Scientific Illustration

Aiding the Study & Classification of Plants

Scientific illustration of plants is an important aspect of the larger realm of botanical art, defined by its purpose as an aid to the study and classification of plants. Botanists and illustrators work together with a synergistic relationship that results in an illustrations specifically designed to compliment text. Botanical illustrations are used to illustrate floras, monographs, field guides and research papers. The artists follow well-established conventions, including a preference for black and white work, an ability to create drawings from herbarium specimens and an attention to detailed magnifications of diagnostic characters. Technical accuracy is essential but the boundaries between art and illustration are indistinct, often separated more by purpose than style.

Read more about the techniques and artwork of our members who work as scientific illustrators:

  • Anthurium ramoncaracasii (Araceae)Plate Number: 3374brush & ink© Smithsonian Institution
    Department of Botany
    Artist: Alice Tangerini