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What do our plant labels tell you?

Just as art museums maintain collections of art, Cornell Botanic Gardens maintains collections of plants. Our plant records provide a history and identity for our plant collections.

When we add a new plant to our collection, we "accession" it. This involves recording vital information about each new plant and assigning it a number. The accession number provides the year the plant was added to our records, followed by a number, such as 025, which indicates this plant was the 25th added, or accessioned, that year. Usually, a plant is accessioned the same year it’s added to the collection, whether as a packet of seed, a cutting, or a plant. So the accession number can tell you how long that plant has been in our collections.

Reading Plant Labels

While enjoying the gardens, you may want to learn more about each plant. Near smaller plants, look for small gray display labels on short stakes in the ground. These labels contain each plant’s common and botanical names, and the plant family to which it belongs. On trees and shrubs, you’ll find a silver tag hanging along the main trunk or from a branch.

Each tag contains:

Botanical name  (genus, species)

Native region, nursery or other source of plant

Plant family

Common name

Accession number