PlantSearch: creating a catalogue of plants in cultivation in European botanic gardens


The Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) plant search database allows users to submit and search for plants in living collections all around the world. It gives cross-referenced information with Red Data Lists, plant images, the International Plant Names Index, Crop Wild Relatives, and the Tree Conservation Database. The database is a substantial contribution to Target 8 of the GSPC – telling us how many endangered species of plant are in ex situ collections – but this requires many more gardens to submit their lists.

PlantSearch is of major benefit to the world community of Gardens, and to researchers. At the very least Gardens should submit a list of all their holdings of threatened taxa.

PlantSearch currently holds records for approximately 180,000 taxa, provided by over 700 botanic gardens. The plant records are linked to databases on the threat status and uses of plants – the 1997 and 2006 IUCN Red Lists of threatened plant species, CITES plants, lists of Crop Wild Relatives and medicinal plants and the TROPICOS database. PlantSearch is used as a tool to measure progress towards Target 8 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) ‘60% of threatened plant species in accessible ex situ collections…’.

Data from European botanic gardens in PlantSearch

  • 257 European botanic gardens have so far provided plant lists
  • A total of 407,225 records are recorded for European gardens
  • These correspond to 124,630 taxa
  • 6,218 are considered threatened at the global level

The Consortium hopes to encourage as many European collections as possible to submit their plant-lists The advantages of submitting your plant list will be to:-

  • Find out if your taxa names are spelt correctly and exist on the International Plant Name Index (IPNI)
  • Find out how many rare and threatened plants you have in your collection
  • Find out how many other gardens are cultivating the same taxa
  • Identify crop wild relatives, alpine species and medicinal plants in your collection

The valuable genetic stock of plants already in collections may represent populations that are no longer extant, or provide material for experimental or genetic research. Thus PlantSearch is of major conservation value in that it will ensure:-

  • location of rare and threatened plant species in cultivation around the world
  • specimens do not remain anonymous in collections
  • targetted requests for cultivation information or propagation material reach the right audience

Botanic Gardens Conservation International

BGCI is the foremost source for information on Botanic Gardens around the World, and on the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. A recent addition to its website is the ability to upload your own list


BGCI Plant Search

Locate rare and threatened plant species in cultivation around the world using BGCI’s unique PlantSearch database. The database is compiled from lists of living collections submitted to BGCI by the world’s botanic gardens