Global Plants in the Classroom

JSTOR | Global Plants
Global Plants in the Classroom
Play Video

Scroll down for more

Scroll down for more


Welcome to Global Plants in the Classroom: Botany 101. This guide to using Global Plants as a teaching resource consists of nine units that introduce basic concepts in the study of botany (see list below). Each unit includes key concepts, vocabulary, and example materials. We have also selected Global Plants resources and journal articles on JSTOR that are pertinent to each unit, and we provide assignments to further reinforce the concepts discussed.

Global Plants is a database of more than two million type specimens and 200,000 supporting resources including manuscripts, field notes, botanical illustrations and paintings, reference guides, photographs, correspondence, and much more. The resources are contributed by members of the Global Plants Initiative, a collaborative effort of more than 300 partner herbaria in 72 countries.

For those who are just getting started in their study of plants, the volume of material in the database can be intimidating. It is with this in mind that we created Global Plants in the Classroom, a way to share some of the Global Plants materials and expose students to their possible uses. Above all, we want to encourage curiosity and exploration. After taking a look through this guide, you should feel excited and prepared to explore the database—the work of thousands of individuals, spanning several centuries and the entire globe.


  1. Plant Anatomy and Morphology
  2. Plant Systematics
  3. Field Botany
  4. Botanical Illustration
  5. Fungi and Bryophytes
  6. Famous Botanists and Scientists
  7. Ethnobotany/Economic Botany
  8. Plants of Interest
  9. Horticulture for Botanists
  10. End Notes

How To Use Global Plants in the Classroom

Additional Resources

Additional resources are provided for each unit. There are collections and specimens from Global Plants and articles from JSTOR. These resources do not represent all relevant materials in Global Plants or the JSTOR archive; rather, the list is intended as a starting point for students to get a sense of the types of materials available.


Assignments are intended to be suggestions for classroom instruction and applications of Global Plants. They will introduce students to searching, evaluating, and using digital objects in a research context. In order to complete the assignments, you will need to have access to Global Plants.

High Resolution Images

To view high resolution images of an object choose "Open Viewer" from the options beneath the image thumbnail. The viewer has powerful functionality including:

  • Zoom: The tools at the bottom of the viewer window allow you to zoom in (+), out (-), and reset to original view.
  • Pan: Click on the image and drag to move. You can also drag the image in the preview window.
  • Rotate: Click the Rotate dropdown at the top of the page to open a rotated view of the image on screen.
  • Measure: Click the Measure tool, then click and drag along the desired length on the displayed graphic.


For a time after the invention of microscopes, the external and internal structures of plants were studied together and known collectively as the study of plant anatomy. Beginning in the mid-20th century, plant anatomy evolved to focus specifically on the internal structure of plants. The study of physical characteristics and external structures became known as plant morphology. In this section we briefly reunite these concepts because it is difficult to appreciate and understand the complexities of plant anatomy without a foundational understanding of plant morphology.

This unit introduces the basic morphological characteristics of vascular plants. To learn about their internal structure we recommend you start with the Additional Resources section.

The roots of a vascular plant typically grow underground and are responsible for absorbing water and nutrients. There are two basic types of roots: taproots and fibrous roots. A taproot is a single, thick root from which a large network of roots grows. Plants with fibrous roots have no taproot, just a dense mat of thinner roots. Both fibrous roots and taproots are covered in root hairs. These tiny protrusions increase the roots’ surface area, allowing them to absorb more water and nutrients.

The stem of a plant refers to the portion typically above ground that holds the leaves and reproductive structures. Stems are composed of three basic types of tissues: ground, dermal, and vascular. Ground tissue is any plant tissue that is not dermal or vascular. The dermal tissue is the outermost layer protecting the interior tissue. The vascular tissue includes the xylem and the phloem. The xylem is a tube that moves water up the plant, and the phloem is a tube that moves water and nutrients bidirectionally as needed through the plant. Water is absorbed through the plant’s roots and is transported to the leaves via the xylem. Energy and nutrients produced via photosynthesis in the leaves are moved in solution down the plant via the phloem.

Leaves are the primary region of photosynthesis. The most basic form is a flat, green leaf, but there are many modified types that have evolved to thrive in particular environments. Some common examples are conifer leaves (often called needles), and the succulent leaves of aloe plants. Leaves are dermal tissue packed with vascular and ground tissues, and attach to the stem via a petiole. Leaves also have stomata, pores through which water can pass via evaporation. This process contributes to the overall process of transpiration, which moves water through the plant. Leaves are made up of a variety of layers, beginning with the outer-most cuticle and epidermis. The interior of the leaf is referred to as the mesophyll. Within the mesophyll, there are veins that are part of the plant's vascular system (Taiz & Zeiger, 2006).

The flowering structure of a plant is referred to as the inflorescence. There are a variety of types and structures, ranging from umbels (the namesake of the Umbelliferae family) to spikes. The inflorescence is the reproductive structure of the plant, as the flowers hold the male and female components necessary for fertilization.

A plant’s fruits form from its flowers and come in a variety of types, including berries, drupes, accessory fruits, and pomes, among many others. Fruits hold the seeds of the plant, and their forms have evolved for a variety of purposes. Typically, the fruit forms from the plant’s ovary. A common exception is the strawberry, an accessory fruit. The strawberry is not formed from the plant’s ovary, but from the head of its flower. The “seeds” are in fact the mature ovaries, and contain the actual seeds of the plant inside of them.

Key Vocabulary:
Taproots, fibrous roots, ground tissue, dermal tissue, vascular tissue, petiole, stomata, transpiration, cuticle, epidermis, mesophyll, inflorescence, fruits

Additional Resources

Eyde, Richard H. “The Bases of Angiosperm Phylogeny: Floral Anatomy” Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 62, no. 3, The Bases of Angiosperm Phylogeny (1975): 521-537.

Hummel, Irène, Denis Vile, Cyrille Violle, Jeremy Devaux, Benoît Ricci, Alain Blanchard, Éric Garnier and Catherine Roumet. “Relating Root Structure and Anatomy to Whole- Plant Functioning in 14 Herbaceous
Mediterranean Species.” New Phytologist 173, no. 2 (2007): 313-321.

Kaplan, Donald R. “The Science of Plant Morphology: Definition, History, and Role in Modern Biology.” American Journal of Botany 88, no. 10 (2001): 1711-1741.

