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About the Burnley Plant Guide


The Burnley Plant Guide (BPG) is an indexed, searchable database of plants that has been developed to support teaching and learning for University of Melbourne students and staff, particularly those based at the Burnley Campus. The database contains information on over 2,700 plant species or cultivars, and more than 7,930 images illustrating plant recognition characters, plant habitat, form, and use in the landscape. The plants included are largely used for teaching and are for the most part, common in cultivation in south-eastern Australia. As well as landscape plants, the BPG contains a limited number of horticultural and environmental weeds. A number of less common exotic and Australian plants have also been included to enrich student experience and for general interest.

There are two sections here that provide more information about the BPG:

Using the Burnley Plant Guide

This is based on the fields or categories in the advanced search function of the BPG and describes plant group, plant type, origin, climate, cultivation ease, invasiveness, growth, height and width categories, plant environmental tolerances, flowering, plant traits and plant uses.

Understanding the Burnley Plant Guide

This section provides information on plant names and classification in the BPG, advice on plant recognition and further information on plant environmental tolerances, soil texture and environmental weeds. It also includes some background on the development of the BPG.

For details click on the links at the top of the page or scroll down.

Using the Burnley Plant Guide

Plant group

The Burnley Plant Guide contains plants for landscape and garden use, plants categorised as weeds and some wild plants, largely included for educational reasons. The plant group category enables users to search separately for plants in these groups.  The following definitions are a guide to these groups:

Garden and landscape plants are those listed as available for purchase, even if only by smaller nurseries e.g. growers of indigenous plants.

Wild plants are those that are not in general cultivation (except possibly by collectors). They can be difficult to grow and/or to propagate.

Weeds in this Guide are plants that are generally acknowledged as weeds and are never grown as ornamental plants. Besides commonly acknowledged weeds such as thistles, dandelions and the like, this group also contains some ornamental plants that have become so seriously invasive that we feel they no longer belong in a list of ornamental plants. See also Invasiveness.

Plant type

This category is intended to be useful to plant users but note that the types listed do not always represent strict biological life-forms. There are 18 plant type categories, and some plants may appear in more than one. For example, the larger conifers will appear both as conifers and as trees, and the smaller conifers as conifers and as shrubs. Sometimes large shrubs are grown as trees in different climates or under managed conditions, so will appear in a search for trees and also in a search for shrubs.

Note that we use the expression perennial herb rather than herbaceous perennial. These are different concepts. The term herbaceous perennial is generally defined as a non-woody plant that lives from year to year, and dies down to a permanent rootstock in winter, while a perennial herb is any non-woody plant that lives from year to year; it may be evergreen (e.g. Agapanthus species), or deciduous (flowering stems dying down to the base in winter), or somewhere between the two. A grass is also an example of a perennial herb. To find the plants commonly used in "perennial" or "herbaceous" borders, search that category under "plant uses".



Plants native to Australia


Plant not native to Australia


We refer to climate as the broad suitability of a plant to grow successfully in one of five categories, mainly based on rainfall and temperature data in each one. These are:

Cool climates are the exception in Australia. They includes regions in the Great Dividing Range such as the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, the Dandenong Ranges and Macedon Ranges in Victoria, and cooler areas of Tasmania. Note that there is no Cold group. Plants for cold climates can be found by using the Cold Tolerance criterion, and choosing plants with a cold tolerance of lower than -10° C.

Temperate covers both cool temperate regions (e.g. Melbourne) and warm temperate regions (e.g. Adelaide, Perth and Sydney).

Subtropical covers the area from the latitude of Northern New South Wales (depending on altitude) as far north as the Tropic of Capricorn.

Tropical areas are those north of the Tropic of Capricorn in Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Arid refers to inland Australian regions with a rainfall below 300 mm/year.

Cultivation ease

Easy refers to plants that are robust and easy to cultivate, appropriate for public and other low maintenance landscapes.

Average refers to plants that have average requirements for growth and success.

Difficult is a category of plants that needs special assistance to succeed.


