Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Website Search Box

Department ofBotany


This library of over 49,000 photographic images of plant species and plant habitats is intended for public as well as professional use. The web images may be used as presented for non-commercial purposes only, with appropriate attribution (see 'Detailed Instructions' section). Higher resolution, unprocessed electronic images are available by submitting your 'Wish List' to the image custodian.

Enter one or more criteria to search the image database. To create a 'Wish List' of images, check the box next to any image in which you are interested. Menu selections at the top of the image viewing pages will give you an opportunity to review and edit your list of images at any time.

Detailed Instructions

Search Terms | Nomenclature | Search Results | Wish List | Attribution
How to Order | Fees

How to Search the Plant Image Collection and Use the Results

Search Terms

  • Family (choose from the list)
  • Plant Name (Scientific Name) A wildcard search is used, so names may be truncated but must begin with the beginning of the generic name; if the entire generic name is entered, the species name may be entered as well
  • Common Name - will search for specified term in any part of common name
  • Common Names are displayed only with larger image (click on thumbnail)
  • Photographer - choose by photographer if you wish
    • Photographer alone
    • Photographer in combination with Family, Plant Name or Common Name
  • Any of these search terms can be used in combination with any of the others to narrow search results
Return to Top


Although we have made rigorous attempts to verify the species depicted, occasional errors will occur and we would appreciate your feedback. Plant names may be spelled differently depending upon the source - if you don't find the term you seek, use a partial spelling or an alternate term. We use the USDA Plants database as a primary source for North American species.
The sources below were used to standardize nomenclature where possible. In some instances, there is disagreement about family placement or accepted genus and species names or, in some cases, spelling.

USDA Plants Database (for plants found in the US)
(This database indicates preferred plant names and common names and was used with few exceptions for listed plants; the exceptions are primarily for some family designations)

USDA-ARS Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) (not geographically restricted but not yet comprehensive)
(This database indicates preferred plant names but includes older names)

Names in current use for extant plant genera (International Association for Plant Taxonomy) (for all plants)
(This database lists only current genera)

Missouri Botanical Garden Tropicos Database (for all plants)
(This database includes preferred and older plant names)

The International Plant Names Index (IPNI) (for all plants)
Return to Top

Display of Search Results

  • Thumbnail Images
    • Search results are displayed as tables of thumbnails; each thumbnail includes the Plant Name and a check box to add the image to your Wish List
    • The default table size is 25 images - enough to fill one screen. You may change this number, but for timely loading of the thumbnail images in the table, we recommend that this number not be increased to more than 100.
    • The table header will include the number of images that match your search term and will repeat the search term(s)
    • The table header will also indicate which slides of the total number are displayed on the current page and will provide options to move to the Beginning, Previous, Next, or End table of the set
    • Several other actions are also provided in the header
      • Search Form - to return to the search form; if you have checked any images, they will be retained in memory on your Wish List
      • Select All - to keep all of the images on this page on your Wish List for review later in the session
      • Deselect All - to remove all the images on this page from the Wish List
      • Review Wish List - this will appear if some images have already been selected from prior searches
      • Help - to go to the help page
  • Larger Images
    • Click on a thumbnail to bring up a larger version of the image. This view will include:
      • Plant Name, Family, Common Name, Synonym, Format of Largest Image Available, and Photographer
      • Check box - to add to your Wish List
      • Next and Previous options
Return to Top

Wish List

The Wish List may be used as a means to display the results of your search(es), but it is also intended to be used as an order form for those who wish to obtain higher resolution images.

  • Use the Wish List procedure to mark images for later review. Your Wish List will disappear if you close our web browser, leave the application idle for more than one hour, or submit the list to order images
    • Check the box(es) on thumbnail tables or
    • Check the box on the enlarged individual image when you open it
  • Checked images are saved while you perform another search
  • Newly checked images will be added to the growing Wish List
  • The Wish List can be reviewed at any time until you leave the site or submit the Wish List for High Resolution Images
  • Any image can be removed from the Wish List by unchecking its box
  • The Wish List can be completely removed by "Clear Wish List"
  • You can add more images to the Wish List at any time by returning to Search Form
  • If you wish to order High Resolution Images, use the Wish List for your order (see How to Order Higher Resolution Images)
Return to Top

