Category: Blog


Published: March 4, 2013

Useful Links for Neotropical Flowering Plant Identification

Nancy Hensold, Tropical Plant Scientist, Keller Science Action Center




Angiosperm Phylogeny Website
      A continuously updated reference on the current classification of flowering plant families, in accordance with the APGIII System. Maintained by Peter Stevens, Missouri Botanical Garden. Includes full bibliography, discussion, maps.
The Phylogeny of Angiosperms (2013 and onwards)
       An online text by Jan Thomas Johansson (Stockholm), including family descriptions, references, photos
Angiosperm Phylogeny Poster (Cole & Hilger, Freie Universität, Berlin) - downloadable PDF of phylogenetic relationships of flowering plants, APGIII System

      For current APGIII placement of individual genera, see TROPICOS or The Plant List.

The Families of Flowering Plants (Watson & Dallwitz, 1992+)
      Useful reference for flowering plant family descriptions, following a pre-APG classification. An electronic key is also available.

Vascular Plant Families and Genera  (old school)
       Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Database of families and genera recognized by R.Brummitt (1992)

Tropical Plant Field Guides
      A wide assortment of downloadable color field guides, Dept. of Environment Culture and Conservation, Field Museum of Natural History
Neotropical Live Plant Photos (ECCo, Field Museum of Natural History)
Neotropical Biodiversity image database (G. Gerlach, A. Gröger, Munich)
Neotropical Plants Image Database (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew)
Neotropikey (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew)
      Interactive flowering plant family key, plus excellent synopses and genus lists for most neotropical flowering plant families. At last check (Dec 2010) not all families were covered, and some reflect older classifications (APG2 instead of APG3).
Plants of the World Online (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew)
Worldwide Flowering Plant Family Identification Key (multi-entry key, Ray Phillips, Colby College)
Flora of the World (Christopher Davidson & Sharon Christoph)
      Images 'documenting all flowering plant families in their natural habitats, especially within biodiversity hotspots'
Rainforest Plants
      Family identification resource designed for students at La Selva Research Station in Costa Rica (Scott Shumway, Wheaton College)
University of Hawaii Tropical Flowering Plant Family Images
Plants of Hawaii by Forest & Kim Starr
       Cornell University and New York Botanical Garden. Searchable images, cladograms and keys
Family Guide to Fruits and Seeds (USDA, Kirkbride et al., 2006)
        A collection of public domain plant illustrations, mostly from older literature, searchable by family, genus, and vernacular name. By Max Antheunisse
Glossary of Terms for Vascular Plants (New York Botanical Garden, S.Mori and N. Smith)
International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, & plants (ICN) (Melbourne Code, 2012)
International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (Vienna Code, 2006; superseded by Melbourne Code, but contains full Appendices)
      The legal code governing legitimate publication of a name or determination of the correct usage of a name.
Index Nominum Genericorum (ING)
      A compilation of genus names for Plants, Fungi, and Algae
Index Nominum Supragenericorum Plantarum Vascularium (J. Reveal)
International Plant Names Index (IPNI)
      The authoritative bibliographic source for all published names of Seed Plants, Ferns, and Lycophytes.
The Plant List, Kew
      This list aims to provide a complete account of scientifically accepted names and synonymy of vascular plants and bryophytes worldwide. It combines data from TROPICOS, IPNI and the Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, but otherwise does not cite references.
TROPICOS, Missouri Botanical Garden
      Nomenclature database incomplete, focusing on areas of MO's active flora projects; however all synonymies are linked to literature references, which is tremendously useful! Caveat: For references which place a name in synonymy see tab "Accepted Names." For references which accept the name, see tab "References."
Taxonomic Name Resolution Service (TNRS)
       A useful tool for scanning lists of names for misspellings and commonly recognized synonyms.  Assignment of "Accepted Names" is based on an algorithmic mashup of Tropicos' incomplete literature-based synonymy data - but very useful for first order proofing. 
Concordance of Angiosperm Family Names
      Searchable index of flowering plant families, according to their treatment in several recent classification systems. By James Reveal / USDA.

