American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) > Resources > Botanical ID References Compendium

Botanical Identity References Compendium

A free, collaborative resource to help experts identify botanical ingredients

The AHPA Botanical Identity References Compendium is maintained by AHPA and was developed by AHPA with the support of many individuals and organizations with a common interest in sharing knowledge and resources relevant to accurate identification of herbal materials.

The AHPA Compendium is a cooperative and centralized source of information on physical characteristics and test methods that can be used by qualified and experienced analysts to determine the identity of plant species and articles of trade obtained from these plants.

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Scope of content

The particular botanical species included in the AHPA Compendium consist of herbs that are widely available in the commercial marketplace, plant materials known to be subject to misidentification, and several species that are common in various traditional herbal disciplines. More species will be added as requested and as resources allow.

The specific tests or examinations that can be applied to determine with certainty the identity of a plant-derived article of commerce depend to a large degree on the form and condition of the material. Thus, different analyses are required for a botanical that still retains its unique morphological characteristics than for material that has been dehydrated and powdered, or for a botanical extract or purified constituent.

The AHPA Compendium provides examples of unique identifying characteristics and specific analytical methods for each of the listed species that may be applicable to the plant itself or to natural products produced from the plant. This information is presented in one or more of the following fields:

  • Voucher specimen images.
  • Organoleptic descriptions.
  • Macroscopic images and descriptions.
  • Microscopic images and descriptions.
  • Chromatographic methods (e.g., TLC, HPTLC, HPLC).
  • Reviews of certain known adulterants.
  • Links to abstracts of relevant publications.

Content sources and presentation

The images, descriptions, and analytical methods presented in the AHPA Compendium are compiled from authoritative contemporary and historical references from around the world. These resources consist of:

  • Out of copyright print texts.
  • Material identified as permitted for use under Creative Commons usage.
  • Current copyrighted references (print texts and web-based material) when inclusion constitutes “fair use” or when permission has been obtained for use from the copyright holder.
  • Material donated by volunteers.

As a general rule, content is presented in each botanical entry of the AHPA Compendium exactly as it appears in the source reference, though the content may be rearranged to fit standard presentation templates. In addition, minor corrections or clarifications are occasionally included, for example to citations from older texts. All of the content of the AHPA Compendium is acknowledged to identify its source.

Who should use the AHPA Compendium?

Companies that buy and sell herbs and other botanicals, manufacturers of herbal products, and botanical researchers will all find value in the data presented in the AHPA Compendium. At the same time, the plant characteristics and analytical methods provided for each of the species listed here is only valuable for users with the requisite expertise and experience to apply this information.

All of the content of the AHPA Compendium has been provided with no financial compensation for contributors. In that same spirit AHPA provides access to this site at no charge to users.

A work in progress

The AHPA Compendium is continually expanding, both to add more plant species and to provide additional data for already listed species. If you would like to contribution information to the AHPA Compendium or suggest other botanical species or authoritative references for inclusion in this work, please email

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