Labeling of herbarium specimens

TitleLabeling of herbarium specimens
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsVoss EG
JournalMichigan Botanist

With interest strong (or required by law) in accurate identification of threatened, endangered, and othewise protected plant species, not to mention general interest in our natural heritage, many individuals and agencies prepare specimens to submit for identification to herbaria and competent individuals. Such specimens can be important documentation for species occurrences, as well as valuable samples for persons studying particular species. However, if these specimens are to fulfill their maximum potential, they must not only be good specimens but also be provided with good labels. Even if a collection has well-pressed flowers and fruit, not tangled in a large wad, possesses basal parts, (rhizomes or roots), and displays both surfaces of leaves, it loses much of its value if the label says merely "Collected north of Lansing." After all, Sault Ste. Marie is north of Lansing! That extreme example of a vague label might have been satisfactory (or the best one could do) a century and a half ago. But modern criteria for a good label demand both more information and greater precision.