Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Collecting and packaging samples

Collecting samples

Select live material:

  • Root diseases: collect samples of soil and diseased roots from several places around and beneath plants. Dig four holes at each cardinal point, away from the trunk or main stem, roughly below the canopy drip-line. Scrape away leaf litter or mulch and dig down about 15 cm, collecting 1-2 cups of soil. Combine samples together to make a 4-8 cup (approximate) composite sample. Where possible, part or whole root system should be included. If sending more than one sample, disinfect tools with 70% methylated spirits to avoid cross contamination.
  • Foliar diseases: collect a range of mildly to severely infected and healthy leaves, place in newspaper or paper bags, then wrap in plastic.
  • Insect and mite pests: collect several pests and some of the damaged plant material.
  • Wilt diseases: dig up plants and submit all of the plant material if practical.
  • Fungal decay and rot: forward rotted material and fruiting bodies of any fungi.
  • Potted plants: collect healthy and diseased specimens.
  • Tree root identification: collect young actively growing roots where possible (2-3 cm).

Packaging your samples

  • Soil samples should be placed in labelled plastic bags (e.g. zip-lock bags) and then secured in sturdy containers.
  • Shoots, leaves, roots and flowers should be wrapped in paper towels and placed in a labelled plastic bag.
  • Insects, fungal specimens - including mushrooms and bracket fungi - and host material should be placed in a sturdy container, e.g. take-away plastic containers (preferably non-glass).
  • Label each specimen clearly with your name using a permanent marker.
  • For invoicing and tracking purposes, please include your name, address, phone number, email address and ABN (commercial) or date of birth (non-commercial).
  • Also include any information you can provide about the specimens.

Note: Please also verify that you agree with the service cost to speed up processing of the samples. Click here for service cost.


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Deliver specimens to

Plant Disease Diagnostic Unit
Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust
Mrs Macquaries Rd
Sydney NSW 2000

Other contact details

Telephone: (02) 9231 8186
Facsimile: (02) 9241 1135
Email: pddu@rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au