Plant Recording Systems: BG Base

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“BG-BASE is a PC-based database application written primarily to handle the information management needs of institutions and individuals holding living and/or preserved collections of biological material, including botanic gardens, arboreta, zoos, herbaria, museums, libraries, university campuses, horticultural societies and private collections.

The objective is to develop and share a standard design that ensures compatibility, and at the same time one that allows for fine-tuning to meet specific individual needs. The result is a powerful, well proven system that not only facilitates basic inventory control, but also enables users to fully document, label and curate their collections so that these collections, no matter how large or small, can be of the highest possible value to the research, conservation and education communities. BG-BASE is compatible with relevant international data standards.”

“BG-BASE is designed to manage information in six broad categories:

  • collection management (living collections, herbarium and museum collections, seed banks, DNA repositories, etc.)
  • taxonomy / nomenclature (any level from kingdom down to sub-form, cultivar, cultivar group, etc.)
  • distribution (from global down to exact latitude/longitude)
  • bibliography (books, journals, unpublished references, images, etc.)
  • conservation (threats, conservation status, protected areas, laws and conventions, etc.)
  • people management (addresses, institutional affiliations, education programs, events tracking, etc.).

Its aim is to provide a seamless interface to taxon-, specimen-, bibliographic-, image- and geographically-based information. Instead of having separate database systems for each of these kinds of data, they can be managed using a single, fully integrated system. BG-BASE is unique in offering this breadth and depth of information management across such a wide range of topics.”


“BG-BASE can be used on stand-alone machines or as part of a Local Area Network (LAN). BG-BASE is composed of a series of modules, each of which links with the other modules using shared fields / tables and a common user interface that does as much or as little as the user requires. Within the modules information on a wide range of topics can be managed:

  • living collections (including propagation and horticultural tasks)
  • herbarium and other museum specimens (including loans, gifts, exchanges, label production, etc.)
  • collecting notebooks (can be used in the field on a laptop or tablet)
  • gene banks
  • DNA sequences
  • nomenclature
  • taxonomy
  • bibliography (published and unpublished)
  • images
  • gazetteers
  • geographic distributions
  • floristic and faunistic surveys
  • protected areas
  • conservation status (local, national and global; including threats, population dynamics, etc.)
  • national and international conservation laws and conventions
  • institutional and individual contacts
  • education programs
  • events and facilities tracking
  • institutional and personal calendars.

No single installation of BG-BASE uses all of its modules or functionality; rather, each uses a different subset of the whole. However, all users are fully compatible with one another because all share the same field definitions in a common data dictionary. In addition to the standard fields, there are 5-10 user-defined fields in each major database table that can be used to meet specific needs.”

“There is no limit to the number of records that can be stored in the system, other than limitations of hard disk space. There is also no limit to the number of records that may be stored per database table.”

Listed users in the UK:

Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Glasshouses

Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Chevithorne Barton

Eden Project

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens

Mount Stuart

National Botanic Garden of Wales

Rhododendron Species Conservation Group



St Andrews Botanic Garden

University of Dundee Botanic Garden