I'm doing some work visualising tree inventories and thought it would be nice to show whether the species is native to Australia or not. I haven't so far found any database that would answer the question. Wikipedia has a category "Flora of Australia" but it's not clear whether that means "native to", and I don't know if it's consistently used.

Are there any other databases with this kind of information? Taxonomy information seems straightforward, but what about basic distribution in the wild?

In this case, I really just a very simple "yes/no" per species. In some cases, I only have the genus, but I don't know if asking whether a genus is native to a country is a sensible question.

EDIT Well, it turns out there are lots of plant databases of various kinds, mostly concerned with taxonomies, tracking name changes, and photos. I've now looked at:

Still more to go at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_biodiversity_databases


Another one, the "Colonial Plants Database"


2 Answers 2


G'day Steve,

Yep APNI (Australian Plant Name Index) list Australian Native and Naturalized plants as well as some weed species.

APNI includes some services for looking up plant names. APC the Australian Plant Census is a list of the currently accepted names as recognised by CHAH the Council of Heads of Australian Herbaria. (http://www.anbg.gov.au/chah/)

To find a name in APNI you can use https://biodiversity.org.au/nsl/services/apni

This search will display an APNI format output of pretty much all we know about the name and synonyms of the name (not about the plant, just the names references, authors )

A search like this one https://biodiversity.org.au/nsl/services/search?product=apni&tree.id=3029293&name=Hakea+actites&max=100&display=apni&search=true will give you the output for Hakea actites. But your search may return mutiple matches. The match is against the 'full name' of the plant, so it includes the Author.

The link icon in that output is a permalink to a name object which is consumable e.g. https://biodiversity.org.au/boa/name/apni/163125 You can ask for that link in JSON, XML, or RDF using the request mime type. To see it in your browser though you'll need to add .json to the end, e.g. https://biodiversity.org.au/boa/name/apni/163125.json

You'll notice the links on the name object include https://biodiversity.org.au/boa/Hakea%20actites%20W.R.Barker which uses the full name as an identifier. This is a quick way to see if we have linked data on a name. However we only have the full name in that service right now.

So... we have doco happening (the service has just changed rather a lot) and we'll keep people informed via twitter @AuBiodiversity. There are lots of other services.

edit: add weed and naturalised info:

OK APNI is just a name store, it stores facts about names wrt references. APC is a classification and it stores some opinion (CHAHs) about the names.

Currently the data about something being a weed or naturalised is in the form of notes by APC, so there is not clear cut yes/no.

Some examples:

APC Dist gives the distribution e.g. https://t.co/mo2OD9TbIV if naturalised it says so e.g.https://t.co/0i4sAqS7Lg

weed status is a little sketchy and can be in status or comments e.g. https://t.co/K4nzt6OOFD and https://t.co/h9WDU61XUQ

  • 1
    Thanks very much for the response. I'm not sure if I'm missing something obvious, but I still can't see a way to determine if a plant is native to Australia. I understand that if it's in APNI, it's pretty likely - but it could also be a weed or a "naturalized plant"? How can you tell which category it's in? Apr 14, 2015 at 23:48
  • @SteveBennett added some extra info about weed/naturalised info. maybe not what you're looking for though.
    – pmc
    Apr 16, 2015 at 3:40
  • Hmm, so no actual attributes for native/naturalised/weed/... I guess I'm not surprised that that info is not in the APNI (name index...) but sad that it doesn't seem to exist anywhere else either. Apr 17, 2015 at 0:10

I don't know when this came along, but the Atlas of Living Australia now has an API which can (maybe) answer the question.

This query asks for every member of the plant kingdom for which there is a record showing its presence in a polygon which matches Australia:


I'm not certain whether their definition of "endemic" means "exclusive to the area", but I think probably not.

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