Zanne, Amy E.  and Daniel S. Falster. “Plant Functional Traits — Linkages among Stem Anatomy, Plant Performance and Life History.” New Phytologist 185, no. 2 (January 2010): 348-351.


  1. Use the image viewer to examine each of the following specimens.
    For each specimen:
    a. Identify which morphological categories (roots, stems, etc.) are visible in the specimen.
    b. Choose one morphological category and take 2 measurements that you think are representative to describe that feature. (For example, if you choose to describe the leaf, some things to consider might be: angle of veins in the leaf, longest and shortest width of leaf, etc.).
    c. Why did you choose these characteristics?


Plant systematics is the branch of botany that concerns the naming, identification, evolution, and classification of different species of plants. Conducting research in plant systematics requires access to the original materials that were used to identify and justify naming or classifying species: the plant type specimens.

What is a Plant Type Specimen?
Type specimens are the reference points for scientific names that botanists consult in order to use the names correctly. A type specimen may consist of a single organism, parts of one or several organisms, or of multiple small organisms. It is usually mounted on a single herbarium sheet or in an equivalent preparation, such as a box, packet, jar, or microscope slide (from the International Association of Plant Taxonomy (IAPT) Article 8.2).

What Can We Learn from Type Specimens?
Plant type specimens contain a wealth of information for researchers in addition to the plant itself. The herbarium sheet contains information about the date of collection, who collected it, the location, and in many cases additional information about the plant and its habitat. This information allows researchers in many fields to use herbarium specimens, whether they are studying the evolution of a plant family, conducting a survey of native plants, or establishing whether the geographic range of a certain plant has changed in the past 100 years due to habitat loss or climate change.

A Safe Home for Type Specimens: The Herbarium
In order to ensure these plant type specimens are preserved for future research, they are stored in a repository known as an herbarium. The term herbarium can also refer to the collection of plant type specimens themselves.

There are herbaria all over the world, ranging in size from a couple thousand to millions of specimens. Digitized herbarium collections such as those available on JSTOR Global Plants are a great help because they allow scientists to conduct their research remotely, thus limiting the need for expensive international travel or loan requests.

Within plant type specimens, there are different kinds of type specimens. These types inform us of the relationships that specimen has to the name. These are defined by IAPT Article 9

A holotype is the one specimen or illustration used by the author, or designated by the author as the nomenclatural type.

An isotype is any duplicate of the holotype. It is always a specimen.

A syntype is any specimen cited in the protologue when no holotype was designated, or any one of two or more specimens simultaneously designated as types.

An epitype is a specimen or illustration selected to serve as an interpretative type when the all existing material associated with a validly published name is ambiguous. When an epitype is designated, the holotype, lectotype, or neotype that the epitype supports must be explicitly cited.

A paratype is a specimen cited in the protologue that is neither the holotype nor an isotype, nor one of the syntypes if two or more specimens were simultaneously designated as types.

A neotype is a specimen or illustration selected to serve as nomenclatural type as long as all of the material on which the name of the taxon was based is missing.

A lectotype is a specimen or illustration designated from the original material as the nomenclatural type if no holotype was indicated at the time of publication, or if it is missing, or if it is found to belong to more than one taxon.

An isolectotype is a duplicate of the lectotype.


Key vocabulary:
Herbarium, Type Specimen, Holotype, Neotype, Lectotype, Syntype, Epitype, Isotype, Isolectotype, Paratype



Additional Resources

“Alfred Russel Wallace Manuscripts.

Crawford, Daniel J. and Mark E. Mort. “New Trends in Plant Systematics.” Taxon 52, no. 1 (February 2003): 3-7.

“Linnean Annotated Library.”

“Herbarium Specimens.”

“JSTORies: Dr. Gideon Smith.”

“JSTORies: Dr. Sandy Knapp.”

“Plant Author Names.”

Raven, Peter H. “Plant Systematics, 1947-1972.” Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 61, no. 1, 25 Years of Botany (1974): 166-178.

Stuessy, Tod F. “Plant Systematics World.” Taxon 59, no. 3 (June 2010): 991-994.

Sytsma, Kenneth J.  and J. Chris Pires. “Plant Systematics in the Next 50 Years. Re-Mapping the New  Frontier.” Taxon 50, no. 3, Golden Jubilee Part 5 (August 2001): 713-732.


  1. Why is an isotype always a specimen, but a holotype can be a specimen or an illustration?

  2. Search Hampea breedlovei Fryxell on Global Plants.
    a. What do the three parts of the name represent?
    b. Can you identify morphological characteristics that are consistent across the holotype and isotypes of Hampea breedlovei Fryxell? Use the image viewer and measurement tool to support your conclusions.
    c. Considering only the specimens available in Global Plants, what do you think would happen if the holotype of Hampea breedlovei Fryxell was accidentally lost or destroyed?

  3. In plant systematics, there is an important concept not discussed in this section: synonyms. In terms of plant names, the status of synonym is used to indicate a name that identifies the same plant as another name, and the other name is the accepted name. a. Locate all specimens of Dalbergia afzeliana G. Don and identify one synonym. How do you know it’s a synonym?
    b. What countries were the specimens collected in?
    c. Where is the holotype stored?
    d. You need to view the holotype of Dalbergia afzeliana G. Don in person. Research the herbarium’s policies on loans and visitations, and choose which option (requesting a loan or scheduling a visit) would be the best method to view the specimen.



Field collection is the process by which botanists amass samples illustrating the diversity of the plant world. This research takes scientists to remote environments many of us will never be able to visit, and perhaps have never imagined visiting. It might involve backcountry hiking, navigating a swamp, stopping along a roadside, or traversing sand dunes, but the goal is the same: to collect and preserve plant samples. These samples are used in research that documents plant life, records biodiversity, and informs us about how ecosystems function and can change.

Increasingly, field collection is used in initiatives that aim to preserve a record of plant life beyond the herbarium. Projects such as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Project, and the New York Botanical Garden's DNA bank require the collection and preservation of living plant tissues for future study and, if needed, reintroducing genetic diversity. Watch the video below to learn more about one of these initiatives, the Millennium Seed Bank Project.

Kew's Expedition to Namibia

Key Vocabulary:
Field collection, dichotomous key, plant dissection

Additional Resources

“Alfred Russel Wallace natural history notebooks and journals.