Invasiveness is a variable attribute of both weeds and cultivated plants that informs the use of plants in an environment and context. Invasion of remnant native vegetation by weeds and cultivated plants is a serious problem in many areas, the term environmental weed is often used to define many of these plants.  We have endeavoured to indicate all the plants in this Guide that are known to be invasive to varying extents, and have allocated each plant a rating to assist the user. The ratings are based on the listings in Groves, R. H. et al 2003, Weed Categories for Natural and Agricultural Ecosystem Management, Australian Government, Bureau of Rural Sciences, Canberra, although we have simplified the categories given in that text. The definitions of each rating in the BPG are as follows:

0. No records currently exist of naturalisation in any part of Australia.

1. Status: species is recorded as naturalised, or incipiently naturalised, in a few locations, usually in a restricted climate and habitat zone, or is naturalised more widely but is not considered a threat to native vegetation.

Treatment: while not considered a threat at this stage, care should be taken in areas where the species has naturalised, particularly near areas of remnant native vegetation and conservation reserves. Spent flower-heads or fruit should be removed in species that spread by seed, and stem or root fragments disposed of responsibly in species that can spread vegetatively. Check the notes on Invasiveness in the relevant Plant information page, and contact your local Council for information if you are unsure about the status of the plant in your area.

2. Status: species has naturalised and is considered a problem warranting control in at least some areas.

Treatment: In areas where they are threatening native vegetation, these species should not be planted, and should preferably be removed from existing landscapes. If they are retained in a particular landscape, e.g. for heritage reasons, then a maintenance program should be put in place that minimises the possibility of further spread via careful fruit and spent flower-head removal, and responsible disposal of garden waste such as stem or root fragments in species that can spread vegetatively. They may be acceptable in areas where they are not known to be invasive. Check the notes on Invasiveness in the relevant Plant information page, and contact your local Council for information if you are unsure about the status of the plant in your area.

3. Status: species is considered a very serious threat to native vegetation in one or more states or territories, and is Declared or Controlled in at least in some.

Treatment: in areas where Declared, this species should not be planted, and should be removed from existing landscapes. It may be acceptable in areas where it is not naturalised. Check the notes on Invasiveness in the relevant Plant information page, and contact your local Council for information if you are unsure about the status of the plant in your area.


Growth refers to the rate of growth that the plant shows on an annual basis. This includes growth rates that can be expected when a plant is young or in a juvenile stage and when the plant matures.  For woody plants this can be observed as the typical extension growth under average growing conditions. While for herbaceous plants the annual increase in canopy width is a more useful indicator. Actual growth rates depend on specific environmental conditions and these ratings should be used as a broad indication only.

Slow refers to plants that are slow to establish and mature relative to other species within a given plant type (e.g. relative to other trees).

Medium refers to plants that establish and mature at an average expected rate relative to other species within a given plant type (e.g. relative to other trees).

Fast refers to plants that are establish and mature more quickly than the average of other species within a given plant type (e.g. relative to other trees).

Very fast refers to plants that are very fast to establish and mature relative to other species within a given plant type (e.g. relative to other trees).

Height and width

The search categories for both plant height and width range from < 0.1 m through to > 20 m and references a mature plant. The Plant Details page includes an estimate of the typical plants dimensions at two points as follows:

Height and width at 5 years

These sizes are estimates based on growth under average conditions. Plants will often be capable of growing faster under more favourable conditions, and may grow more slowly under less favourable conditions.

Height and width at maturity

The given sizes are estimates, based on growth under average conditions. They do not represent the absolute maximum possible for that species or cultivar.

Light tolerance

The term shade can have various meanings. In this context it refers to low light intensity caused by the blocking of sunlight by surrounding vegetation, buildings and other structures, for all or for a significant portion of the day.

Sun-intolerant plants may become chlorotic (yellow), or suffer from leaf scorch, if grown in full sun exposure. Such a plant will be rated as semishade, shade, or shade to semishade.

Shade-intolerant plants grown in shade will respond by becoming etiolated (thin, yellowed growth). Plants may "lean" towards the light source, and flowering will often be reduced. These plants are rated as full sun.

Plants rated as complete range will grow satisfactorily from full sun to dense shade.

