Biosystematics research at the National Herbarium

A co-ordinated strategy for Biosystematics Research has been developed to address the needs of end-users and to improve the relevance and impact of research products that are delivered by SANBI. The clients of the biosystematics researchers comprise all users of plant names in scientific, commercial, policy-making, educational and civil society spheres. Their requirements include the names and descriptions of species, along with information on distributions and habitats, properties and evolutionary relationships. The basis of this information is provided via alpha-taxonomic research, often in conjunction with phylogenetic investigations using modern techniques. Global trends towards electronic publication of taxonomic data and databases and the use of innovative technologies for identifying species facilitates the dissemination of taxonomic information to end-users.

Three programmes have been developed to focus on the main gaps in taxonomic knowledge. These programmes cover the strategic objectives identified, addressing priority areas of research and aiming to produce the most useful products for clients and end-users. The strategic objectives of the Biosystematics Research Strategy are to:

  1. Produce an online flora of South African plants by 2020. Read more on e-Flora.
  2. Revise plant genera that are in need of revision
  3. Resolve isolated taxonomic problems in species of conservation importance


Taxonomic Research is ongoing on the following groups:

  • Acanthaceae
  • Apocynaceae
  • Asphodelaceae
  • Asteraceae
  • Bryophytes
  • Celastraceae
  • Cyperaceae
  • Geraniaceae
  • Poaceae

Staff of the National Herbarium are working on or contributing to the following regional Floras:

  • Eastern Cape Flora
  • Plants of the Free State
  • Succulent Karoo Flora


Other registered research projects:

  1. e-Flora
  2. Electronic keys e.g. Helichrysum Key
  3. Taxonomy of species of conservation concern
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