“Field Books, Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical.

“Guidelines for Biological Field Studies.” Taxon 19, no. 6 (December 1970): 950-951.

Guillarmod, A. Jacot,  R. A. Jubb and C. J. Skead. “Field Studies of Six Southern African Species of Erythrina.” Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 66, no. 3 (1979): 521-527.

Hik, David S., Melissa Brown, Anna Dbros, Jackie Weir and James F. Cahill, Jr. “Prevalence and Predictability of Handling Effects in Field Studies: Results from Field Experiments and a Met A-Analysis.” American Journal of Botany 90, no. 2 (February 2003): 270-277.

"JSTORies: Dr. Jeanine Vélez Gavilán."

Pennell, F. W. “How Field Study can Modify Older Taxonomic Concepts.” Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 61, no. 2 (February 1934): 85-88.

“Plant Collectors.

“Rauh Field Books.”

Tuomisto, Hanna. “What Satellite Imagery and Large-Scale Field Studies Can Tell About Biodiversity Patterns in Amazonian Forests.” Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 85, no. 1 (1998): 48-62.


  1. All summer you have been conducting research on the flora of Mozambique. You have brought back several examples of a plant that you determined belongs to the genus Salvinia, and suspect you might have discovered a new species.
    a. What species of Salvinia collected in Mozambique are present in Global Plants?
    b. What other countries might you want to research for comparison?
  2. You determine that, unfortunately, you probably have not discovered a new species; Salvinia hildebrandtii Baker might be plant you have collected.
    a. What is the range of this species?
    b. Would you expect to grow in Mozambique? Why or why not?
    c.You’d like to view the specimen in person. What institution would you contact? Explain your choice.
  3. Search for specimens of the genus Brassica. Narrow results to a single country and choose a species (hint: pick one with a compilation page).
    a. From the information listed on the specimens, in the Flora records, and what you observe through the image viewer, choose four distinguishing morphological characteristics that you think would be most useful in identifying that species.
    b. Choose one of the four characteristics and complete a sketch to accompany your notes.
    c. Trade notes with a classmate. Knowing the genus, country of origin, and the four distinguishing characteristics, try to identify one another’s species.
    d. Take note of any characteristics you think would have been useful to you in identifying your classmate’s plant. Did you include these characteristics in your description?


There is evidence of botanical illustration dating back at least 4,000 years in the depictions of agriculture in Mesopotamia and Egypt (Buck, 2012). Before the invention of photography, illustration was the most reliable way to preserve a record of living plants for purposes of identification, analysis, and classification. The skill remains essential to botanical study today- a talented illustrator can focus attention to a desired characteristic, making it more instructive than a photograph.

Edwards PrintWatercolor

Botanical illustration requires the technical skills of an artist and the focus of a scientist. The discipline thrived in post-Renaissance Europe, but particularly from the mid-sixteenth to mid-seventeenth century due to the interest in global scientific exploration (Ben-Ari, 1999). Illustrations by artists of this period including Francis Masson, Sydenham Edwards, Franz Bauer, and Johannes Burmann can be studied alongside later artists such as Thomas Baines, Olive Coates Palgrave, Percy Amoury Talbot, and contemporary illustrators at SANBI to provide insight well beyond the evolution of botanical illustration; they are insight into the development of the science of botany.

PaintingDrawing Illustration

Botanical illustrations are instructive to a broad audience because the artist’s rendering can guide attention to a determined characteristic or feature. Mastering the basic technique of illustration is a powerful tool that botanists can use to communicate and clarify their research. The illustrations, paintings, and sketches in Global Plants were made by a range of professional artists and botanists, but they share a common goal: to illustrate a characteristic to a less trained eye.

Additional Resources

“Archives: Drawings of the Royal Botanical Expedition to the Viceroyalty of Peru, by Hipólito Ruiz & José Pavón (1777-1816).”

“Botanical Register.”

“Collection of Drawings of South African Plants, Holland collection.”

“Cook First Voyage Artwork Collection.”

Cook, Christopher D. K. “A Quick Method for Making Accurate Botanical
Illustrations.” Taxon 47, no. 2 (May, 1998): 371-380.

“Flora of West Tropical Africa, original illustrations.”

“Illustrations of Southern Africa flora.”

Pradhan, Neera. “Application of Botanical Illustrations in Conservation of Orchids Growing at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.” Selbyana 26, no. 1/2, Proceedings of the Second International Orchid Conservation Congress (2005): 354.

“Rariorum Africanum Plantarum Collection.”

“SANBI, Pretoria National Herbarium artwork.”


  1. Choose two illustrations, one by Thomas Baines and one by Maria Elizabeth Holland. Compare the two styles of illustration. Note their dates of creation. What sorts of elements are emphasized in each? What sorts of external influences, such as the current social/scientific climate, may have influenced their styles?
  2. Choose an illustration from the SANBI, Pretoria National Herbarium Artwork collection.
    a. Identify the morphological structures and characteristics highlighted in the illustration.
    b. Locate a plant specimen of the same species. If there are multiple types to choose from, try to choose the specimen that most closely resembles, in scale and depiction, the illustration.
    c. Use the image viewer tool to measure the accuracy of three features of the illustration: an angle (of a vein, leaf attachment, or another feature as you see fit); diameter of stem; and a third of your choice.



Fungi are not true plants, but they are often studied in tandem with plants. Their cell walls contain chitin, as opposed to the cellulose found in plant cells. Fungi are an integral aspect of an ecosystem. They enable nutrient cycling by breaking down decaying matter, and mycorrhizal fungi form symbiotic relationships with most vascular plants (Wagonner & Speer, 1998).

Fungi include organisms ranging from molds to mushrooms to yeasts. They can be grouped taxonomically into divisions, or by structure. Lichens are considered fungi, but are actually comprised of both fungal and algal cells growing together symbiotically (Wagonner & Speer, 1998).


Bryophyte is a term that describes non-vascular plants, which include mosses, hornworts, and liverworts. They are non-vascular, in that they do not contain xylem tissue, the tubing in vascular plants through which water is moved (Stotler and Crandall-Stotler, 2013).

Mosses are a type of bryophyte found across the world in a wide variety of climates, though typically they grow in damp, shaded areas. Because they lack a vascular system, mosses need water to be easily available; they cannot move it themselves.  Sphagnum mosses are distributed across the Northern Hemisphere and are also called peat mosses. When dried, they are used as peat, insulation, soil conditioning, or fuel.

