By Sarah Fiorello

couple enjoying the Herb Garden

Cornell Botanic Gardens now offers unprecedented access to its plant collections through Garden Explorer, a new online tool for searching and exploring detailed plant records. Garden Explorer is a key feature of a recently completed upgrade of the botanic gardens’ plant records management system, achieved with the support of a $192,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.

By definition, a botanic garden is a living museum that grows and displays plants for the purposes of education, research, and ultimately take part in the conservation of Earth’s exceptional diversity of plants. Cornell Botanic Gardens maintains records on more than 10,000 plants in our collections. When a new plant is added it is “accessioned” by our plant records manager, which involves recording vital information about each plant and assigning it a number.

These plant records—along with location data on memorial plants and benches—now are accessible to anyone, following the upgrade to Cornell Botanic Gardens plant records management. The upgrade streamlined plant records and expanded data on tree health and pest management.

The Garden Explorer tool makes up-to-date plant records accessible online and to the widest possible audience, including conservation biologists, plant breeders, and anyone who wants to deepen their connection to plants.

Garden Explorer has several features for finding and learning more about Cornell Botanic Gardens’ plant collections, all available on desktop computer, tablet, or smart phone:

  • Zoom in on a location on a satellite map to identify plants in a specific area. If you use this feature during a visit, your location will be pinned on the map to identify the plants around you
  • Use the search window to find and locate a specific plant by common name, scientific name, genus, or plant family
  • Generate a list of plants within a specific garden or area within the F.R Newman Arboretum
  • Search the location of a specific memorial tree or bench
  • Browse collection alphabetically by genus

Try it out yourself! Access Garden Explorer from the Cornell Botanic Gardens website.

More ways to explore plants online

Cornell Botanic Gardens website provides additional ways to easily access information on accessioned plants, as well as wild plants in our natural areas that are not included in formal plant records.

  • Search for a plant by common name, scientific name, family, or key word, then select from a list to learn more. Each plant has a dedicated page with images and information from the plant records database along with the gardens or areas where you can find the plant growing
  • Explore thematic collections of plants, such as early spring wildflowers or flowering trees
  • Browse a list of plants available for each garden and most natural areas. Search gardens, on-campus natural areas, and off-campus natural areas to access an interactive plant list for each location
  • Visit a frequently updated page of “not to be missed” gardens, natural areas, and plants, based on season, bloom, and more. With so much to see at Cornell Botanic Gardens, this page helps you plan an extended visit or a quick pop-in, to experience the best of every season

Dig into these online resources to explore plants virtually or during a visit, to nurture your unique connection to plants.