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The Plant Information Network System of the Botanic Gardens Trust.
Compiled and edited by staff of the National Herbarium of New South Wales

Links from the Plant Information Network System will take anywhere you need to go for authoritative Australian plant identification information available on the internet.
Australian Native Plants Society (Australia)
If you are interested in the cultivation, propagation, conservation and appreciation of Australia's native flora spend some time here.
The Atlas of Living Australia
The Atlas project is a partnership between the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Australian natural history collections community and the Australian Government.  Learn more   Many of the images on can now be found in the the Atlas of Living Australia.

On the ALA website you can combine species distribution information with mapping tools, identification keys, photos, names lists, sensitive data service (coming) and published literature. You can create a list and/or map of the species living in a particular area, such as within 1 or 5 kms of your home, find where you live and put a tick in the correct box.  You can also look up more information on any plant or animal you know the name of.

My reference books

Forests    Plants   Birds   Animals  Other reference books

Forests, about them and identifying them

Australian Rainforests in New South Wales Volume 1        Alex Floyd
ISBN 0 949324 31 0

Published August 1990 and still in print.

Volumes 1 and 2 were an acquisition last year, 2012, while studying for a Diploma of Conservation and Land Management.  I had glanced through them at the National Library while living in Canberra in the late 1990s and had always thought gee I'd like to have them.  Last year I had a valid reason, I acquired Ocean Shores to Desert Dunes at the same time, I'm still studying this year.

It covers rather a lot about rainforests specifically, to quote the publishers description;
"Volume 1is a general compendium of Australian rainforest knowledge, definition, structure and physiognomy, classification, distribution, origin, natural, artificial and assisted regeneration principles and methods, conservation and suggested further reading."  Generally excellent, there are only two issues, firstly it is now 23 years old, some portions of the information are dated, not much, for instance some reserves are now in National Parks so no longer exist.  The only actual problem is it has no index, for a volume of 153 pages it means you have to know what's in it and where when using it for reference purposes. I would add that I borrowed both volumes from a library for a few weeks and had a good read before buying them, most definitely worth the money.

Floyd uses the terms alliances and suballiances in referring to rainforest types, derived from 4 subformations which make up the Rainforest formation.  In total there are 57 suballiances from 13 alliances, at first it might look complex but the method used to decide which is the best fit suballiance is quite simple, described on  pp 22, 23.  All you have to be able to do is identify the key tree species.  With that knowledge you can make good use of Volume 2, which is a book and microfiches, 506 pages.
Surrey Beatty & Sons in association with National Parks and Wildlife Service of New South Wales.
Chipping Norton, NSW, Australia

Australian Rainforests in New South Wales Volume 2 including microfiche        Alex Floyd
ISBN 0 949324 32 9

Published August 1990 and still in print.

Volume 2 gets straight down to the business of defining the alliances and suballiances after a 3 paragraph introduction.  This fills pages 1 to 151 (then there are the appendices), and also gives you some idea of just how far and wide Floyd has travelled given the detailed examples he gives for each suballiance.  The "including microfiche" part of the book title is important, he gives detailed species listings for representative sites for each suballiance on these 2 microfiche cards.  How much is on them?  The book is 180 pages, the microfiche is 326 pages containing comprehensive vegetation lists, trees, forbs, ferns, vines and orchids, from 215 locations sorted by suballiance.  In some respects the book is an introduction to the microfiche.

If you have a very high resolution scanner you could convert them to an image file yourself.  The advantage of doing this is you do not have to go to a library with a microfiche reader when you want to read the cards.  Alternatively, if you have Volume 2 the microfiches are now available at no cost in pdf format with the permission of the author and the publisher.  Contact me for details.

Suballiances are mentioned in the Final Determinations of the NSW Scientific Committee for some rainforest Endangered Ecological Communities (EEC).
Surrey Beatty & Sons in association with National Parks and Wildlife Service of New South Wales.
Chipping Norton, NSW, Australia

Ocean shores to desert dunes: the native vegetation of New South Wales and the ACT    David Keith
ISBN 0 7313 6780 4

First published July 2004
Reprinted June 2006

Given the breadth of coverage, quite literally as the title says, this book is very good.  You should also note that 5 other people receive credit for specialist contributions to the information in this book, there is a lot.  It received the award Best Scholarly Reference 2005 for a reason.  I bought this book for 2 reasons, one of my teachers pointed it out and I had a look, secondly I needed an insight into other vegetation formations outside of rainforests.

