Harry Molteno Library Catalog (Kirstenbosch)
Mary Gunn Library Catolog


Interactive Mesembs is a comprehensive, illustrated taxonomic database for the entire succulent plant family Mesembryanthemaceae (often classified as two subfamilies in Aizoaceae). The mesembs form a significant component of the Succulent Karoo Biome and are almost entirely endemic to southern Africa. The almost 6000 names include current names and linked synonyms. The database is enriched by accompanying botanical illustrations of (mostly) type specimens. Advanced search and identification facilities are currently under construction.

The database was created and is maintained by Pascale Chesselet at the Compton Herbarium, Kirstenbosch


Access to the interim Red Data Lists is provided by the Threatened Species Programme


This database represents the computerisation of all John Acock's field notes. For further information please contact Dr Mike Rutherford. email

MEDBASE (The National Medicinal Plants Database for South Africa)

MEDBASE, the National Medicinal Plants Database for South Africa is a system of databases holding holistic data on the 300 most important traditional medicinal plants of southern Africa. Such information is scattered throughout the literature in disciplines as diverse as botany, organic chemistry and anthropology, and often in publications long since out of print. As a database, MEDBASE centralises this information, making it more accessible and manageable to a wide range of user-groups.

Besides the existing PRECIS system, three component stand-alone databases currently comprise MEDBASE. The first captures information on distributional, taxonomic, ecological, morphological and conservation aspects of medicinal plants; the second on horticultural facets. Propagation and cultivation fields, together with horticultural attributes are here incorporated.A large number of horticulturists familiar with indigenous plants have generously supplied horticultural data on the priority taxa. A third, specific ethnomedicinal component has also been developed which will be of interest and use to health care workers, anthropologists, ethnopharmacologists and other researchers in the field of traditional medicine and drug development.Notably, no fresh usage data from field sources have been included. Besides holding information on all ethnopharmacological aspects of traditional healing practices, this component successfully accommodates toxicological/plant feeding trial and chemical constituent data. Ethnoveterinary information is also accommodated.The three component databases have been integrated into a single interrogatable unit.

As its primary objective, MEDBASE aims to facilitate responsible land use in southern Africa with respect to the conservation and appropriate exploitation of South Africa’s medicinal plant or muthi taxa. The availability of such plants for traditional healing practices impacts directly on the health and pockets of millions in the southern African sub-region. The potential for industrial development of new phytomedicines and pharmaceutical products from plants will likely be more quickly realised through pertinent enquiry of MEDBASE. The horticultural information in MEDBASE allows for the responsible and conservation-conscious development of such products.

For further information about MEDBASE please contact Mr Tevor Arnold email or Dr Neil Crouch

PRECIS Information Database

This is based at the National Herbarium in Pretoria The Precis project mission is to develop, maintain and expand an electronic database system on southern African plants for the provision of an efficient customer-driven information service and for producing computer-generated electronic and publishable products through PRECIS (National Herbarium Pretoria (PRE) Computerised Information Service) 

This activity is administered from the National Herbarium in Pretoria (PRE) where the complete southern African collection , from the region south of the Limpopo and Kunene Rivers, has been computerised and, now complete, covers 736 424 specimens in 24 500 taxa (species and infraspecific).  The cultivated collection of 21 169 sheets is computerised separately. The rest of the African holdings will be added to the database in the near future under the SABONET programme.  It is hoped to make PRECIS partially accessible on this website in the near future. 

For further information on precis email:

© South African National Biodiversity Institute
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