The Fungarium at Kew Gardens

Key Vocabulary:
Fungi, bryophyte, lichens, mycorrhizae, sporocarp

Additional Resources


Campylopus pilifer compilation page.”

During, Heinjo J. “Trends in Bryophyte Population Dynamics.”Lindbergia 31, no. 1/2, The State of Bryophyte Ecology 2005 (2006): 6-15.

Lücking, Robert, Sabine Huhndorf, Donald H. Pfister, Eimy Rivas Plata and H. Thorsten Lumbsch. “Fungi Evolved Right on Track.” Mycologia 101, no. 6
(November- December 2009): 810-822.


Poulsen, Michael, and Cameron R. Currie. “On Ants, Plants and Fungi.” New Phytologist 182, no. 4 (June  2009): 785-788.

Söderström, Lars. “Conservation Biology of Bryophytes.” Lindbergia 31, no. 1/2, The State of Bryophyte Ecology 2005 (2006): 24-32.

Urmi, Edwin, and Norbert Schnyder. “Mapping Bryophytes: A Review” Lindbergia 32, no. 2 (2007): 40-54.

Wood, Andrew J., Melvin J. Oliver and David J. Cove. “Bryophytes as Model Systems.” The Bryologist 103, no. 1 (Spring 2000): 128-133.


  1. Examine the specimens of Amanita muscaria (L.) Lam. f. europaea Neville & Poumarat. Consider the following:
    a. How is the presentation of these specimens different from the plant specimens you have seen? Provide three examples.
    b. Based on your knowledge of fungi, what morphological or anatomical factors do you think contribute to these specimens being stored and presented differently than plant type specimens?
  2. Why are there compilation pages for Bryophytes, but not for Fungi?
  3. From your answer to 2, what do you conclude about the common decision to study fungi and bryophytes together? Does it seem correct?
  4. Find the compilation page for Sphagnum beothuk.
    a. What is the Accepted Name?
    b. How many specimens are there? Where are they located geographically?
    c. Based on what you know about bryophytes, explain why the habitat for Sphagnum beothuk might be “minerotrophic peatlands.”


Much of the primary sources material in Global Plants dates to the so-called "Golden Age" of botany, a period that begins with the life and work of Carl Linnaeus and extends into the late nineteenth century. This section introduces you to some prominent figures from this period whose lives and work can contextualize a time of great discovery beyond the science it produced.

Exploring these original works and communications allows us to enter a rich narrative of this historical period, with insights into the driving economic, ideological, and political factors that supported this period of global exploration and expansion.

Carl LinnaeusCarl Linnaeus is arguably the most important scientist in the field of taxonomy. He wrote Systema Naturae, a system of animal classification, and Species Plantarum, a system of plant classification. Linnaeus was the first taxonomist to consistently use binomial nomenclature, the system still in use today. He first used it in Species Plantarum, published in 1753, and then applied the system to animals in the tenth edition of Systema Naturae in 1758. His grouping of plants in Species Plantarum was problematic—he organized them based upon their number of reproductive parts—but his use of genera and species throughout marked the beginning of current taxonomical naming practices.

Captain James CookCaptain James Cook was a British Captain in the Royal Navy involved in exploration, cartography, navigation, and scientific exploration. He made three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, the first of which embarked in August 1768. Cook was accompanied on his expeditions by notable naturalists of the day, who collected plant and animal specimens. Many of the specimens from Cook’s First Voyage and Second Voyage were later illustrated and preserved by the British Museum. Cook was killed in Hawaii in 1779 on his third voyage to the Pacific.


James Edward SmithJames Edward Smith was a famous botanist in the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly known for founding the Linnean Society. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, in the department that included the advanced study of Botany at the time. Smith purchased the collections of Carl Linnaeus in 1785, and he formed the Linnean Society. As president of the Linnean Society of London he published English Botany and many other serial publications. He often collaborated with botanical illustrator James Sowerby.

Marianne NorthMarianne North was a famous Victorian naturalist who travelled the world to paint its diverse flora and fauna. She created a total of 832 paintings over 13 years of travel in the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Few women of that time travelled unaccompanied, but North was well connected to fund her expeditions. In addition, she was supported by other science greats like Charles Darwin and Sir Joseph Hooker. North donated many of her paintings to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and provided funds for two galleries to house them, which were completed in 1882 and 1883.

Key vocabulary:
Carl Linnaeus, James Cook, James Edward Smith, Marianne North, Species Plantarum, Linnean Society, binomial nomenclature


Additional Resources

"Cook First Voyage Artwork Collection."

"Cook Second Voyage Artwork Collection."

Hansen, Bertel, and Peter Wagner. "A Catalogue of the Herbarium Specimens from Captain Cook's First and Second Expeditions Housed in the Copenhagen
Herbarium (C)." Allertonia 7, no. 5 (February 1998): 307-357.

"James Edward Smith Correspondence."

"Linnaean Annotated Library."

"Plant Collectors."

"Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: Archives: Marianne North Images."

"Species Plantarum." 

"Specimens collected by James Edward Smith."

Tanner Vasco M. “Carl Linnaeus" Contributions and Collections." The Great Basin Naturalist 19, no. 1 (May 1959): 27-35.


  1. In October of 1840, George Ure Skinner wrote a letter to Sir William Jackson Hooker, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in which he describes and sketches two plants. One of the plants is Laelia superbiens.
    a. Locate the letter.
    b. Where was the plant most likely located?
    c. Find another Laelia superbiens specimen. Does his drawing accurately depict important anatomical and morphological features of the plant? Why or why not?
    d. Using the Plant Collector records, list all the countries that Skinner collected specimens.
  2. Asa Gray was one of the most important American botanists of the nineteenth century, and made enormous strides in unifying botanical and taxonomic study of plants in the Northeastern U.S.
    a. How many specimens in Global Plants were collected by Gray?
    b. How many specimens in Global Plants were named by Gray?
    c. Locate at least one specimen verified by Gray.


