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-  Preparing specimens


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Abel Ecology Plant Identification Service

Many plant species in NSW are very easy to identify but some are extremely difficult. Many threatened species are similar to common species and require expert identification.

Abel Ecology botanists have a high level of expertise and experience to assist you with the plants that you are unable to confidently identify. Our expertise includes weeds, native plants, and naturalized and cultivated plants in NSW.


For a very reasonable fee and fast response Abel Ecology can identify your troublesome plants, even if you don’t have ideal specimens. We serve local councils, botanical consultancies, gardeners, bushwalkers and homeowners.


Pick up the phone or email to check our present response time if you need an urgent answer, then send your samples.  Guidelines for packaging and posting are below. See our price list for your needs.


Any poisonous plant enquiries should be directed to the Poisons Information Centre on ph: 131126, or NSW Royal Botanic Gardens on (02) 9231 8111.

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Preparing specimens

Incomplete or inadequate specimens may not be able to be identified.  If more than one specimen is sent, provide a numbered list of the specimens and tag them individually

Hint: Keep a duplicate sample of each plant and a copy of your list so that you can make sense of the reply that you receive.


Specimens should ideally be pressed and dried before sending.  However, if you are needing an urgent identification, fresh specimens may be sent, but must be posted by express post (next day delivery).  Lie specimens flat between sheets of newspaper for posting.  Specimens should be approx 15-30 cm long and include:


  • leaves, all different types of leaves

  • flowers preferably open, otherwise flower buds

  • fruit

  • location (street address)

  • brief details of habitat (e.g. swamp, forest, grassland)


More specific details are provided below:



Specimens should include spore-bearing fronds and sterile fronds as well as the rhizome or stalk of the frond.  Scales or hairs from the base of fronds of tree ferns should be included.



If the plant is small, the whole plant should be collected, unless it is an orchid or rare species.  If the whole plant cannot be collected, details should be taken of the base of stalks (colour, membranous), roots and any storage organs that may be present.  Photos can also be taken.



The whole plant including the roots should be collected (similar to herbs).  A clump can be broken up into a smaller size to enable packaging.  Grasses should be collected when the flowers have opened but before the fruit (seeds) have dropped.  Tall specimens can folded into a V, N or M shape to enable packaging.  It is best to bend the specimens before they are pressed and dried.



Please include leaves, flowers and fruit.  Please also include details of the form of the tree and colour and surface texture of the bark (photographs are helpful). Specimens of eucalypts should ideally also include juvenile leaves.


Strappy Plants with Large Leaves and Inflorescences

The leaves and flowers of Palms, Grass Trees and large strappy plants are difficult to send whole.  The leaves can be cut into sections and numbered. Dimensions of the inflorescence such as length of stalk and inflorescence should also be noted.

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Admin fee $ 11 per service
Identification fee $ 5.50 per sample
Urgent response add 10% to the total.
For example, 20 plants would be $ 11 service fee + 20 plants @ $5.50 = $ 121
Returned samples if required $ 11 plus postage.


Response Time

Standard response is one to two weeks after receiving the plant specimens.
Urgent response is two working days (check with us first).



Payment must be received before the details of the identification will be provided.


Payment options

Direct deposit/electronic transfer/cheque (clearance time to be allowed).

Email us for direct deposit/electronic payment details.


Post or deliver plant specimens to:


Abel Ecology Plant ID Service
Unit 2 10 Ferguson Road

Springwood NSW 2777


Telephone: (02) 4751 9487

Fax: (02) 4751 9497

Email: info@abelecology.com.au

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Analysis of Cannabis sativa

Various common names are used to describe the plant Cannabis sativa, such as hemp, marijuana, grass, ganja, etc.


Cannabis material, taken as evidence, needs to be stored in suitable conditions or processed very quickly to collect usable data as evidence. Dry plant matter can be stored in dark cool dry conditions for a few months. Any residual moisture may enable fungus to rot the material, so delay is not wise.  Fresh material will rot.  It can be stored in a refrigerator for a few days but must be processed quickly.  It will probably turn to compost if frozen then thawed.  Fresh material can either be dried using a suitable method or wet preserved in ethanol.


Seedlings or cuttings are likely to rot and/or die unless kept in suitable conditions. Root production on cuttings can deteriorate very quickly, as in a few days, if stored incorrectly.


Some considerations that are measurable as evidence are as follows. Since material for supply is sold and priced as dry weight an estimate of dry material from fresh must be made. The yield range is variable depending on which part of a plant is measured. Fresh material can be oven dried, which takes 24 hours at 105˚C. Weight is recorded in metric, but sold in imperial measure, being ounces (American).


Fresh material

Wet/dry ratio = 30-50%


Material for supply

Usable material is generally the heads, also known as ‘sinsimila’.

Estimate up to 15% of a whole plant by weight is heads, depending on the age of the plant.


One plant @ 1.5m high wet weight estimate = 1.5 kg

Very good quality plant produces 4-8 oz of heads

Average quality plant produces 2-4o z of heads

Low quality (typical) plant produces 1-2 oz of heads



Not usable = stem, seed, leaf

Very poor = leaf and head mix

Good = heads


Low quality Value $50/oz

High quality Value >$100/oz


Plant quality depends on cultivation technique, with hydroponic being best quality. Analysis of THC content is a laboratory task.

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Abel Ecology Pty Ltd 2014.  trading as Abel Earthcare, Abel EarthScape and Abel Archaeology

ACN  079 079 762    ABN  72 516 253 751