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About the Index to American Botanical Literature (IABL): Home



The IABL searchable database is available to the public at the link below.


The Index to American Botanical Literature (IABL) is compiled by the New York Botanical Garden staff from the resources of The LuEsther T. Mertz Library of The New York Botanical Garden.  Errors, typographic or otherwise, should be called to the attention of library staff (

The IABL contains citations for publications dealing with various aspects of extant and fossil American plants and fungi, including ecology, systematics and floristics, and morphology, as well as economic botany and general botany (publications dealing with botanists, herbaria, etc.). "America" is defined in the broadest possible sense, encompassing land and marine plants and fungi from Greenland to Antarctica. American territory outside this area, e.g., Hawaii, is not included. 

If something is not included in the IABL, that does not mean that the library does not have access to the publication.  Please see the library’s catalog and databases for additional materials and contact the library staff with questions (


Historically, the IABL was one of the main ways in which botanists, mycologists, and others interested in plant science literature learned about recently published books and articles in periodicals.  Currently the IABL includes approximately 270,000 citations for botanical publications published from 1886 until the present day.

Because of the size of this dataset, there are opportunities to use these data for projects related to bioinformatics and bibliometrics, and to integrate the data into existing projects such as the Biodiversity Heritage Library and the World Flora Online.  If you would like an export from the database for use in a research project, please contact the library staff ( with a detailed request.


For well over a century, the IABL, mostly relying on the holdings of the Mertz Library, has provided the botanical and mycological communities an invaluable service by indexing pertinent literature, often from relatively obscure periodicals. Commencing formally in 1886, until 1995, the IABL was published quarterly, only as hardcopy, in the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, and subsequently, from 1996–1999 in Brittonia. When the IABL moved to Brittonia, the Index also went electronic being freely available on the web.  Support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services allowed for approximately 165,000 citations of articles in the IABL published prior to 1995 to be added to the electronic Index which then included 65,000 citations.  This made the whole of the IABL—over a century’s worth of information—available to the global community.  In late 2017 the decision was made to no longer index publications that have been indexed online through other services (such as Google Scholar and JSTOR), significantly reducing the scope of the index moving forward.

If you would like to see something indexed that is not indexed already through other services, please contact the library staff ( with your request.

Further reading

  • Boom, Brian M. "Get it into print! 120 years of scholarly publishing by The New York Botanical Garden." Brittonia 68.3 (2016): 366-376.
  • Buck, William R. "A short history of the Index to American Botanical Literature." Brittonia 48.1 (1996): 120-123.

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The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
The New York Botanical Garden
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