Australian Orchid Foundation


Project: 350/2023



A Foundational Dataset for the Future of Orchid Taxonomy in Australia

Applicant: Dr Heidi Zimmer

Institution: Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research, CSIRO Black Mountain Site, Clunies Ross St, Acton 2601.


A Foundational Dataset for the Future of Orchid Taxonomy in Australia

A little-known ‘special collection’ is held in a room at the Australian National Herbarium. This collection consists of 30,000 floral dissection cards which encapsulate the orchid diversity of Australia in exquisite and unique detail. These floral cards are the manifestation of decades of taxonomic research into the orchid flora of Australia by Mark Clements and David Jones. 

This project seeks to curate and digitise this incredible floral card collection, making it available, open access on the internet. This project will enable further advances in our understanding of Australia’s orchid diversity in two ways. Digitisation of the collection will elucidate for researchers worldwide, a level of detail in orchid floral morphology which is typically lost in pressed herbarium specimens (with delicate flowers becoming squashed and distorted), providing a vast resource to jump-start research into orchid species delimitation. Second, digitisation of the collection will result in the addition of up to 30,000 previously uncatalogued, expert-verified species occurrence/location records to biodiversity databases, making them available for applications from threatened species extinction risk assessment to land management planning.