Post Collection

How do I handle my plant samples after I collect them?

1) Avoid excessive temperatures, ideally keeping samples at ambient or cool temperatures but do not freeze. 

2) Avoid excessive moisture in sample bags or allowing bags to “sweat” for an extended period of time.  This promotes fungal and bacterial growth and accelerates the decline of sample quality.  

3) Avoid creating an anaerobic condition around plant samples through storage in air tight plastic bags or tight packing for extended periods of time. Samples of fleshy fruit stored in plastic bags should be aerated intermittently if immediate delivery is not possible.

4) Protect plant samples from mechanical damage, such as crushing, during harvesting, handling and transport.

5) Get samples to the storage or propagation facility as soon as possible to. An extended time interval from collection of samples to storage or propagation facility under conditions conducive to fungal and bacterial growth. 


All collections of plant material from the wild should be accompanied with field data, regardless of the reason for collection.  This will help you keep track of your collections history, and track the activities concerning the plant materials after it has been removed from the wild. While in the field, using a field notebook or a pre-set form such as the Rare Plant Field Data Form, where you can fill in pertinent information, is the best way to record collections data or observations.  This is much more preferable to waiting till later and relying on your memory for details. If the collected plant material is going to a propagation facility, this form is also suitable and desirable to submit along with the plant samples.

Some form of record keeping should be kept, either as a spreadsheet or database.  A spreadsheet or database is also a way to keep all of your information concerning a collected species in a single location. There are many benefits to invest the time in record keeping, some of which are:

1)  The ability to observe trends or patterns in your collections activities.

2)  Provide a reliable way to determine success or failure of your collections activities.

3)  An easy way for you and others (if necessary) to review your notes and observations.

4) Simplifies the reporting process for you.

Some of the most basic information you should record for every collection event in the field are:

Genus, species, subspecies, etc.
Collection organization
Collector name
Date of collection
Collection site (location, GPS)
Collection number
Type of material
Purpose of collection
Any notable observations during collection

Once the collected plant material is brought out of the wild and submitted to an ex situstorage or propagation facility, some additional information you should include in your record keeping are:

Date submitted to facility
Location of plant material
Any important dates and events concerning changes in status to the plants or plant material that was collected.
Propagation method &/or research activity.
Any observations the date the observation was made.
Post collection: Any dispersion to other facilities or sites of plants or plant material resulting from the collections made from the original ex situ site.


Lyon Arboretum Plant Propagation Lab Culture Room

What do I need to provide to the propagation facilities when I submit my samples?

1) To ensure accurate documentation of the plant samples, provide the Rare Plant Field Data Form. 

2) Label all samples legibly and unambiguously.  

3) If any special or significant sampling methods were used, note what was done.

4) Note any pest problems associated with the parent plant at the time of collection.

5) Make arrangements with the storage or propagation facility before sample collection.

6) Submit samples to the propagation facilities as soon as possible!  Delays may have deleterious effects on sample viability.