The 2020 Plant Records Conference, originally scheduled for May at Mainz Botanic Garden, was held online on 5 and 6 November, with Mainz Botanic Garden as our virtual host. 

It was our first annual conference hosted online, which allowed delegates from all over the world to join in, without the inconvenience of having to travel. Representing 60 different institutions, more than 80 delegates registered from Europe, U.S.A. and Australia. This was also the first annual conference since the IrisBG collaboration ended between Compositae and Botanical Software, though Compositae joined the organising committee this time.

We hope that despite this new online conference format, we managed to retain the original problemsolving spirit of our first conference back in 2016 spearheaded by Reinout Havinga from Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam. Challenges in record keeping were addressed by community members seeking advice from their peers. We had a wonderful online bike tour through the host garden and a virtual social event at the end of the first day.

We would like to thank the community for their engagement, enthusiasm and openness to experimentation. We are also very grateful to those of you who facilitated the break out sessions throughout the conference. The plant records community is a wonderful crowd, eager to try out new things and share their feedback, which helps us to better understand its needs.

We would also like to thank the conference speakers, for their courage to discuss ‘works in progress’ and actively collect feedback from other community members. In addition, we would also like to thank Prof. Maximilian Weigend, from the University of Bonn, for reminding us why record keeping is so important to the world of botanic gardens and beyond.

And finally, we are pleased to have found a new format suitable to work with in these difficult times. Though there is still much room for improvement, we have a wonderful basis to build on. Please, get in touch if you have any ideas to share or if you would like us to support you with your online event.

Special thanks go to Ralf Omlor from Mainz University Botanical Garden for hosting this conference, despite all the difficulties encountered along the way during the planning process. We also thank Ralf Omlor and Reinout Havinga from the Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam for having a key role in representing the user community. Since our first user conference in Amsterdam 5 years ago, Reinout has made sure that every conference has kept its focus on the users in our community and the challenges they are trying to overcome. 

Please, have a look at the programme below, the presentations and the recordings.

At the beginning of 2021, we will decide in which format and when the next conference will take place. If you would like to be informed, please subscribe to our blog at the bottom of this page.

Margherita Tinti & Havard Ostgaard



Thursday 5th November – Reaching out through plant records

Opening and warming up
Margherita Tinti, Community Manager, Botanical Software

Introduction to Mainz Botanic Garden
Ralf Omlor
, Curator, Botanic Garden of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

View recording of the welcome session
View recording of the Virtual Tour of Mainz Botanic Garden


Key Note Speech
Accumulation versus collection – documentation makes a difference.’
Prof. Dr. Maximilian Weigend
, Nees Institut for biodiversity of plants, University of Bonn

View presentation
View recording
View group work


First challenge – ‘Get on tour: how to design good tours.’
Åsa Krüger & Stina Weststrand, Scientific curators, Gothenburg Botanic Garden

View recording
View group work


Second challenge – ‘Volunteers and Plant Records. The Good, The Bad and the Unexpected.’
Alison Vry, Database & Records Officer, Westonbirt, The National Arboretum

View presentation
View recording
View group work


Social event – Botanical joke contest
Havard Ostgaard, CEO of Botanical Software

View jokes
Price winners will be contacted shortly.


Friday 6th November – Originally Wild


Third challenge – ‘It’s Not on the Inventory List!: Tracking Plants in a Semi-naturalized Meadow’
Julie Rotramel, Plant Recorder, Mt. Cuba Center

View presentation
View recording
View group work


Fourth challenge – ‘Benefits and challenges of an iNaturalist-based workflow for field collection.’
Mike Pirie, Associate Professor, Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
University of Bergen

View presentation
View ecording
View group work


Presentation from developers of IrisBG
Øyvind H. Rustan, founder and CEO of IrisBG

View recording
View Q&A


Presentation from developers of Floria
Havard Ostgaard, CEO of Botanical Software

View recording
View Q&A


Conference Wrap up and Closing
Reinout Havinga,
Head of Garden and Collection, Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam
Margherita Tinti, Community Manager, Botanical Software

View recording


2020 Virtual Plant Records Conference – Summary, Slides and Recordings

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