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Southern African plant names and floristic details from the South African National Biodiversity Institute

This website provides access to South African plant names (taxa), specimens (herbarium sheets) and observations of plants made in the field (botanical records). Data is obtained from the National Herbarium in Pretoria (PRE), the Compton Herbarium in Cape Town (NBG & SAM) and the KwaZulu-Natal Herbarium in Durban (NH).

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This website is in beta testing and is still under active development.

This database brings together specimen-based data collected over a period of more than 200 years, recorded in very different formats and on very different systems. Because of the difficulties and pitfalls involved in integrating such a diverse range of data, this website makes no claims to comprehensiveness or accuracy. If you encounter an error please provide feedback, or feel free to ask us a question about the database.

Data management plan

SANBI has a data management plan in place to improve all data. Specimen records are currently being verified, i.e. determining whether the data has been accurately translated from the specimen label to the database. Records that have been checked are marked with a date in the "Verified" field.

A geo-referencing team is verifying the coordinates of specimen records. On the map interface, blue points indicate coordinates that are accurate, and red points are not yet verified.

Sensitive species

Can't find information about a particular species? Please note that records associated with sensitive species data (as per the National Sensitive Species List 2010) are only available via special request; these data may not be shared or distributed in any way that may compromise or otherwise infringe the confidentiality of such information.

Request access to sensitive species data

Future plans

Plans are to: add plant images to the database; to migrate the living collections data from all SANBI gardens and the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership; and to migrate specimen data from three botanical garden herbaria (the Lowveld National Botanical Garden Herbarium, the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden Herbarium and the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden Herbarium). As the database continues to develop and grow, we are ensuring the data meets set quality standards and that metadata are adequate to allow raw data to be interpreted.

Using this website

Click on Explore to launch the tool

A general guide to the basic features of the website

How to: Download the National Species Checklist of plants

Download the official yearly release (last updated 6 June 2016) of the National Species Checklist or watch the video below to learn how to get the most up to date species names

How to: Perform a site assessment




Authors of publications that use this dataset should cite the dataset in their list of references, as they do for print media.

How to cite this dataset: South African National Biodiversity Institute. 2016. Botanical Database of Southern Africa (BODATSA) [dataset]. doi: to be assigned.




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Botanical Database of Southern Africa by SANBI is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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