Plant and fungi research

Photo of a Commersonia flower
A new species of Commersonia discovered by Gordon Guymer.

What does a taxonomist do?

Plant and fungi taxonomists describe, name and classify new species, improve existing classifications and provide identification services and tools to the public.

Each plant and fungus species identified is given a unique scientific name.

Since all information recorded about a species is attached to that name, it also becomes the key to use when looking for information about that species.

The information recorded against the name of each weed species and each threatened species or community is essential for their monitoring and management.

How are new species described?

Taxonomists follow the same series of steps each time they describe a new species. They:

  • examine available specimens’ visual and microscopic characters
  • consult relevant literature
  • observe live plants in the field
  • use the molecular, anatomical and cellular characteristics to discover relationships and differences between species, subspecies and varieties
  • assign names according to the established International Code of Nomenclature for Algae, Fungi and Plants (Melbourne Code)
  • examine and allocate type specimens
  • publish a description of each new species according to these same rules, usually with an illustration.

Discoveries of many new plant, algae, lichen and fungus species are still being made in Queensland, and these are published in journals such as the Herbarium’s journal Austrobaileya. Contact us to subscribe to Austrobaileya.

Tracking name changes

Advances in understanding mean that previous species names sometimes change and new ones are constantly being added.

census of Queensland flora is published regularly to help you keep your own lists and databases up to date.

Contact us if you require a print version of any of the census lists.

Online resources for plant names