Botanic Gardens Conservation International
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PlantSearch Upload Instructions


          Go To GardenSearch!                                                              Go To PlantSearch!


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How to Add Your Collections to PlantSearch

BGCI encourages managers of living botanical collections (plants, seeds, or explants) to upload their plant lists to the PlantSearch database to help assess the conservation value of living collections and to connect collections to the global botanical community.

Plant 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

Here are detailed instructions to help you through the process:

  1. 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 will add your information.

  2. Click to EnlargeUpdate your GardenSearch Profile: When you successfully login to your institution’s GardenSearch profile, 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 on each screen, click the 'Save' button at the bottom. (Click image at right to enlarge)

  3. 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 or Mac 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 seven required plant name fields (columns) and recommended column headings, with two examples of plant name orientation:

    Click to open a CSV Template

    (Click image above to open a template CSV document)

    *Notes on creating a plant list
       - 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 seven-field scheme (i.e., multi-generic or multi-specific hybrid names, or names with more than one infraspecific rank). Here are some examples which might be useful:  [1]  [2]  [3]  [4]
       - Abbreviated and non-abbreviated Infraspecific Ranks with or without punctuation are acceptable for upload.
       - Cultivar (or Grex) Epithets with or without quotation marks or apostrophes are acceptable for upload.

       - Names submitted without a specific epithet will be automatically rejected. Adding 'sp.' to the Specific Epithet field for names without a specific epithet can increase the acceptance rate.
       - Acceptance rate is generally low for cultivars, hybrids, and similar taxa uploaded to PlantSearch, as the main focus of the database is at the species level in order to support plant conservation efforts.

    BG-BASE Users: Click here (PDF version) or here (TXT version) for recommended instructions on how to create a .CSV list of your living collection.

    Mac Users
    : Please work with BGCI staff to develop a plant list - there are often differences and problems with submitting plant lists from Mac computers.

  4. 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 seven-field 'genhyb,gen,sphyb,sp,isprk,isp,cul' scheme, where all fields are distinquished by commas and any blank field will be indicated with a comma (ex: if a name is composed of only a genus and specific epithet, the record would be written as: ,gen,,sp,,, ). Check that each epithet corresponds to the appropriate field/column heading as demonstrated in Step 3. A correctly-formatted plant list will resemble (note commas and separate lines):
    Click to Enlarge
    If desired, open your plant list with Microsoft Excel. Check that each epithet corresponds to the appropriate field/column heading as demonstrated 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’. Remember the location of your .CSV file, as you will need to locate it shortly. (Click image at right to enlarge)

  5. Upload Your Plant List: Click to EnlargeRefer to Step 1 to login to your institution's GardenSearch profile. 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 WordPad 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)

  6. Replace Current List: After selecting the proper file, check the 'Replace current
    plants list' box if your new list includes all taxa in your collection, and then click ‘Upload Plants’.

    *A note about adding to your plant list:
    You can also ADD TO your plant list by UNCHECKING the 'Replace current plants list' box, and any additional uploads will be treated as separate, new records. Alternatively, you can click on 'Download your full current list' as a CSV file, add new records to it, and then upload that file.

  7. 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 email will be sent from BGCI’s server to your Garden Editor contact email. This Upload Report will provide a list of any submitted plant names that did not correspond to the IPNI or PlantSearch databases, and 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 feel a name should have been accepted and was not.

  8. Reap the Benefits: All accepted names in your plant list will be included in online PlantSearch queries and requests, and 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.

Please contact BGCI with any questions or comments, and thank you for contributing your plant list!

Page last updated January 23, 2012