An Australian Government Initiative [logo]
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The National collection of photographs and illustrations of Australia's flora.


Phone: (02) 6250 9529 . . . Fax: (02) 6250 9528

What is the Australian Plant Image Index ?

image showing slide storageThe Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) has for many years been building up a collection of photographs and illustrations of Australia's native plants.

Originally these were photos taken on field collecting trips to supplement the herbarium specimens and data associated with the living plants. In recent years many other photographers have contributed to the Index.

We are now embarking on an active plan to encourage serious photographers to contribute reliably identified photographs to the Index.

Our aim is to have a good quality coloured slide or born-digital image of every Australian native plant represented in the Australian Plant Image Index.

Scope of the Index

Portraits of plant flowers form the bulk of the Index, but photographs of fruit, bark, shrubs or whole trees are also included. We have few photos of non-flowering plants (mosses, lichens etc) and are eager to enhance this part of the collection. A collection of other illustrative matierial is also catalogued.

Format of photographs

Photographs in the Index were originally taken as 35 mm colour slides. There was a preference for Kodachrome due to its archival storage properties, but other film types were occasionally accepted. Slides were then digitized to Kodak Photo-CDs. Currently slides are digitized using an Imacon slide scanner.

Currently the Index is being populated with born-digital photographs. Our standards are that these must be 6 megapixels or greater to be incorporated into the collection.

Accuracy of naming

The most significant aspect of the Index, and that which will separate it from many other photo libraries, is our emphasis on accurate botanical naming of the plants. We are not interested in `pretty' photos if we do not know what the plant is.

The ideal photo from our point of view will have a herbarium voucher specimen lodged in one of the herbaria in Australia, linked to the photo by a registration number. This number and the institution it is linked to would form part of the photo data.

In the absence of voucher specimens we must assess the reliability of the naming of the photo from those taken of labelled plants in botanic gardens to word-of-mouth identifications made by people of varying expertise.

These factors will be assessed in deciding whether to accept a photo for the Index.


Unless there is some exceptional reason, photos donated to the Index will only be accepted if the copyright or unrestricted use of the photo is also transferred to the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

How is the Index used ?

The Index is currently used by a wide range of individuals, agencies and businesses. People wanting reliably named portraits of our flora approach the ANBG for photographs and a licence to reproduce them in posters, books, magazines, garden plant labels etc.

The original photos are never released by the ANBG, but reproduction-quality duplicates are produced and these are sent to the user and later returned to the ANBG.

Some images can be supplied to users digitally by email.

Fees are charged for a licence to reproduce photographs from the Index. The licence fee includes the cost of producing the duplicate, and this 'administration fee' must be paid whether or not the photo is published.

Current prices for reproducing photos from the Index can be obtained by phoning the Photograph Curator on Tel: 02-62509529 or by checking the the prices on-line.

Why contribute to the Index ?

No single institution or person would be able to photograph every species of plant in Australia, it is only by calling on a wide range of contributors that a comprehensive collection will be established. It is hoped that a national collection of reliably identified plant photos will contribute to better publications and a greater awareness of our unique flora and the need for its protection.

Another reason to contribute is that it can lead to significant tax concessions for the donor.

Tax Incentives

Donations of collections of 100 or more 35mm slides to the Index may be eligible for concessions under the Cultural Gifts Program, an Australian Government taxation incentives scheme.

Once the ANBG has agreed to accept your donation of slides they can be valued by two independent assessors registered under this Scheme. It is the donor's responsibility to pay for the valuations (this expense is tax deductible). The assessments are submitted to the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Committee and, once endorsed, the value of the donation can be deducted from the donor's assessable income for the year.

Assessors take into account the rarity of the plant, the reliability of the identification and the quality of the photographs.

Our advice is that born-digital image donations are not eligable under the Cultural Gifts Program, as donations must be real 'objects'.


If you have a significant collection of plant photographs and are unsure what will happen to them after your death, they can be left to the Index in your will. The Photograph Curator has the wording for an appropriate clause.

Who do I talk to ?

The Australian Plant Image Index is managed by the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG), administered by the Director of National Parks, a statuary authority under the Commonwealth Government.

The Photograph Curator at the ANBG will be happy to answer any enquiries about the Index, and can be contacted at the address below:

The Photograph Curator
Australian National Botanic Gardens
GPO Box 1777
Canberra ACT 2601

Tel: 02-62509529
Fax: 02-62509528

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