Botanists have published more than 1,200,000 plant names since 1753, the year that Carl Linnaeus’s Species Plantarum was published, which established the current naming convention for plants. There are about 400,000 species of flowering plants in the world, and we know varying amounts of information about each. Traditionally, botanists have attempted to keep track of plants and information about them through the production of indexes to names and other printed materials, but the large numbers of plants and small numbers of botanists have resulted in an imperfect system of information retrieval.

Computers obviously provide a means by which this information can be stored and easily retrieved. In the late 1980s they became inexpensive enough, reliable enough, and powerful enough to become an effective tool for botanists. Tropicos® is the Garden’s botanical information system, accessible at, as w³Tropicos .

Tropicos, the world’s largest botanical database, contains 1.2 million published names, information on more than 361,000 type specimens (the specimen used to establish the name for a plant species), more than two million distribution records, nearly 660,000 synonyms, over four million specimen records and more than 230,000 plant images. Literature reports on chromosome counts are also included, as well as information on the ways plants have been used by or had an effect on humans. Read more.


Watch the Video: Missouri Botanical Garden: Green for 150 Years