Scientific activity and research at the Gardens is strongly focussed on taxonomy, systematics, phylogeny and biogeography; that is, the naming of plants, their classification, the elucidation of their evolutionary origins, and their distribution. Previous research activities have focussed on applied horticultural research, mycorrhizal associations, and systematics of orchids and legumes, Rutaceae, Cucurbitaceae, certain rainforest families and the mosses. With declining staff resources there has been a concentration of activity and orchid taxonomy and systematics have now become the major focus of research. Ancillary research programs on genera of mosses, Grevillea, Astrotricha, Leptospermum, Cucurbitaceae, Epacridaceae and Macrozamia are also continuing. Further, Gardens staff are involved in botanical and floristic surveys for land management and conservation purposes.

The Gardens was previously involved in applied horticultural research, but want of resources has led the research to be directed to systematics. The recommencement of applied horticultural research in the Gardens is a priority for future development.

In order to bring a greater body of expertise to particular research problems and to reduce the risk of duplication of research, the Gardens has been involved in a range of collaborative projects. These have included collaboration with staff from the orchid section at Kew, projects on lichens with staff from the Australian National University, investigations into the genus Astrotricha with the University of Sydney, work on the biochemistry of the Cucurbitaceae with the University of Western Sydney, and database design collaboration with Harvard University, Missouri Botanic Gardens, the University of California at Berkeley and the Smithsonian Institute.

Staff are encouraged to publish the results of their investigations. The results will generally be published in scientific journals, although popular articles and semi-technical accounts may also be produced. The results of surveys are generally reported in the form of internal or unpublished reports. Gardens staff have contributed substantially to the published volumes of the Flora of Australia project and related publications such as the Australian Plant Name Index, the Census of Australian Vascular Plants and the Catalogue of Mosses of Australia and its External Territories. As their research on particular groups is concluded, staff will prepare accounts for the Flora of Australia project. The future needs and preferred groups of the project are considered in the selection of research projects.

Management prescriptions


The objectives are to conduct taxonomic, systematic, phylogenetic and horticultural research on the Australian flora, using both traditional and innovative techniques and collaboration with other institutions and individuals, and to publish the results.


The Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research brings together the research activities of the Gardens and the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry in the areas of plant systematics, horticulture and conservation biology. This will create opportunities for Gardens staff to become involved in a broader range of research areas than has been possible with existing facilities and resources. In particular, a renewal of involvement of Gardens staff in applied horticultural research will be facilitated.

In the immediate future the major focus of taxonomic and systematic research at the Gardens will continue to be the Orchidaceae. A range of conventional and innovative techniques will be applied to elucidate the classification, origin and phylogeny of this family. Many genera in this family are still very poorly known so research will include field studies and studies of breeding systems and developmental biology, anatomy and biochemistry.

Ancillary research programs will examine the taxonomy and systematics of Grevillea, Astrotricha, Leptospermum, Cucurbitaceae, Epacridaceae, selected tropical plant families, and some families within the mosses, liverworts and lichens. Other groups will be investigated as resources permit or as expertise is developed. Where appropriate, staff will engage in collaborative projects or render assistance to other organisations involved in botanical and floristic surveys.

Selection of future research projects will take into account the preferred objectives of the Flora of Australia project. Field work and investigations will reflect these objectives. Where appropriate, staff will prepare technical accounts of their investigations describing new taxa and validating names for the Flora of Australia project. The taxonomic and nomenclatural databases of the Gardens will take into account contributions to the Flora of Australia project and will provide baseline nomenclatural data for contributors to the project.