From the Sea to the Herbarium: Preparing Algal Specimens

From the time seaweed specimens are collected to the time they are placed in the herbarium cabinets, there is about a weeklong process to prepare them for mounting and storage. After seaweed samples are collected, they are placed in a storage tank of sea water where they can be housed for up to a week before they have to be pressed. The seaweeds are then rinsed in fresh water to remove the salt water. If they aren’t rinsed, unwanted salt crystals will form on the dried specimen. When it’s time for pressing, a special herbarium paper is used to mount the seaweed. The specimens are laid out onto the herbarium paper, covered by wax paper, and put between blotting paper.


Once all of the specimens have been mounted on herbarium paper, they are then pressed together in a plant press. They will be pressed for a week before they are completely dried out and ready to be labeled.


After the seaweed is labeled with the scientific name, common name, the location where it was found, collection date, and who collected it, it’s then cataloged and placed in the herbarium cabinets. They will be stored and preserved in the cabinets for future use in scientific studies and education.



Algae pages created by Wyatt Dooley for the Algal Curatorial Internship under the direction of David Chapman.  Photos courtesy of Wyatt Dooley and CCBER.