Online Databases

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.

The majority of the Australian plant, algae and fungi collections at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria have been databased, and Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria contributes approximately 850,000 specimen records to AVH. New records are added daily as curation staff database the thousands of specimens received by the Herbarium each year.

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 Australian species within continental Australia, 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). AusMoss data has been submitted to the National Species Lists, and is already available in the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) and Australia's Virtual Herbarium (AVH).

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 is up-to-date to 2004 and covers macrofungi in the Basidiomycota and Myxomycota, including mushrooms, coral fungi, bracket fungi, puffballs and slime moulds. Following on from the project to compile the national names list for fungi for the Atlas of Living Australia, ICAF will be migrated to AusFungi. This new web interface, to be implemented in 2015, will cover all groups of non-lichenised fungi and fungoid organisms.

ICAF has been a joint project of Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne and ABRS. ICAF runs from a database maintained by Tom May at Royal Botanic Gardens 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 the Gardens through a grant from ABRS.

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria Living Plant Census

The online Living Plant Census allows the public to view details of the entire living collection at Melbourne Gardens. 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 growing at Melbourne Gardens 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 botanic 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 recordkeeping 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 recordkeeping. The computerised Living Collections Database dates from this time. In 2008, the Melbourne Gardens Living Collections Database was made publically available via the online Living Plant Census

VicFlora, Flora of Victoria

Together the former hardcopy 4-volume Flora of Victoria and Census of the Vascular Plants of Victoria, provided the authoritative resources on all naturally occurring plants in Victoria, including current names, distribution, status as native or introduced, and conservation status. These have recently been replaced by VicFlora, the most comprehensive and authoritative account of Victoria’s vascular plant flora. 

All taxa listed in VicFlora are substantiated by herbarium voucher specimens, most of which are housed in the National Herbarium of Victoria at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, although some are housed in other herbaria.

Library catalogue

The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria 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.