For indoor plants, the notes for each plant give a minimum light requirement in lux (Note: Lux is a unit measuring illuminance or light intensity, not the more accurate measure from a plant perspective of PAR or Photosynthetic Active Radiation).

Many plants are flexible to some extent in their light tolerance. The majority of plants are rated semishade to full sun.

Cold tolerance

Cold tolerance is a plant's physiological ability to tolerate exposure to low temperatures without causing any visible or internal injury. Plant hardiness zones in Europe and North America are largely based around average minimum winter temperatures (i.e. plant tolerance to cold). In fact, the term "hardy" refers to cold hardiness, although this term is generally not correctly applied in Australia.

In this Guide, users can select from a range of minimum temperature values ranging from < -10° C through to > +4° C.

The information displayed on the Plant Details pages is a conservative estimate of the likely cold tolerance of the plant and was obtained from climate agency data (such as the Bureau of Meteorology), plant monographs and available research data. Where information sources were in conflict, the most conservative figure has been used, and in some instances, plants may tolerate somewhat lower temperatures than indicated.

The values presented for each plant should be interpreted in the context of the local climate and the location, although it is safe to assume that for some plants (e.g. some tropical and sub-tropical species) there would considerable cold injury through exposure to 0° C temperatures.

Note that the Guide does not use the term "frost tolerance". Frost is a condition that occurs when water vapour condenses and freezes, forming ice crystals at temperatures around 0° C. It is strongly influenced by site conditions and available moisture. Information on frost tolerance is currently not included for all plants, but where it is, it will be found in the notes under Cultivation and Maintenance.

Wind tolerance

Wind damage to plants can be physical damage such as brittle branches or stems that break easily, or torn leaves, or can be the less obvious physiological effects of wind exposure. The hot, drying northerly winds found in south-eastern Australia over summer for example can compound the effects of drought.

Wind tolerance is often related to a plant's habitat of origin; those with a high tolerance to wind often come from coastal or mountain habitats where winds can be frequent and severe. The typical features of plants with high tolerance for wind exposure include trees with flexible, non-brittle stems, a wide-spreading and low-centred branching structure, narrow or linear leaves; and shrubs and herbaceous plants with flexible upright stems, basal shoots (often re-sprouts), rounded, low or sprawling habits or open, linear forms (especially grassy monocots) and with small or linear leaves. Species with poor ratings for wind exposure are those that readily exhibit injury through limb and stem breakage, leaf damage and defoliation and stunting of growth. These species usually require some level of protection from wind exposure to ensure acceptable plant growth. The following definitions provide a guide to using this selection criterion.


Plant should perform acceptably in locations with very high wind exposure throughout the year.


Plant should perform acceptably in locations with high wind exposure for parts of the year only.


Plant should perform acceptably in locations with average wind exposure.


Plant fails to perform acceptably in locations with average wind exposure.

Salt spray tolerance

Salt spray refers to airborne salt, a common feature of coastal environments. It can cause damage to plant growth by salt deposition on the foliage. Factors such as topography, wind and distance can modify the degree of plant exposure to salt spray. The following definitions provide a guide to using this selection criterion.


Species will tolerate a front-line coastal position without damage.


Species will tolerate some salt spray provided it is sheltered from direct front-line exposure.


Species will suffer minor to moderate damage if exposed to salt spray.


Species will suffer serious damage to death if exposed to salt spray.

Drought tolerance

Drought is defined here as a shortfall of rainfall over that required by the plant, for an extended period, and is very site and location specific. Drought tolerance mechanisms vary: a plant that survives in the desert by tapping deep underground water may perform poorly if grown in a shallow, compacted soil. Users must consider the amount of exposure and the soil quality of the planting site, as well as climatic extremes such as unusually extended periods without rainfall.

These tolerance categories are predicated on annual rainfall of  500 - 700 mm and for plants fully established in the landscape. In lower rainfall zones, users may need to make adjustments for their own climatic conditions. The following definitions provide a guide to the terms used.


Plant should perform acceptably without irrigation.


Plant should perform acceptably without irrigation in a garden position sheltered from extreme heat, under normal rainfall patterns. Irrigation may be required during extended dry periods.


