Often on our nature walks, we discover new herbs that we want to learn more about. In our packs we carry 3 x 5 index cards, clear packing tape and felt-tipped pens. When we find a new plant, we carefully collect a leaf, flower and any other identifying features, tape the plant to the 3 x 5 card and use the pen to note where it was found and when.
Once we get home, we can look up the plant and identify it, make note of any uses and add the card to our pocket herbarium. Generally we carry our pocket herbarium with us as well so we can use it to locate, identify and harvest herbs in season. Making a pocket herbarium is easy and fun! It’s a great project for little hands and big hands alike.
1 sheet of cardstock or construction paper, any color (this will be the cover pages)
1 package of 3 x 5 index cards (lined or unlined)
Clear packaging tape
Paper cutter or straight edge
Twine or yarn
Pens, markers, colored pencils, herb magazines, seed catalogs or any other medium to decorate cover
For the cover:
Crop card stock down to 7 1 / 2” x 11” using the paper cutter or ruler and scissors.
Cut the large piece into two small pieces 7 1 / 2” x 5 1 / 2”. For each Herbarium you make, you will need one of these sheets.
Fold the sheet in half and decorate the cover. Be creative! Write your name on it if you wish, draw herbs or decoupage pictures cut from seed catalogs or magazines. Make it yours!
When you are finished decorating the cover, cut pieces of packaging tape twice the length of the cover and laminate the cover with the tape. I used four pieces total to do this step. Alternately you can use laminating paper if you have it on hand.
For the inside pages:
Using the hole punch, punch two holes at the top of the index cards. To keep everything lined up, I use the sides as a guide and rest the hole punch as far in as I can. I then line it up between the red line and edge. Do this to as many index cards as you’d like to start your book.
Assembling the Herbarium:
Take one index card and center it horizontally on top of the cover. I like to keep about 1/4 – 1/2 inch space between the top of the index card and the top of the cover to allow for plenty of room inside for the cards.
Using your cards as an alignment guide, punch the holes in the cover.
Place all the cards you have punched inside the book, cut off two equal pieces of twine or yarn (about 3” should do) and tie with bows. This will allow you to take apart the book as you need it to add or remove pages.
Now, you are ready to fill it up!
On your next herb walk, bring along the Herbarium, a small roll of packing tape (extra wide scotch tape may work as long as it is very sticky,) small scissors or a pocket knife for cutting the tape and herbs and a pen.
When you find a specimen you want to keep, carefully cut a small sample of every part (i.e. Leaf, flower, seed heads, possibly even roots if small enough) of plant and arrange it on an index card. How you arrange it is your choice. You may choose to use the blank side of the card and fill it up completely or use 1 / 2 the front side of the lined card so you can write your information next to it.
Cover the specimen completely with tape, carefully flattening the plant as you go. You may put two leaves on the page to show both front and back or fold one halfway over. Once you have arranged and taped your specimen in place, write the name of the herb down on the first blue line if you know it. If you do not know it, you can do this when you get home and identify it in your herb book.
Below the common name, write the Latin name. Again, this can also be written down at home.
Whatever other information you add is your choice. Some ideas are:
:: the location where you found it (if it is not commonly found where you are)
:: which parts of the herb are used
:: what it’s used for
:: what forms it is used in (i.e. teas, extracts, salves, poultices, etc)
:: best time for harvesting
:: any cautions for using the herb
Now place your completed card back into the Herbarium. I have found it stays more balanced if I rotate the placement of the herbs on the sides of the card I tape them to. If you choose to place your specimens on one side of the card and your information on the other, this will not be a problem.
To make it easier to refer back to your specimens, alphabetize them as you add them into the file, keeping all the blank cards in the back.
This simple pocket Herbarium will make it easy for you to quickly identify and remember herbs and their uses when you need them!
Kristine is a stay-at-home mom of 4 children and 2 bonus (step) children, herbalist, homeschooler, homesteader and creator, writer and illustrator of the popular monthly pdf zine for children titled Herbal Roots zine. This month’s issue is all about Red Clover. You can read more about it and subscribe at Herbal Roots zine.
Please note: I am not a licensed physician and cannot diagnose or treat any condition. All information is for educational purposes only.