preserved specimens

Janice M. Glime jmglime at
Mon Jun 9 20:10:14 EST 2003

We do a "grouping" exercise, followed by a keying exercise for the first
day of botany.  There are a number of plants that survive drying rather
well, and it depends on your purpose for the lab.  If you are doing this
for a phylum recognition, then it is relatively easy to get examples of
conifers (in our case, on campus), flowers from the greenhouse, dried
resurrection plant, dried Lycopodium - it holds its shape well and is
pretty damage resistant, dried Florida Tillandsia (not the Spanish moss,
but one of the more typical bromeliad shapes), dried moss and lichens, and
dried horsetails.  Ferns could be done with herbarium sheets - we use half
sheets for teaching - or plant a maidenhair fern in a terrarium and wait
for it to take over.  It produces spores and prothalli profusely.
  Actually, half sheet herbarium specimens work well, and I show students
how to handle herbarium sheets - something worthwhile for them to know

 Janice M. Glime, Professor
 Department of Biological Sciences
 Michigan Technological University
 Houghton, MI 49931-1295
 jmglime at
 FAX 906-487-3167

On Mon, 9 Jun 2003, Sandra Johnson wrote:

> i recently used a kit with my nonmajors class which provided a variety
> of animal specimens and a key, which students used to identify the
> animals. i thought it was a good exercise and immediately wanted a
> similar plant exercise. but i don't think that the level of handling and
> careful inspection that i saw given to each specimen could happen with
> dried herbarium specimens. is there any reason that plant samples
> couldn't be preserved in a chemical preservative? i can imagine leaching
> of pigments, but seems like it would provide handleable specimens
> otherwise. we have examples of large algae preserved in formalin, then
> held in 'safer' products, that seem well preserved.
> anybody have any ideas? or recommendation of what the best preservative
> might be?
> sandra

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