Plant will require some irrigation during summer or during extended dry periods to perform acceptably.


Plant requires regular irrigation during summer or during extended dry periods to perform acceptably.

Waterlogging tolerance

Waterlogging occurs when soil becomes saturated with water, leading to low levels of oxygen in a plant's root zone. Waterlogging tends to be associated with clay soils, impermeable subsoils, soil disturbance (especially layering), and changes in gradient and topography, as well as naturally low-lying areas. The following definitions provide a guide to using this selection criterion.


Plant performs acceptably in constantly waterlogged soils.


Plant performs acceptably in periodically waterlogged soils, such as poorly draining soils after heavy rainfall.


Plant performs acceptably in soils that are occasionally waterlogged for short periods, such as reasonably draining soils after heavy rainfall.


Plant suffers serious damage or death in soils that become waterlogged and requires a free-draining growing medium.

Compaction tolerance

Information on this tolerance is scarce, and many plants are rated as not known in this Guide. In urban landscapes, compaction tolerance, particularly in woody plants, is becoming an increasingly important criterion for plant selection, but most plants have not been properly evaluated. In general, you may assume that if a plant has good to very good tolerance of both drought and waterlogging, it is likely to have good to very good tolerance of soil compaction. The following definitions provide a guide to using this selection criterion.


Known to perform well in compacted soils such as urban streetscapes.


Known to perform acceptably in somewhat compacted soils.


Known to perform poorly in compacted soils such as urban streetscapes.


Unlikely to survive being planted in compacted soils such as urban streetscapes.


Little is known of individual plant tolerances for soil pH and much of our interpretation is based on the plant's habitat of origin. Plants arising from soils with a strongly acidic or alkaline pH generally have a requirement for these conditions in cultivation, although there are comparatively very few of these plants. A plant's pH requirements should not be confused with specific ion toxicity or deficiency which is caused by changes to soil chemistry. The following definitions provide a guide to using this selection criterion.


Species perform acceptably across a range of known pH values.


Species require a soil pH of 7 to 9 to perform acceptably.


Species requires a soil pH of 5 to 6.5 to perform acceptably.


Species requires a soil pH of 4 to 5 to perform acceptably.

Flower colour and flowering month

Two search fields that cover a general indication of flower colour only and the typical flowering time in southern Victoria. This may vary in other geographic areas.

Plant traits

The BPG can be used to search for plants with specific traits across 16 categories. This includes desirable features such as bird-attracting, fragrant flowers or aromatic leaves. Architectural form can be selected to find plants that can provide a focal point in a planting, while traits such as foliage interest, attractive bark and colourful fruit can be used to extend interest. The category robust, low maintenance includes plants that are tough enough to succeed in hostile sites such as along roadsides, or in many commercial landscapes, where there are minimal resource inputs.

Searches can also be made for undesirable plant traits, such as spines, thorns, toxins and allergens. Poisonous plants are identified in the Other details section of the plant information page along with further information under the heading Toxicity in the plant description. While we have done our best to note any plant that has harmful properties, we cannot guarantee that plants that are not indicated as toxic are completely safe.

Plant uses

Plants are versatile and can be used and categorised in many ways. While some of the 22 categories listed, such as turf or cut flower are self-explanatory, the following are worthy of a fuller description.

Annual display

Annual display refers to largely herbaceous plants that are used in seasonal bedding displays. They may be annual or biennial herbs, but sometimes include short-lived, perennial herbs or subshrubs, such as geraniums, that typically flower profusely or have attractive foliage.


Plants for edging beds and borders are ideally compact, low-growing plants that do not produce vigorous horizontal growth, therefore needing minimal maintenance to keep them from overgrowing adjacent features such as lawns and paving. More vigorous plants that require more maintenance are often used and these should be chosen with their ultimate size and vigour in mind. Plants that spread by runners (stolons) or underground rhizomes may be difficult to control.

Ground cover

Ground cover can be used for decoration and can function to suppress weed growth, a particularly useful attribute in public landscapes. Plants included here as ground cover are those that form a dense, weed-suppressing cover of vegetation. Other plants commonly listed as ground covers may be attractive low growing plants but are better regarded as ground decoration.