The list of ways in which humans use plants extends far beyond their cultivation as food sources. To name a few, plants are used in clothing, medicines, shelter, religion, tools, decoration, and ornamentation. Many nineteenth and early twentieth century field expeditions collected samples of plants they saw used for medicinal or religious purposes, or those considered to possess economic potential. These objects are housed in ethnobotany and economic botany collections around the world, in cabinets and boxes and glass jars.


These collections consist of raw plant materials, wood samples, clothing, tools, foods, poisons, medicines, and objects used in everyday life. They contain a wealth of materials for studying the ways in which people interact with plants from medical, social, religious, and economic perspectives. There are many points of entry for research in these collections including archaeology, ecology, anthropology, history, or pharmacology. Browsing the variety of objects and their uses, you will no doubt think of others.

Using plants for your health at Kew

Key vocabulary:
Ethnobotany, economic botany

Additional Resources

Alcorn, Janis B. “Economic Botany, Conservation, and Development: What's the Connection?” Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 82, no. 1 (1995): 34-46.

Arora, David and Glenn H. Shepard Jr. “Mushrooms and Economic Botany.”Economic Botany 62, no. 3, Special Mushroom Issue (November 2008): 207-212.

Bletter, Nathaniel. “Talking Books: A New Method of Returning Ethnobiological Research Documentation to the Non-Literate.” Economic Botany 60, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 85-90.

“Economic Botany Collection, Kew.”

Heiser, Charles B. “Economic Botany: Past and Future.” Economic Botany 40, no. 3 (July-September 1986): 261-266.

"JSTORIES: Dr. Lauren Raz."

“Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa.”

Wickens, Gerald. “Defining Economic Botany and Ethnobotany.” Economic Botany 54, no. 3 (July-September 2000): 251.

Wickens, Gerald. “What Is Economic Botany?” Economic Botany 44, no. 1 (January-March 1990): 12-28.


  1. Locate specimens of Ricinus communis within the Economic Botany collection.
    a. Try to locate a common name you are familiar with. What product is made from this species? What part(s) of the plant would be used to make this product?
    b. Locate specimens of Ricinus communis. Where does Ricinus communis occur naturally?
    c. Do a search for the common name in Global Plants. From the results, select a letter. Describe the context in which Ricinus communis is discussed.
  2. Search the Economic Botany collection for specimens of the genus Nicotiana.
    a. With what form(s) of this plant are you familiar?
    b. List any additional uses mentioned in the descriptions of the objects.
    c. Locate the compilation pages for Nicotiana tabacum and Nicotiana rustica. Using any resources available to you, describe two morphological differences.
    d. Many plants in the Solanaceae family are edible, and many are toxic. Find two other examples of plants in the Solanaceae family with toxic properties or parts.
  3. Avicennia germinans is known by many names. Most commonly in English it is known as white mangrove, black mangrove, or olive mangrove.
    a. From the Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa, identify a use for each of part of the plant: bark; fruit; leaf; root; twig bark; wood.
    b. Which of these uses would you classify as “economic botany,” and which as “ethnobotany,” and why? What arguments do you see for the other categorization?


Plants of Interest unit

Plants can be considered interesting for a variety of reasons. These reasons vary person to person, but often relate to a plant being strange, edible, beautiful, useful or dangerous, or for challenging the boundaries of what we consider to be a plant.

MyrrhAromatic Plants
Myrrh is a resin taken from plants in the Commiphora genus. Most myrrh is harvested from the tree Commiphora myrrha by cutting the tree’s bark to release sap. It grows in Africa and on the Arabian Peninsula (Cohen, 2011). Myrrh is valued for its fragrant essential oils and was historically used in medicine and religious rituals. Royalty held it in high esteem; Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt imported it from the Land of Punt, an area renowned for its myrrh (Kinnaer, 2009).

Hippomane mancinellaPoisonous Plants
Hippomane mancinella was labelled by early explorers as one of the most toxic plants in the new world tropics. The leaves and fruit contain deadly poisons, and the sap burns skin and can cause blindness. The toxic compounds in the sap are said to be so potent that sleeping under the tree in a heavy dew will blister or burn the skin.

Encephalartos hildebrandtiiCycads
Cycads are an ancient order of plants found throughout the tropics and subtropics. Comprised of three families, there are fossils of cycads from the Late Paleozoic era, about 280 million years ago (Mamay, S. 1969). Cycads are dioecious and produce distinct male and female cones.

WelwitschiaUnique Plants
Welwitschia is the only genus of the family Welwitschiaceae. The plant produces two leaves (or occasionally three) that grow as long as the plant lives, which is thought to be upwards of 1,000 years. As the leaves grow, they fray and take on a ribbon-like quality. These leaves have been documented at lengths up to four yards (12ft.) on mature plants.

Hydnora africanaParasitic Plants
Some parasitic plants supplement photosynthesis with parasitism, and others rely exclusively on other plants for survival. Hydnora africana belongs to the latter category- it has no leaves to speak of and grows mostly underground, stealing nutrients from the roots of nearby plants. Above ground, it produces fleshy flowers that smell like feces to attract its pollinators: carrion and dung beetles.

Hydnora africanaCarnivorous Plants
Carnivorous plants tend to grow in areas with low concentrations of nutrients. Plants in the genus Utricularia, more commonly known as bladderworts, are freshwater aquatic plants that have a sophisticated bladder-like trap that utilizes water pressure to capture insects.

Commodity Plants

In daily life, the most meaningful way we interact with and depend on plants is for sustenance. Of these, there are important commodity plants- those grown at large scale to support human existence. You are no doubt familiar with these plants as a consumer, but perhaps not as a botanist.





The Forgotten Home of Coffee

Key vocabulary:
Zea mays, Poaceae, Teosinte, Coffea, Oryza, Graminae, Commiphora, Theobroma,

Additional Resources

Ashihara, Hiroshi, Ana Maria Monteiro, Fiona M. Gillies and Alan Crozier. “Biosynthesis of Caffeine in Leaves of Coffee.” Plant Physiology 111, no. 3 (July 1996): 747-753.

Brooks, Erwin R., and Arthur T. Guard. “Vegetative Anatomy of Theobroma cacao.” Botanical Gazette 113, no. 4 (June 1952): 444-454.

Coffea arabica compilation page.”

“Economic Botany Collection, Kew.”

Encephalartos hildebrandtii compilation page.”

Hippomane mancinella.

Hippomane mancinella.

Hippomane mancinella compilation page.”

Hydnora africana compilation page.”


