Plant Records: What’s growing here then?

This workshop picked up on three topics of special interest highlighted at the successful meeting at RHS Harlow Carr in October 2014.

Locating plants in our collections and informing our visitors are important aspects of a plant records officer’s role.  Being ever conscious of time and money we want to make best use of the resources that are readily available around us.  Increasingly legislation is demanding that we monitor and record where our plant material comes from, ends up and is used, but how do we handle this within our systems?

International Plant Exchange Network (IPEN)

A model for the acquisition and the exchange of living plant material within the botanic gardens community in respect of the ABS requirements of the CBD. IPEN is a voluntary registration system intending to facilitate the botanic gardens plant exchange in accordance with the CBD provisions.


Missouri Botanic Gardens’ Tropicos® was originally created for internal research but has since been made available to the world’s scientific community. All of the nomenclatural, bibliographic, and specimen data accumulated in MBG’s electronic databases during the past 25 years are publicly available here. This system has over 1.2 million scientific names and 4.0 million specimen records. A number of tools have been developed including a name matching service.

The Plant List

A working list of all known plant species. It aims to be comprehensive for species of Vascular plant (flowering plants, conifers, ferns and their allies) and of Bryophytes (mosses and liverworts).
Collaboration between the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanical Garden enabled the creation of The Plant List by combining multiple checklist data sets held by these institutions and other collaborators.

Plant Search

The only global database of living plant, seed and tissue collections


(formerly Google Refine) is a powerful tool for working with messy data: cleaning it; transforming it from one format into another; extending it with web services; and linking it to databases like Freebase.


Is free software which allows you to search and annotate PDFs. A good way to search for plants in PDF plant records, Index Seminum etc.

Alliance for Public Gardens GIS

The Alliance for Public Gardens GIS is a consortium of biological collection managers and GIS professionals who are dedicated to making geographic information systems more accessible to arboreta, botanical gardens, cemeteries, display gardens, historic landscapes, natural reserves, parks, theme parks, zoos, and other managed landscapes for use in asset management, biodiversity conservation, education, and scientific research