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RHS teams up with University of Oxford on plant data project

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has embarked on a new project with the University of Oxford to make information about plants more readily available to everyone with an interest in gardens and garden plants.

In conjunction with Denis Filer and Andrew Liddell at Oxford University’s Department of Plant Sciences, the RHS has developed a novel approach to managing the complexity of plant names using the BRAHMS database system. Developed over the past 25 years for natural history collection management, taxonomic revision and biodiversity research, together with the RHS, this software package has now been adapted to manage the complexity of all the cultivated plant names we encounter.

Over the coming months, the RHS and Oxford University will be working to roll out this new system across the RHS’ names data, herbarium and garden collections as well as using it to supply data to an enhanced RHS website. The approach, which involves ranking the various names a plant has in order to determine what name should be used at what time, closely aligns to the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ISH 2016) and will be available to all BRAHMS users in future releases.

RHS head of horticultural information Sian Tyrrell says: “This is an exciting time for horticultural information management at the RHS and with the support of colleagues at Oxford University’s Department of Plant Sciences, accessibility and usability of our plant data is coming to the fore.

“Our charity is driven by our desire to support our members and the wider gardening community. The investment put into this new system will greatly benefit everyone and ensure that gardening becomes more accessible and enjoyable.”

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