Kew Bibliographic Database
     Literature on plant taxonomy (1971-2007 only). Since 2007 only references on micromorphology and economic botany are updated.
Index to American Botanical Literature
      Botanical literature index pertaining to plants and fungi of the Western Hemisphere (published late 1995 onward).
TROPICOS Literature Database
      Extensive but eclectic in coverage. To search on taxon names, select Advanced Search.
The Cutting Edge
      Quarterly newsletter of Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica project. See "Germane Literature" for annotated bibliography of new literature pertinent to the Costa Rican flora.
Neotropical Plant Taxonomy Journal Links (Current journals - N. Hensold, Field Museum)
JSTOR Botany & Plant Science Literature
      Includes older literature, sometimes with external links to more recent volumes. Text search and journal tracking available.
      Note: Includes access to older volumes of Systematic Botany Monographs and Flora Neotropica
Biodiversity Heritage Library
     Contains older digitized literature, as well as some fairly recent journals. Major works include:
     Das Pflanzenreich
     Flora of Peru series, Fieldiana
     Martius, Flora Brasiliensis
     Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica (older volumes)
Hathi Trust Digital Library
      A huge online repository of archives and scholarly literature. Rapid search for text within articles. If an older volume is not in Biodiversity Heritage Library, try here.
Biblioteca Digital da UNICAMP (Univ. Campinas, São Paulo - Especially useful for accessing unpublished Brazilian doctoral theses)
Taxonomic Literature II
      Bibliographic and author information on works published in plant taxonomy from 1753 to 1940.
      Index of names of periodicals relating to plant sciences, published from 1665 onwards.
Seed Lists
Plant Species Descriptions published in Botanical Garden Seed Lists (mostly Europe, 1800's), includes page scans


Index Herbariorum

An index to all herbaria worldwide, including websites, staff, and staff research specialties. Hosted by New York Botanical Garden

HUH Databases (1) an index of plant collectors and plant name authors, worldwide. (2) an index of Botanical Publications. From Harvard University Herbaria.

Directory of Brazilian Plant Taxonomists (hosted by Univ. Federal RGS)

Linnaean Plant Name Typification Project

A project to verify the identity of all the plants described by Linnaeus (British Museum)

Grammatical Dictionary of Botanical Latin (work in progress)

Megaprojects to catalogue everything (still under development; coverage uneven)

ITIS Catalogue of Life

Project meant to provide authoritative taxonomic catalogue for all living things (taxonomic hierarchy, names, synonyms). For plants, The Plant List is a more complete reference.
Encyclopedia of Life

      Project to provide information on all living species (photos, geographic distributions etc.), intent is to use Catalogue of Life as 'taxonomic backbone'
Tree of Life
      Website illustrating the tree of relationships joining all groups of organisms. Emphasis on tracking deep phylogenetic relationships.  Independent project from the above, no longer current?

"CAVEAT: IPNI, JSTOR Plant Science, TROPICOS and their ilk, were compiled by mortals, not the deity. . . . . these websites are starting points, not truths handed down from heaven." -- Christiane Anderson, in Guidelines for Preparing a Botanical Monograph.

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HERBARIUM CONSORTIA                                                                                                      
Brazilian Natural History Collections "speciesLink"
INCT - Herbário Virtual da Flora e dos Fungos (Brasil)
     Associated with "speciesLink," but including only plant and fungus collections of Brazil. Includes links to specimen images from participating herbaria. New in Sept 2011 and growing.
REFLORA Virtual Herbarium -- Launched Oct 2013 with images of Brazilian specimens from K, P, and RB
GBIF Data Portal -- Global Biodiversity Information Facility
     Includes many data sources, including herbarium specimen data, searchable by species name, country and data source. There is now a new GBIF portal which perversely no longer provides Collector Number in the Specimen results.
iDigBio Search Portal -- Diverse biological collections from many participating institutions. After setting up custom search filters, very quick to use.
JSTOR herbaria
     Worldwide archive of type specimen images only, from several of the herbaria listed below.
JSTOR herbarium partners - links to herbarium websites
CONABIO (Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad - MEXICO)
     Collective archive of specimen images from Mexico, from many cooperating herbaria
SEINET (Southwest Environmental Information Network)
     Specimen data and images from numerous herbaria of Southwestern USA and Mexico. Quick loading and easy to use.
TROPICOS (Missouri Botanical Garden)
     Massive resources, including all specimens from MO; specimens from many cooperating herbaria; images; literature references.

