PlantSearch Upload Instructions

How to Add Your Collections to PlantSearch

Managers of living botanical collections (plants, seeds, or explants) are encouraged to upload plant lists to the PlantSearch database on an annual basis to demonstrate and enhance the conservation value of living collections, and connect living collections to the global botanical community of conservationists, educators, horticulturists, and researchers.

Upload Process

Uploading collections data to PlantSearch is quick, easy, and free. The major steps are:

  • Register as a Garden Editor
  • Login and update your institution’s GardenSearch profile
  • Create a standardized plant list
  • Upload your plant list to PlantSearch via your GardenSearch profile

Detailed instructions to help you through the process:

Become a Garden Editor: Find your institution’s profile in BGCI’s GardenSearch database. In the top right corner of your institution’s GardenSearch page, click the Edit Garden Button button. You will need a Garden Editor login to access to your institution’s GardenSearch profile; if you have not yet done so, please register as a Garden Editor to receive a username and password. If your institution is not yet listed in GardenSearch, just apply as a Garden Editor and list your institution and we can add it to the database.

Click to EnlargeUpdate your GardenSearch Profile: Once you login to your institution’s GardenSearch profile, please check that all contact information is up-to-date and accurate. Use the navigation bar on the left to update any of the profile categories and even upload an image for your institution. If you update information, be sure to click the ‘Save’ button at the bottom of the page. (Click image at right to enlarge)

Create Your Plant List: Next, you need to create a standardized spreadsheet of plant names (i.e., taxa) that represent your institution’s collection. Using your institution’s plant records database or most current inventory, you can create a list of taxa in Comma Separated Values (.CSV) format using Excel or an equivalent program (BG-BASE Users: See note below). To save the required .CSV format with Microsoft Excel, select ‘File – Save As’, and select ‘CSV (comma delimited)’ as the file type option under ‘Save as Type’.

Every plant name must be consistently aligned. The figure below shows the eight required fields (columns) and recommended column headings, with two examples of plant name orientation:

Notes on creating a plant list:

  • The field Hide Taxon, added July 2016, accepts the values Y and N for ‘hidden’ and ‘not hidden’ for each taxon record. The location of ‘hidden’ taxa will not be visible to any other user, but the location of ‘not hidden’ taxa will be visible to BGCI members only. Please note that if no value is specified at upload, the default is ‘not hidden’.
  • Your plant list may include all or a portion of the plants maintained at your institution (including accessioned specimens as well as known taxa maintained in natural areas). Viable seeds in long-term seed storage can also be included, but please contact BGCI to upload a seed list separately.
  • PlantSearch can sometimes accommodate plant names that do not fit the required eight-field scheme (i.e., multi-generic or multi-specific hybrid names, or names with more than one infraspecific rank).
  • Abbreviated and non-abbreviated Infraspecific Ranks with or without punctuation are acceptable for upload.
    Cultivars, hybrids, and similar taxa uploaded have a low acceptance rate. Cultivar (or Grex) Epithets with or without quotation marks are acceptable for upload.
  • Names submitted without a specific epithet will be automatically rejected. Adding ‘sp.’ to the Specific Epithet field can increase the acceptance rate, but is generally nomenclaturally unacceptable.

BG-BASE Users: Click here for recommended instructions on how to create a .CSV list of your living collection.

Check ‘CSV’ Format: Open your plant list with Notepad, or similar text editor program, to confirm the .CSV format of the file. If correct, your names should appear in the eight-field ‘genhyb,gen,sphyb,sp,isprk,isp,cul,hidetaxon’ scheme, where all fields are distinguished by commas and any blank field will be indicated with a comma (ex: if a name has only a genus and specific epithet, the record will appear as: ,gen,,sp,,,,). Correct formatting will resemble (note commas and separate lines):

If desired, open your plant list with Microsoft Excel or similar, to check that each epithet corresponds to the appropriate field/column heading as shown in Step 3. To confirm or establish the required .CSV format, select ‘File – Save As’, enter a preferred file name, and select ‘CSV (comma delimited)’ as the file type option under ‘Save as Type’. TO CLOSE AFTER SAVING, click ‘Close’ and then ‘Don’t Save’ (yes, DON’T SAVE). Remember the location of your .CSV file, as you will need to locate it shortly. (Click image at right to enlarge)

Upload Your Plant List: In the navigation bar at the left, select ‘Plant Upload’, and you will see options to ‘view’ or ‘download’ your plant list, and the date of your institution’s last Plant Upload. You can either paste your plant list into the text box (paste from NotePad or similar to INCLUDE commas and separate lines for each plant name), or preferably, select your .CSV file on your computer by clicking “Browse…”. (Click image at right to enlarge)

Replace Current List: After selecting your .CSV file, check the ‘Replace current
plants list’ box if your new list includes all taxa you wish to represent your collection, and then click ‘Upload Plants’.

Notes on adding to your plant list:

  • You can also ADD TO a preexisting list by UN-CHECKING the ‘Replace current plants list’ box, and any unique names will be added to your existing list. Alternatively, you can click on ‘Download your full current list’ as a CSV file, edit it as needed, and then upload that file.

Receive the Feedback: Once submitted, your list will be automatically cross-referenced with the International Plant Names Index and the PlantSearch database of plant names. Within 24 hours, an Upload Report will be sent to your Garden Editor contact email, which will include a list of any submitted plant names that did not correspond to the IPNI or PlantSearch databases, and were subsequently rejected. This can be an easy way to identify questionable taxa or misspelled names in your database. You can review, edit, and re-upload any names that were rejected – or contact BGCI directly if you have a data source for any rejected names and we would be happy to add the name to PlantSearch.

Reap the Benefits: All accepted names in your plant list will be included in online PlantSearch queries and requests (locations of plants are not made publicly available, however), and your collection could support broader efforts all over the world. You can also download the list from the ‘Plant Upload’ page in your institution’s GardenSearch profile. The plant names on this list will be cross-referenced with conservation-relevant information, including the 1997 and 2006 IUCN Red Lists of Threatened Plant Species, NatureServe Global Ranks for North America, CITES Appendices, a list of Crop Wild Relative Genera, the GLORIA alpine species list, Tropicos, Google images, and more.

Associated resources

  • PlantSearch Upload Template

    Plant Conservation, Seed Conservation, Services for Botanic Gardens / Tool / English
  • BG Base Commands

    Plant Conservation, Seed Conservation, Services for Botanic Gardens / Tool / English
  • Introduccion y actualizaciones a las bases de datos GardenSearch y PlantSearch de BGCI

    Services for Botanic Gardens / Video / Spanish