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HERBARIUM, or HORTUS

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Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 335 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HERBARIUM, or HORTUS Siccus, a collection of plants so dried and preserved as to illustrate as far as possible their characters. Since the same plant, owing to peculiarities of climate, soil and situation, degree of exposure to light and other influences may vary greatly according to the locality in which it occurs, it is only by gathering together for comparison and study a large series of examples of each species that the flora of different regions can be satisfactorily represented. Even in the best equipped botanical garden it is impossible to have, at oiie and the same time, more than a very small percentage of the representatives of the flora of any given region or of any large group of plants. Hence a good herbarium forms an indispensable part of a botanical museum or institution. There are large herbaria at the British Museum and at the Royal Gardens, Kew, and smaller collections at the botanical institutions at the principal British universities. The original herbarium of Linnaeus is in the possession of the Linnaean Society of London. It was purchased from the widow of Linnaeus by Dr (afterwards Sir) J. E. Smith, one of the founders of the Linnaean Society, and after his death was purchased by the society. Herbaria are also associated with the more important botanic gardens and museums in other countries. The value of a herbarium is much enhanced by the possession of " types," that is, the original specimens on the study of which a species was founded. Thus the herbarium at the British Museum, which is especially rich in the earlier collections made in the 18th and early 19th centuries, contains the types of many species founded by the earlier workers in botany. It is also rich in the types of Australian plants in the collections of Sir Joseph Banks and Robert Brown, and contains in addition many valuable modern collections. The Kew herbarium, founded by Sir William Hooker and greatly increased by his son Sir Joseph Hooker, is also very rich in types, especially those of plants described in the Flora of British India and various colonial floras. The collection of Dillenius is deposited at Oxford, and that of Professor W. H. Harvey at Trinity College, Dublin. The collections of Antoine Laurent de Jussieu, his son Adrien, and of Auguste de St Hilaire, are included in 't11e large herbarium of the Jardin des Plantes at Paris, and in the same city is the extensive private collection of 'Dr Ernest Cosson. At Geneva are three large collections—Augustin Pyrame de Candolle's, containing the typical specimens of the Prodromus, a large series of monographs of the families of flowering plants, Benjamin Delessert's fine series at the Botanic Garden, and the Boissier Herbarium, which is rich in Mediterranean and Oriental plants. The university of Gottingen has had bequeathed to it the largest collection (exceeding 40,000 specimens) ever made by a single individual—that of Professor Grisebach, At the herbarium in Brussels are the specimens obtained by the traveller Karl Friedrich Philipp von Martius, the majority of which formed the groundwork of his Flora Brasiliensis. The Berlin herbarium is especially rich in more recent collections, and other national herbaria sufficiently extensive to subserve the requirements of the systematic botanist exist at St Petersburg, Vienna, Leiden, Stockholm, Upsala, Copenhagen and Florence. Of those in the United States of America, the chief, formed by Asa Gray, is the property of Harvard university; there is also a large one at the New York Botanical Garden. The herbarium at Melbourne, Australia, under Baron Muller, attained large proportions; and that of the Botanical Garden of Calcutta is noteworthy as the repository of numerous specimens described by writers on Indian botany. Specimens of flowering plants and vascular cryptograms are generally mounted on sheets of stout smooth paper, of uniform quality; the size adopted at Kew is 17 in. long by rr in. broad, that at the British Museum is slightly larger; the palms and their allies, however, and some ferns, require a larger size. The tough but flexible coarse grey paper (German Fliesspapier), upon which on the Continent specimens are commonly fixed by gummed strips of the same, is less hygroscopic than ordinary cartridge paper, but has the disadvantage of affording harbourage in the inequalities of its surface to a minute insect, Atropos pulsatoria, which commits great havoc in damp specimens, and which, even if noticed, cannot be dislodged without difficulty. The majority of plant specimens are most suitably fastened on paper by a mixture of equal parts of gum tragacanth and gum arabic made into a thick paste with water. Rigid leathery leaves are fixed by means of glue, or, if they present too smooth a surface, by stitching at their edges. Where, as in private herbaria, the specimens are not liable to be handled with great frequency, a stitch here and there round the stem, tied at the back of the sheet, or slips of paper passed over the stem through two slits .in the sheet and attached with gum to its- back, or simply strips of gummed paper laid across the stem, may be resorted to. To preserve from insects, the plants, after mounting, are often brushed over with a liquid formed by the solution of a lb. each of corrosive sublimate and carbolic acid in r gallon of methylated spirits. They are.then laid out to dry on shelves made of a network of stout galvanized iron wire. The use of corrosive sublimate is not, however, recommended, as it forms on drying a fine powder which when the plants are handled will rub off and, being carried into the air, may prove injurious to workers. If the plants are subjected to some process, before