Mossy Memories

I’m not sure ‘herbarium’ is the correct word to use for a collection of mosses, but I don’t know what else to call it, so herbarium will have to do.


In sorting out the records and files from the original bird observatory of the 70s and 80s, I came across a file box filled with samples and data on local mosses. Dot was a botanist before she became a birder and bander, and this her collection.

There are about 50 different cards in the box, all with dried and perfectly preserved samples. The one in the photo is labeled ‘sphagnum acutifolium’ a bog moss from the Great Swamp in Chatham, NJ (where Dot used to teach).

hairmosspicThis one is labeled Polytrichum commune, or common hair moss, and was collected in Stillwater, NJ.

Looking at this collection made me think of early naturalists, who took time to collect, identify, label, and preserve plants in similar herbariums.

I haven’t found the actual herbarium we used to have – I have a feeling it didn’t survive one of the Observatory moves.

But, this little moss collection is here, and I will do some research to find the best way to preserve and display it in the library, so others might enjoy and learn from it.

The new book cases are almost finished, and then I will be starting to sort through the seven file cabinets of records, and about 1,000 volumes of books and periodicals, in earnest. You’ll probably be seeing more about that here from time to time.

Posted in Plants. 4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Mossy Memories”

  1. mon@rch Says:

    How cool to have come across this collection! Back in the olden days those naturalist would really put a great deal of detail in their specimens that they have collected! I only wish I could have gone back in that time to learn from some of the best!

  2. Ruth Says:

    I have so much to learn! I have never given any thought to classification of mosses. There are so many things interesting things to observe.

  3. KGMom Says:

    What a cool post. I agree about naturalists in days gone by collecting much. Think of Darwin and how many specimens he collected, and of course how his observation of them over time led him to postulate the theory of evolution.
    Even the non-scientists (or maybe amateur scientists) would collect specimens–someone like Thomas Jefferson. They also made extensive observations of natural occurrences recording weather, tides, moon phases, etc.
    I regret the degree to which ordinary folk have lost that curiosity, and thank you for reminding us of it. I look for more from you as you sort through things!

  4. Lynne from Hasty Brook Says:

    I can’t wait to learn what you have to share! I would love to search through the moss cards with you.

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