Searchable online information is increasingly utilised in day-to-day enquiries about plant and fungal names, specimens (both living and preserved) and botanical literature.
Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) Melbourne contributes approximately 800,000 records to Australia's Virtual Herbarium (AVH), which aggregates the specimen holdings of the major Australian herbaria, providing real-time online maps.
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne maintains electronic national name catalogues for Australian mosses and fungi, the latter currently covering macrofungi, but soon to be extended to all fungi.
An innovative online tool is available to find which plants grow at RBG Melbourne and where they are located in the Gardens.
The extensive holdings of more than 250,000 current and historical botanical books and periodicals in the RBG Melbourne Library can be searched through an online database.
Australia's Virtual Herbarium (AVH)
Australia's major state and territory herbaria house over six million plant, algae and fungi specimens. The collecting information stored with these specimens provides the most complete picture of the distribution of Australia's flora to date. Australia's Virtual Herbarium (AVH) is an online resource that provides immediate access to this invaluable information.
When the AVH databasing project began in 2001, only a small proportion of the botanical specimens held by the major Australian herbaria had been databased. Now, over 80 per cent of the specimens housed in Australian herbaria are available online. Specimen data can be viewed on-screen as a map or in a table, and can be downloaded in a number of formats.
At the National Herbarium of Victoria (MEL), all Australian vascular plant, fungi, lichen, liverwort and hornwort collections, and most of the moss and algae collections, have been databased. To date, MEL has contributed almost 800,000 specimen records to AVH. New records are added daily as curation staff database the thousands of specimens received by the Herbarium each year.
Census of the Vascular Plants of Victoria
The Census of the Vascular Plants of Victoria lists the scientific names of all vascular plants known to occur in Victoria. The origin status of plants in Victoria as native (indigenous) or naturalised is indicated, including for plants that may be native in one part of their range but naturalised in another. The conservation status of Victorian plants is also indicated.
All taxa listed in the Census are substantiated by herbarium voucher specimens, most of which are housed in the National Herbarium of Victoria (MEL), although some are housed in other herbaria.
Catalogue of Australian Mosses (AusMoss)
The Catalogue of Australian Mosses (AusMoss) is an up-to-date overview of Australian mosses that is freely available online. AusMoss provides nomenclatural and taxonomic information on the mosses of Australia and its external territories. It also provides distribution data for continental Australia of Australian species, based on specimen occurrence data from the National Herbarium of Victoria's (MEL) collections database, Australia's Virtual Herbarium (AVH) and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). The development of AusMoss was sponsored by the Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS).
AusMoss builds on two printed works, the Catalogue of mosses of Australia and its external territories by Heinar Streimann and Judith Curnow (published in 1989) and the Catalogue of Australian mosses by Heinar Streimann and Niels Klazenga (2002). An Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) sponsored project is about to start at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne that will make AusMoss data from AusMoss available to an ALA name service.
Interactive Catalogue of Australian Fungi (ICAF)
The Interactive Catalogue of Australian Fungi (ICAF) provides the currently accepted name and synonyms of species of fungi described or reported from Australia. Under each accepted name, a comprehensive list of literature on the occurrence of species in Australia is also provided.
ICAF presently covers macrofungi in the Basidiomycota and Myxomycota, including mushrooms, coral fungi, bracket fungi, puffballs and slime moulds. ICAF will eventually cover all groups of fungi and fungoid organisms.
ICAF is a joint project of RBG Melbourne and ABRS. ICAF runs from a database maintained by Tom May at RBG Melbourne. The database was originally derived from the printed version of the Catalogue and bibliography of Australian fungi, published as Fungi of Australia volumes 2A and 2B. The database was developed at RBG Melbourne through a grant from ABRS.
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Living Plant Census
The online Living Plant Census allows the public to view details of the entire living collection at RBG Melbourne. The Living Plant Census can be queried by scientific name or common name. A list of plants in each of the various beds and locations in the Gardens is available. In addition, publicly accessible locations of plants within the Gardens are mapped.
The online Plant Census is one of the first of its kind in Australia, but the origins of lists of plants growning at RBG Melbourne go back to the nineteenth century. Records of plants growing at the Gardens have been kept since the 1850s, with varying levels of detail. The first comprehensive list of plants in the Gardens was prepared by William Guilfoyle in 1883. Guilfoyle's Plants in the Botanic Gardens, Melbourne detailed the names, description and habitat of plants, but did not provide the provenance of the plants nor their exact location in the Gardens.
Formal record keeping began in 1969 with the introduction of an accession book that detailed the provenance, date of planting and location within the Gardens of all new plantings. These records form the basis of the current plant census. Since 1976 there has been a staff member whose duties have included record keeping. The computerised Living Collections Database dates from this time. In 2008, the RBG Melbourne Living Collections Database was made publically available via the online Living Plant Census.
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Library catalogue
The RBG Melbourne Library is Australia's most comprehensive botanical library. The Library collections include printed material, original artwork, letters and manuscripts, photographs, maps and museum items, as well as extensive archives.
The Library's collection can be searched using the Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC). The catalogue contains almost 50,000 records, which represents the majority of the collection, and new records are added daily.
Other online plant and fungi resources
The wide range of plant and fungi resources available online are a valuable reference for many aspects of botanical research.
Australia's Virtual Herbarium provides immediate access to the plant and fungi specimen data held in Australian herbaria
Commersonia rossii, drawn by Enid Mayfield
Leucobryum aduncum var scalare, one of the 921 Australian moss taxa in AusMoss
Psyathrella echinata, one of more than 4,000 species listed in the Interactive Catalogue of Australian Fungi
A map of the Royal Botanic Gardens, c. 1883
A map from the Living Plant Census showing where River Red Gums grow at RBG Melbourne
The RBG Melbourne Library catalogue can be searched online
Last updated 07 Nov 2012