Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. I tried to do download some data from your site, but there were no files attached to the email sent to me by ePIC
  2. Can I get copies or abstracts of articles mentioned in ePIC?
  3. I only know the common name of a plant, how can I use ePIC?
  4. How can I use ePIC to tell me about the currently accepted name for a species?
  5. How can I use ePIC to search for information by country or region?
  6. I did a search on ePIC but nothing came back
  7. Which taxonomic system does ePIC use?
  8. Is it possible to search ePIC by family?
  9. I have a plant I can't identify, or I need advice on its cultivation, can ePIC help me?

1. I tried to download some data from your site, but there were no files attached to the email sent to me by ePIC

Some email clients read text files and place the contents into the body of the email. If only one or two records were downloaded, then the data can easily be overlooked. Check at the bottom of your email to see if the data can be found there.

2. Can I get copies or abstracts of articles mentioned in ePIC?

No. ePIC provides details of the place of publication of plant names or details about articles, but we are unable to provide the literature itself. Your librarian may be able to assist you in tracking down the original articles themselves.

3. I only know the common name of a plant, how can I use ePIC?

ePIC only handles searches by scientific name. We do not have a database at Kew that allows you to look up the scientific name for any given common name, and there is no comprehensive database that we are aware of, but we do have a list of URLs which might help. See the IPNI FAQ - question 8 In general, you have to beware that common names can mean different things to different people, will vary from country to country (sometimes between regions), and often will not indisputably link to a single species.

4. How can I use ePIC to tell me about the currently accepted name for a species?

What you need in order to do this is a synonymised checklist of the plants that you are interested in. However, though there are several initiatives to create such a resource for the world (see, for example, Species 2000), and Kew is actively engaging in them, the sad fact is that it does not currently exist.

Some online resources do exist - see, for example, Kew's World Checklist and Bibliography series or Missouri's Vascular Tropicos

If you cannot find the information you need on the Internet, then you can submit an enquiry here. You will need to help them by describing the connection between the plant names you are interested in - are they from a single plant family, or for a particular region?

5. How can I use ePIC to search for information by country or region?

At the moment, you can only search ePIC by scientific plant name. However we are looking into making it possible to search by geographical terms and this should appear in a future version of ePIC.

6. I did a search on ePIC but nothing came back

First, check that the name you entered was a scientific name - ePIC currently only allows searching by scientific name.

If you are searching by a scientific name, then try widening your search. The more data sources you select, the more likely you are to get a match - especially if you include IPNI in your search, as that should have almost all of the published plant names.

It may be you haven't spelled either the genus or the species name correctly. You can try just searching on the genus instead of the genus and species to get a list of species available within that genus.

You can also have a look at our help page for more information about searching ePIC.

7. Which taxonomic system does ePIC use?

Strictly speaking, ePIC does not currently employ any taxonomic system, as it simply reveals the data held in participating datasources. IPNI is a nomenclatural index which reports names as published and so doesn't use any taxonomic system. Many of the other datasources follow the genus and family classification to be found in "Vascular Plant Families and Genera" by R.K.Brummitt (RBG Kew 1992) which is available online free of charge, or can be purchased direct from Kew.

8. Is it possible to search ePIC by family?

No, at the moment, you can only search ePIC by a genus, or a binomial (genus and species). If you want to know what genera are in the family you are interested in, you can look at the Family browse function of the Vascular Plant Families and Genera database.

9. I have a plant I can't identify, or I need advice on its cultivation, can ePIC help me?

For general enquiries of this nature please contact our enquiries unit, giving information about the plant and they will forward your question on to the relevant specialist. Please don't attach a photo at this stage.