mounting, by which injurious organisms are destroyed, such as exposure in a closed chamber to vapour of carbon bisulphide for some hours, the presence of pieces of camphor or naphthalene in the cabinet will be found a sufficient preservative. After mounting are written—usually in the right-hand corner of the sheet, or on a label there affixed—the designation of each species, the date and place of gathering, and the name of the collector. Other particulars as to habit, local abundance, soil and claim to be indigenous may be written on the back of the sheet or on a slip of writing paper attached to its edge. It is convenient to place in a small envelope gummed to an upper corner of the sheet any flowers, seeds or leaves needed for dissection or microscopical examination, especially where from the fixation of the specimen it is impossible to examine the leaves for oil-receptacles and where seed is apt to escape from ripe capsules and be lost. The addition of a careful dissection of a flower greatly increases the value of the specimen. To ensure that all shall lie evenly in the herbarium the plants should be made to occupy as far as possible alternately the right and left sides of their respective sheets. The species of each genus are then arranged either systematically or alphabetically in separate covers of stout, usually light brown paper, or, if the genus be large, in several covers with the name of the genus clearly indicated in the lower left-hand corner of each, and opposite it the names or reference numbers of the species. Undetermined species are relegated to the end of the genus. Thus prepared,the specimens are placed on shelves or movable trays, at intervals of about 6 in., in an air-tight cupboard, on the inner side of the door of which, as a special protection against insects, is suspended a muslin bag containing a piece of camphor. The systematic arrangement varies in different herbaria. In the great British herbaria the orders and genera of flowering plants are usually arranged according to Bentham and Hooker's Genera plantarum; the species generally follow the arrangement of the most recent complete monograph of the family. In non-flowering plants the works usually followed are for ferns, Hooker and Baker's Synopsis filicum; for mosses, Miiller's Synopsis muscorum frondosorum, Jaeger & Sauerbeck's Genera et species muscorum, and Engler & Prantl's Pflanzenfamilien; for algae, de Toni's Sylloge algarum; for hepaticae, Gottsche, Lindenberg and Nees ab Esenbeck's Synopsis hepaticarum, supplemented by Stephani's Species hepaticarum; for fungi, Saccardo's Sylloge fungorum, and for mycetozoa Lister's monograph of the group. For the members of large genera, e.g. Piper and Ficus, since the number of cosmopolitan or very widely distributed species is comparatively few, a geographical grouping is found specially convenient by those who are constantly receiving parcels of plants from known foreign sources. The ordinary systematic arrangement possesses the great advantage, in the case of large genera, of readily indicating the affinities of any particular specimen with the forms most nearly allied to it. Instead of keeping a catalogue of the species contained in the herbarium, which, owing to the constant additions, would be almost impossible, such species are usually ticked off with a pencil in the systematic work which is followed in arranging them, so that by reference to this work it is possible to see at a glance whether the specimen sought is in the herbarium and what species are still wanted. Specimens intended for the herbarium should be collected when possible in dry weather, care being taken to select plants or portions of plants in sufficient number and of a size adequate to illustrate all the characteristic features of the species. When the root-leaves and roots present any peculiarities, they should invariably be collected, but the roots should be dried separately in an oven at a moderate heat. Roots and fruits too bulky to be placed on the sheet of the herbarium may be conveniently arranged in glass-covered boxes contained in drawers. The best and most effective mode of drying specimens is learned only by experience, different species requiring special treatment according to their several peculiarities. The chief points to be attended to are to have a plentiful supply of botanical drying paper, so as to be able to use about six sheets for each specimen; to change the paper at intervals of six to twelve hours; to avoid contact of one leaf or flower with another; and to increase the pressure applied only in proportion to the dryness of the specimen. To preserve the colour of flowers pledgets of cotton wool, which prevent bruising, should be introduced between them, as also, if the stamens are thick and succulent, as in Digitalis, between these and the corolla. A flower dissected and gummed on the sheets will often retain the colour which it is impossible to preserve in a crowded inflorescence. A flat sheet of lead or some other suitable weight should be laid upon the top of the pile of specimens, so as to keep lip a continuous pressure. Succulent specimens, as many of the Orchadaceae and sedums and various other Crassulaceous plants, require to be killed by immersion in boiling water before being placed in drying paper, or, instead of becoming dry, they will grow between the sheets. When, as with some plants like Verbascum, the thick hard stems are liable to cause the leaves to wrinkle in drying by removing the pressure from them, small pieces of bibulous paper or cotton wool may be placed upon the leaves near their point of attachment to the stem. When a number of specimens have to be submitted to pressure, ventilation is secured by means of frames corresponding in size to the drying paper, and composed of strips of wood or wires laid across each other so as to form a kind of network. Another mode of drying is to keep the specimens