Plant Identification Services


Identifications of plant specimens

SANBI's herbaria offer an identification service of all plants indigenous to South Africa, provided that the plant specimen received is of good enough quality to enable the study of the flowers and/or fruit, and other diagnostic features. We can also identify invasive alien southern Africa plants and some cultivated plants. Fungi and algae can not be identified by SANBI.

There are costs involved in the identification of plants. Please consult the individual herbaria for their specific services and charges:

Compton Herbarium (Kirstenbosch) Plant ID Service

KwaZulu-Natal Herbarium (Durban) Plant ID Service

National Herbarium (Pretoria) Plant ID Service

Plants should be pressed and dried and must be accompanied with a label containing detailed information on the collection locality and plant description (height, flower colour etc.).

Identifying plants from photographs

Use I-spot
Before contacting the herbaria, please check the  I-spot website. You may find images of your plant there. You can also upload your images of plants and animals there for the I-spot community to identify. Using I-Spot is free of charge.

Identification by the herbaria:

Formal identifications from photographs are not done. SANBI cannot assure the integrity of any plant name based on a photographic image only without an accompanying physical specimen of good quality. However, time permitting and if the photograph shows sufficient information, informal identifications from photographs of single plants found in South Africa may be done.

When submitting photographs for identification:

  • Select the herbarium closest to where the plant was found/photographed. See list above.
  • Only submit photos of 1 plant, but try to submit sufficient images to show all aspects of the plant. Photos MUST include details of the flowers and/or fruit.
  • If submitting by email, SANBI has an email attachment limit of 3MB.
  • Provide as much information about the plant and where it was found as possible.
  • Photographs taken within our National Botanical Gardens may be submitted to the specific Garden.

Please note: There is no guarantee that SANBI will identify plants from photographs correctly.

Last updated on 08 December 2014
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