Find The Data–On Plants


So here’s a new thing. is a new site dedicated to gathering data in such a way that allows side-by-side comparisons to be made. And there’s a lot of plant stuff here.  Let’s have a look, shall we?

The Plants Database pulls data from USDA sources, but puts it in a format that makes it easier to search by particular characteristics or do side-by-side comparisons of plants.  Searching for plants by various qualities yields some weird results–a search for fall-blooming annuals turned up only one plant, and it’s a plant that sounds like it comes right out of a Monty Python movie–Smallfoot Beggarticks.

Okay, moving on!  You can also pull all kinds of data about botanical gardens–I did a search for botanical gardens that do ethnobotanical research and operate a tram, and got a list of four institutions (Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Hawaii, in case you’re wondering.)

There’s also a list of farmers markets. I made a map of all the farmers markets within 20 miles of Iowa City:

You can also compare wine grapes or green restaurants.

I am perhaps most interested in the booze ratings, which pull scores and awards from several sources to give compiled data that can be put into side-by-side comparisons.  For instance, here’s gin:




OK, enough about gin.  What about the plants?  Given the fact that this site is really only pulling data that’s already been compiled and putting it in a more user-friendly form–what would be most useful to you, plant-wise?

I know what I’d like to see:  Seed and plant catalogs!  Give me one place where I can search seed and plant listings, compare, and then order.

The data is not always perfect and up-to-date, by the way.  I did a search for bookstores in Eureka, CA, and the bookstore I own wasn’t on the list–and we’ve owned it for almost five years, and we belong to bookstore organizations and are listed in the Yellow Pages.  Oh well.



    • I have no problem when I am looking for information on a particular plant which I know is probably in the USDA database or one of the other good herbariums for my area like the Frieckman or WisFlora. This comparison thingee is absolutely next to useless! A better comparison or search type program is the one at the Chicago Botanical Garden website.

  1. Amy,

    As Alan points out it is “”. leads one to a unrelated site – spying or PI, to be polite.

  2. I hope this website’s plant section expands to include (as you said) plant and seed catalogs as it has the potential to be an extremely helpful tool. It’s almost a shame it doesn’t work like Wikipedia so people could add little bits to it here and there.

    Thanks for sharing,
    James @ Capital Gardens.

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