Gymnosperm Database
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Flag of Norfolk Island

The flag of Norfolk Island (Australia) bears the silhouette of Araucaria heterophylla.

Gymnosperm Database: Links

Essential Links

These are links that provide significant additional information on many of the species addressed in the Gymnosperm Database. Because they are so comprehensive, it is not practical for me to add them to each page of each species concerned.

Conifers of the World This site provides an online portal to the complete BRAHMS database used by Aljos Farjon in his assembly of the "World Checklist and Bibliography of Conifers" and the "Handbook of the World's Conifers." Contains over 30,000 database records.

Africa Cycads -- Provides good photos, distribution maps and descriptions for all African cycads, i.e. Encephalartos and Stangeria.

Australia Virtual Herbarium (AVH) -- Excellent database containing records from most Australian herbaria.

Bibliography of Dendrochronology: Search Page -- Searchable database that includes virtually everything ever published on the subject of dendrochronology.

CalFlora -- A comprehensive database on the flora of California. Photos of most California gymnosperms.

Climate-Vegetation Atlas of North America: Conifers -- Online version of USGS Professional Paper 1650-A, with PDF files showing range and climatic requirements of most species of North American conifers. Very useful graphic presentation of climate requirements. See also THIS LINK, which has both distribution maps and downloadable ArcView shapefiles.

The Cycad Pages -- Provides information on all described cycad species, and extensive supplemental information.

Dendrobox -- Map-based engine to find and display tree-ring data archived by the International Tree-Ring Data Bank. Searchable by species, location, and investigator. This is one of the tools I use to find very old trees.

FEIS database -- FEIS was developed at the USDA Forest Service Intermountain Research Station's Fire Sciences Laboratory (IFSL) in Missoula, Montana. Among other things, it includes a database featuring many plant species found in the western United States, providing information on distribution, fire effects, value, ecological characteristics, and references for each species treated. I believe it includes all conifers of the western U.S.

Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) -- A database with species distribution information. Used to be very useful albeit of uneven quality (identifications uncertain, lots of horticultural specimens not identified as such).

Flora of China

Flora of North America

Inside Wood -- Essential resource for identifying a species by its wood. Includes both fossil and extant taxa (not just gymnosperms) with detailed information on anatomy and a large library of high-resolution photographs of woods in section.

New Zealand Virtual Herbarium -- Excellent database containing records from most New Zealand herbaria.

PLANTS Database -- The PLANTS Database is a single source of standardized information about plants. This database focuses on vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens of the U.S. and its territories. The PLANTS Database includes names, checklists, automated tools, identification information, species abstracts, distributional data, crop information, plant symbols, plant growth data, plant materials information, plant links, references, and other plant information.

University of Michigan Native American Ethnobotany Database -- A database of foods, drugs, dyes and fibers of native american peoples, derived from plants.

Online Databases

Virtual Cycad Encyclopedia -- Administered by the Palm & Cycad Societies of Florida (PACSOF).

Herbarium RBGE -- Search the catalogue of the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh.

Kew Herbarium -- Search the catalogue of the Kew Herbarium.

Herbarium NCU -- Search the catalog of the Flora of the Southeast, hosted by the University of North Carolina herbarium. Limited geographic range but very useful within its area.

Herbarium NYBG -- Search the catalog of the New York Botanical Garden. Limited usefulness because no location information for most species of interest.

USDA Integrated Taxonomic Information System -- Taxonomic information (authors, synonyms, common names, etc.) for most species native to or ornamental within North America. Generally very useful and recommended.

Conifer Treasury -- Comprehensive listing of conifer cultivar names and many incidentals of conifer culture assembled by Zsolt Mesterházy.

Digital Library de Real Jardín Bot&aacut;nico -- Extraordinary digital library containing color scans of the pages of some of the oldest works in botanical literature. Includes such gems as Linnaeus' 1754 Species Plantarum and Lambert's beautifully illustrated 1803 work on the Pinaceae. -- Database of plant illustrations. Contains many great images scanned from old conifer books.

USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) -- Another excellent source of taxonomic information (authors, synonyms, common names, etc.) for most plant species of the world. Particularly handy for the obscure species.

NCBI Taxonomy Homepage -- Similar to the above pages, but with links to information on genetic research (it's a National Institutes of Health page). Fewer species than the USDA sites, and a less effective search engine, but with a more international selection of species.

Vascular Plant Image Gallery

Reforestation, Nurseries and Genetic Resources -- A fabulously rich site, especially for quality publications. Topics covered include seeds, nursery techniques, diagnosis and treatment of pests and diseases, reforestation, and much else.

Other Online Data Sources

Yahoo "Trees" Discussion Groups -- From this page you can link to the following relevant discussion groups:

  • conifer_forum: focus on conifers, common, dwarf and unusual types and anything that would be of interest to conifer lovers.
  • conifer_obsession: focus on conifers, including dwarf and unusual cultivars.
  • conifer_collectors: focus on conifers, common, dwarf and unusual cultivars.

Arboretum de Villardebelle -- Provides a fine selection of conifer photos, including a substantial cone collection.