AAU (Aarhus)
B (Berlin)
BM (British Museum)
BR (Brussels)
     Many types from the Flora Brasiliensis
C (Copenhagen)
E (Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh)
G (Geneve)
GB (Univ. Gothenburg, Sweden)
GOET (Goettingen, Germany)
GZU-HAL-JE-W-WU (Graz, Halle, Jena, Vienna)
HBG (Hamburg)
K (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew)
L-U-WAG  (Leiden-Utrecht-Wageningen, The Netherlands)
M (Botanische Staatssammlung München - Munich)
     Link to digitization info only; vascular plant scans are on JSTOR
MPU (Montpellier Université, France)
OXF (Oxford University Herbaria)
P  (Paris)
P-Lamarck  (Paris, Lamarck Herbarium)
S (Stockholm)
Swiss Orchid Foundation, Basel
Z (Zürich)

BRIT (Botanical Research Institute of Texas)
     Andes to Amazon Biodiversity Program, much material from SE Peru
CAS (California Academy of Sciences)
DAV (Univ. Calif.-Davis)
     Grady Webster's unmounted material, and specimens associated with Flora Maquipucuna, Ecuador
FLAS (Univ. of Florida, Gainesville)
F (Field Museum, Botany Dept., Chicago)
     Featuring types; pre-war Berlin photos; flora of Lomas of Peru & Chile; flora of Veracruz, Mexico
F (Field Museum, Neotropical Herbarium Specimens reference collection, ECCo)
      A set of images representing a broad range of neotropical taxa; designed to expedite identification for non-taxonomic specialists. Covers all of the Neotropics, with strengths in Southern Central America, the Andes, and the eastern base of the Andes
FTG (Fairchild Tropical Garden)
HUH (Harvard)
MICH  (University of Michigan)
MO (Missouri Botanical Garden)
NA (US National Arboretum types, USDA)
NY (New York Botanical Garden)
      In addition to types, includes all specimen records from Central and Northeastern Brazil, many imaged.
TEX (University of Texas)
UC (University of California-Berkeley)
US (Smithsonian Institution)
       List of plant groups which have been databased at US

UPRRP (Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico)

Costa Rica
CR (Museo Nacional de Costa Rica)
INBio  (Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad, Costa Rica)
JBL (Jardín Botánico Lankester)
PMA (Universidad de Panamá)
STRI  (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panamá)

CTES (Instituto de Botánica del Nordeste, Corrientes)
SI (Instituto de Botánica Darwinion)
LPB (Herbario Nacional de Bolivia, La Paz)
Rede Brasileira de Herbarios
INCT - Herbário Virtual da Flora e dos Fungos (Brasil)
     Associated with "speciesLink," but including only plant and fungus collections of Brazil. Includes links to specimen images from many participating herbaria worldwide. New in Sept 2011.
IAC (Instituto Agronômico de Campinas, São Paulo)
RB (Jardim Botanico, Rio de Janeiro)
SP (Instituto de Botânico, São Paulo)
UB (Universidade de Brasília)
UNICAMP (Universidade Estadual de Campinas, São Paulo)
COAH (Herbário Amazonico Colombiano, Inst. Amaz. de Investigaciones Cientificas SINCHI, Bogotá)
COL (Herbario Nacional Colombiano)
JBB (Jardín Botánico de Bogotá)
MEDEL (Univ. Nacional de Colombia, Medellín)
UDBC (Universidad Distrital, Santa Fe de Bogotá)
HA (Herbario Azuay) 
French Guiana
CAY (Herbier de Guyane; Cayenne, French Guiana)

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Keys to Amazonian Ferns (Univ. of Turku, Finland)

The Gymnosperm Database (C.J. Earle, assembled 1997-2007)

      Database of Vascular Plant Species Associated with Neotropical Wetlands. Based on research of Nur Ritter.

