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The herbarium is open to the public but mostly used by researchers.

It is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Contact Carolyn Ferguson, herbarium curator, in advance. She can be reached at 785-532-6619 or by e-mail at herbariu@k-state.edu.


Tips for preserving flowers, plants herbarium-style

By April M. Blackmon



dried flower in newspaperplant press
Photos by April Blackmon.

Press plants in between newspaper using a simple plant press, such as the one the K-State Herbarium uses, above.

With a plant press, a little dry air and some patience, anyone can preserve plants and flowers like the experts at Kansas State University's herbarium.

Carolyn Ferguson, herbarium curator and assistant professor of biology at K-State, said it's easy to build a simple plant press.

"You can simply place the plant in between pages of a book; or you can make a plant press with boards, some newspaper, cardboard and rope," Ferguson said.

Drying plants using a plant press:

  • Place fresh plant in between two pages of newspaper.

  • Place the newspaper in between two pieces of cardboard.

  • Place the pieces of cardboard between two boards.

  • Tie rope around the boards and tighten as much as possible to complete your plant press.

  • Keep the plant press in a dry place -- in the hot sun on a dry day or inside in a dry area.

Ferguson recommends using cardboard with horizontal folds for best results and recommends changing the newspaper every few days to keep the plant from molding.

"You can tell if the plant's dry when it's crispy and not flimsy," she said. "It usually takes five to 10 days, depending on the plant."

To mount your dried plant, Ferguson said Elmer's glue works for most plants.

"You can glue the dried plant on greeting cards, collages, etc.," she said.

For those interested in possibly having their collection in a herbarium, Ferguson said there's a little more work involved.

"Those excited about collecting must be willing to make labels to have it used by a museum," she said.

The labels should include:

  • Plant name, if known.

  • Specific location where plant was found, including GPS data, if possible.

  • When the specimen was collected.

  • Your name.

  • Your collection number -- "It's best to start with '1' and consecutively number your specimens," she said.

  • Information you can't see when it's dried -- flower/fruit color, scent, etc.

  • Surrounding habitat information -- plants growing around it, abundance of plant, insects/wildlife, etc.

"The more information there is about the plant, the more helpful the specimen is to researchers," Ferguson said.

Fall 2002