Plant Identification

Plant material (living or dried) from the following groups will be accepted for identification:

  • Southern African ferns
  • cycads
  • conifers
  • flowering plants
  • cultivated exotics
  • weeds

Unfortunately, we cannot handle other groups such as algae, mosses, lichens or fungi. Identifying graphic material (photographs or drawings) poses additional problems, but good quality graphic material will be accepted at the same rates as those set out in Option One.

Three options for plant identifications are available:


  • There is a handling charge of R40.00 per specimen for this service
  • A provisional list of names of your plant specimens will be provided within: 2 weeks if the batch contains 10 specimens or less; 4 weeks if the batch contains between 11 and 50 specimens

Option 2: Own Identifications

  • Use our Quick Guide Reference System to identify your specimens
  • There is no charge for this service

Option 3: Donated Specimens

If specimens are donated to the herbarium, no handling charge is made. These specimens will form part of the KwaZulu-Natal Herbarium collection and need to be of good quality with complete label information to qualify for this service. A provisional list of names of your plant specimens will be provided within ± 4 months for batches up to 50 specimens.


  • Only treated plant material may be taken into the Herbarium
  • Only material in flower or fruit (both if possible) will be accepted, as most often the characters traditionally used for identification are found in these organs
  • You will receive the names of specimens within the times stipulated under options one and three
  • We undertake to identify all accepted specimens as far as possible
  • Specimens that cannot be identified at the KwaZulu-Natal Herbarium will be sent to the National Herbarium (Pretoria) and you will be informed of the identifications once they are returned to our herbarium
  • Sterile specimens can rarely be named below the level of family or genus
  • A form has to be completed when presenting plant material for identifications [download plant identification form]. For assistance, please make an appointment.


  • SANBI and other researchers
  • Private individuals
  • Institutions
  • Conservationists
  • Commercial
  • EIAs
  • Students


  • Requests for loan of specimens should be in writing to the Curator
  • Images of all the types held in the NH collection are available on the African Plants Initiative (API) and can be accessed through the Aluka website ( If there is a need to study the actual type specimen, it should then be specified in the loan request
  • Removal of parts for DNA analysis from loan specimen is not permitted
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