Plant Collecting

Plant collecting underpins all floristic work in the Canadian Arctic, including the Arctic Flora of Canada and Alaska.  Excellent primers for collecting museum quality herbarium specimens can be found online, including Plant Collecting for the Amateur, from the Royal British Columbia Museum, and the Guide to Plant Collection and Identification from Queens University. 

While these resources provide an excellent start in the basics of field collecting and pressing, we provide a few general tips for Arctic plant collecting below:

Tips for Arctic Plant Collecting

  • Try to collect enough individual plants from a population so as to fill a standard 11' by 18' herbarium sheet.  Individual Arctic plants often make poor specimens on their own (Figure 1).  The exceptions to this rule are rare plant species, or extremely small populations.  Multiple plants from the same collection can be pressed in the same newsprint (Figure 2).
  • Be sure to collect all parts of the plant, including the roots and shoots.
  • Writing your collection number and species name on both the inside and outside of the newsprint makes processing specimens back at the lab much easier.


Figure 1. A full herbarium sheet (left) and a sparse one (right).

  • If collecting a silica gel sample from your specimen, be sure to tag the individual plant your silica sample comes from (Figure 3).
  • Be sure to bring at least one copy of the Project Information and Instructions, and multiple copies of the Collection Record Template, into the field.


Herbarium Record Collection Book Templates (compatible with Rite in the Rain #LL8511 printer paper)

Data Spreadsheets

Resources for Identification


Figure 2. Arranging multiple plants in a press.  Photo by Roger D. Bull.

Figure 3. A sampled and tagged plant specimen prior to pressing, alongside the corresponding silica gel sample. Photo by Roger D. Bull.

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith