Science! Collecting Herbarium Specimens

New Hampshire's Natural Heritage Bureau maintains a checklist of all vascular plant species known to occur in each County. 

As I record species at the Witchwood, I check against this list to identify any not officially recorded in that list for Hillsborough County. I've found a dozen so far. 

In most cases, these seem to be simple oversights. Many species like Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) are widespread in Hillsborough County, but nobody seems to have gotten around to filing an herbarium specimen documenting it. 

In other cases, my observations may represent recent changes to plant distribution. American Jumpseed (Persicaria virginiana) is known from western NH counties and MA, but not from Hillsborough County. I'm really excited about that one! 

I checked with the NH state botanist, Bill Nichols, and he told me that to be added to the list, a specimen must be collected and a voucher put on file with a local herbarium. A voucher is a pressed, dried specimen of a plant with notes about the species, location, and collector. When possible, vouchers should include the whole plant including roots and preferably be in flower or fruit to aid identification. 

I just mailed him vouchers for four species: 

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis):  


American Jumpseed (Persicaria virginiana):
 
My August 1, 2020 observation is presently the first and only record of this species in Hillsborough County on iNaturalist. GoBotany does not presently record it there either. I'm especially excited about this one because it is native to the region and appears to be expanding its reach. 

Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine):
 
My observation on July 3, 2019 is presently the earliest record of Helleborine in Hillsborough County on iNaturalist. Several other people have observed it since. GoBotany does not presently record it there either. Helleborine is a non-native that has been making its way through New England. 

Dwarf St. John's-Wort (Hypericum mutilum):
 

I am so excited to make this small contribution to scientific records of species distribution! 

There are several more that I need to voucher next year:

*Note: the above pairs show my voucher and a photo of mine of the same species, but not the actual specific plant collected. 

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