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Australian Tropical Herbarium Research and Programs Online Keys to Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants

Online Keys to Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants

The Australian tropical rainforests contain over 2,700 species of higher plants, representing more than 10% of the Australian flora. These rainforests stretch from the lowland and montane tropical rainforests of northeast Queensland through to the drier and monsoonal rainforests of the Northern Territory and the Kimberley district of Western Australia. The rain forests of the Wet Tropics area of north east Queensland are the most species rich, with over 2,250 species. There is a decrease in species richness along the rainfall gradient to the monsoonal rainforests of Western Australia, where there are 362 species.

Identify a plant online

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Orchid Key web.jpg

Two online keys are available to facilitate the identification of this vast and diverse flora. The Australian Tropical Rain Forest Plants – Edition 8 and the Australian Tropical Rainforest Orchids are interactive multiple-entry identification and information systems, where the user decides which characters to choose based on the specimen in hand.

“Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants” (the Rain Forest Key, or RFK) – the foremost identification and botanical guide to rainforest plants of northern Australia has reached a new milestone with the release of the eighth edition. For the first time the RFK is available as a mobile application which will enable use in the field without an internet connection. This tool gives everybody, from the enthusiastic amateur through to professional scientists, the power to identify rainforest plants occurring in tropical Australia, from Rockhampton to the Torres Strait and westward as far as the Kimberley Region of Western Australia.

The RFK provides descriptions of 2762 species of plants, over 14,000 images to assist identification and an interactive identification key using LucidTM software. As far as this key is concerned, rainforest encompasses a wide variety of closed forest types in the higher rainfall areas of northern Australia. It does not include eucalypt forests or all mangrove forests. The following commonly used terms are encompassed in our broad rainforest category: Monsoon Forest, Softwood Scrub, Vine Thicket, Gallery Forest, Scrub, Jungle and Vine Forest.

The RFK is also now available for the first time as a mobile app. Users can download the app for IOS and Android devices from the AppStore and Google Play respectively, for a fee (search for 'RFK'). Once installed, all key content including images may be downloaded to the device for offline use in areas lacking network coverage. This greatly improves the utility of the RFK in the field.

The Orchid Key was launched online December 2010.

The first online edition of the RFK was Edition 6 which was launched in December 2010 and included 2,553 species of trees, shrubs and vines, grasses, sedges, palms, pandans and epiphytes of northern Australian rain forests.