Formatting Essentials

This is a quick-guide for formatting requirements for a Flora treatment, with examples for key attributes. Full details are provided in the PDF of the contributor guidelines:


Some informative example taxa are:

Required Information

The table below indicates which attributes are required for an eFlora treatment (i.e. tick [√]) at different taxon levels. Other attributes available on the platform are optional.

Attribute Definition Family Genus Species and infraspecies
Etymology Derivation of name
Common Name if any
Description Approximately 300 words or as appropriate for the taxon group
Diagnostic Features Key features, differences to related taxa
Phenology Flowers…; fruits….
Chromosome Numbers Include reference or voucher/source
Biostatus Native, naturalised, etc.
Distribution Include native distribution for naturalised taxa; number of gen./spp. for family and genera
Habitat Vegetation, landform, substrate, etc.
Ecology Pollinators, adataptions, response to fire, life cycle, etc.
Conservation Status National, state, territory, regional listings or general note on rarity, vulnerability, etc. if possible
Representative Herbarium Specimens All relevant states and territories (including ACT) where taxon occurs
Uses E.g. food, timber, medicinal, cosmetics, cultural
Nomenclature and Typification Will be obtained from APNI/NSL but this field can be used for additional details and notes
Excluded or Uncertain Names Usually in genus profiles if any
Taxonomic Notes Additional taxonomic notes e.g. varying concepts
Notes Use when notes do not fit into categories of above attribute fields
Illustrations Reliably identified/checked line drawings, photographs and other images if any
Bibliography Cited references and further reading preferred
Source Cite reference source of profiles adapted from or based on another treatment (e.g. flora, taxonomic revision, pers. comm., etc.). Sources for individual attributes can be cited under relevant attribute


  • Flora descriptions should be no longer than 300 words. Include all organs relevant to diagnosis of the plant.
  • Descriptions follow exacting guidelines, starting with a description of plant habit down to individual plant organs. The sequence for flowering plants is as follows:

Habit; sexuality; include underground parts if relevant.

Indumentum if it can be described easily for the whole (or most of) plant. Use terms defined in: Plant Indumentum: A Handbook of Terminology 1988 — PDF 3MB.

Stems; branches.


Leaves, presence or absence of stipules; petiole; lamina.

Inflorescence; form, position; bracts; bracteoles.

Flowers; form, sex.









  • Family or genus descriptions do not contain detailed measurements or descriptions of attributes such as colours and texture, but may be included if useful for recognition.
  • References to genera or species may be included within higher-level taxon descriptions. Where the family description includes various character states, then the state that applies in each genus should be described.
  • Each principal organ (e.g. leaves, stamens) begins a new sentence and its attributes are separated by commas. Secondary organs (e.g. lamina, anthers) are preceded by a semicolon and the attributes again are separated by commas.
  • For monoecious or dioecious plants, the descriptions of some characters for each sex should be described separately. The characters common to both sexes should be covered first, followed by separate sentences for the male and female flowers or plants. In these cases the organs that are usually given a sentence each are separated by semicolons.

Other stylistic requirements

  • When expressing the number of parts, consecutive numerals should be separated by ‘or’, not a hyphen, e.g. ‘stigmas 2 or 3’, not ‘stigmas 2–3’.
  • Ranges of values should be expressed using an en dash (–), not a hyphen (-), e.g. sepals 3–9, not 3-9.
  • When one term is used to qualify another term, the two words may be separated by a hyphen, e.g. sinuate-dentate. If the intention is to express a range from one to the other, then the word ‘to’ should be used, e.g. ‘linear to lanceolate’. Expressions of the form ‘(ob-) lanceolate to (ob-) ovate’, meaning ‘ranging through lanceolate, ovate, oblanceolate and obovate’ should be avoided
  • All measurements should be provided in metric units (µm, mm, cm or m), with the same units used for each organ across a treatment.
  • For long, narrow organs, the dimensions should be explicitly characterised, e.g. leaves 2–4 m long, 2–3 cm wide.
  • Extreme measurements should be expressed using parentheses (round brackets) and en dashes (–), but sparingly. e.g. ‘petals (5–) 7–9 (–12) mm long’, indicating that the normal range is between 7 and 9 mm, with occasional extremes as small as 5 or as long as 12 mm.
  • Whether special characters ought to be separated from its descriptor word by a space (e.g. “±discolorous or “± discolorous”) is a personal preference, but should remain consistent within all taxa provided in a treatment.

