Research

Flora of Minnesota Project

A flora describes all the species within a region, classifies them, and provides taxonomic keys so people can identify them. Students at Minnesota State University, Mankato are in the early stages of creating an on-line flora for Minnesota's 2000+ plant species. We plan to provide maps showing species' distributions, information about their habitat requirements, whether the plants are native or introduced to a region, their "status" (Are they endangered? Are they weeds?), and their older names, if any, for cross reference. Various floras have been written for Minnesota; however they are currently out of print and restricted to spring-flowering species or to regions of the State. Minnesota State University, Mankato students taking Flora of Minnesota (BIOL 442) or working on independent research projects will "adopt" a group of plants, perform needed research, write keys and descriptions (referred to as "treatments"), and prepare location data for distribution maps. We will begin posting treatments later this year.

Alex Cahlander-MooersAlex Cahlander-Mooers

Biology/Plant Science

Key to the Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family).

David SchlosserDavid Schlosser

Accounting and Biology/Plant Science

Writing a taxonomic key to the Orchidaceae (Orchid Family).

Mike EurleMike Eurle

Biology/Plant Science

Design and implementation of mapping program for species distributions.

Sara OwenSara Owen

Biology/Plant Science

Writing keys and treatments for the Berberidaceae (Barberry Family).

 

Making a Plant Collection

Kayla Knudsen pressing plants

Kayla Knudsen pressing plants in Pipestone County, MN.

Collecting and pressing plants is fun and relatively easy. However, if you want to contribute specimens to the Radichel Herbarium you must follow certain guidelines. Contact Alison Mahoney for detailed instructions on how to prepare and record data for herbarium-quality specimens.

Probably the most important consideration for the weekend botanist is:

Never collect rare or endangered plants.

These plants are protected by law and if you remove them, you are further reducing the species’ chances of survival. Download the list of Minnesota's Endangered Species.

Follow these simple rules to ensure that you are not endangering plants – or yourself!

  • Never collect plants in local, StateNational ParksState Scientific and Natural Areas, or Wildlife Management Areas. All wildlife in these areas is strictly protected by law.
  • Never collect plants on private property unless you have permission from the landowner.
  • You may collect plants on roadsides; be careful not to stray onto private or protected properties.
  • Take photographs of any plants you aren’t familiar with and submit them to us for identification before you collect.
  • Don't collect underground portions of plants.
    (See exceptions to this rule in our instructions for making and using a [PDF] plant press (740 KiB).)
  • Don’t collect any unique plants. Make sure there are at least 15 individuals of the same species in the immediate area.
  • Be aware of plants that can cause dermatitis.
  • Be aware that some plants contain poisonous compounds. Make sure to wash your hands after working in the field.
    (Don’t eat lunch while you’re collecting!)

Learn more about obtaining or constructing and using a plant press.

Request a Loan

Botanists performing research on particular plant groups at a herbarium may request loans of specimens from other herbaria. This process can only be carried out by herbarium personnel. Loans can only be made to herbaria with secure facilities that ensure the safety of the specimens. Specimens must remain in the herbarium for the duration of the loan. Researchers are usually expected to determine the specimens before they are returned to their home herbarium.

To request a loan, please e-mail Alison Mahoney

or write to her at
Department of Biological Sciences
Minnesota State University-Mankato
242 Trafton Science Center South
Mankato, MN 56001

or call her at 507-389-2787.