Turning campus grounds into botanical learning and teaching spaces
CampusFlora takes botany to a new audience and thereby encourages the broader campus community to get out and about in the fresh air. It allows anyone in the world with the app, including those with restricted mobility, to appreciate the University grounds.

About the app

Campus Flora is an app that maps the location of individual plants and provides botanical information for each species.

The app has inbuilt functionality to craft trails (e.g. evolution of land plants, the 'eucalypts', ClimateWatch Citizen Science trail) that highlight important aspects of select plant groups and align with the current botanical curriculum. These trails also have appeal for the broader campus community.

Staff and students in other discipline areas are encouraged to partner with us in developing new trails, particularly trails that draw from multiple disciplines and that champion botanical literacy and human-plant connections.

In a collaboration that spans research, teaching and outreach, we now offer the Patyegarang, Sydney Language trail to make language of the Gadi more visible and accessible. In a similar vein, the pin yins of plants native to China are offered, and of course the Tupi name for our iconic Jacaranda.

Offer your own CampusFlora

CampusFlora software has been developed to be sharable so those at other institutions can have their own CampusFlora, thereby growing a network across the continent. This network would provide a mechanism for cross­ institutional student collaborations to work on large-scale experiments in botany and ecology.

The CampusFlora software is available under OpenSource (GPLv3) licence so other institutions and organisations including schools, golf courses, local authorities etc can render their own App to share their flora. We have three application outputs so far.

*University of Sydney build was deleted late 2019, we are working to rebuild with NGNY, expected relaunch August 2020.


In addition to the University of Sydney CampusFlora build, Charles Sturt University has their rendering available on github:

Each institution will need to provide appropriately sourced data and information on their flora. The task of identifying and mapping plants can be onerous. Some organisations will already have the location of some or all plants. As an examples of how this can be done, we offer the way we proceeded with this at the University of Sydney.

Using existing datasets

We were able to include those plants on the tree inventory (kept by the grounds staff). Very early on in t he project we were liaising wit h the grounds staff about the project and how to share information. The tree inventory system here at the University of Sydney is ArborSafe. It provides geolocation information on trees but uses UTM (not GPS), so these entries need to be converted to GPS. There are online converters to do this such as Zonums.

Mapping new plants

We supplemented the existing tree entries by recruiting student volunteers and summer scholars. They seemed particularly enthusiastic about being involved in this project. We needed an app to assist with this, one where observations could be uploaded to a shared space and that enabled observations to be downloaded as .csv or similar. We used iNaturalist but there are other apps – check the terms and conditions of data ownership.

There are many ways to collect location data and this could easily be incorporated into any undergraduate biology, botany or ecology class where the students collect and log plant data.

Look and feel of the app - images and graphics 

The students working on the CampusFlora were very conscious that the product looked professional. Students designed our CampusFlora icon and they have contributed all the photographs. The University of Sydney CampusFlora has agreements to be able to use the photographs that students have created.

In addition:

  • we have used metric measures only
  • Australian spelling e.g. metre not meter, centre not center
  • for “Distribution”, the further away from Sydney, the less specific the information.
    E.g. Sydney Blue Gum, the distribution is: NSW. Widespread but localised, in dry sclerophyll forest on sandy often swampy flats.
    For Chinese Elm, the distribution is: China, Japan, North Korea, Vietnam.

Getting permission to use exiting information

For our incidence of CampusFlora, we have formal agreements in place to use botanical information (complete or derived) from: PlantNET, GymnospermDatabase. We have used some information (complete or derived) from Wikipedia and several other sources. In all cases, we have included both attribution to those sources and hyperlinks back to those pages.

Our team

CampusFlora is the product of collaborations between staff and students where we have used a "students as partners" model. Our undergraduates have advised on the user interface, co-authored papers and contributed photographs. 

Students who have contributed to the project

  • Lachlan Pettit
  • Caroline Cheung
  • Richard Dimon
  • Grant Zeng
  • Angela Pursey
  • Scott Dong
  • Alex Ling
  • Simon Baeg
  • Liam Huang
  • Kevin Ahn
  • Michael Johnston
  • Ahmed Jamal Shadid

Select research outputs

Quinnell, R., Troy, J., & Poll, M. (2020). The Sydney Language on Our Campuses and in Our Curriculum In J. Frawley, G. Russell, & J. Sherwood (Eds.), Cultural Competence and the Higher Education Sector. Australian Perspectives, Policies and Practice (pp. 215 - 232): Springer. 

Quinnell, R. (2020). Grieving With Plants, Dancing in the Leaves

Quinnell, R. (2020). The Joy of Plants. Research Matters: Newsletter of the Australian Flora Foundation (31), 18 - 23.

Dimon, R., Pettit, L., Cheung, C., & Quinnell, R. (2019). Promoting botanical literacy with mApps using an interdisciplinary, student as partners approach. International Journal for Students as Partners, 3 (2), 118-128. 

Quinnell, R. (2018). Turning Campus Grounds into Botanical Learning and Teaching Spaces –  and so much more…. Connections ED forum. seminar. 

Quinnell, R., Pye, M., Briscoe, L., Pettit, L., & Cheung, C. (2016). OnPrime: OurFlora Sydney: CSIRO.

Quinnell, R. (2016). The role of plants on health and well-being in the workplace Inaugural Human-Centred Technology Symposium on Health & Wellness Research Symposium. USYD.

Quinnell, R., Wang, X., Pettit, L., Cheung, C., & Barker, N. (2015). Campus Flora App System: web and iPhone Apps (incl database structure for plant locations and information). The University of Sydney.

Quinnell, R. (2015). The Camp Flora App Project. Paper presented at the Botanical Gardens Australia and New Zealand 2015, Wollongong.

Cheung, C., Wardle, G., & Quinnell, R. (2015). CampusFlora: a digital education and engagement tool to turn whole campuses into interactive learning spaces. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of Australia, 45(3).

Cheung, C., Wardle, G., & Quinnell, R. (2015). Cultivating Botanical Literacy with CampusFlora: Mobile Engagement Tool. Paper presented at the Ecological Society of Australia, Adelaide.

Quinnell, R., Pettit, L., Pye, M., Pursey, A., & Wang, X. (Producer). (2014). CampusFlora iOS app. Digital Creative Work. [iOS app] Retrieved from

Quinnell, R. (2014). Campus.Flora[at] Paper presented at the Crossing the boundaries: Transdisciplinary approaches in biosciences education for the 21st century. The Shine Dome, Australian Academy of Science. The Australian National University.

Pettit, L., Pye, M., Wang, X., & Quinnell, R. (2014). Designing a bespoke App to address botanical literacy in the undergraduate science curriculum and beyond. In B. Hegarty, J. McDonald, & S.-K. Loke (Eds.), ascilite Rhetoric and Reality: Critical perspectives on educational technology., pp. 614-619). Dunedin. 

Pettit, L., Pye, M., Wang, X., & Quinnell, R. (2014). Supporting Botanical Literacy in the Undergraduate Science Curriculum and Beyond with a Bespoke Campus App. Paper presented at the Australian Conference for Science and Mathematics Education, The University of Sydney.