For more information on preparing a eFlora description:


Provide a general distribution within Australia and globally. Specify region of origin if it is not native to Australia. Include the number of genera and species and distribution worldwide, the Australian content and the number of native, endemic and naturalised taxa. All States and Territories should be referred to using the full name (e.g. Tasmania, not Tas.).

Citation and Referencing

Cite references according to the Flora style below. In-text citations should be provided in chronological order, in the following format: (Smith et al. 2018a; Smith et al. 2018b). If the entire text of an attribute was copied and pasted directly from another source the “source” field below the attribute should contain the in-text style citation, with the full reference included in the bibliography. Bibliography should be sorted by author alphabetical order, then by date of publication.

Book Chapter

Briggs, B.G., Marchant, A.D., Gilmore, S. & Porter, C.L. (2000). A molecular phylogeny of Restionaceae and allies, in Wilson, K.L. & Morrison, D. (eds), Monocots – Systematics and Evolution, pp. 661–671. (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne).

Chippendale, G.M. (1988). Eucalyptus, in George, A.S. (ed.), Flora of Australia 19: 1–448. (Australian Government Publishing Service: Canberra).

Mabberley, D.J. (2011). Meliaceae, in Kubitzki, K. (ed.), Families and Genera of Vascular Plants 10: 185–211. (Springer-Verlag: Berlin).


Hosking, J.R., Conn, B.J., Lepschi, B.J. & Barker, C.H. (2011). Plant species first recognised as naturalised or naturalising for New South Wales in 2004 and 2005. Cunninghamia 12: 85–114.


Murray, L. (2018). Corymbia citriodora, in New South Wales Flora Online. Available at [Accessed August 2018].


Illustrations should be cited in a reduced format on a single line, in chronological order, and separated by semicolons.

K.A. Meney & J.S. Pate, Australian Rushes 405 (1999); B.G. Briggs & L.A.S. Johnson, Telopea 8(4): 495, fig. 5d–i (2000).

B.R. Maslin & A.B. Court, Muelleria 7(1): 132, fig. 1 (1989); T. Tame, Acacias of Southeast Australia 133, fig. 140, pl. 140 (1992); T.J. Entwisle et al., in N.G. Walsh & T.J. Entwisle (eds), Flora of Victoria 3: 636, fig. 127g (1996); B.R. Maslin, in A.E. Orchard & A.J.G. Wilson (eds), Flora of Australia 11A: xiv, pl. 7; 254, fig. 11A–F (2001).

Representative Herbarium Specimens

For now, the eFlora still asks for written references of representative herbarium specimen.

Citations should be grouped according to Australian State or Territory, sorted West-North to East-South (e.g. Tasmania should always be cited last). Within States they should be sorted by collector name and number.

Contributors are encouraged to view physical specimens, but specimens on the Australian Virtual Herbarium may be referred to if n.v. is appended to the citation (e.g. QLD citation). This indicates that the specimen was not physically seen by the contributor.

Below is an example citation of an herbarium specimen.

W.A.: 3 km E of Meckering, 11 Nov. 1968, P. Wilson 6413 ♀ (NSW, PERTH); Cunderdin, Nov. 1903, W.V. Fitzgerald ♂ (NSW, PERTH).

N.T.: Old Tanami mine site, D. Keith 136 & B. Pellow (MO, NSW, SYD).

*Qld: 10 km N of Stanthorpe, L. Pedley A7418 (BRI n.v.).

N.S.W.: 12.3 km W of Dudauman Exchange, R.G. Coveny 11981 & P.D. Hind (B, MO, NSW, NY, PE, PERTH); 26 km S of West Wyalong on Narrandera road, G.M. Cunningham 2403 & P.L. Milthorpe (NSW); *1 mile [c. 1.6 km] S of Lawson, Blue Mountains, 14 Jan. 1961, M.D. Tindale s.n. (NSW).

A.C.T.: Black Mountain [precise locality withheld for conservation reasons], Canberra, A.B. Smith 5555 (CANB, NSW).

* = naturalised.

Noting that:

  • States and territories should be separated onto new lines, but follow the format of W.A., N.T., S.A., Qld, N.S.W., A.C.T., Vic., Tas.
  • Multiple specimens from the same state should be separated by semicolons.