Finding Botanical Literature, a how to.

aaron floden
Fri, 09 Oct 2009 06:39:40 PDT

Finding relevant botanical literature, especially
protologues or older Flora’s when there was not so much lumping taking place, on
the internet is relatively easy if you know what you are looking for. Here is
how I begin:


For example I have a taxonomic interest in Polygonatum, so I start with,
where I get a list of all the species named that Kew has listed, though I have
found several Kew has not listed.


Then for access to many journals, though not all are open
access, Acta Phytotaxonomica Sinica
and Acta Botanica Yunnanica are, and
have a wealth of PDF’s with information, well, if you read Latin protologues or


The following two have essentially the same databases, but
sometimes have differing papers available. Both are my second and third choices
after Kew to find available literature,
especially the second link which has an outstanding number of older obscure
journals available.,


If the previous two fail to turn up what I am searching for
I go here;
Google has done an amazing job, better than even CabAbstracts and Web of
Science available in most libraries. Sadly, many articles do not have free
access so you can purchase them, find a friend, or go to your closest state
university and go to their library and download them. Most universities have
guest logins or no password required to use the public university library. JSTOR has an extensive list of digitized journals available through your university or maybe local library. 

For stuff that even Biodiversity Heritage does not have or
takes too long to download go here:
Google has done a better job, with smaller sized PDF’s and an amazing number of
journals and books available. A lot of old South American Flora’s are freely


This also has a number of good journals:,
and is the only place you can access the old issues of Nuovo
Giornale botanico italiano when Pampanini was collecting or naming plants
collected from China.


This has some stuff but is fairly limited.


This is the Smithsonian Botany list and has a fair amount of
things listed.…

 Besides these few listed I have over 50 botanical journals that I have links to, so I can check on a regular basis for new or old issues that are being digitized. Many journals have the current issue available online until the next is released such as,   
With these methods I have found most of the 110 or so Polygonatum, Heteropolygonatum, and Disporopsis
protologues. If all these fail I then resort to an Interlibrary Loan to get a
PDF copy of the paper. But even that does not work, so I am still waiting on
about 6 protologues and time when I can go search the MOBOT herbarium library.
 Hope this helps anyone looking for literature.
 Aaron Floden 


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