Plants suitable for hedging have a number of qualities that enable them to function as a hedge: relatively small leaves, the production of multiple basal shoots, the ability to respond readily to regular clipping, and some level of shade tolerance to ensure successful lower canopy growth.

Perennial border

Perennial borders, sometimes referred to as herbaceous borders, typically comprise herbaceous (i.e. non-woody) perennials that produce annual flowers or foliage over the spring to autumn period and become dormant during the winter. In Australia, the term "herbaceous perennial" also includes evergreen perennial herbs such as some Agapanthus species, used widely in borders in our mild climate.


Plants for screening are typically dense, low-branching trees and shrubs that maintain growth to ground level. Climbers can also be used for this purpose but need to be carefully selected to ensure they have the right plant traits and are provided with a suitable support structure to develop a screen.


Shading plants are usually trees, or sometimes taller shrubs, that have a canopy that provides effective shade across multiple uses e.g. pedestrians, seating areas and car parks. Trees for shade usually have spreading habits, although more vertical growth can be useful in certain situations. Shading plants may be evergreen or deciduous. Those with deciduous habits often provide useful light through the cooler months.

Shrub or mixed border

Plants in this category are shrubs that typically have showy flowers but may also be included for their foliage colour and texture, or for their fragrance. Once called "shrubberies", in Australia there is less emphasis on spring to autumn flowering and many southern Australian shrubs are winter to spring flowering. Some shrubs and subshrubs can also be used in perennial borders, often providing a background, framework or structure to the planting. Garden borders that include such woody plants are sometimes referred to as "mixed borders".

Shrub mass

Shrub mass is a term used to describe a taller and more robust form of ground cover that is mainly, but not exclusively comprised of shrubs. These plants generally sucker and/or spread vigorously through specialised stems and have a dense massing habit. It is a planting style that can be useful in public landscapes but is somewhat derided for its overuse in large blocks or massed plantings.

Street tree

There is no standard set of characteristics that define a successful street tree as management of street trees can be an important determinant of how well they fulfil this function. However, in considering the values that are of most importance, the following attributes are useful:

  • Tolerance of suboptimal soil conditions, particularly deoxygenated, compacted and disturbed soil profiles, although this may also include elevated salts
  • Tolerance of root disturbance and damage
  • A "neat", regular crown shape - usually globular, ovoid or columnar, although this can depend on the context
  • Branching that does not have undesirable traits (i.e. included bark, co-dominant stems, branch failure)
  • Straight trunks, or the ability to be trained to a straight trunk
  • Low suckering and basal shoot production
  • Tolerance of heavy pruning, including suitable regrowth responses
  • Absence of messy fruit and other plant parts such as cones
  • Lack of big shallow roots in the zone of rapid taper
  • Trees that don't bulge at ground level.

Ideally, street trees would possess all of these attributes, though in reality few do. When well managed, some less than ideal trees can be successful as a street tree.

Under powerlines

This covers trees and shrubs that are suitable for planting under power lines, i.e. plants that are unlikely to exceed 6 m in height in typical growing conditions. They will also typically be tolerant of conditions in streets and roadsides where powerlines are most likely to be found.

Understanding the Burnley Plant Guide

Plant names and classifications

Plants in the BPG are named according to The International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi and plants (Shenzhen Code) 2018 and the Cultivated Code (International Code for the Nomenclature of Cultivated Plants 2016). We try to maintain currency of the plant names by regular reviews of taxonomic updates. Sources used to determine accepted botanical names include horticultural and botanic garden floras, together with the Australian Plant Census and International Plant Name Index. "Links" includes a number of these resources. Refer to "Sources" for a complete list.

This version of the BPG uses the plant classification system based on outcomes of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG). The APG is a group of systematic botanists largely based at Kew Gardens, England and Missouri Botanic Gardens, USA, who study the phylogenetic relationships of flowering plants to establish a consensus around their taxonomy. While acceptance of the APG system is not universal, most Herbaria in Australia are adopting at least a version of it.