Part one is an excellent introduction to Part two and it does contain crucial information including caveats about vegetation mapping, data sets and interpolations.

Part two covers the 99 vegetation classes derived from 12 formations across NSW, of which Rainforest is just one formation with 9 classes in it.  Each formation section is a background section for the following classes.  The background is not just about the plants, they are good introductions.  Each class section again has good background information and more specific information including a guide to plants found and importantly, a short list of references to begin with if you need more detail for that class.  The trove of information in the appendicies is now available on various web pages. The bibliograhy is 12 pages.

I should add the following as the vegetation mapping Keith supplied is vitally dependent on this;
"The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has commenced a project to establish agreed product specifications for local fine scale and regional scale native vegetation mapping in NSW by June 2013. For more information on this project please refer to the project consultation page."

Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW)

Remnants of Gondwana: a natural and social history of the Gondwana rainforests of Australia    Edited by Roger Kitching, Richard Braithwaite and Janet Cavanaugh
ISBN 978 0 9803113 58

Published 2010

Three editors and 26 other contributors, specialists in their fields for their chapters.  Good books have a bibliography, this has one too, plus a List of Authors.

The title is descriptive and accurate.  An insight into places and lives few people in Australia know about beyond the boardwalks and tracks.  The World Heritage listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia are comprised of 41 locations totaling 370,000 ha in New South Wales and Queensland.

In Chapter 1 - p. 5, How to Use this Book;
In this volume you will find a comprehensive account of what we know and think about the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia in the early 21st Century.  The work can be used as slightly 'different' sort of guidebook....
Surrey Beatty & Sons
Baulkham Hills, N.S.W.

Plant Books
All of the books listed below have a wealth of information in them other than just about identifying particular plants.
Some are available from some bookshops, though Australian botanic gardens book shops are more likely to have all of them on their shelves at any one time.  Most are available online from the publishers and you will find other plant books on their sites that will be of interest.

Plants of the Forest floor        Penny Watsford, Margaret Elliot, Robert Price and Lui Weber    
ISBN 0 9756823 1 8

First published 2006  Reprinted 2007, 2008

This tough A5 sized spiral bound book is made to be taken out with you. It has most excellent illustrations, the descriptions are truly complementary, conversational in nature and highly descriptive by themselves. 

Then there is the included CD-ROM!  The excellent photos cover all the plants in the book and lists their page numbers and has many more than what is in the book.  Listed in botanical name order with accompanying common name and page reference if it is in the book. This is an extremely useful resource by itself.

Just a glance through it confirms we have very few weed species inside the forest and our lawn areas are being overtaken by worts of various sorts, a good thing.  This small book and CD, a recent purchase, fills a big hole in my library.  With it I can walk through the bush and start to read what is there much more completely.  In the begining it can be a little overwhelming, they just keep flooding in as you walk, sensory overload or maybe just an epiphany.  And this is the stuff on the ground I've seen for years.

It does not have a search function, this is a minor point, there are not that many plants to search through if you need to, or, you could preview just the images in a file browser (select large or extra large icons) before going back to the included software for the accompanying text and other images in the set.  Whether this file browsing technique is faster for searching or not depends on how much grunt your computer has.

Nullum Publications

Australian Rainforest Plants        Nan & Hugh Nicholson
ISBN 0 9589436 2 1(Set)

A series of at least 6 small books of around 70 pages each, with excellent photos and brief descriptions of the plants.
The first was published, first edition, in 1985.  The sixth was first published in 2004.

My collection of their books has grown gradually since we moved to Sassafras and needed help in identifying the plants. A most useful reference once I have narrowed down the possible list of suspects.

Ornamental Rainforest Plants in Australia        David L. Jones
ISBN 0 7301 0113 4

Published 1986

I have had this one for quite some time, probably from around the early 90s.  I remember thinking I'll get this one because I knew of the author as someone heavily involved in rainforest plant research from my time in the Plant Records section at ANBG. Excellent photos, many line drawings and good descriptions however it is aimed at those wanting rainforest plants as an ornamental so some of the heights given are a little low in the rainforest situation.

This book is no longer in publication and has been superceded by other books that David has authored or co-authored over the years.

Reed Books Pty. Ltd.

Trees & Shrubs In Rainforests of New South Wales & Southern Queensland

Published 1984  This has now been superseded by the following book by the same authors.

