Australian Plant Identification

Overview

No one guide or website features every single native plant found in Australia; the scope is simply too enormous. Australia hosts rainforests, brushlands, wetlands, highlands, coastlines and other ecosystems. But there are ways to focus your search to an area of Australia, a plant environment or type of plant. Resources to help with identification include field guides, national programs and websites of Australia.

Plant Identification Service

The National Herbarium of New South Wales provides plant identification services through the Botanic Gardens Trust in Sydney. Here, you can bring in samples of the plants you've found for over-the-counter identification, or you can mail your samples in. The Herbarium recommends contacting them for the best advice on collecting and preserving samples, or refers collectors to collection guides for specific areas of Australia. Fees for identification vary based on number of species, identification versus confirmation, and complexity of the job.

Weed Identification

The Australian Weeds Committee created an intentionally low-tech site to help with the identification of weeds and invasive species. Through this site, you can search for a weed based on the specific area you found it. Once your location is narrowed down, the site offers a list of known weeds in the area. Select a weed, then view its description and photograph to identify your weed.

Field Guides

The vast scope of Australian habitats means that field guides must be acquired and used based on region or type of plant. For example, the "Field Guide to Victoria's Native Grasslands," "A guide to Flowers & Plants of Tasmania" and "Flora of New South Wales" are helpful for those specific regions, while "Aquatic and Wetland Plants: A Field Guide for Non-Tropical Australia" has a more specific plant focus.

Australian Native Plant Society

Once you've identified your plant, you may want to know how to cultivate it yourself or whether it's useful in the garden. Here, the Australian Native Plant Society (ANPSA) can help, offering growing tips, articles and photo galleries to guide or inspire you on how to plant and maintain a native garden. Also available are guides on native plants at risk and the natural distribution of native plants.

PlantNet

If the plant you've identified isn't detailed by ANPSA, try searching PlantNET, the database of plants of New South Wales Flora Online. Sites featuring specific plant families or plant environments are hosted here. For example, there are pages devoted to Cycads, Eucalyptus, aquatic plants and weeds, as well as a comprehensive herbarium database.

Keywords: Australian native flora, plants of Australia, identifying Australian plants, weeds of Australia, Australian native plants

About this Author

Samantha Belyeu has been writing professionally since 2003. She began as a writer and publisher for the Natural Toxins Research Center, and has spent her time since as a landscape designer and part-time writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Texas A&M University in Kingsville.