January 23, 2022

Global Plants Initiative and JSTOR Release Online Database for the Study of Plants

JSTOR offers digitized archive collections of journals in several areas of science including botany, ecology, and health for some time. Today, they’re formally announcing a specialty database devoted to the study of plants.

From Today’s Announcement:

The Global Plants Initiative (GPI), a collaboration of more than 270 herbaria in 70 countries, and JSTOR released “Global Plants,” a new community-contributed online database for scientific researchers, conservationists and others engaged in studying the world’s plant biodiversity.

Global Plants holds more than 1.8 million plant type specimens [the largest of its kind]—the authoritative records for plant species that are catalogued in herbaria around the world—along with their scientific names and classifications. It also includes complementary material such as paintings, photographs and the correspondence of explorers who originally discovered and collected various species. 

The effort to bring these materials online originated with a small group of herbaria, then called the African Plants Initiative (API). The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provided funding to API to digitize African flora, specifically plant type specimens. The project grew to incorporate herbaria and plants from Latin America and, ultimately, became global in scale.  

Today, GPI partner organizations from Argentina to Zimbabwe capture data and use digital technologies to create high resolution images of type specimens from their collections, as well as other types of content that are contributed to the database. JSTOR acts as their virtual hub, providing the production systems, support for digitizing the types and a platform for the discovery and use of the content by the partners’ own researchers as well as others at institutions throughout the world.


Global Plants has been in development for many years, tripling in size, and is now transitioning from a grant-funded project to one that the GPI partners and JSTOR hope will be sustained by a growing network of institutions. The GPI partners will contribute financial support; JSTOR will provide infrastructure and other services; and educational, cultural and other not-for-profit research institutions will contribute annual fees for access to some parts of the database.

Direct to Global Plants

Fast Facts About Global Plants

  • Nearly two million high resolution plant type specimens
  • Related material such as expedition travelogues, letters, photographs, botanical paintings and drawings, and reference works
  • MyPlants account to save, comment on, and tag digital objects
  • Image viewer to examine and measure plant specimens; save images in MyPlants
  • Open scientific commenting on plant specimen data by experts in the field
  • Compilation pages to view related resources to a particular plant name in one location
  • Thousands of links to related research articles on JSTOR, and other materials on the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), and Tropicos

Special Collections


About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.