An Australian Government Initiative [logo]
Information about Australia's flora - Ferns of Australia and PNG
ANBG logo
Home > Gardens | CANBR > ferns > curation

The ANH Pteridophyte Collection

Overview of collections & procedures

This document is intended as a guide to the collection of ferns and fern allies of the Australian National Herbarium and the curatoial conventions used in this part of the collection. It assumes a degree of familiarity with herbarium curatorial practice and plant identification techniques.

Specimen storage

Location in herbarium. The ferns and fern allies, or pteridophytes, are stored in folders on compactus units in the herbarium on the ANBG site. They occupy the SW part of the Central compactus; the collection starts in the SW corner and flows inward toward the middle

Storage units. The pteridophyte type specimens are stored separately in boxes in the same compactus unit. In the compactus there are 6 bays with 12 sides of shelves. On each compactus side there are 8 columns, each with 10 rows of shelves. Within each column, every pigeonhole is used for storage except the top one; this is kept for temporary box storage and future expansion or overflow.

Mounted specimen storage. Every pigeonhole houses an open-fronted cardboard specimen box for folders of mounted specimens. These boxes are needed to stabilize the stacked specimens. To minimize compression and damage to the specimens, the aim is to keep the boxes between 2/3 and 3/4 full; boxes greater that 3/4 full need to be divided and the space evened out through the compactus.

To protect the specimen, each individual specimen is stored in its own white archival paper folder, with the fold on the left hand side. Older specimens have been stored in non-archival brown folders, the oldest of which are showing signs of acid damage and decay and need to be replaced.

Details of the collectors name and field number, identification and region are written in pencil on the outside of the specimen folder. The diamond shaped 'ANHSIR' or rectangular shaped 'IBIS' stamps in the bottom left corner indicates that the specimen has been databased. If this specimen is redetermined or moved to another place in the collection, the current determination must be recorded in the database.

For further protection and physical support specimens of the same species or lower taxon are stored in separate species folders. Each taxon of the rank of species and below must have its own taxon folder, brown or buff for Australian specimens, blue for exotic species. These taxon folders are also folded on the left hand side. When folders become greater than 2 - 3 cm thick they should be divided. To assist in this process, specimens from each state or major exotic region or continental regions have their own folder, regardless of the number of specimens involved in the state or region (Note: this practice differs from the main collection).

Bulky material storage. Bulky material such as stipe base, rhizomes and trunk sections are stored in narrow, lidded boxes in the space between between two columns of specimen boxes. Excessively large trunk sections are stored in labeled specimen boxes on the top shelves

Empty boxes. Empty or spare boxes are stored back to front on the top row of shelf. Boxes with their open or labeled side facing away are empty and available for use.

Labeling. Each side of the compactus is numbered sequentially from 1; each column within a side is also numbered from left to right so that any given column can be referred to by the unique combination of its side and column number, expressed as a decimal, e.g. column 5.6.

Compactus content labels. Families and genera present in the compactus ae indicated on the compactus side ends as an aid to locating specimens. Indices of families and genera are also provided there.

Taxon shelf labels. The start of every family is signaled by a magnetic label bearing the family name on the shelf front above the first box of that family. The magnetic labels can be easily moved if the start ofthe family has to be moved for a variety of reasons. Note: the convention of labels referring to the shelf below is different to the main herbarium because the specimen boxes obscure labels on the lower shelves.

Curation and database signals. Every pigeonhole is labeled with a clear plastic sleeve. A white slip is inserted in this sleeve when all the specimens in the pigeon hole have been curated. When the specimens have been databased, the white slip is stamped with the ANHSIR database stamp. Othe conventions for signalling specimen status will be implemented inthe future.

Arrangement in the compactus

The pteridophyte collection is arranged in two artificial groups:

The arrangement is hierarchicaly alphabetical:

Locating families on the shelves

As the families are arranged alphabetically, the families do not need to be numbered (Note: this practice differs from the main collection).

Each storage unit in a bay is one side of the compactus and the order in the bay runs from the top left hand corner pigeonhole down to the bottom of the column, then from the top of the next column to the bottom, continuing along until the bottom RH corner pigeonhole. Each storage unit or side of the compactus continues from top left to bottom right, facing the compactus.

The start of each family is marked by a magnetic label bearing the family name attached to the shelf above the first pigeon hole for that family (Note: this practice differs from the main collection: in the main collection the label is on the shelf bearing the first box of the family).

There are alphabetical lists of genera and corresponding family lists on the outside of the compactus near that family to enable easy lookup and location of genera within the family.

Order of genera, species, and infraspecific taxa within a family

Specimens of the same taxon are grouped together in a single/several taxon folder/s (depending on the number of specimens) bearing the family name, taxon name without author (Note: this practice differs from the main collection), and the state or country/region of collection on the outside bottom of the folder.

The diamond shaped 'ANHSIR' or rectangular shaped 'IBIS' stamps above the family name in the bottom left corner indicates that all the specimens in this folder have been databased. No specimens should be inserted into or removed from these folders without their details and current determination being recorded in the database.

