Saturday, June 7, 2014

Number 1.

In general I don't talk much about my work at the herbarium.  I mean it's blocks of wood & index cards.  I take a card, I find the wood specimen it references, I check it off & I enter the information in a DBF file for a future index.  It is exactly as boring as it sounds & more than a little bit soothing.  Most weeks one or two small things happen that make me happy.  Even the sad things make me happy. 
Yes, yes there are sad discoveries.  The most heartbreaking thing I ever tripped over at the herbarium was a pile of plants still in the newspaper they were collected & pressed in.  The top half pre-dated WWII & everything was collected by either So&so Senior or So&so Junior or both.  It spanned a couple of months & small range of places in the Southeastern US.  Then there was a gap, timewise.  The next specimen was in newspaper was dated after the war & from there on everything was collected by So&so Senior.  There were another 20 years of plants collected & no more sign of So&so Junior.  It took a little while to register & when it did, my heart started to race & my hands shook & I had to leave the mounting room because I started to cry.  I told the students I was working with that I had gotten some grit in my eye (this does actually happen) & rushed to the bathroom. 

This week in the wood collection I discovered this index car specimen combo.  This particular collector was prolific (I am 99.9% he is no longer collecting; I am 99.9% sure he is no longer alive, actually) & it was a small thrill to find his very first.  That number in blue pen is the herbarium's record number, that typed "1."  is the collector's number.  The rest of the label is a delight, too.  So much detail about where the specimen was collected.  Not just the country & province, which is usually the best I can hope for but a landmark that might indicate an environment (the ridge).  While this is not uncommon in plant specimens, this is the first time I can ever remember seeing an environment in for a wood.
The only thing missing is the date the wood was collected, a very rookie oversight.  Trust me, in the world of the wood collection this is adorable. 

No comments:

Post a Comment