Getting started


This is the Trefle API documentation. The Trefle API aims to deliver all plants informations under an accessible interface.

All API access is over HTTPS, and accessed from All data is sent and received as JSON.

What You Need

In order to make queries, you'll need to create an account and get your personal access token first.


Your access token will allow you to makes queries on the Trefle API. Keep it private.

  1. Create an account on
  2. Confirm your email address
  3. Login on your account
  4. Grab your Trefle access token

Make your first query

For the first examples, we will give you the choice between:

  • Using your web browser, which is the simplest, but will be limited when we'll need to code a bit.
  • Using your terminal, with curl
  • Using javascipt, with NodeJS and the node-fetch library (install it with yarn add node-fetch).

We will first try to list all the plants.

It return a big JSON response like this:

"data": [
"author": "Schltr.",
"bibliography": "Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. 16: 358 (1920)",
"common_name": null,
"family": "Orchidaceae",
"family_common_name": null,
"genus": "Aa",
"genus_id": 14887,
"id": 834556,
"links": {
"genus": "/api/v1/genus/aa",
"plant": "/api/v1/plants/aa-achalensis",
"self": "/api/v1/species/aa-achalensis"
"plant_id": 423071,
"rank": "species",
"scientific_name": "Aa achalensis",
"slug": "aa-achalensis",
"status": "accepted",
"synonyms": [],
"year": 1920
"author": "Rchb.f.",
"bibliography": "Xenia Orchid. 1: 18 (1854)",
"common_name": null,
"family": "Orchidaceae",
"family_common_name": null,
"genus": "Aa",
"genus_id": 14887,
"id": 834557,
"links": {
"genus": "/api/v1/genus/aa",
"plant": "/api/v1/plants/aa-argyrolepis",
"self": "/api/v1/species/aa-argyrolepis"
"plant_id": 423072,
"rank": "species",
"scientific_name": "Aa argyrolepis",
"slug": "aa-argyrolepis",
"status": "accepted",
"synonyms": [
"Altensteinia argyrolepis"
"year": 1854
}, // ... 28 more items
"links": {
"first": "/api/v1/species?page=1",
"last": "/api/v1/species?page=20865",
"next": "/api/v1/species?page=2",
"self": "/api/v1/species"
"meta": {
"total": 417293

Rate limiting

In order to allow all users to use the API in good conditions, a limit of 120 requests per minute is applied. If this limit is a limiting factor for your application (and you have valid reasons), feel free to contact us.

The Trefle structure

Before going further, we need to know a bit how data is organized in the trefle API.

The whole API structure is defined by the following classification:

-> Subkingdom
-> Division
-> Division class
-> Division order
-> Family
-> Genus
-> Plant
-> Species

For example, the balsam fir hierarchy is:

Kingdom -> Plantae – (Plants)
Subkingdom -> Tracheobionta – (Vascular plants)
Division -> Coniferophyta – (Conifers)
Class -> Pinopsida
Order -> Pinales
Family -> Pinaceae – (Pine family)
Genus -> Abies
Plant -> Abies balsamea
Species -> Abies balsamea

Plant and Species

For commodity reasons, we added a Plant level between Genus and Species. A plant is the main species of a species, without all the forms, varieties, subspecies etc...

For each plant, we have one main species and several other "sub" species (which can be subspecies, varieties, hybrids, cultivars etc...).

For example, our balsam fir have:

  • One species (which is our "plant"): Abies balsamea
  • One sub-species: Abies balsamea ssp. lasiocarpa
  • Two varieties: Abies balsamea var. phanerolepis and Abies balsamea var. balsamea
Last updated on by André Aubin