in a box of dry sand in a warm-place for ten or twelve hours, and then press them in drying paper. A third method consists in placing the specimen within bibulous paper, and enclosing the whole between two plates of coarsely perforated zinc supported in a wooden frame. The zinc plates are then drawn close together by means of straps, and suspended before a fire until the drying is effected. By the last two methods the colour of the flowers may be well preserved. When the leaves are finely divided, as in Conium, much trouble will be experienced in lifting a half-dried specimen from one paper to another; but the plant may be placed in a sheet of thin blotting paper, and the sheet containing the plant, instead of the plant itself, can then be moved. Thin straw-coloured paper, such as is used for biscuit bags, may be conveniently employed by travellers unable to carry a quantity of bibulous paper. It offers the advantage of fitting closety to thick- Lichens are generally mounted on sheets of paper of the ordinary stemmed specimens and of rapidly drying. A light but strong portfolio, to which pressure by means of straps can be applied, and a few quires of this paper, if the paper be changed night and morning, will be usually sufficient to dry all except very succulent plants. When a specimen is too large for one sheet, and it is necessary, in order to show its habit, &c., to dry the whole of it, it may be divided into two or three portions, and each placed on a separate sheet for drying. Specimens may be judged to be thy when they no longer cause a cold sensation when applied to the cheek, or assume a rigidity not evident in the earlier stages of preparation. Each class of flowerless or cryptogamic plants requires special treatment for the herbarium. Marine algae are usually mounted on tough smooth white cartridge paper in the following manner. Growing specimens of good colour and in fruit are if possible selected, and cleansed as much as practicable from adhering foreign particles, either in the sea or a rocky pool. Some species rapidly change colour, and cause the decay of any others with which they come in contact. This is especially the case with the Ectocarpi, Desmarestiae, and a few others, which should therefore be brought home in a separate vessel. In mounting, the specimen is floated out in a flat white dish containing sea-water, so that foreign matter may be detected, and a piece of paper of suitable size is placed under it, supported either by the fingers of the left hand or by a palette. It is then pruned, in order clearly to show the mode of branching, and is spread out as naturally as possible with the right hand. For this purpose a bone knitting-needle answers well for the coarse species, and a camel's-hair pencil for the more delicate ones. The paper with the specimen is then carefully removed from the water by sliding it over the edge of the dish so as to drain it as much as possible. If during this process part of the fronds run together, the beauty of the specimen may be restored by dipping the edge into water, so as to float out the part and allow it to subside naturally on the paper. The paper, with the specimen upwards, is then laid on bibulous paper for a few minutes to absorb as much as possible of the superfluous moisture. When freed from excess of water it is laid on a sheet of thick white blotting-paper, and a piece of smooth washed calico is placed upon it (unwashed calico,on account of its " facing," adheres to the sea-weed). Another sheet of blotting-paper is then laid over it; and, a number of similar specimens being formed into a pile, the whole is submitted to pressure, the paper being changed every hour or two at first. The pressure is increased, and the papers are changed less frequently as the specimens become dry, which usually takes place in thirty-six hours. Some species, especially those of a thick or leathery texture, contract so much in drying that without strong pressure the edges of the paper become puckered. Other species of a gelatinous nature, like Nemalion and Dudresnaya, may be allowed to dry on the paper, and need not be submitted to pressure until they no longer present a gelatinous appearance. Large coarse algae, such, for instance, as the Fucaceae and Laminariae, do not readily adhere to paper, and require soaking for some time in fresh water before being pressed. The less robust species, such as Sphacelaria scoparia, which do not adhere well to paper, may be made to do so by brushing them over either with milk carefully skimmed, or with a liquid formed by placing isinglass (I oz.) and water (1$ oz.) in a wide-mouthed bottle, and the bottle in a small glue-pot or saucepan containing cold water, heating until solution is effected, and then adding i oz. of rectified spirits of wine; the whole is next stirred together, and when cold is kept in a stoppered bottle. For use, the mixture is warmed to render it fluid, and applied by means of a camel's hair brush to the under side of the specimen, which is then laid neatly on paper. For the more delicate species, such as the Callithamnia and Ectocarpi, it is an excellent plan to place a small fruiting fragment, carefully floated out in water, on a slip of mica of the size of an ordinary microscopical slide, and allow it to dry. The plant can then be at any time examined under the micro-scope without injuring the mounted specimen. Many of the fresh-water algae which form a mere crust, such as Palmella cruenta, may be placed in a vessel of water, where after a time they float like a scum, the earthy matter settling down to the bottom, and may then be mounted by slipping a piece of mica under them and allowing it to dry. Oscillatoriae may be mounted by laying a portion on a silver coin placed on a piece of paper in a plate, and pouring in water until the edge of the coin is just covered. The alga by its own peculiar movement will soon form a radiating