Island Seeds - how to make a herbarium

Landcare Tasmania team member Kat met up with volunteer Ruth Mollison from Island Seeds, who shared her expertise on collecting, drying and collating plants for a herbarium.

Ruth Mollison takes us through all the steps you will need to know to make your own herbarium.  The first step is collecting - you can collect plants you know, or plants you don't!

"One of the reasons you do a herbarium is because you don't always know what a plant is" says Ruth. 
"If you take two samples, you can send one to the Tasmanian herbarium and they'll help identify it for you."

When you send it off to the Tasmanian Herbarium, make sure you label your plants with the name (or what you think it is), the place you collected it, and the date. 

Ruth says you don't need to spend money on a commercial press - all you need is a "really heavy book!"
Plant pressings take about 4-6 weeks and you will need to change out the paper every two weeks for best results. 


Photo from @ruthmollison and Kat Traill

Ruth's tips for the best results:

You're looking for your plant to become dry, brittle, flat and two-dimensional. 

When labelling, Ruth always checks which family the plant is from.
"Everything has a different family, and that helps you get a feeling for the plant's attributes and how they connect together"

"I file my plants away according to what family they're in, but everyone can do it differently to what suits you" 

For gluing the plant sample down, Ruth uses wood glue, which is strong and dries clear. 

"Then I use my pebble collection for weights!"

"That's a good reason to collect pebbles!" says Ruth, "I'm actually a little bit over the top, I label my pebbles where I got them from... but you don't need to do that" 


Photo from @ruthmollison and Kat Traill

When asked how many plants she has, Ruth responded with a chuckle "Gee - I don't know... I've probably got hundreds!" 

Thank you very much to Ruth Mollison for sharing her skills and incredible collection, and to Landcare Tas member group Island Seeds!
Ruth has an impressive library of pressed plants, head over to her instagram or facebook to see more about seeds.

Filmed by Landcare Tas team member Kat Traill.