JSTOR Plant Science Database Review
JSTOR recently released a new database called JSTOR Plant Science, which is freely available to current JSTOR subscribers. It includes content from Global Plants Initiative partners, bringing the amount of materials to 800,000 type specimens, paintings, drawings, correspondence, and supporting materials from over 160 partners in 47 countries on 5 continents.
While JSTOR states that “Plant Science strives to be a comprehensive online research tool for aggregating and exploring the world’s botanical resources,” it still has a considerable way to go before being truly comprehensive. 800,000 plant species is still a considerable collection of information, and will undoubtedly be useful for those researching, teaching or studying botany, biology, ecology, environmental and conservation studies.
One can browse by scientific plant name, geographic location, herbarium (collections of dried plants), and media type. It provides a standard search box for quick searches, as well as a search box for plant family which is located within the scientific plant name browsing list.
To the left is a screen shot of Browsing by Plant Name. The initial information that is displayed includes the name of the species of how it was originally file, the name of the collector, when it was collected, the locality (specific town or location), country it was collected in, where the sample is being kept (which herbarium) and the collection identification number, and any social tags that are associated with this record.
The second screen shot is of an individual plant species herbarium record, along with a link to a scanned PDF of the original document. The individual record naturally has additional information and metadata associated with it, and the quality and quantitity of the information varies from species to species. Two of the nice resources are the notes field which contains additional useful information about individual species, as well as the color scanned PDFs.
JSTOR Plant Science Database also includes recent color photos as they are available. Hopefully, more photos will be included as this resources grows. This link goes to a slide show of photos. The last photo is an example of a high quality photograph courtesy of the Herbarium Illustration and Slide Collection.