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Herbarium

Introduction

  • Taxonomic aid is defined as the techniques, stored information and the procedure which are required in the identification and classification of organisms.
  • The first herbarium was developed by a professor of botany Luca Ghini at Pisa in Italy.
  • This information helps in the studies of various species of plants, animals and other organisms which will be further helpful in agriculture, forestry, industry etc.
  • Some different types of taxonomical aids offered by various biologists are herbarium, botanical gardens, zoological parks, museums, keys (analytical device), flora, manuals, monographs and catalogues.
     

taxonomical-aids


Definition:

  • Herbarium is a kind of repository or storehouse of collected specimens of plants that are usually dried, pressed and preserved on sheets.
     

herbarium


Detailed explanation :

Herbarium technique

This technique includes the following steps -

(a). Collection of the specimen (plants).

  • The collection of the flora (plants) should be done very carefully using a scientific mind.
  • The plant parts should be collected in such a way that it should provide the full information and diseased plant parts must be avoided.
  • Tools required for the collection and preservation of plant parts that are scissors, knives, vasculum (box of 45-60 cm length. 20 cm width and 25 cm depth) etc.
  • Vasculum is necessary for the preservation of specimens to avoid moisture and distortion.

(b). Pressing and drying of the specimen.

  • After the collection of specimens, the plants are pressed between the newspaper folder or blotting sheets.
  • Drying of specimens takes place by absorbing water through the blotting sheets.

(c). Poisoning of specimens or protection of plants from insects or pests.

  • The plants get protected from insects or pests by poisoning.
  • The specimens are poisoned by dipping it into the chemicals like corrosive sublimate or mercuric chloride (HgCl2).

(d). Mounting and labelling of specimen

  • After drying, the specimens are mounted on the herbarium sheets of size 41×29cm.
  • Labelling should be done on the right hand side lower corner of the herbarium sheet. Generally the size of the label is 7×12 cm.
  • The sheets are properly labelled and arranged accordingly with the accepted system of classification (Betham and Hooker's system).
  • Labelling includes information like
    Date of collection
    Vernacular names (local names)
    Scientific name
    Family
    Habitat
    Collector’s name.

(e). Storing of herbarium sheets.

  • The sheets are now stored in the almirahs (steel) to protect them from fire.
  • For the protection from insects and pests they are treated with DDT (Dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane), naphthalene balls, carbon disulphide etc.

Importance of herbarium :

  • It provides detailed scientific information about the plants for research and exhibition and thus acts as a quick referral system in taxonomic studies.
  • It can be used for the identification and classification of unknown flora (plants).
  • It provides safety to the important specimens.
  • Compilation of Flora, Manuals and Monographs

Some important Herbaria:

  • Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew (London) is the largest herbarium in the World with a total number of about 6.5 million plants specimens
  • British Museum of Natural History (Paris) has total number of abouts 6 million species
  • New York Botanical Garden (New York) has total number of about 4.0 million species
  • Central National Herbarium (Indian Botanical Gardens) Sibpur, Kolkata, India (largest herbarium in India) has total number of about 2 million species
  • Madras Herbarium, Coimbatore (MH), India has a total number of about 1,50,000 million species.
  • Herbarium of National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, India has a total number of about 80,000.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

1.
Question

Which is the largest botanical garden in the world?

Solution :
Royal garden, Kew (London), England is the most famous and largest botanical garden, founded by William Alton in1759.

2.
Question

What are the major steps involved in herbarium technique.

Solution :
The steps involved in herbarium technique are -
1. Collection
2. Drying
3. Poisoning
4. Mounting
5. Labelling
6. Stitching
7. Deposition

3.
Question

How are succulent parts, fruits, tubers, rhizomes preserved in herbarium?

Solution :
They are preserved in bottles having FAA (formalin + acetic acid + alcohol). Some of them can also be dried and kept in packets or airtight boxes.

4.
Question

Which information is provided by the label given on the herbarium sheet?

Solution :
Labels given on the herbarium sheet provides the information like -
- Date of collection
- Vernacular names (local names)
- Scientific name
- Family
- Habitat
- Collector’s name

5.
Question

How does herbaria serve as a quick referral system in taxonomic studies ?

Solution :
Herbaria serves as a quick referral system in taxonomic studies because it provides detailed scientific information about the plants for research and exhibition.

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