Plant recognition

Plant identification is a fundamental skill for those who work in the fields of horticulture, landscapes and ecology and is a richly rewarding pursuit for keen gardeners and plant enthusiasts. It involves learning to recognise plants and spell their scientific (botanical) names. There are over 300,000 species of plants, and for many people, including new students, the world of plants is a green blur. It is only after many weeks of exposure to a range of plants, and constant "rote learning" of their names, that patterns begin to emerge. While it may be possible to recognise a plant, especially trees, from a distance, it is also possible to make mistakes that way. To be certain of a plant's identity, you must look closely at its identifying characteristics

Here are some tips* that students, and others, may find useful to aid their (plant) memories:

  • Is the plant a conifer, fern, or flowering plant?
  • If a fern, observe details of fronds and sori (spore cases, found on the backs of fertile fronds)
  • If a conifer, are the leaves needle-like or scale like? Are the cones rounded, with scales that meet at the edges, or ovoid (egg-shaped) with overlapping scales?
  • If the plant has flowers, observe their form, colour and fragrance.
  • If the plant has fruit, is it a fleshy fruit, or a dry fruit? What colour and shape? Does it split open? How big is it?

You will learn to recognise plants eventually just by their leaves!

  • Are the leaves simple, or compound? If you don't know what these terms mean, check the glossary.
  • How are they arranged on the stem?
  • What colour are they? Are they a different colour underneath?
  • Are there any hairs on the leaves, or waxy coatings?
  • Are they fragrant when crushed?
  • Are the margins smooth, or lobed or toothed?
  • For some plants, (especially eucalypts) bark is often a good clue. Observe less obvious features such as stems and buds, too. In winter, when deciduous plants are bare, buds may be one of the best clues to a plant's identification.
  • For some plant groups, such as the genus Eucalyptus, or the Grass family Poaceae, the identifying features are unique to that group, and identifying their members is a specialised skill.

Learning plants is a lifelong joy for people who love them. The wonderful thing is that there are so many of them to learn!

* These tips are based on those in a student hand-out Tips for learning plants, compiled by Suzanne Trajstman, Jill Kellow, James Will and Scott Watson.

Plant environmental tolerances

The major feature of the BPG remains its emphasis on environmental tolerances. Where many other information sources emphasise the cultivation needs of plants, e.g. "needs a moist, well-drained, fertile soil", we recognise that such ideal or optimal conditions are typically uncommon. This is especially true of many public landscapes but can also be true of many residential landscapes, particularly where the addition of resources to "improve" growing conditions, such as soil amendments or irrigation, is not desirable or sustainable. Rather than ask what a plant needs, we ask "What conditions will this plant tolerate, and still perform acceptably?" The BPG can be used to choose plants based on their environmental tolerances, helping to deliver a more environmentally responsible approach to plant selection.

Although there has been much research on horticultural and agricultural crops, the environmental tolerances of landscape plants have generally received limited scientific investigation. In the BPG, plant tolerance ratings are evidence-based, drawing on published research and documented natural history characteristics including the natural habitat and origin of the species, or, in the case of some garden cultivars, of parent species. Expert opinion has also been sought from horticulturists on their cultivation experiences of species across a range of sites and conditions.

The assessment of plant environmental tolerances presents several challenges. For example, when rating drought tolerance, it is necessary to recognise that the drought tolerance mechanisms of plants vary: a plant that survives in the desert by tapping deep underground water is in fact avoiding drought, rather than tolerating it, and may perform poorly if grown in a shallow, compacted urban soil. There are also interactions between environmental stresses and plant tolerances. For example, some plants that require shade in drier sites may grow satisfactorily in full sun, provided there is sufficient water in the root zone.

Plant tolerances of drought, wind, salt spray, waterlogged soils and compaction are rated as very good, moderately good, average or poor. Only the most tolerant or most intolerant plants are listed as very good or poor respectively. Plants in the BPG are not given a very good tolerance rating if they merely survive an environmental stress, they must be able to grow acceptably under these conditions.