Theobroma cacao compilation page.”

Thulin, Mats, and Per Claeson. “The Botanical Origin of Scented Myrrh (Bissabol or Habak Hadi).” Economic Botany 45, no. 4 (October- December 1991): 487-494.

“Utricularia prehensilis compilation page.”

“Welwitschia bainesii compilation page.”

Zea mays compilation page.”


  1. "Pitcher Plants" are relatively well-known carnivorous plants. The name actually covers hundreds of unique species across four plant families, including Nepenthaceae. The family Nepenthaceae consists of a single genus.
    a. Identify the genus.
    b. In what African countries were Nepenthaceae specimens collected?
    c. Based on your knowledge of carnivorous plants, identify at least one country in Africa where you would not expect plants of the Nepenthaceae family to grow.
  2. The order Cycadales consists of three families: Cycadaceae, Stangeriaceae, and Zamiaceae.
    a. Identify one genus belonging to each family.
    b. For each genus selected, identify two unique characteristics.
  3. Using the reference resources in Global Plants, locate at least two additional species for each category of plant: edible, aromatic, and poisonous. For each:
    a. Identify which part of the plant is edible, aromatic, or poisonous. Do any fall into multiple categories?
    b. List any additional properties/uses of the plant.
    c. Determine the plant's range/distribution.



Though closely related, there is often a gap between the science of plants and the practice of horticulture. Horticulture is the practice of plant cultivation, and we’ve used this unit to work through several plant families you’ll commonly encounter in horticulture. Perhaps you’d like a garden that appeals to local pollinators, or plants that grow well in dry weather. If so, having an understanding of the characteristics of the major plant families used in horticulture is extremely helpful, and the specimens in Global Plants, which are searchable by family, can help provide inspiration. There are many more horticulturally important families than those presented here, but we leave that discovery up to you.

Poaceae (The Grass family)Poaceae (The Grass family)
The Poaceae family is one of the most economically important families in the world. It contains maize, sugar cane, and bamboo. Twenty percent of the world’s vegetation is a grass. Some species are also grown decoratively, like Phragmites, now a problematic invasive across North America.

Asteraceae (The Sunflower or Aster family)Asteraceae (The Sunflower or Aster family)
Asters comprise one of the largest plant families in the world: one in ten species is an aster. The inflorescence of asters is unique. It is a head, or capitula, covered in disk flowers, which are called florets. Commonly used plants in horticulture include marigolds, dahlias, and zinnias.

Lamiaceae (The Mint family)Lamiaceae (The Mint family)
The mint family is most known for its abundance of culinary herbs, like basil, rosemary, and sage. Their petals are typically fused to form an upper and a lower lip and their stems are often square.

Rosaceae (The Rose family)Rosaceae (The Rose family)
Members of the rose family typically have five petals and an abundance of stamens. Commercially grown roses were bred to have more petals. Many fruit trees, such as apples, peaches, and strawberries, belong to the rose family.

Fabaceae (The Bean or Pea family)Fabaceae (The Bean or Pea family)
Members of this family, which is also known as Leguminosae, have five petals. It is an economically important family, as it includes soybeans, alfalfa, and a variety of other beans.

Solanaceae (The Nightshade family)Solanaceae (The Nightshade family)
The nightshade family is one of contrasts: it contains food plants like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and paprika, but it also has many poisonous members, like deadly nightshade and mandrake.

Key vocabulary:
Liliaceae, Araceae, Poaceae, Asteraceae, Lamiaceae, Brassicaceae, Rosaceae, Fabaceae, Solanaceae, Apiaceae, pollination syndromes

Additional Resources

Apiaceae (18,000+ results).

Araceae (10,000+ results).

Asteraceae (153,000+ results).

Brassicaceae (26,000+ results).

Fabaceae (91,000+ results).

Lamiaceae (30,000+ results).

Liliaceae (9,000+ results).

Poaceae (93,000+ results).

Rosaceae (34,000+ results).

"Royal Horticultural Society Specimens."

Solanaceae (30,000+ results).


  1. Locate the compilation page for Capsicum frutescens.
    a. What are the common names for this plant?
    b. Where is this plant native? Where are the available specimens from?
    c. Do you anticipate it could be cultivated in your climate? Why or why not?
    d. Can you locate a Capsicum that could be cultivated in your location?
  2. Find the compilation page for Persea Americana.
    a. What is this plant commonly known as, and what is its primary use?
    b. What is another name (identification) for Persea Americana.?
    c. Which one is the Accepted Name, and which is the Synonym? How can you tell?
  3. The common name "star apple" refers to different species depending on your geographic region.
    a. One species is originally from the Greater Antilles and the West Indies. It has edible, purple-skinned fruit with a star pattern in the pulp. What is the scientific name of this plant?
    b. Star apple tends to refer to plants of a particular family and genus. What family and genus does the star apple belong to?
    c. How many different species identified with the common name star apple are represented in Global Plants?
    d. Select one of the species to study in greater detail. Describe its range, habitat, and uses. Do you think it would flourish in your region? Why or why not?



End Notes

  1. Glossary
  2. Sources
  3. Image Credits
  4. About
  5. Credits


Angiosperm: A group of seed-producing, flowering vascular plants that produce seeds from the ovary of their flowers.  

Apiaceae: The carrot family. Commonly used members of this family include carrots, celery, and parsley.

Araceae: The arum family.  Arums have a unique inflorescence, consisting of a spathe and a spadix. They are also often capable of producing heat, like Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus). It performs cyanide-resistant cellular respiration to melt snow in spring.

Asteraceae: The aster family, which is the largest plant family. Commonly used members of this family include daisies, asters, sunflowers, artichokes, marigolds, and a vast number of additional ornamental and edible plants.

Baines, Thomas: A nineteenth century English explorer and botanical illustrator. Baines accompanied David Livingston on several of his explorations in Africa.

Bauer, Franz: An Austrian botanical artist of the mid-eighteenth to nineteenth century. He was the first botanical illustrator for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Binomial naming: the formal system of naming living things by giving each a name consisting of two parts, the first of which establishes the genus to which the species belongs, and the second identifying it as a unique species with a species name.

Binomial nomenclature: See binomial naming.

Botanical illustration: The art of depicting the color, form, habitat, and details of plant species.

Brassicaceae: The mustard family. Commonly used members of this family include broccoli, cabbage, mustard, cauliflower, kale, radish, and turnips.

