Frequently asked questions about the International Plant Names Index (IPNI)


If you would like to contribute data to IPNI, or if you find a genuine mistake in the results, please contact us. For downloads, there is a limit of 10,000 records. The entire database is available upon request.


If you can’t find what you’re looking for, use the wildcard function ‘*’ for partial matches. That means displaying the ‘*’ after part of your search query.

Many plant names were published with incorrect spellings or terminations and have been corrected in IPNI. If a validly published name is missing from the database, contact us to let us know. However, please note that it can take up to two years from the date of publication for a name to appear in the database. In some cases, this can take longer if the team does not have access to a publication or is not made aware of it.

Missing names at certain ranks

Until 1970 the only ranks listed in IK were genus and species. From 1971 all ranks from family down to infraspecific level are listed. Cultivar names are not included unless they were published as scientific names, complying to the ICN.

Hort.' - that is hortorum (of gardens), or hortulanorum (of gardeners) - can be a pointer to such taxa. Additionally, genera of hybrid origin, generally horticultural and mainly in Orchidaceae and Cactaceae, are included as long as their publication is in accordance with the ICN.

Accepted names and synonyms

IPNI is a nomenclatural database only. For taxonomic opinion please visit the Plants of the World Online (POWO) record for that name. POWO includes accepted names, synonyms and global distribution which IPNI does not provide.


Plant names are dealt with in the ICN under genus and species. Families are a convenient way of grouping names but are ultimately a taxonomic, not nomenclatural, distinction. The families given in IPNI are usually those given for that genus at the time of its publication or earlier treatments, such as Brummitt’s Vascular Plant Families and Genera (1992).

Families covered by Article 18.5 (alternative family names) are assigned their names formed according to Article 18.1, eg. Apiaceae not Umbelliferae. We currently do not update family if genera are moved (for example, to comply with APG IV).

We strongly advise you to avoid specifying a family in a search where possible.


The geography listed in IPNI is only that for types and paratypes cited in the protologue and does not reflect the currently known global distribution of that species. For that information, please go to POWO. Abbreviated Latin names of countries were used in IK until Supplement XIV. For example: Afr.Lusit.Or = Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique); Geront.trop = Old World Tropics. The current standard for names published after 2000 is the World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions published by the International Working Group for Taxonomic databases (TDWG).

Missing publication dates

The publication date was not given for each record until IK Supplement IV published in 1926. We are working to standardise publication details including adding dates. The dates for books are checked against those listed in Taxonomic Literature (TL2) and added or corrected where needed.

Author names

Author names are being standardised against the criteria given in Brummitt and Powell’s Authors of Plant Names (1992). However, the author’s name is not part of the plant name, and under the ICN, authors may publish using whichever form they wish. For the purposes of standardised and unique data, the IPNI editors will use one form for that author regardless of how the author themselves publish.

See more about our Authors

Publication titles

The titles of periodical follow the standard form according to Botanico-Periodicum-Huntianum, Suppl. (BPH/S) (2004) and for non-periodicals up to the 1940’s, TL2 and its supplements (1976-2009).

See more details about our Publications


IPNI only contains names of vascular plants. For fungal names, visit Index Fungorum.