Identification of Woody and Herbaceous Plants

To facilitate plant identification, please follow the guidelines listed below when sending tree, shrub and herbaceous plant specimens to the Horticulture Department.

  1. The specimen should be representative of the plant in question.
  2. If present, the specimen should include stems, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds. The size of the specimen depends on the type of plant. Woody plant specimens should be approximately 1 to 1-1/2 feet in length. Dig up entire plants when sending in small herbaceous plants. A grass or turf sample should be 4 to 6 inches in diameter (if possible) and include the root system. Gently shake the sample to remove excess soil from the roots.
  3. Wrap the specimen in dry paper toweling and then place it in a plastic bag.
  4. Each specimen should be accompanied by a note containing the following information: collector's name and address, area where specimen was collected (garden, roadside, field, woodland, etc.), size (height and width), and plant habit (erect, arching, pyramidal, vining, etc.). Also describe traits and features not present on the plant specimen. These might include flower characteristics (shape, size, and color), season of bloom, fruit type, fall leaf color, and stem color or texture.
  5. Place the specimen in a strong box or carton to prevent damage during shipment.
  6. Specimens should be mailed as soon after they have been collected as possible. Mail to:

Reiman Gardens
1407 Elwood Drive
Ames, Iowa 50011.

This article originally appeared in the May 24, 2002 issue, p. 70.


Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Horticulture and Home Pest News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on May 24, 2002. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.