The collection is the amalgamation of the old CANB and CBG collections and the information on the folders has historically been written in a slightly differently order. The example below is the how folders are to be written:

Family
(in upper case)
Taxon name
(in lower case)
State
(or country continental region)
POLYPODIACEAE Pyrrosia confluens var. dielsii. Qld

For cultivated specimens ‘CULT.’ will replace the state or country of collection in the bottom right hand corner.

Specimens from Australian States and Territories are placed in brown taxon folders, those from outside Australia are placed in blue taxon folders.

Please make the boxed spine on folders containing several specimens as this makes for a more stable pile.

Folder sizes. The standard taxon folders for CANB are the larger CSIRO-size folders. These should be used for both small and large size specimens. Do not make up new small folders. Smaller folders used for a CBG sized specimens should be replaced with larger folders when they are encountered.

Refoldering. Specimens from small folders should be integrated with specimens of the same taxon in the appropriate larger size folders. The smaller CBG (Australian National Botanic Gardens) folders of specimens are to be removed and discarded when they are encountered and the specimens interleaved with the CSIRO specimens in taxon folders as outlined above. To improve support of the specimens, folders of specimens greater than 5 cm thick should be divided.

Many of the historic folders are thin and/or decaying or folded on the wrong side; these are to be removed and discarded when encountered and replaced with taxon folders as outlined above.

The folders are arranged in the following order:

Working literature. For each family or genus, where available and practicable, photocopies of published taxonomic literature, keys, illustrations, etc., used in the curatorial process are placed in a green-striped folder at the beginning of the family or genus

Type specimens. Type specimen photographs or illustrations, protologues, etc. are places in a red type folder with the dummy sheet and stored in the collection under the current determined name. The type specimens themselves are stored in the compactus at the end of the collection, in special type folders, arranged under the basionym or original published name.

Geographical ordering in taxon folders

Specimens of the same taxon are grouped together in a single taxon folder (or several taxon folders, depending on the number of specimens) bearing the family name, taxon name and the state or country of collection on the outside bottom edge of the folder. The diamond shaped 'ANHSIR' or rectangular shaped 'IBIS' stamps indicates the taxon is databased. Different folders are required for different geographic regions:

Geographic taxon folders. Individual taxon folders are made for each of the following regions if there are representative specimens from these regions:

Bulky or separate associated material

Carpological Material. Pteridohypes do not produce large unmountable fruit. However bulky stipe bases, rhizomes and trunks are stored separately and indicated on the sheet and in the database in the same manner as regular carpological material.

The separate items are stored in lidded cardboard boxes near the appropriate family, genus or species. The front of the box is labelled with the family, genus or species name.

Spirit Collection. There appears to be no spirit or liquid material of pteridophytes in the CANB collection

Databasing priorities

Incorporation of specimens into the Australian National Herbarium

Incorporation of specimens into the herbarium collection, often referred to as 'putting away' or 'laying in', is as important as putting a book away in the library; if something is not put in the right place it may never be found again. Guidelines for specimen incorporation are presented below, along with solutions to some of the problems that may be encountered.

Materials Used

Note: If the folders have three score marks on their centre, please fold according to the number of specimens the folder will hold. For example, crease only the centre fold if there are only a few specimens, otherwise fold the outer two score lines to make a box spine to hold many specimens. This enables the folders to sit in a safer and more stable fashion on top of one another in the pigeon hole.

Specimen incorporation - getting it right

Incorporation checklist

Before putting a specimen away please check the following:

1. Is there any reason to think that the specimen is a Type, or might be a Type? YES (type_ok) NO (got to 2)
2. Is the family name in use at CANB and is it on the list of families? NO (family_ok) YES (go to 3)
3. Is the genus name in the family on the shelves? NO (genus_ok) YES (go to 4)
4. Is there a taxon folder with the exact taxon name as the specimen? NO (species_ok) YES (go to 5)
5. Has the taxon name on the folder been referenced to another name and is the folder empty? YES (species_ok) NO (go to 6)
6. Does the specimen look like the other material in the folder? NO (species_ok) YES (go to 7)
7. Does the taxon folder have an ANHSIR or IBIS database stamp or a green ROTAP sticker? YES (databasing) NO (go to 8)
8. Is there a large-sized taxon folder available? Small CBG sheets can be put away into large taxon folders but not vice versa. NO (arrangement) YES (go to 9)
9. Is there a taxon folder for the geographical region from which the specimen originates? NO (geography) YES (go to 10)
10. CONGRATULATIONS - YOU CAN PUT THE SPECIMEN AWAY

Type specimens

Family name in use at CANB

The genus is in the correct family

The species name is current and correct

Standard references for taxonomic problem solving

The standard reference used for the layout of the collection is the online version of the ANH Curation Table. This differens in sme cases from the Australian Plant Name Index (APNI) and from treatments in the Flora of Australia.

This is largely based on Brummitt, R.K. (1992), Vascular Plant Families and Genera, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. This arrangement also differs in many cases from that used in the Flora of Australia. As the arrangement of families and genera in CANB varies from APNI, Brummitt and the Flora of Australia for some families and genera, new names of these ranks should be checked carefully.

Brummit and a selection of State floras and Flora of Australia volumes are located on the benches near the compactus.

Some on-line references