Soil texture classes

Soil texture classes, such as clay, sand or loam, are less significant for plant growth than the properties of these soils. For example, a plant that has evolved on sand dunes may grow poorly on clay soils, but the problem is more likely to be waterlogging caused by the clay's fine pore structure rather than the clay itself. Such a plant may suffer equally in sandy soils if water is unable to drain away, yet the same plant may succeed on deep, well-drained loams.

For clay soils, plants should be selected for their tolerance to waterlogging, while on cracking clays that dry in summer to a hard, impermeable pan, plants that succeed will tolerate both drought and waterlogging. On deep, free-draining sands, plants should be selected for drought tolerance.

Environmental weeds

There is increasing awareness of the threat posed to remnant bushland by invasive plants that are often "garden escapees", now commonly called "environmental weeds". Environmental weeds are plants that invade native ecosystems and have the potential to adversely affect the survival of native flora or fauna or the functioning of ecosystems. Weeds may be native plants that have spread in response to changed conditions but are often plants that have been introduced from outside Australia. The use of the word "weed" for some of the plants listed is problematic as their status as a weed can change with time and geographic location. Their invasiveness may be a localised problem, specific to certain climatic regions or to specific environmental niches. It was decided to restrict the use of the word "weed" to those plants that are widely recognised as weeds in Australia and are never grown as landscape or garden plants. As well as categorising certain plants as weeds, all landscape plants have been checked for their invasiveness and given an invasiveness rating.

It is interesting to note that numerous plants that had been taught as landscape plants when the BPG was in its early years would never be grown now and are confined to the "weed" category. Other plants are still widely grown but are increasingly recognised as invasive and are probably in transition to the weed category; they too may eventually be dropped from the list of landscape plants.

Background to the BPG

The Burnley Plant Guide (BPG) had its origins in 1990 when the then Victorian College of Agriculture and Horticulture (Burnley College) received a TAFE grant to assist in the development of a computer-based plant identification guide. The aim was to develop an aid for teaching horticultural plants that could supplement the use of living specimens, using high quality images for plant identification.

Staff member Nick Bailey provided invaluable assistance in obtaining the grant and providing computer technology and software to deliver the project. Other staff at Burnley also rallied to the project, including Professor James Hitchmough contributing his plant data sheets from the Landscape Plant Manuals series, Jill Kellow preparing plant images and plant data sheets with further contributions from staff, students and alumni. The project progressed over subsequent years led by Jill Kellow, supported by Dr Mike Looker and James Will in expanding content with Kevin Blazé's taking on database and software development.

In 1998 the first version of the Burnley Plant Directory was published as a CD with detailed information and images covering 1,500 plants with some limited search and display functions. It quickly became a prescribed "text" at Burnley and proved to be a highly successful teaching and learning tool for staff and students for many years. Over the subsequent decade problems emerged with the functionality of the Burnley Plant Directory on newer generation computers. This coincided with growing interest in a new fully online searchable, plant database for learning and teaching, rather than producing a new version of the existing CD.

The online Burnley Plant Guide (BPG) website was finally released in early 2012 following several small Teaching and Learning grants and in partnership with the University of Melbourne's Learning Environments team. Led by Burnley staff in the Melbourne School of Land and Environment (Jenny Bear, John Rayner and Jill Kellow) and the team at Learning Environments (David Adam, Gordon Yau, David Vasjuta and Josella Rye), the BPG had a much-enlarged database of 2,750 plants and almost 10,000 images. Utilising the same database, an iOS BPG app was launched in 2014, followed in 2017 with an Android app version. In 2019 Joey Agerholm from the Research, Innovation & Commercialisation Division, with support from the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, gained a grant to develop a subscription-based version of the BPG for external, non-University of Melbourne users.

All those involved with the BPG have waived their rights to royalties or fees to produce a valuable learning resource and I would like to thank those who have shared the vision of the BPG and given so generously of their time, images and information. I am especially indebted to Jill Kellow, David Vasjuta, Jenny Bear and Jenny McCoy for their unstinting diligence and dedication to the BPG over a long period; and the leadership provided by former Burnley Principal and Head of the School of Resource Management and Geography Dr Greg Moore.

Associate Professor John Rayner, Director of Urban Horticulture (2017 - present)

February 2022