Plant Resources I: Plant Image Bank

The power of images to convey information – especially in science communication which can often-times be quite complicated – is surely not in doubt. And that is why many of us have spent time wrestling with graphics programs to create bespoke diagrams, etc. to illustrate our text-based efforts. As therapeutic as that creative activity can be – especially the colouring-in – it’s extremely time-consuming. So, wouldn’t it be useful to have access to a source of ready-made images (especially if they only need to be ‘tweaked’ for your particular purpose)? Yes (!).

In an attempt to satisfy that need, plant scientists Erin Sparks, Guillaume Lobet, Larry York and Frédéric Bouché have created the Plant Illustrations repository. Although intended primarily for ‘vector graphic’ images (a format that allows the images to be modified in a range of graphics packages to suit the user’s particular purpose, and any amendments are permitted by the repository’s terms of use*), the site also hosts a folder of more conventional images (plant pictures – or, as us old ’uns call them – ‘photographs’).

Plant Graphics Infographic

At present (early May 2017) the great majority of the images are contributed by the site’s founding quartet, but it is hoped that others will upload and share images to make this a much-expanded, shareable resource for the plant science community. Each contribution has a doi (digital object identifier) and is citable, so the originator can be credited for his/her original contribution. Illustration categories at present include roots, shoots, inflorescences, and cell biology.

If interested in sharing your own artwork, check out the guidance on this. The repository uses the FigShare (a ‘permanent, open-access database for non-peer-reviewed scientific documents’) internet facility, which also hosts many other plant, and more general biology, collections. We encourage you to explore this resource, and look forward to seeing appropriate Plant Illustration images appearing in your papers, conference presentations, etc. in future.

*Although what is permitted in each case will depend upon the image’s specific licence requirements.