Bryophyte: Non-vascular plants, including mosses, hornworts, and liverworts.

Coffea: The genus of flowering plants whose seeds are used to make coffee.

Commiphora: A genus of flowering shrubs and trees including myrrh.

Cook, James: A British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain whose three journeys to the Pacific produced an enormous volume of information regarding the peoples, plants, and animals of the Pacific Islands.

Cuticle: The protecting film on the outside of a plant; protects the epidermis cells.

Dermal tissue: The outermost layer protecting the interior tissue.

Dichotomous key: A tool that allows scientists to identify plants through a series of choices that lead the user to the correct name of a given specimen.

Dioecious: Plants that have separate male and female plants as opposed to having both male and female reproductive organs on a single plant.

Drake, Sarah: An English botanical illustrator better known as “Miss Drake.” 

Economic botany: The study of how people use plants, explicitly the use of plants with economic value.

Epidermis: A single-layered group of cells that covers the plants’ LEAVES, flowers, roots, and stems.

Ethnobotany: The study of how people use indigenous plants as food sources or for religious, medical, and other purposes related to traditional knowledge and customs.

Fabaceae: The bean or pea family. Commonly used members of this family include beans, peas, soybeans, chickpeas, peanuts, alfalfa, and carob.

Fibrous root: A root (as in most grasses) that has no prominent central axis, meaning that roots branch in all directions.

Field collection: The process by which botanists amass samples illustrating the diversity of the plant world.

Fruits: The part of the flowering plant that develops from the ovary of the flower.

Fungi: A group of spore-producing organisms that feed on organic matter, including mushrooms, yeasts, and molds.

Graminae: An alternate name for Poaceae, the grass family.

Ground tissue: Any plant tissue that is not dermal or vascular.

Gymnosperm: A group of seed-producing vascular plants including conifers that produce “naked” seeds, meaning the seeds are not protected within a fruit.

Herbarium: A collection of pressed or preserved plant specimens.

Holland, Maria Elizabeth: A South African plant collector in the mid nineteenth century.

Holotype: The unique plant specimen is designated as the official species type. The holotype is named by the author at the time that the species definition is established and published.

Inflorescence:  The flowering structure of a plant.

Isolectotype: A duplicate of the lectotype.

Epitype: A specimen selected as a type when the existing type specimen for a species is deemed ambiguous and cannot be properly identified.

Isotype: A duplicate of the holotype specimen.

Lamiaceae: The mint family. Commonly used members of this family include many aromatic plants, such as mint, rosemary, sage, thyme, lavender, oregano, hyssop, savory, and basil.

Lectotype: The specimen selected as the definitive type of a species, when no holotype was originally designated in that species’ description.

Lichens: Plants consisting of fungal and algal cells growing together symbiotically.

Liliaceae: The lily family. Members of this family grow from bulbs, corms or rhizomes. Many are poisonous, and they are often used as ornamentals. Tulips, the Tulipa genus, are in this family. In the 1500’s, Europe became so enamored with tulips that it caused an economic bubble called tulip mania.

Linnaeus, Carl: A Swedish botanist and physician who is best known for establishing a system of binomial naming, or binomial nomenclature, to apply to plants and animals.

Linnean Society: The society founded to preserve the library of Carl Linnaeus. It is located in London, England.

Masson, Francis: A Scottish botanist and gardener who enjoyed the title of being the first plant collector to be sent abroad by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Mesophyll: Tissue comprising the interior of the leaf, where most photosynthesis occurs.

Mycorrhizae: A symbiotic relationship between fungi and the roots of a vascular plant in which the fungi colonize the plants’ roots and receive nutrients from the roots. In return, the fungi assist the plant in ion absorption from the soil.

Neotype: The type selected after the description of a species, to replace a lost or damaged specimen.

North, Marianne: An English Victorian botanist and illustrator.

Oryza: A genus of grasses including rice.

Palgrave, Olive Coates: A South African botanical illustrator best known for her book Trees of Central Africa, which was published in 1956.

Petiole: The structure that attaches a leaf to the stem of a plant.

Plant dissection: The process of studying the internal structure of plants. 

Poaceae: The grass family. Also known as Graminae. The most economically important plant family. Commonly used members of this family include corn, rice, wheat, barley, millet, bamboo, and sugarcane.

Pollination syndromes: Pollination syndromes refer to the ways in which flower traits have evolved to maximize successful pollination, which can be driven by abiotic factors (such as wind and water) or biotic factors (such as bees, birds, bats, and ants). Some examples include flower shapes, size, or odor, as well as the composition of nectar and timing of flowering.

Rosaceae: The rose family. Commonly used members of this family include stone fruits like apples, peaches, and cherries, as well as roses, hawthorns, and a number of ornamental trees and shrubs.

Smith, James Edward: An eighteenth century English botanist and founder of the Linnean Society.

Solanaceae: The nightshade family. Commonly used members of this family include tomatoes, potatoes, and toxic plants such as deadly nightshade.

Species Plantarum: Book published by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 that lists every plant species known at the time. It is also the first scientific work to consistently apply binomial names (genus, species).

Sporocarp: The fungus structure responsible for releasing spores. The most common example is the cap of a mushroom.

Stomata: The plural of stoma. Stomata are pores found in the epidermis of plant leaves and stems that control gas exchange.

Syntype: Two or more specimens of a species for which no holotype was specified. These specimens therefore are considered of equal status with regard to describing the new species.

Talbot, Percy Amoury: A British botanist, anthropologist, and explorer enlisted in the Nigerian Political Service. Talbot's collection from his travels in Africa, consisting of 4,000 plant specimens as well as paintings and illustration, is in the Natural History Museum in London.

Taproot: A primary root that grows vertically downward and gives off small lateral roots.

Teosinte: The wild grass from which Zea mays was bred.

Theobroma: A genus of flowering plants consisting mainly of small trees native to Central and South America. Theobroma cacao, or chocolate, is by far the most well-known species of the genus.

Transpiration: The process by which water is lost through the surface of a plant.

Type specimen: The specimen to which the formal scientific name of that organism is formally attached. It is the specimen that serves to define or centralize the characteristics of a particular species.

Vascular tissue: The plant tissue responsible for transport of water and nutrients, i.e. xylem and phloem.