International Bulb Society
      Mostly horticultural interest, but with a large image database searchable by scientific name

International Carnivorous Plant Society
      Includes Carnivorous Plant Names Database

The Parasitic Plant Connection
       By Dan Nickrent, Southern Illinois University. Especially helpful for the recently revised taxonomy of the Santalales.

A Worldwide Catalogue of Cushion Plants
      By Serge Aubert, et al. (2014 & to be updated). Plants with a low mat-like or cushion-like habit. 

Bihrmann's Caudex
       Private website on caudiciform plants - plants with swollen water-storing stems. Horticultural emphasis.

Global Invasive Species Database (IUCN)

FDA Poisonous Plants Database (bibliographic citations) & Poisonous Vascular Plants list (compiled from literature 1994-1996)

Ferns and Lycophytes of the World: A Digital Herbarium 

ALISMATACEAE: Alismataceae, Flora de São Paulo (M.C.E. Amaral)
ANACARDIACEAE: Anacardiaceae and Burseraceae (BKL, NY)
ANNONACEAE: Index to Neotropical Annonaceae (Maas et al., Nord. J. Bot. vol 29: 257-356. 2011.)
APIACEAE: Umbellifer Resource Center (Kew)
APOCYNACEAE: Asclepiadoideae, Secamonoideae, & Periplocoideae (Liede & Meve, Univ. Bayreuth)
ARACEAE: CATE-Araceae; and Aroid Pictures (anonymous)
ARECACEAE: PalmWeb - Palms of the World Online (AAU, B, K)
ASTERACEAE: Global Compositae Checklist (C.Flann, ed.); Diplostephium (O. Vargas, TEX); Espeletia Project (M. Diazgranados, MO); Checklist of Compositae of Bolivia (D.Hind, K)
BERBERIDACEAE: Berberis Checklist (C. Ulloa, MO)
BIGNONIACEAE: Chave interativa para especies da Aliança Tabebuia em Bahia, Brasil (Biota Neotropica 13(3))
BRASSICACEAE: Systematics and Phylogeny of the Brassicaceae (I. Al-Shehbaz, MO)
BROMELIACEAE: The New Bromeliad Taxon List (D. Butcher & E. Gouda); Bromeliad Research Center (Selby Gardens, includes country checklists);
BURSERACEAE: Anacardiaceae and Burseraceae (BKL, NY)
CARICACEAE: e-Monograph of Caricaceae (F.A. Carvalho)
CHRYSOBALANACEAE: Flora of the World (Species Plantarum, treatment by Prance)
CLUSIACEAE: see Online Identification Keys (V. Bittrich et al., UEC) for keys to Clusiaceae genera and Clusia spp in Brasil
CONVOLVULACEAE: Nomenclator Ipomoeeae (D. Austin); Convolvulaceae Unlimited (ed. G. Staples); Digital Atlas of Cuscuta (M. Costea)
CRASSULACEAE: International Crassulaceae Network 
CUCURBITACEAE: Cucurbit Network (T.Andres)
DIOSCOREACEAE: eMonocot Dioscoreaceae (Editor unspecified)
EBENACEAE: EbenaBase (Contribution to ITIS Catalogue of Life, B. Wallnöfer, 2012)
ERIOCAULACEAE: Eriocaulaceae of the Andes (A. Diaz, TEX)
ERYTHROXYLACEAE: Erythroxylum (Field Museum)
EUPHORBIACEAE: Acalypha (J.M.Cardiel), Croton Research Network (hosted by WIS); Euphorbia PBI (P.Berry et al.); Neotropical Euphorbiaceae image gallery (Kew); Grady Webster Euphorbiaceae Resources & Virtual Herbarium (UC-Davis)
