Make sure the specimen is representative of the species being collected. It is very important to
collect flowers and fruits that are preferably still attached to the twig when ever possible, as
well as leaves. Flowers and fruits are usually essential for identification of plant specimens.
Always try to collect both young growth and old growth, as the young growth on many plants
is often hairy, while the old growth can be consistently hairless.
Supplementary notes on plant features not visible on a dried specimen, e.g. flower colour, can
be important when using a key to identify a specimen at a later date. First check the growth
habit and height of the plant – is it a vine, shrub or tree. Many woody vines start life with a
shrubby habit. What colour are the flowers and or fruit, how are they arranged, what are their
dimensions? Check for any sap or latex that may be present when you break a leaf off. Note
the leaf arrangement on the plant – are the leaves opposite or alternate, is the leaf simple or
is it compound, etc? Look for spines on the stems or trunk, as well as the colour of the bark
and if it is rough, smooth or flaky. Also do the leaves have any scent when crushed?
All information should be noted (see ‘Filling in a Collecting Book’ on page 5), for the more
characters noted, the easier it is to correctly identify the plant. Always try to collect both
young growth and old growth, as the young growth on many plants is often hairy, while the
old growth can be consistently glabrous (without hairs). Do not forget locality, was it from
near Alice Springs or in your backyard in Katherine.