With its vast collections of living plants and their seeds, NTBG must maintain an accurate record of each of these materials for a variety of purposes. Our database of plant records includes tens of thousands of entries -- every plant collected, propagated, and preserved in the gardens and ecological restoration projects. Each plant is assigned a unique number that will follow it throughout its life in the nursery and out into the gardens. This number is the accession (catalog) number. This number is entered into the database, along with the name of the species, the location from which it was collected, the name of the collector, and a wealth of other known information, including the parentage of the specimen and the conservation status for the species. The destination, whether it be in one of NTBG’s gardens, preserves, or another location, is added when determined.
Records like these are essential; they are part of what differentiates a botanical garden from a display garden. They include scientific data used by NTBG’s research and conservation programs, as well as an inventory of what is available in the gardens for further propagation, educational studies, and enjoyment.
A special label is prepared to identify the plant material while it is in the greenhouse, seed bank, or micropropagation laboratory. A somewhat different tag is used for plants in the ground that contains such pertinent information as the accession number, name, conservation status, and location collected. This allows staff, visiting scientists, and students to identify immediately the plants they see. Additional interpretive signage for our visitors may contain useful background information about the plant.
An important component of NTBG’s plant records system is digital maps of the gardens, showing the identity and location of each plant. Digital mapping is an important extension of our plant records and tagging activities. Such maps provide an immediate overview of the plants in a particular area of the gardens. They also are highly useful in the proper identification of a plant in the ground should a tag become damaged or lost.