Search syntax

Biota of New Zealand searches across all fields by default, however there are a number of options to help you refine a search.

Special characters

To search text containing special characters the text must be enclosed in double quotes ("). Special characters includes any of the following set:

? [  ] + - ( ) {  }  ^ ~ *  : /  | ! &


  • "Hook. & Grev."

Full word search using AND

Use a space between words or AND to define an AND search. The space is treated as an AND. AND must be in written in upper case. A record must contain each of the words in the search query that are separated by a space or AND to be a match.


  • Cyathea silver
  • Cyathea AND silver

Full word search using OR

A record has to contain only one of these words to be a match. OR must be written in upper case.


  • Cyathea OR silver

Phrase search

Use double quotes to define a search term that is a phrase. A record must contain the exact phrase to be a match.


  • "silver fern" (Returns records that contains the exact string "silver fern".)

Negative searches

To omit results containing a specific term a - symbol is added in front of that term. A record must contain any other search terms that are included, but may not contain terms proceeded by the - symbol.


  • silver -fern  (Returns records that contain silver but not fern.)

Wild card search

The wild card used in this portal is the * symbol. Wild cards can be placed anywhere within your query term. Without a wild card, a word is treated as a full word search. For example, a search for beet will return only results where the word beet is used but a search for beet* will return results for beet, beetle and any other word that starts with beet.


  • antro* (Find records containing words beginning with antro.)
  • *diella (Find records containing words that end with diella.)
  • antro*ia (Find records with words that start with antro and end with ia.)

Field limited search

To search within a specific field, the search is proceeded by the field name and a colon. Field names are available here, and must be written with the correct lower and upper cases characters.


  • nameFull:Cyathea  (Find records that contain Cyathea in the full scientific name field.)
  • nameFull:Cyathea AND yearOfPublication:1801  (Find records that contain Cyathea in the full scientific name field and that were published in 1801.)

Negative field search

The field limited search can be used prefixed with - to exclude any records with particular text in a particular field.


  • -yearOfPublication:1870 (Find all records not published in 1870)
  • -yearOfPublication:* (Find all records without a year of publication specified)

Combing negative and field searches

It is possible to combine negative and context searches, particularly to omit particular subsets of records from the search results.


  • isCurrent:true -taxonRank:cultivar (Find current names which are not cultivar names.)

Range search

Range searches are possible with some fields. To indicate a range search the range is enclosed in square brackets and the values separated by the word TO.


  • yearOfPublication:[1870 TO 1920] (Find all records published from 1870 to 1920)
  • yearOfPublication:[* TO 1920] (Find all records published before and including 1920)
  • addedDate:[2020-11-01 TO 2021-12-01]  (Find all records added between 1 Nov 2021 and 1 Dec 2021)
  • updatedDate:[2021-06 TO 2021-12] (Find records updated between June and Dec 2021)

Proximity Search

A proximity search returns as a match any record where the search terms are within a specified distance of each other. 


  • "silver fern"~150 (This returns record where the words silver and fern occur within 150 words of each other.)

Complex searches

It is possible to combine the above search syntax in different ways to create complex searches.


  • nameFull:Amanita* AND source:Names_Fungi  (Find all records with full names starting with Amanita that are provided by Names_Fungi.)
  • nameFull:Amanita* AND source:Names_Fungi AND isCurrent:true AND (nzOccurrence:Present OR nzOccurrence:Cultivated)  (Find all records with full names starting with Amanita that are provided by Names_Fungi, that are current names and are present in NZ).

Searchable fields

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