Wanted: Samples of a Few European Forest Herbs

Dear European researchers, foresters and colleagues, I would like to make a call for participation in sampling plant material from either Geum urbanum or Oxalis acetosella, which are two forest herbs (see pictures below) widely distributed throughout Europe (see maps below). Within the framework of his PhD thesis here in Amiens, Pedro Poli is working on the phylogeography of these two forest herbs. For that reason, we need samples from as many different locations as possible to cover each species range in Europe. We would be very grateful if you could help us in this endeavor.


Geum urbanum L. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)


Global distribution of Geum urbanum


Oxalis acetosella L. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)


Global distribution of Oxalis acetosella

If, like me, it happens that you visit forests during your working hours (e.g., while working in the field) or free time (e.g., while reconnecting with Mother Earth) and that you encounter, by chance or not, a population of Geum urbanum or Oxalis acetosella, then it would be really nice if you could collect fresh material. By the way, beware of Ixodes ricinus while sampling in forests: it is the peak season right now. This tiny and nasty vampire is always hiding somewhere in the dense vegetation of the forest understory. Fight him/her back: dress up with colorful gears to spot him/her before he/she bites you and wear long sleeves.


A nice forest patch very close to where I live in Picardy (Bois de Vadencourt)


Several individuals of Geum urbanum within a patch of Mercurialis perennis

The protocol is super simple. You just need to carry about 15 to 20 envelops with you and a pen to write down sample IDs. That is it for the sampling material, but you can also carry a GPS device with you to record the precise geographical coordinates of your sampling sites (that would be awesome). Once you have the sampling material ready and you have found a population of Geum urbanum or Oxalis acetosella, you may start collecting up to three or four fresh leaves from 15 (or more) different individuals. The only requirement for sampling is that the collected individuals from the focal population or locality should not be too close from each others (cf. at least 5-m to 10-m apart) to avoid collecting clones of the same individual. Once you have collected enough fresh leaves (best is to collect the youngest leaves) from one individual of a given population, then you just have to put the collected leaves of the sampled individual in one envelop labelled with the name of the species and the running number of the sampled individual: easy, no? You can also add absorbent paper within the envelop if the leaves are wet. This will help to absorb the humidity.


Labelled envelops containing fresh and young leaves of Geum urbanum


Close-up on the content of one envelop

Fifteen individuals is our minimum requirement for the sample size but you can collect up to 20 if you want. Once you are done, then put all your 15 (or more) envelops (remember to use one small envelop per collected individual) in a bigger envelop addressed to Pedro Poli, UR EDYSAN (UMR 7058 CNRS-UPJV), Université de Picardie Jules Verne, 33 Rue Saint Leu, 80000Amiens, France.


Where to send the sampled material?

Before putting the letter to the post, do not forget to provide the geographical coordinates (latitude and longitude) of the sampled population together with your name and the date you sampled the material. You can either write it directly on a piece of paper that you will then insert into the envelop or you can also use Google Earth to mark the sampled location (using a pin or digitizing a polygon of the sampled area if you prefer) with the geographical coordinates of the location, the date and your name somehow visible on the screen and print it before inserting it into the envelop. You are also very welcome to send the .kml file by email to pedro.poli@u-picardie.fr so that we know you sent us some material by mail.


Geographical coordinates of the sampled location

If you are keen, you are very welcome to sample more than one population or location. The more populations from very different geographical contexts we have, the better.

Thanks in advance for your help and contribution.