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Wednesday, 29th December 2010

Science: New Online: "World's Largest Plants Database Assembled"

From a Discovery News Report:

Capping the UN's International Year of Biodiversity, botanists in Britain and the United States on Wednesday unveiled a library of plant names aimed at helping conservationists, drug designers and agriculture researchers.

The database, accessible at The Plant List, identifies 1.25 million names for plants, ranging from essential food crops such as wheat, rice and corn to garden roses and exotic jungle ferns, and provides links to published research.

The aim is to clear up a century-old taxonomic jumble in which non-standard names sowed ignorance, rivalry and sometimes damaging confusion about the world's plant wealth.

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Of the 1.25 million names, 1.04 million are of species rank while the remainder are "infraspecific," meaning they are families or sub-groups of species.

The longest name is Ornithogalum adseptentrionesvergentulum, for a group of species that includes the Star of Bethlehem plant. The shortest names include Poa fax, or scaly poa, a purplish flower native to Western Australia.

Only 300,000 names for species have been accepted as standard terms by the experts, and 480,000 others have been deemed "synonyms," or alternatives to accepted names.

A whopping 260,000 names are "unresolved," meaning that data is too sketchy to determine swiftly whether the claim for a new plant find is backed by the facts. This part of the list will be whittled down by experts over the years to come.

Direct to The Plant List Database

Read the Complete Article




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