Biodiversity Information Science and Standards : Conference Abstract
Conference Abstract
The e-Flora of South Africa – restructuring data to comply with Darwin Core standards for inclusion into the World Flora Online
expand article infoFhatani Ranwashe, Marianne Le Roux§,|
‡ South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town, South Africa
§ South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, South Africa
| Department of Botany and Plant Biotechnology, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Open Access


The e-Flora of South Africa project was initiated in 2013 by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) in support of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC, 2011-2020). South Africa's flora consists of ca. 21,000 taxa of which more than half are endemic. South Africa will contribute a national Flora towards Target 1 of the GSPC ("To create an online flora of all known plants by 2020"). South Africa's contribution is ca. 6% of the world’s flora of which ca. 3% are endemic and therefore unique. South Africa’s electronic Flora is comprised of previously published descriptions.

South Africa’s e-Flora data forms part of the Botanical Dataset of Southern Africa (BODATSA) that is currently managed through the Botanical Research And Herbarium Management System (BRAHMS). To date, South Africa’s e-Flora data ( represents 19,539 indigenous taxa, 79,139 descriptions of distribution, morphological, habitat and diagnostic data, and 27,799 bibliographic records. The e-Flora data was recently published online using the Integrated Publishing Toolkit and henceforth harvested by the World Flora Online (WFO) into the portal.

A series of challenges were encountered while manipulating descriptive data from BRAHMS to be ingested by the WFO portal; from taxonomic issues to data quality issues not excluding compliance to data standards.

To contribute to the WFO portal, the taxa in BODATSA has to match with the taxa in the WFO taxonomic backbone. Once there is a match, a unique WFO taxon identifier is assigned to the taxa in BODATSA. This process presented various challenges because the WFO taxonomic backbone and the taxonomic classification system that is used by South Africa (South African National Plant Checklist) does not fully correlate. The schema used to store taxonomic data also does not agree between BRAHMS and WFO and had to be addressed.

To enable consistency for future, a detailed guideline document was created providing all the steps and actions that should be taken when publishing an e-Flora, managed in BRAHMS, to the WFO portal. The presentation will focus on matching taxonomic classifications between BRAHMS and WFO; dealing with character encoding issues and manipulating data to meet Darwin Core standards.


Flora; Darwin Core; e-Flora; Biodiversity Informatics; Data standards; World Flora Online; WFO

Presenting author

Fhatani Ranwashe

Hosting institution

South African National Biodiversity Institute

Conflicts of interest


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