The University of Reading Herbarium (RNG) is one of the few university based herbaria still actively collecting in the UK. While the collection is of modest size, some 300,000 specimens it is particularly valuable for DNA based research due to its high proportion of modern collections. An updated website for the herbarium was recently launched (http://www.reading.ac.uk/herbarium/) and the Herbarium twitter feed (https://twitter.com/RNGherb) posts items of interest e.g. the recent visit of the President of the Cyclamen Society. In addition to being an important research resource, student training is a major part of our activities.
One of the transferable skills we teach our students is how to collect, press and mount plant specimens to herbarium quality. Just this week we were training our current MSc students, who have to prepare an herbarium of 30 monocotyledonous plants as part of their assignment for the module on Fieldwork. Sue Mott, the deputy curator, delivered an introduction to the methods used, and then I took over for individual student help. I’ve had the opportunity to collect many Narcissus specimens for my PhD on hoop-petticoat daffodils, so have had ample opportunity to develop my herbarium skills.