Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Start your own herbarium

Important things happen behind the scenes at a botanic garden. There are thousands of plants growing in our natural environment that are still to be found and studied. Botanists working in a botanic garden study plants, name them and keep records of their discoveries. Part of their records is a collection of dried plants called a herbarium. The National Herbarium of NSW at the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust holds over one million dried plant specimens, including plants collected by Banks and Solander on the east coast of Australia in 1770.

Want to start your own herbarium?

Let’s take this step by step.

What you will need

  • secateurs
  • collector’s book
  • tag
  • pencil
  • plant press  - a phone book is fine but you can also use newpaper, thick cardboard and bricks
  • white cardboard - about A4
  • white cotton
  • needle
  • labels
  • plastic page protectors
  • ring binder

This is what you do


Herbarium 1

1. Use secateurs to cut off a plant part with flowers, leaves and stem. 

Herbarium 2

2. Put a number on the tag and attach it to your plant specimen.

Herbarium 3

3. Write this number in your collector’s book and fill in as much other information as you can.

Herbarium 4

4. Place specimens between sheets of newspaper and place these between cardboard.

Herbarium 5 

5. Close the press tightly and keep your plants in a warm, airy place for about two weeks.

Herbarium 6 

6. When the specimens are dry, sew them onto the cardboard with needle and cotton.

Herbarium 7 

7. Write a label for each specimen and stick it to the cardboard. 

Herbarium 8

8. Put your specimen into a page protector and then into your ring binder.

Banks and Solander specimen

red seaweed