FABACEAE: Legumes of the World Online (Kew); Acacia Systematics (Joe Miller, CANBR); Inga database (T.Pennington, 1997); Leucaena (C.Hughes, D.Bailey); The Swartzia Pages (B. Torke & V.F. Mansano, NYBG); Leguminosae do Brasil (images of selected species, Rubens Queiroz); Legume Genera of the World - key to Fruits and Seeds (USDA, INTKEY software needed); Key to Genera of Caesalpinioideae & Swartzia, worldwide (
GENTIANACEAE: Gentian Research Network (Rutgers)
GERANIACEAE: Geranium Taxonomic Information System (C. Aedo)
GESNERIACEAE: World Checklist of Gesneriaceae (Smithsonian); Gesneriad Society (links page); Gesneriad Image Library (J.L.Clark Lab, Univ. of Alabama)
HYPERICACEAE: Hypericum Online (N. Robson et al.)
JUNCACEAE: Flora of the World, Juncaceae (Species Plantarum program, online treatment)
LAURACEAE: International Lauraceae Working Group (edited by Jens Rohwer); Lauraceae Columbianae (S. Madriñán)
LECYTHIDACEAE: Lecythidaceae Pages (New York Botanical Garden)
LOASACEAE: The Loasaceae Page (Max Weigend)
MALPIGHIACEAE: Malpighiaceae (Univ. of Michigan)
MALVACEAE: Malvaceae_Info (Stewart Hinsley); Latin American Malvaceae-Malvoideae (Kew)
MELASTOMATACEAE: Melastomataceae of the World (D.Penneys, U.Fla.); Neotropical Miconia checklist (Goldenberg et al. 2013, Phytotaxa vol. 106)
MORACEAE: Figweb (Figs & Fig Wasps, Iziko Museums, South Africa)
MYRTACEAE: Cooperative Taxonomic Resource for American Myrtaceae (ed. L. Landrum, ASU)
ONAGRACEAE: Onagraceae Research (Smithsonian)
OPILIACEAE: Flora of the World, Opiliaceae (Species Plantarum, online treatment)
ORCHIDACEAE: Epidendra: The Global Orchid Taxonomic Network (Jardín Botánico Lankester & Univ.Nac. de Costa Rica); Sociedad Colombiana de Orquideologia: Espécies Colombianas (checklist & photos
OROBANCHACEAE: Agalinis Checklist (Orobanchaceae) (K.Barringer)
PIPERACEAE: Peperomia.Net (G.Mathieu, Belgium)
POACEAE: Catalogue of New World Grasses (Missouri Botanical Garden); GrassBase (RBG-Kew); Grass Genera of the World (interactive key); Bamboo Biodiversity (Lynn Clark)
RUBIACEAE: Selected Rubiaceae Genera (C. Taylor, MO)
SAPOTACEAE: Sapotaceae Resource Center (Kew)
SOLANACEAE: Solanaceae Source (British Museum); Solanaceae of Brazil; Jaltomata (Thomas Mione)
THYMELAEACEAE: A World Checklist of Thymelaeaceae (Z. Rogers, MO)
ZINGIBERACEAE: Zingiberaceae Resource Center (Kew)
ZINGIBERALES: Zingiberales Research (Smithsonian)

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Flora of North America


Flora de Cuba
Flora of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (Smithsonian)
Flora of the West Indies (Smithsonian)
Plants of the Eastern Caribbean (Univ. of the West Indies)
Virtual Field Herbarium - Grenada (Oxford, UK)
Plants and Lichens of Saba, Netherlands Antilles (NYBG)


FLORA MESOAMERICANA (Missouri Botanical Garden)
Arboles Tropicales Comunes del Area Maya (Univ. Calif.-Riverside)

Ethnobotany and Floristics of Belize (New York Botanical Garden)

La Florula Digital de la Selva
INBio (Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad)
Plants of Monteverde (Bill Haber)
Vascular Plants of the Osa Peninsula (NYBG)
Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica (MO)
ECOBIOSIS - Portal Nacional de Biodiversidad Costarricense (Museo Nacional de Costa Rica)

