Visit the Herbarium

The Australian Tropical Herbarium (CNS) is a joint venture of the CSIRO, Australian and Queensland Governments and James Cook University. It boasts state of the art facilities and infrastructure for specimen processing and curation, photography, pest and climate control, and field, herbarium and laboratory research.

Research at the Herbarium covers a range of topics including tropical plant and fungal taxonomy and evolution, ethnobotany, ecology, climate change studies, development of identification tools, and regional ecosystem mapping.

The ATH collection, a fully databased and representative archive of preserved plant specimens that supports the Herbarium’s research and botanical information delivery programmes, is comprised of more than 166,000 specimens that are pressed, dried and mounted on herbarium sheets held in the Collection Room, circa. 18,000 specimens that are preserved in 70% ethanol held in the Spirit Room, and 2,500 wood blocks.

Identifying plants of North Queensland

The Australian Tropical Herbarium has a set of reference specimens available to other researchers, the public and special interest groups to assist in the identification of north Queensland’s plants.

This Public Reference Collection aims to represent all the native and naturalised plant species of north Queensland. Specimens will be added and replaced to ensure the most representative and accurate selection of specimens remains available.

Opening times

9:30am to 4:00pm, Monday to Friday. Closed on Public Holidays.

No appointment is necessary, but please ensure you register with the receptionist upon arrival.


Phone (07) 4232 1837

Email [email protected]

Visitors wishing to use the herbarium collection, rather than the Public Reference Collections, should make prior arrangements with the Curator, Frank Zich (phone (07) 4059 5014) or the Director, Darren Crayn (phone (07) 4232 1859).

The Herbarium is open Monday to Friday, except public holidays. Working hours are 8:30am to 5:00 pm. Please sign in on arrival at reception.

Specimens and documents belonging to the visitor which are required for study must be frozen for 7 days before they will be allowed into the collection room. The freezing process eliminates the risk of introducing insect pests into the herbarium. Please contact the curator before your visit to arrange sending materials for freezing. Freezing is not required for specimens studied in the Public Reference Collection room only.

No specimens or books belonging to the Australian Tropical Herbarium may be taken from the herbarium without prior approval.

Visitors are required to follow procedures for the handling of herbarium specimens during their visit. This information will be provided upon arrival.

Visitors to Australia will require collecting permits in all States. The Australian Tropical Herbarium will not organise permits and visitors requiring collecting permits should visit the website of the relevant State regulatory agencies.

Visitors intending to export specimens from Australia are required to follow Australia's export regulations for biological specimens. Export of all specimens of native Australian plants including cryptogams must be covered by a CITES export permit or registration for facilitated exchange between scientific institutions. With prior agreement the Australian Tropical Herbarium may assist with the export of specimens to registered institutions.

Currently the Public Reference Collection contains specimens of about 2,482 species. These specimens initially cover the native and naturalised flora of the Wet Tropics of far north Queensland (primarily trees, shrubs and vines) but in time will include specimens of other plant life forms and vegetation communities.

A collection of books and other publications relevant to the flora of far north Queensland.

Interactive keys for the identification of plant specimens, and more detailed descriptive information and notes. Keys available include:

  • Australian Tropical Rain Forest Plants Key – for identification of trees, shrubs and vines
  • EUCLID – Eucalyptus identification key for all of Australia
  • AusGrass – grass identification key for all of Australia
  • Wattle – Acacia identification key for all of Australia
  • Pea Key – legume (Fabaceae) identification key for all of Australia
  • The Families of Flowering Plants of Australia – key for identification of Australian flowering plants to family
  • Key to the Malesian Species of  Ficus – fig identification key for the region to Australia’s north. Note this may not include some Australian species.
  • Environmental Weeds of Australia – an interactive identification and information resource for over 1000 invasive plants
  • Suburban and Environmental Weeds of South-East Queensland – an identification and information system for those who want to identify weeds commonly found in suburban areas of South-East Queensland

For using the CD keys and for accessing relevant on-line internet resources and information.

Please note: If the assistance of ATH staff is required to identify your specimens there may be a service charge levied.