Use of Images - Appropriate Attribution

When using any image already on this website for any reason, you must include the following credit line: Photo by (photographer's name), Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution. Also review the Smithsonian Copyright Notice.
Return to Top

How to Order Higher Resolution Images

Submitting Your Wish List

  • Please review the fee schedule for usage fee information
  • Review and finalize your Wish List of images
  • Click "Submit Wish List" link at the top of your Wish List display
  • Provide required information as instructed
    • your contact information
    • name of your organization
    • nature of the organization (e.g., academic, research, publication)
    • whether for-profit or non-profit
    • how the image(s) will be used (e.g., print publication, scientific publication, education tools)
The PIC-Online custodian will respond to your request with information on the availability of selected images and how to proceed in obtaining the images in your Wish List.
Please note: You will receive a copy of the original electronic file as it was scanned or recorded without cropping or adjustments for color, contrast, brightness, or clarity. The file will be either in a TIFF, PCD, JPG or RAW format and is the same file that was used to prepare the images on the web.
Return to Top

Fees to Obtain and Use Higher Resolution Plant Images

Fees are for one-time, non-exclusive use, world rights, in one language only. Re-use of the material in a later edition or in another publication or website will be considered a new request. Fees are scaled as follows (see exceptions at bottom):
A = Academic or scientific publication (not for profit) as determined by the Institution
E = Educational (not for profit)
C = Commercial
Except as noted, we do not duplicate original materials (slides, photographs, etc.)  All images are provided to the client in digital format, either by FTP, by email or by shipping physical media (subject to surcharge).

Fee Schedule - per Image A E C
One-time editorial use of single digitized image (textbook, exhibition, catalogue, magazine, documentary film, video, CD-ROM, screen savers and other computer software, etc.) $10 $25 $100
One-time, non-editorial use of single digitized image(cover, book jacket, record album, etc.) $50 $100 $200
Special media use of single digitized image (commercial motion picture, television, video, etc.) $50 $100 $200
Web Sites - please contact Plant Image Collection manager at the address below
Custom photostat of illustrations/artwork 8-1/2x11 (each) $25 $40 $60
Custom photostat of illustrations/artwork 11x14 (each) $30 $45 $65

The above fees exclude use for advertising or promotion. Permission for such use is discretionary and subject to review within the Institution. Fees for such uses need to be negotiated separately. Volume pricing may also be negotiated separately.
Any use involving commercial products (other than those listed above), such as t-shirts, mugs, calendars, etc., is not covered by this fee and is subject to licenses which must be negotiated by the Smithsonian Product Development and Licensing.
Exceptions to production and use fees are granted to all Federal agencies, research collaborators of the Department of Botany, instructors in K-12 curricula, and individual contributors to the Plant Image Collection.
Direct all requests for information to:
Plant Image Collection, MRC-166,
P.O. Box 37012
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC 20013-7012
fax: 1-202-786-2563

Return to Top


This project, located in the US National Herbarium, Department of Botany, in Smithsonian Institution's Museum of Natural History, has involved a number of staff and volunteers and would not have been realized without the generosity of the photographers who have permitted the use of their images.

The Smithsonian Institution Women's Committee provided the initial funding that allowed us to begin this project. Their assistance is gratefully acknowledged.

Rusty Russell, Collections Manager and Director of the US National Herbarium, has collected the images from the various photographers, supervised the conversion to electronic files and managed the related database. Ellen Farr, Museum Specialist, developed the website.

The following volunteers have been actively involved over a period of several years: Seth Bennett, Don French, Harold Motin, Rebecca Wald, Christine Wang, Duane Zepeda (data entry); Payal Dharia, Ingrid Pol-yin Lin, Lizzie Magee, Ed Smithline, Bekka Stone (imaging); Frances Pitlick, Aleithea Williams, Patricia Gomez, Alexandra Wright, Andrea Specht, Bianca Lipscomb, Katie Walther, Victoria Batista (data entry and imaging).

Almost 150 photographers have contributed nearly 50,000 images to the site. While the photographers do include Smithsonian botanists, numerous other individuals have donated substantial numbers of slides for use in this collection.