Jalisco - Estación Biol. de Chamela, Listado Floristica (Lott, 1985)
Atlas de la Flora de Veracruz (text download)
Flora: Peninsula de Yucatán (CICY)
Flora of Kaxil Kiuic, Yucatán
Malezas de Mexico

Flora Argentina
Museo Virtual de la Biodiversidad de la Provincia de Misiones
Herbario Virtual Austral Americano (Chile & Argentina)
Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares de Bolivia
Flora de la Región del Parque Nacional Amboró
Flora do Brasil 2020 (REFLORA)
Chave interativa para identificação dos gêneros de fanerógamas da Reserva Ducke 
Flora da Serra do Cipó, Minas Gerais (USP)
Estado de São Paulo, various interactive keys linked here
Plantas aquáticas e palustres do Estado de São Paulo 
Flora digital do Rio Grande do Sul
Coastal vegetation of Pará State (Ulf Mehlig)
Flora do litoral norte de Sergipe (J.E. Nascimento)
BR em Flores (Cerrado species, H.J.C. Moreira)
Flora de Santa Catarina
Flora de Chilena Nativa en su Habitat (Alain de Trenqualye Howard)
Chilebosque: Flora Nativa de Chile
Herbario Virtual Austral Americano (Chile & Argentina)
Catalogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia (ed. R. Bernal, S. R. Gradstein, M. Celis)
Plantas de Colombia (private blog)
Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares del Departamento de Antioquia (HUA, MO)
Flora Ilustrada del Páramo de Chingaza; and Flora Ilustrada del Páramo de Chingaza, Guia de Campo de plantas comunes, ed. 2 (S. Madriñán, Univ. de los Andes)
Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador (electronic version)
Trees and Shrubs of the Andes of Ecuador (electronic version)
Flora del páramo de la Reserva El Angél (Flickr page, Station Alpine Joseph Fourier)
Flora of Maquipucuna specimens (Specimen database of Herbarium of Univ. of California - Davis)
Floramo - Free Google App for Android, 100 species of Cajas Páramo, southern Ecuador
Fungal and Plant Diversity of Central and French Guiana
Rice Field Plants of French Guiana
GUIANAS (Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana)
Virtual Tree Guide of the Guianas
Climbers of Guyana
Flora del Paraguay
Plants of Manu National Park
Digital Flora of Ucayali
Flora de la Reserva Nacional Pacaya-Samiria
Fotografias de la flora autóctona del Uruguay
Páramo de Piedras Blancas, Venezuela (Flickr page, Station Alpine Joseph Fourier)

Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants
Flora of the Hawaiian Islands
West African Plants Photo Guide

Worldmaps of Plant Diversity - Nees Institut für Biodiversität der Pflanzen, Univ. Bonn

Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World (Olson et al 2001; World Wildlife Fund)
Costa Rica - Gazetteer of Plant Collecting Locales
Andes - Mecanismo de Información de Páramos -- includes links to detailed maps for locating paramo collection sites
       also see MO's Gazetteer of Paramo Localities

Ornithological Gazetteers of the Neotropics
       Search at this internet archive for "Ornithological Gazetteer", Media Type = text. Excellent reference for older place names for natural history collections. Full-text formats are easily searchable online or downloadable.

Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection - University of Texas
       Simple downloadable country maps for quick reference, plus useful links.

      This website, based on the book Administrative Subdivisions of Countries, by Gwillim Law, documents the names of all administrative divisions (states, provinces, etc.) of countries, worldwide. It is continuously updated by the author, and contains a wealth of historical information.

Worldwide Bioclimatic Classification System
      Climate diagrams based on data from weather stations worldwide. From S. Rivas-Martinez, Univ. Compl. Madrid.

UTM Coordinates Grid

Nancy Hensold
Tropical Plant Scientist, Keller Science Action Center

Nancy processes and identifies Neotropical vascular plant collections, in conjunction with the Action Center's Rapid Biological Inventories in South America. She also maintains the Neotropical Herbarium Specimens website, a plant identification tool for non-specialists, and pursues original research on tropical Pipeworts (Eriocaulaceae).