Plant Pressing Party

The results of our first round of mounting plant specimens.

Throughout the summer Bre and I have been collecting plant specimens from Bois Jolie and Morne Michel and pressing them at our house. This past week we began mounting these specimens and last night, after dinner, Bre and I got the last specimens glued down. They are now waiting to be labeled and sorted into folders by plant family before we turn them over to the Centre de Formation Fritz Lafontant(CFFL) for repository.

I’m filled with a sense of accomplishment looking at the nearly finished products of our research, but getting to this point was not without its challenges. At the beginning of the summer I’d expected collecting each specimen to be the most difficult part of the process, but it turned out to be the easiest. Pressing was a bit more challenging. Some plants were more cooperative when being placed in the press than others. By this I mean that some plants are just the right shape and size to be smooshed flat, whereas others are more two-dimensionally challenged, I’ll say. However, these first two steps weren’t nearly as difficult as the mounting process proved to be.

Mounting a plant specimen involves laying each specimen in a slurry of glue and water and then placing it in the desired position on the special mounting paper. Sounds easy enough. However, each step presented a new challenge for us this summer. Many specimens folded under the weight of the glue and stuck to themselves, virtually undoing the work of the press. This problem was exacerbated further by the occasional breeze passing through the house. Then others wouldn’t lay flat on the paper and we had to gather stones from the yard to weigh them down. Finally, each specimen had to be laid out to dry for an extended period of time and there weren’t any ideal spots for that in our little house. In the photo above the specimens are drying in front of one of our doors, pretty much in everyone’s way.

I’m definitely making it out to be a bigger deal than it was, but I was just surprised at how many twists were thrown our way during a seemingly easy task. All-in-all I’m very proud of the specimens we’ve prepared and I hope that they preserve well in the coming years at CFFL.

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