circle, perfectly free from dirt, around the coin, which may then be removed. There is considerable difficulty in removing mounted specimens of algae from paper, and therefore a small portion preserved on mica should accompany each specimen, enclosed for safety in a small envelope fastened at one corner of the sheet of paper. Filamentous diatoms may be mounted like ordinary seaweeds, and, as well as all parasitic algae, should whenever possible be allowed to remain attached to a portion of the alga on which they grow, some species being almost always found found parasitical on particular plants. Ordinary diatoms and desmids may be mounted on mica, as above described, by putting a portion in a vessel of water and exposing it to sunlight, when they rise to the surface, and may be thus removed comparatively free from dirt or impurity. Owing to their want of adhesiveness, they are, however, usually mounted on glass as microscopic slides, either in glycerin jelly, Canada balsam or some other suitable medium. size, several specimens from different localities being laid upon one sheet, each specimen having been first placed on a small square of paper which is gummed on the sheet, and which has the locality, date, name of collector, &c., written upon it. This mode has some disadvantages attending it; such sheets are difficult to handle; the crustaceous species are liable to have their surfaces rubbed; the foliaceous species become so compressed as to lose their characteristic appearance; and the spaces between the sheets caused by the thickness of the specimen permit the entrance of dust. A plan which has been found to answer well is to arrange them in cardboard boxes, either with glass tops or in sliding covers, in drawers—the name being placed outside each box and the specimens gummed into the boxes. Lichens for the herbarium should, whenever possible, be sought for on a slaty or laminated rock, so as to procure them on flat thin pieces of the same, suitable for mounting. Specimens on the bark of trees require pressure until the bark is dry, lest they become curled; and those growing on sand or friable soil, such as Coniocybe furfuracea, should be laid carefully on a layer of gum in the box in which they are intended to be kept. Many lichens, such as the Verrucariae and Collemaceae, are found in the best condition during the winter months. In mounting collemas it is advisable to let the specimen become dry and hard, and then to separate a portion from adherent mosses, earth, &c., and mount it separately so as to show the branching of the thallus. Pertusariae should be represented by both fruiting and sorediate specimens. The larger species of fungi, such as the Agaricini and Polyporei, &c., are prepared for the herbarium by cutting a slice out of the centre of the plant so as to show the outline of the cap or pileus, the attachment of the gills, and the character of the interior of the stem. The remaining portions of the pileus are then lightly pressed, as well as the central slices, between bibulous paper until dry, and the whole is then " poisoned," and gummed on a sheet of paper in such a manner as to show the under surface of the one and the upper surface of the other half of the pileus on the same sheet. A " map " of the spores should be taken by separating a pileus and placing it flat on a piece of thin paper for a few hours when the spores will fall and leave a nature print of the arrangement of the gills which may be fixed by gumming the other side of the paper. As it is impossible to preserve the natural colours of fungi, the specimens should, whenever possible, be accompanied by a coloured drawing of the plant. Microscopic fungi are usually preserved in envelopes, or simply attached to sheets of paper or mounted as microscopic slides. Those fungi which are of a dusty nature, and the Myxomycetes or Mycetozoa may, like the lichens, be preserved in small boxes and arranged in drawers. Fungi under any circumstances form the least satisfactory portion of an herbarium. Mosses when growing in tufts should be gathered just before the capsules have become brown, divided into small flat portions, and pressed lightly in drying paper. During this process the capsules ripen, and are thus obtained in a perfect state. They are then pre-served in envelopes attached to a sheet of paper of the ordinary size, a single perfect specimen being washed, and spread out under the envelope so as to show the habit of the plant. For attaching it to the paper a strong mucilage of gum tragacanth, containing an eighth of its weight of spirit of wine, answers best. If not preserved in an envelope the calyptra and operculum are very apt to fall off and become lost. Scale-mosses are mounted in the same way, or may be floated out in water like sea-weeds, and dried in white blotting paper under strong pressure before gumming on paper, but are best mounted as microscopic slides, care being taken to show the stipules. The specimens should be collected when the capsules are just appearing above or in the colesule or calyx; if kept in a damp saucer they soon arrive at maturity, and can then be mounted in better condition, the fruit-stalks being too fragile to bear carriage in a botanical tin case without injury. Of the Characeae many are so exceedingly brittle that it is best to float them out like sea-weeds, except the prickly species, which may be carefully laid out on bibulous paper, and when dry fastened on sheets of white paper by means of gummed strips. Care should be taken in collecting charae to secure, in the case of dioecious species, specimens of both forms, and also to get when possible the roots of those species on which the small granular starchy bodies or gemmae are found, as in C. fragifera. Portions of the fructification may be preserved in small envelopes attached to the sheets.
End of Article: HERBARIUM, or HORTUS
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