How to use Google Earth

To most effectively interact with the Plant Database, the tool of choice is Google Earth. It is freely downloadable for personal use, and there are various commercial versions billed at different rates that are available on the Google Earth website.

Once you have Google Earth installed on your computer, you can use it to access the database in two ways from the previous page. If you are looking for specific information about certain types of plants, you can use the search section:

Let's do an example - say we're looking for Gold plants in Australia. Enter in the search terms you would like to find in the "Search For:" box. The option next to the search box tells the database how you'd like to search. "Any Terms" would return all results which contain either "gold", or "australia". We don't want that here, so we tell it to search for "All Terms", which will return only the results that contain both "gold" and "australia".

Now we need to decide how we would like the results to be arranged in Google Earth. This is done with the "Sort By:" box - click the button next to it to get a list of options. This is a bit irrelevant for this example, since the two most common ways to group the search results together are by commodity, or by country. Let's just leave it on "Country", the default, for now.

We're ready to go! Click "Download KML" to perform the search. This will generate a Google Earth KML file of your results and return it to your computer. If the search succeeds in returning some results, you should get a message like this back:

You can either save it to disk for viewing at your leisure, or open it directly with Google Earth. Either way, running the file will launch Google Earth with the results of your search in the left-hand pane, stored in the "Temporary Places" folder. It should look something like this, with the new file located where the red circle is:

Click the "+" signs next to each entry in the left-hand pane to open the folders. Once you have a list of your results, double-clicking on any of the entries in the list will take you to the location of the plant it refers to:

The second way to access the database is to view the entire thing at once. This will show every single plant that is recorded in the database, organised by country. You can access this by simply clicking the link to the "MetPlants.kml" file on the previous page:

As before, you will be given the option to download it onto your computer, or open it directly:

Either way, the complete MetPlants.kml file will open in Google Earth exactly like the MetPlants.kml file that is returned from the search results above, and you can interact with it in the same ways.

Copyright © 2005-2006, Quinn Reynolds,, Randburg, South Africa (Last updated on 28 September 2006)