Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Plant Identification & Botanical Information Service

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Plant identification service

Trying to identify plants? Tearing your hair out? Let us help you. We provide a comprehensive plant identification and botanical information service for over-the-counter visitors  (open weekdays 9.30 am to 1 pm) and by fax or mail. We also provide general botanical information including current scientific names of plants and details on the distribution of NSW plants. See Gardening Information for horticultural topics including plant diseases and pests.

Contact us for advice on the best way to prepare your specimens for identification, or read the chapter on collecting specimens in the book Proteaceae of New South Wales or volume 1 of the Flora of New South Wales. We also have a booklet on collecting, preserving and identifying specimens, available from our Garden Shops.

Botanical Information Service (open weekdays 9.30 am to 1 pm)
National Herbarium of NSW
Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust
Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney 2000
Fax 02-9251 1952

  • Urgent ID inquiries (e.g. poisonous plants): phone 9231 8111
  • Poisons Information Centre: phone 131126
  • Police inquiries over the counter 11 am-midday Mon-Fri
  • Private consultant for identifying roots (blocking drains) and wood: John Ford, phone 0400 571 251 or email john.ford13@hotmail.com

Prices

Free identifications for up to six (6) specimens (or two hours' work) per year for members of the public, Friends of the Botanic Gardens and Trust Volunteers, after which commercial rates apply - however, please restrict your enquiry to no more than 12 specimens at any one time:

  • Minimum charge: Over the Counter $22.00, Mail $44.00
  • Plant Identifications: $22.00 per specimen, $11.00 partial identification of confirmation
  • Data provision: $55.00 (small search), $110.00 (large search) plus $1.10 per specimen record
  • Consulting fee: $140-$220/hour depending on the complexity of the job
  • Urgent enquiries: requiring immediate attention are charged at a rate of 50% more than standard enquiries  

Note: inquirers with new, important or quality specimen(s) that we can add to the Herbarium collection, will not incur a fee for identification of the specimen(s).

(All charges include GST)

Public Reference Collection

Interested in identifying plants for yourself? This collection of pressed plants is available 9 am-4 pm Mon-Fri for you to identify your own plant collections by comparison with authenticated herbarium vouchers. A microscope and reference books are available, and we can also provide assistance with using the collection. The Public Reference Collection provides an educational resource that increases botanical knowledge and plant identification skills within the community.

Flora of New South Wales

This four-volume Flora of New South Wales helps both amateur and professional botanists to identify plant species that occur in New South Wales - both native and naturalised - and to be informed of their distribution within the State.

Botanical Information Service 2012-2013

Barbara Wiecek - Botanical Information Officer and Technical Officers Andrew Orme and Seanna McCune

The Botanical Information Service (BIS) provides plant identifications and botanical information free of charge to members of the general public; and to government departments and ecological consultancies for a fee. Botanical advice includes information about plants poisonous to people or their pets, forensic examination of botanical material in animal remains and potential allergens as the seasons change. Over 2000 enquiries were answered during the year (over the counter, phone, email and mail).

Law enforcment activities this year included assisting members of the Sex Crimes Squad at the scenes of alleged assaults with botanical identifications as well as reports on that field work, ongoing advice to the Counter Terrorism Unit, identification of botanical material from the scenes of several murders as well as Cannabis identification.

BIS staff members Barbara Wiecek and Andrew Orme added about 250 specimens to the herbarium collection as a result of field work in the Lachlan Valley State Conservation Area where they explored a number of vegetation types, from old man saltbush to mallee, cypress pine and chenopod shrubland, grassland, river red gum forest and black box woodland. Andrew Orme assisted with the collection and identification of mallee eucalypts on the coast and tablelands of NSW for our Evolutionary Ecology section. Field work hones our identification skills as live plants in the field can differ significantly in appearance to the pressed and dried material received at the counter.

BIS staff retained over 400 specimens for the herbarium collection including 150 of rare or regional significance. New records for the state include the natives Dianella brevicaulis, and Lygodium flexuosum, Scoparia dulcis, and the weeds Drimopsis maculata, and Panicum sp. (African species?) (weeds).

BIS---Stackhousia-viminea
Stackhousia viminea

BIS---BW-Blackbox-OW-SW-plains-MFP
Barbara Wiecek in black box open woodland, South Western plains of New South Wales

BIS---BS-and-AO-in-the-field---MFP
B. Wiecek and A. Orme post rain collecting in South Western plains of New South Wales

All photos: Marianne F Portners