How to ... Use the International Plant Names Index


The International Plant Names Index (IPNI) is a database of the names, authors, and associated basic bibliographical details of seed plants, ferns, and lycophytes. Its goal is to eliminate the need for repeated reference to primary sources for basic bibliographic information about plant names. The data are freely available and are gradually being standardized and checked. IPNI is a dynamic resource, depending on direct contributions by all members of the botanical community. IPNI is managed and maintained by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

You may use IPNI to search for plant names, authors, and publications.


Use a plant name search to check if a name already exists. (It is particularly important when publishing a new name to check that a name with the same or a very similar spelling does not already exist, otherwise you could be publishing an illegitimate later homonym). You can check for confusingly similar names by using wildcard characters (asterisks *) in your search.

Author and publication searches in IPNI are useful to find the standard forms for authors of algal, fungal, and plant names and standard abbreviations for the titles of books and journals.

When searching for names in IPNI, note that the database began as an amalgam of three existing databases: Index Kewensis, the Gray Card Index, and the Australian Plant Names Index. For this reason, many names have duplicate entries from these sources.

Do you have another general nomenclatural question, and want a how-to guide to help?

You can submit questions here.