the forest in question has been cleared and names have changed.

A wealth of information exists on the internet for collecting herbarium specimens:

For more information on specimen collection, visit your local herbarium, or see:
  • Bridson D. and L. Forman (eds.) (1992). The Herbarium Handbook. Revised edition. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Englemann, G. 1986. Instructions for the collection and preservation of botanical
    specimens. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 73: 504-507.

It is just worth adding to these protocols that, for modern field guides you should also carefully integrate your plant collecting with digital photography, showing details of the plant.

Digital photography and field data