Gardenweb: Conifers -- This is the 'get-together' for horticultural conifer people. If you are looking for plants, seeds, or advice on why your pet conifer is sick, someone at this site can probably help you out.

The Cycad Society -- Maybe not everything you ever wanted to know about cycads, but a very good start. Highlights include the section on species conservation alerts and the large collection of original species descriptions.

Web Garden World -- "The web site focuses on the magnificient Gems of the Plant Kingdom: Orchids - Bromeliads - Cacti/Succulents - Conifers."

Western Forest Insects and Diseases -- A large collection of links, this is the place to go for all sorts of information on the subject.

Botanical Gardens -- British site that provides reviews of botanical and other gardens worldwide. Very useful map utility that shows gardens within any area you choose; handy when planning trips.

The Horticultural Guide to Flower Shows, Botanical Gardens & Clubs -- Useful listing of the important botanical gardens in the U.S.

Arboretum de Villardebelle -- French arboretum devoted to conifers.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew -- Particularly good for publications, and a good links page.

Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh

Big, Tall, and Old Trees

Earth: Monumental Trees -- Online listing of extremely large, tall, and old trees. Many photos. Particularly useful for European trees, but includes specimens from many countries around the world. Text is mirrored in Castellano, Deutsch, Français, and Nederlands.

Earth: OLDLIST -- Online listing of oldest reliable trees, by species. Data include age, dating method, specimen ID and location, and collector name. List has a strong U.S. bias but includes specimens from around the world.

Australia: National Register of Big Trees -- Online listing of Australia's largest trees. Most have photos; many have map coordinates.

Canada, British Columbia: British Columbia Big Trees Registry -- Downloadable PDF listing largest trees in British Columbia.

Ireland and United Kingdom: The Tree Register -- Downloadable 6-page PDF file containing basic size data on "champion trees" (presumably meaning large trees). Additional information available for a fee.

New Zealand: Notable Trees of New Zealand -- Online database focused on big and tall trees, and also heritage trees. Most have photos and map coordinates, as well as supplemental information.

United States: American Forests' National Big Tree Program -- The original big tree program, dating to 1945, covering native and naturalized trees of the United States. Many states (too many to list here) also have their own big tree programs.

Landmark Trees is a website put together by Michael Taylor (who discovered most of the largest and tallest redwoods) and Brett Mifsud (who has discovered a large fraction of the really gigantic trees in Australia), and provides the latest and greatest info on big trees discoveries.

United States: Eastern Native Tree Society -- ENTS is a group of tree-lovers in eastern North America who celebrate and discuss many different aspects of trees, but the search for large and tall trees is one of their pasttimes. Many record trees have first been introduced to the public though their forum at


These links will help you with the sometimes rather obscure terms used in this database.

Biology-Online -- Has a comprehensive glossary, as well as much information on general biology (2008.04.22).

Botanical Glossary -- About 2400 terms, searchable.

Dictionary of Botanical Epithets -- Will help you to determine the meaning of species names, such as nidulum.

Google Translate -- This page has Google's translation service, which provides automated translations. You can enter text or a URL. This site will be useful for anyone pursuing links on non-English pages, and may also be helpful to non-English speakers using the Gymnosperm Database.


Melbourne Code -- Formerly called the International Code of Botanic Nomenclature, now expanded as the International Code of Nomenclature for Algae, Fungi and Plants; this, the latest edition (2011), is the rule book for assigning scientific names to plant taxa.

The Mountains of California: The Forests -- This chapter from John Muir's 1894 book, the Mountains of California, describes the awesome conifers of the Sierra Nevada in terms both inspiring and scientifically accurate. The website (which is part of the John Muir Website, maintained by the Sierra Club) includes the full text of the book, with illustrations.

The American Conifer Society -- A good website but entirely focused on horticulture, mainly of unnatural forms.

The International Dendrological Research Institute (IDRI). They have published some good but expensive books, particularly focusing on temperate and northern conifers. If you think the relationship between different types of gymnosperms is confusing, take a look at the jungle of hypotheses attempting to describe the origin of the angiosperms.

Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research

Ultimate Tree-Ring Web Pages -- The first place to go for information on any aspect of dendrochronology. Much useful information and an extraordinary array of links.

The Tree-Ring Society -- The only formal association of dendrochronologists worldwide. Publishes a journal, Tree-Ring Research, sponsors international meetings, archives tree-ring data, etc.

Central America and Mexico Coniferous Resources Cooperative (CAMCORE).

Timber -- Names and conservation status of many different timber trees.

Vladimir Dinets -- Vladimir Dinets has been sending me conifer photos since 1998. He is one of the best-traveled people I know, and everywhere he goes he appreciates the area's natural history with fascinating accounts and many fine photographs - including a fair number of trees. It's a pleasure to browse his website.

Annotated links to internet resources, especially for palaeobotanists.

Conifers Garden -- Web portal for a Hungarian business that sells seeds and seedlings of a wide variety of hard-to-find conifer species. Be sure to check your nation's regulations regarding plant importation before buying from this source.