How to Press Flowers and Leaves

Ages: 6-8, 9-11
Location: Indoors, Outdoors
Skills: Science

What you'll need:
Flowers or leaves
1/4-inch plywood
Corrugated (or heavy-duty) cardboard
Blotter paper or cloth
Newspaper
Belt, strap, or weights of some kind (bricks work) or an old thick phone book and some bricks

Background:
One of the nicest ways to preserve memories of a nature walk is to collect and preserve pretty leaves or flowers (make sure any wildflowers you pick are not in a protected area!). Pressing flowers and leaves, then putting them in photo albums or a scrapbook, is also a great way to discover more about plants in your area.

What to do:
Cut the plywood, cardboard and blotter paper into pieces that are about the same size, (my press is 2 feet by 11/2 feet). You can add more specimens by building the press higher to just repeating the sequence below, stacking pieces of plywood, cardboard and blotter paper.

When you find a leaf or flower, place it between the pieces of newspaper. If you want to remember when you collected it or what it is, you can insert a label with identifying information on it.

Place the paper between pieces of blotter paper, then place those between pieces of plywood. Strap it tightly or weigh it down. The blotter paper should be changed every day. When you change the paper you can check on the progress of your specimen. A warm, dry environment with good airflow will hasten drying.

Showcase your collection in a photo album, scrapbook or folder of plastic-covered paper inserts. Another alternative is to take an old phone book, insert your specimens (mark where you put them with a sticky note) and weigh down the phone book with bricks. You can also place your specimen in the phone book between pieces of newspaper. Check it every other day.

 

(This press assemblage idea comes courtesy of Matt Leddy, chairman of the horticulture department of the College of San Mateo, California)

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