The Arnold Arboretum Collector’s Tool Kit: A new resource for expedition collectors

by Jon Hetman, Director of External Relations & Communications
December 19, 2017

Expedition toolkit_pages

The Arnold Arboretum Collector’s Tool Kit: A new resource for expedition collectors

Expedition Tool Kit

Compiled by Living Collections Fellow Robert Dowell, this in-depth publication provides helpful how-to’s for planning expeditions, processing and importing plant material, reading plant habitats, and more to make the most of any plant-collecting endeavor.

As The Campaign for the Living Collections sources new, rare, and endangered plant material for the Arnold Arboretum Living Collections, it also generates new knowledge and best practices for conducting expeditions. To document this information and share it with the botanical garden community, the Arboretum has created a Expedition Tool Kit [pdf] which will serve as a guide to academic and physical resources for plant collectors. The Took Kit includes information on designing digital storage repositories for investigative information, mapping potential collecting sites and using them to build a collecting itinerary, assembling and leading a team of collectors in the field, and maintaining the most accurate and comprehensive documentation of expedition material. Future collectors can draw on this new resource to maximize their expedition success.

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The Tool Kit includes helpful examples for trip-planning from the Arnold Arboretum’s Campaign for the Living Collections, including how to select and map areas of interest for collecting.

expedition tool kit_importing

Guides on fruit and/or seed cleaning to meet phytosanitary standards help ensure a smooth process when importing plant material into the US from international collecting trips. Pictured above are cleaned seeds from the Arnold Arboretum 2016 Republic of Georgia Expedition, ready for importation. Photo by Andrew Gapinski.

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A herbarium voucher of Populus tremuloides displays preparation criteria for pressing, including the optimal placement and size of the specimen within the newsprint sheet. Photo Natalie Buckley-Medrano.


Learning to read plant habitats, as well as understanding their individual identifying characteristics, is critical to finding material in the wild. Here, in the White Mountains National Forest of New Hampshire, Arboretum collectors sourced Fraxinus nigra, a species found only in low-lying, swampy areas. Photo Natalie Buckley-Medrano.

Expedition-Tool-Kit_local collaboration

Collaboration with locals is vital to any collecting trip. Here, locals of Chongqing, China point to a near-hidden hillside population of wild Acer griseum, assisting 2015 NACPEC collectors in finding this important species. Photo by Michael Dosmann.

Access the full toolkit and start planning your next expedition! For more information on the Arnold Arboretum’s plant collecting activities, check out more resources below:

Campaign for the Living Collections
Plant Exploration 
Collections Management
Expeditions Unveiled

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