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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - August 23, 2004

From: Hoboken, NJ
Region: Northeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Smarty Plants on wildflower collecting
Answered by: Stephen Brueggerhoff

QUESTION:

Is wildflower collecting a good school activity?

ANSWER:

Collecting plants for school projects is a great way to start the concept of "botanizing" in the formative years. One must keep in mind, though, to collect responsibly, and a photo and small sample is appropriate. There are other considerations, such as health of population found, commonality (i.e. is it a rare plant species); these can be managed with proper identification. Also, appropriate places from which to collect. Obviously, it is not a good idea to collect on the roadside (hazards of oncoming traffic, collecting on private property, etc). I recommend talking to the instructor of the class to see if he/she may either make some recommendations for appropriate places to collect, or maybe that person can also make arrangements for the students to collect specimens. We do provide an article from our Native Plant Information Network"Guidelines for Seed Collecting", which covers issues concerning proper collecting practices that may be applied to collecting vegetative specimens. We also offer a publication, entitled "Alternatives to Wildflower Collecting", addressing issues surrounding plant collecting for primary/secondary school projects.
 

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