Collections (GMHDRNC)


The program covers the proper procedure for collecting, preserving and mounting plant specimens for an herbarium.

Grade Level:

K - 12

Recommended Setting:

Indoor or outdoor classroom

Outdoor Activity:



Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center, Pine Bluff


Education Program Coordinator, 870-534-0011


45 minutes - 1 hour

Suggested Number of Participants:

10 - 30

Special Conditions:

None, arrangements can be made for bad weather


  • Learn how to properly collect plants for study.
  • Understand identification techniques and how to mount botanical specimens.
  • Learn to preserve plants.

Key Terms*:

Dichotomous key

Herbaceous plant




Woody plant

*See glossary for definations


Plant press

Acid-free mounting paper

“A Key to Common Trees of Arkansas”


Plant collections preserved for an herbarium are for documentation, description and study. A side benefit is that they document change in a species over time


  1. If necessary, collect plants for preservation before beginning the lesson.
  2. Plants form the base of the food chain, emitting oxygen other organisms need to function. It is imperative to conserve and protect plants because their exploitation for materials can destroy entire ecosystems. Discuss some simple plant biology with the participants. Roots anchor the plant into the ground and stabilize it. They also absorb water and nutrients from the soil. The stem is the rigid structure that transports the water and nutrients from the roots to the leaves. The leaves convert sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into glucose (an energy source) and oxygen, a process called photosynthesis. The plant reproduces at the center of the plant, whether it is in the form of a flower, fruit or nut. Pollen is mixed, and seeds fall to form new plants.
  3. Discuss proper collection techniques before taking the class outside to find their own plants.
  4. Using the plants collected, demonstrate the plant press and acid free paper and show how to mount the pressed specimens.
  5. Key out the collected plants so they can be identified and cataloged once they are mounted.
  6. Answer any questions.


  • How can preserving plant species aid in their study?
  • Why use acid free paper to mount botanical specimens?


Dichotomous key – tool that helps identity items in nature such as trees, wildflowers, mammals, reptiles, rocks and fish through a series of choices that leads to the correct identification


Herbaceous plant – a plant lacking a permanent woody stem; many are flowering garden plants or potherbs; some are medicinal and some are pests


Mount – to organize, equip and set in position for an exhibit


Press – to flatten or dry a natural object such as a flower so that it does not decompose and can be kept for display


Taxonomy – description, identification, naming and classification of organisms


Woody plant – any plant that has a perennial stem above ground and is covered by thickened bark and continually grows above ground each year