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The interactive webdatabase PROTA4U contains at this moment about 11,000 articles on plant species, which are used by man in tropical Africa .


You can search for species by entering a keyword in any of the fields, or in a combination of fields.

If you enter a search term in the field ‘Search for Words in All Fields’ , it will search in all texts of all articles.

Some search terms will give thousands of results, e.g. ‘medicinal’ in ‘Search for Uses’ and it is therefore suggested to narrow down your search by using additional keywords, e.g. a country name or a specific medicinal use. In general, not more than 500 results can be displayed.

When entering a search term, different word options will be given in a drop-down list. You do not need to select one of those words for searching; in that case select ‘close’.

Tips for Query Entry

•  Queries are not case sensitive

•  You can use Boolean operators: AND, OR, NOT for a search in the same field, but this is not necessary

•  Combine search fields, e.g. ‘Uses’ and ‘Country’

The 4 other fields are ‘advanced’ searches:

•  ‘Search for Species Record’ searches in title heading and ‘Synonyms’ paragraph only;

•  ‘Search for Common Name’ searches in ‘Vernacular names’ paragraph only;

•  ‘Search for Uses’ searches in ‘Uses’ paragraph only;

•  ‘Search for Country of Region’ searches in ‘Origin and Geographic Distribution’ paragraph only.

Example: A search for < sorghum bicolor > in the field ‘Search for Words in All Fields’ will yield many more results than entering < sorghum bicolor > in the field ‘Search for Species Record’, as this last field only searches in 2 paragraphs.

The sorting of the results can be done by Scientific names or by vernacular names.

Ticking the box ‘Sort by General Rating’ will sort the results according to their general importance (as calculated through the number of scientific articles published on the species).


When you click ‘Search’ in the Search Screen the next screen will show the results of your search.

The first line gives the number of results of this particular search.

The table has 4 columns.

The first column shows the list of species in which your search terms were found to be present. Between brackets the common name is given. When ‘Sorting by vernacular name’ first the vernacular/common name is given and between brackets the scientific name. It will be clear that regularly the same common name is given to different scientific names of plants.

The second column shows 2 thumbnail previews of the plant species.

The third column gives the rating of the plant species according to 22 star ratings. The first rating concerns the general importance of the species, followed by the geographic distribution of the plant in Africa and worldwide distribution. Then follow 16 star ratings according to the different possible uses and last but not least a rating for climate change, food security and conservation status.

The fourth column shows one or several links.

If the species is a ‘Starterkit’, this is the only link given. See below for additional information on ‘Starterkits’.

The other option is that the species is a ‘PROTA article’. In that case you can view a validated article on that plant species in English or French, or download a Word, PDF or Mobipocket/Kindle version of the text. See below for additional information on ‘PROTA articles’.

‘Starterkit’ articles contain subject paragraphs with information collected from the internet, as well as book and article references to uses and other aspects of the species.

Some information is given in some of the paragraphs as ‘black text’; other information is given in table format in the ‘show more’ link. The number behind the ‘show more’ link indicates the number of additional information sources found for this paragraph for this plant species.

Every visitor to PROTA4U is free to add comments to any of the fields. We will make sure that the comments are visible in the comments box as soon as possible. Moderators will add factual information to the species record.

If you wish to become an author for a particular species so that a ‘Starterkit’ becomes a ‘PROTA article’, click here.

The illustrations (maps, drawings, pictures) belong to copyright holders. For more information on re-use, click here .

Each article or paragraph in an article has the following options: e-mail to a friend; print; save as PDF, share on Facebook; Tweet this; Mobipocket.

‘PROTA articles’ contain well-filled subject paragraphs of carefully edited text concerning a plant species. These articles can be used under the Creative Commons rule indicated at the bottom of each page. For an example of such an article, click here .

The illustrations (maps, drawings, pictures belong to copyright holders. For more information on re-use, click here .

For viewing or making comments on a paragraph in a PROTA article, click on the ‘Comments’ button. For additional, not-edited information concerning this plant species, click on the ‘Show more data’ button.

The plant species present in PROTA4U all have in common that they have a documented use. They can be indigenous or introduced species, and their distribution can range from ‘endemic to a location or country’ to pantropical or even worldwide. Some species are very common and widespread; others are local and rare.

The ‘PROTA articles’ have all been translated into French. The ‘Starterkit’ articles are mainly in English, but some of the texts are in French or in other languages.

The 2 Buttons at the bottom of the Results page ‘Only show PROTA articles (English)’ and ‘Montrer que les articles PROTA (Français)’ will reduce the list of results and only show the ‘PROTA articles’, i.e. the articles, which have been edited.

Creative Commons License
All texts are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Netherlands License
This license does not include the illustrations (Maps,drawings,pictures); these remain all under copyright.
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