There were actually 3 books in this series, this one, the Red Book, is about "Trees & Shrubs", another about "Rainforest Climbing Plants" and another "How to identify plants" which is rather useful in deciphering the jargon (otherwise known as learning) that is used to precisely identify plants in any of the other books I have.

Originally they were 3 thin books, A4 size, staple bound. This series was my first port of call when I came in the door with a new specimen.

They were generally indispensable in a quest to identify what you may have. Large line drawings and good descriptions.   From these publications I was often be left with only 2 or 3 possibilities, if I was lucky I had only one candidate.

Printed by the University of New England Printery.

Rainforest Trees and Shrubs    Gwen Harden  Bill McDonald  John Williams
ISBN 09775553 0 5

Published 2006

"A field guide to their identification"

This is a greatly expanded  and extended version of the Red Book listed above.  How much more?  As a guide there are now descriptions and illustrations provided for 850 species, an increase of 309 over the Red Book.  My comments above about the usefulness still apply, only the title has changed.

They have also published a much expanded version of Rainforest Climbing Plants which I also acquired. For a good preview go to
Gwen Harden Publishing

Rainforest Trees of Mainland South-eastern Australia        A.G. Floyd
ISBN 9780958943673 (hbk).

First Published 1989, Forestry Commission of New South Wales
Revised edition 2008

A most detailed publication.  All plants covered have line drawings and a detailed description. While I find the keys in Trees & Shrubs in Rainforests of New South Wales & Southern Queensland easier to use I will use this book to narrow down possibilities.  The descriptions are most excellent and complete.  From here I will turn to my picture books for more final determination, then come back here if I'm still not sure, and usually even if I am to find out more about what I've just found.

The Revised edition of course has the name changes of the preceeding 19 years, there are a few :-)  There are quite a few more pages, information has been revised in some descriptions, layout has been improved and overall there is more information.  The paper is now water resistant, very useful in a damp climate.

Alex Floyd is the author of a number of other books about rainforests.
Terania Rainforest Publishing
Lismore, NSW, Australia

The Useful Native Plants of Australia (including Tasmania)    Joseph Maiden (J. H. Maiden)
Facsimile edition 1975.  Reproduced from the 1889 edition.

Covers all the  uses  plants were put to, across 11 classes including Human Foods and Food Adjuncts, Forage Plants, the Gums, Resins and Kinos, Fibres and Perfumes to name some of them.  There is also a rather useful list of the Vernacular Names in use at the time, leading to the Botanical Names - in use at the time.  These can then be cross referenced with the Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), which lists all the synonyms for a species, and of course searches by synonym are readily available, tick the box.

The facsimilie edition was published by a book store that used to be in Melbourne, The Compendium Bookshop. in Hardware Lane I think.

Compendium   (out of print I believe and it seems out of business too)

Bird Books

Field Guide to Australian Birds         Michael Morcombe
ISBN 1 876181 10 X

First Published 2000, reprinted 2001

This book covers everything I want to know about a bird, what does it look like and sound like.  Where does it live, habitat and extent.  What does the nest look like.  I remember when we bought it there was another similar publication for a similar price on the shelves, we stood there for 5 minutes or so comparing a few birds and other features.

Originally published by
Steve Parish Publishing Pty. Ltd.

For details on paper and iPhone optimised versions

Animal Books

Tracks, Scats and Other Traces         Barbara Triggs
ISBN 978 0 19 555099 3

First Published 1996
Reprinted 1997 (twice),1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003
Revised edition 2004
Reprinted 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010

This is the book to get in Australia if you want to figure out what animal passed by (or died) on the ground where you are.  So long as it was native, warm blooded and not a bird.  Poo, bones, tracks, shelters and maps of where you will find them in Australia.  You will need something else if you want to know what the animal looks like, but you will know what you are looking for after looking at the signs in this book.

Oxford University Press
Australia and New Zealand


The Bone Readers        Claudia Tuniz, Richard Gillespie & Cheryl Jones
ISBN 978 1 74114 728 5 (pbk)

Published 2009

In this book the authors tie together various research results, up to 2008, tracing Homo sapiens migrations from Africa across the Earth as it was during the migrations, with varying sea levels and climate regimes, to Australia, among other places.  They also give some answers about our impact on this continent during the last 50 millenia or so, especially in the first millenia after arrival.  There are also numerous discussions on the relative merits and advances in various dating  and DNA extraction techniques because they are crucial to the story.

Allen & Unwin