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A Pan-European seed-list search system
Last updated: 1 January 2014

How the system works

The system uses a simple code word – seminumsystem+year – to provide a unique identifier to every on-line seed-list issued by a garden. An internet search engine can be queried for this code word plus a genus or even species name, thereby making the search for a particular taxon from current (on-line) seed lists a work of moments. By adding a four figure year at the end of the code word, it is hoped to avoid ‘dead’ pages building up over the years. This year should represent the year in which the list is valid, i.e. seed collected during 2013 would be in a list issued over the 2013/2014 winter, and would carry the year 2014. Since no central organisation, compilation or databasing is required, there should be no costs or administration other than voluntary co-operation by participating seed-list managers over the coming years in adding the word to their on-line seed lists.
Further refinements are available by using two additional code words: seminumwild+year signifying that the list comprises (at least some) wild collected seeds; and seminumipen+year signifying that the garden only offers its seed to those gardens that have adopted the International Plant Exchange Network (IPEN) System which serves to regulate gardens’ responsibilities for acquisition, maintenance and supply of living plant material and associated benefit-sharing under the soon to be implemented Nagoya Protocol.
Tus an on-line seed list with wild collected plants from a garden adhering to the IPEN system would have all three code words, while a garden outside the IPEN system and only offering garden origin seeds would use the seminumsystem+year alone.

Example search for the Genus Teucrium, which retrieves the Arboretum Kirchberg,
Luxembourg and National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin seed lists for 2014.

Example search for will collected seed of Pastinaca sativa, which retrieves the
Arboretum Kirchberg,Luxembourg seed list for 2014, but also finds the consortium
list of invasive alien plants in Europe - highlighting the fact that this species
is invasive in certain parts of the continent (Denmark, Norway and Sweden).

The species name is included in inverted commas to indicate that it must be read as a complete term, or 'verbatim' (an option in Google under 'Search Tools').

REQUIREMENTS (Download pdf version of instructions here)

  1. Any garden that issues an Index Seminum can take part in the scheme. There are no membership requirements, registrations or costs involved.

  2. For seed collected during the calendar year 1/1/2013 to 31/12/2013, the code word will be The word must have no characters or punctuation attached at either end.

  3. Both wild collected and/or cultivated plants may be included.

  4. If your list has only cultivated plant seed use seminumsystem+year

  5. If your list has some wild collected plant seed use seminumsystem+year and seminumwild+year

  6. If your garden is using the IPEN system add seminumipen+year as well

  7. Issues of the CBD, in particular those governing Access and Benefit-sharing, Material Transfer Agreements, the International Plant Exchange Network (IPEN), as well as the legal authorization to share seeds are the responsibility of individual gardens, and no garden taking part is obligated to transfer seeds to third parties if they do not wish to do so.

  8. The codeword must occur at least once in every file of the on-line seed-list. It can be in the header, a footer or a single footnote. The seed-list can be an HTML file, a text file or a pdf document. In HTML, the word can be visible, as a line on the screen, or hidden in an invisible (i.e. white on white) font.

  9. If you wish to include your seed-list in the system, then the webpage must be linked from a home page or scientific page on your web site, otherwise the page may not be visible to internet search engines, and will not be indexed. This may be an invisible link (i.e. <a href=put name of Index Seminum page here> <span style='text-underline:none'> &#160; &#160; </a>).

  10. If you have problems with the page not being found by search engines then please submit the URL to various Search Engines, or to myself, and I will create a link to the list from our webpage.

  11. Please do not use the codeword on bulletin boards, or on a 'home page' to the seedlist etc., since otherwise these will clutter up searches for seeds. If you need to tell people about the code word on a bulletin board, then put an underline or space into the word, i.e. “seminumsystem_year” and tell people to remove this on their webpage. Alternatively, use the gif image as used above, which can be downloaded here

For further information, please contact:
Matthew.Jebb at
Chairman, PlantNetwork
: the Plant Collections Network of Britain and Ireland.
Member of the European Botanic Gardens Consortium.


gardens already participating in the seed search system