Zea mays: Corn, or maize.

  • Back to Top


    Plant Anatomy and Morphology
    Beentje, Henk. The Kew Plant Glossary: an illustrated dictionary of plant terms. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2012.

    Taiz, L. and Zeiger, E. Plant Physiology. Sunderland: Sinauer Associates, Inc., 2006.

    Plant Systematics
    Hiepko, P., quoted by Freie Universitaet Berlin. 1913 to March 1, 1943. Retrieved March 27, 2015.

    McNeill, J. Barrie, F.R., Buck W.R., Demouling, C., Greuter, W., Hawksworth, D.L., Turland, N.J. International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi and plants (Melbourne Code) adopted for the Eighteenth Annual Botanical Congress Melbourne, Australia, July 2011. Koenigstein: Koeltz Scientific Books, 2012.

    The New York Botanical Garden. “Type Definition,” last modified 2003.

    Botanical Illustration

    Ben-Ari, Elia T. “Better than a thousand words.” BioScience, 49 No. 8 (August, 1999); 602-608. Retrieved March 31, 2015.

    Buck, Jutta. “A Brief History of Botanical Art.” The Botanical Artist, 1, no. 15. 2012. Retrieved March 7, 2014.

    Fungi and Bryophytes
     “All about Fungi.” Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved March 7, 2014.

    Kent, Livija. “Mosses.” University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Last updated 1997.

    Lepp, Heino. “Types of Fungal Fruiting Bodies.” Australian National Herbarium, Last updated January 23, 2013.

    Speer, B.R.“First Among Fungus.” University of California of Paleontology. Last updated 1998.

    Stotler, Dr. R.E.and Crandall-Stotler, Dr. B.J. “Bryophytes.” Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Last updated December 17, 2013.

    Wagonner, B and Speer, B.R. “Introduction to the Fungi.” University of California Museum of Paleontology. Last updated 1998.

    Famous Botanists and Scientists
    “Biography of Sir James Edward Smith.” Linnean Society of London. Retrieved March 6, 2014. smith/Biography+of+Sir+James+Edward+Smith

    “Marianne North Gallery: Marianne and Kew.” Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved March 6, 2014.

    Waggoner, B. “Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778).” University of California Museum of Paleotonology. Last updated 2006.

    Plants of Interest

    Coste, Rene. ”Coffee production.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved March 6, 2014.

    Grace, O. “Theobroma cacao (cocoa tree).” Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  Retrieved March 6, 2014.

    Gramene. “Introduction to Rice.” Retrieved March 6, 2014.

    International Coffee Organization. “Exporting Countries – Total Production.” 2014. Retrieved March 7, 2014.

    International Coffee Organization. “Harvesting.” 2014. Retrieved March 7, 2014.

    Kinnaer, J. Punt and Ta-Natjer. “Ancient Egypt from A to Z.” 2009. Retrieved March 6, 2014.

    Mamay, S. “Cycads: Fossil Evidence of Late Paleozoic Origin.” Science,164, no. 3877. 1969. Retrieved March 27, 2015.

    National Corn Growers Association. “Corn. Rooted in Human History.” 2012. Retrieved March 6, 2014.

    Horticulture for Botanists
    Magee, D.W. and Ahles, H.E. Flora of the Northeast: A Manual of the Vascular Flora of New England and Adjacent New York. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2007.

  • Back to Top

    Image Credits

    Plant Anatomy and Morphology Unit

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Plant Systematics Unit

    Universidad de Panamá (PMA).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Botanical Illustration Unit

    Natural History Museum (BM).

    Natural History Museum (BM).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Real Jardín Botánico (MA).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    South African National Biodiversity Institute, National Herbarium (PRE).

    Natural History Museum (BM).

    Famous Botanists Unit

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K). Carl Linnaeus.

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K). Captain James Cook.

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K). James Edward Smith.

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K). Marianne North.

    Economic Botany/Ethnobotany Unit

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Plants of Interest Unit

    Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire (IFAN).

    Natural History Museum (BM).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    South African National Biodiversity Institute, Compton Herbarium, Cape Town (NBG).

    Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (P).

    South African National Biodiversity Institute, KwaZulu-Natal Herbarium, Durban (NH).

    South African National Biodiversity Institute, National Herbarium (PRE).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K).

    Horticulture for Botanists Unit

    Royal Horticultural Society (WSY).

    Royal Horticultural Society (WSY).

    Royal Horticultural Society (WSY).

    Royal Horticultural Society (WSY).

    Royal Horticultural Society (WSY).

    State Herbarium of South Australia (AD).

  • Back to Top


    A very special thanks to Claire Hopkins and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew for their contributions to this project, and to all our Global Plants Initative partners, whose incredible content makes this possible.

    Claire Hopkins is a science educator, and a curatorial assistant at the Harvard University Herbaria. Claire contributed to the Global Plants Initiative at the New York Botanical Garden Steere Herbarium and the University of Vermont Pringle Herbarium. She runs the website "Brilliant Botany" and hosts its accompanying educational video series about plant biology, inspiring enthusiasm about the natural world.

    The Directors' Correspondence Digitization Project is digitizing correspondence sent to the directors and senior staff of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from the 1820s to the 1930s. A very special thanks to the KewDC team for their involvement: Team Leader Helen Hartley, team members Katherine Harrington, Jon Nicholls and Jess Smith, Head of Digital Jeremy Monblat, and filmmaker Max Warren. For all of your involvement in the Directors’ Correspondence video and in sharing the wonderful and informative existing Kew videos, we thank you.

    Global Plants is a community-contributed database used by students and researchers worldwide. Request a Trial or Learn More about gaining access to Global Plants at your library. Because we all need more plants in our lives.

  • Back to Top


    Hannah Begley
    Zachariah Mattheus
    Deirdre Ryan
    Elevin Studios

    Special Thanks
    The Harvard Herbaria:
    Lian Bruno
    Charles Davis
    Gustavo A. Romero
    Christian Schorn
    Judy Warnement
    Steph Zabel

  • Back to Top
  • Plant Anatomy and Morphology Unit Plant Systematics Unit Field Botany Unit Botanical Illustration Unit Fungi And Bryophytes Unit Famous Botanists and Scientists Ethnobotany/Economic Botany Unit Plants of Interest Horticulture For Botanists Scroll down for more Scroll down for more