Missouri Botanical Garden   
Hours      Weather      Support the Garden

The Plant List
Missouri Botanical Garden and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Announce Completion of The Plant List

Accomplishment Fundamental to Plant Conservation Efforts Worldwide

Video Press Release Additional Info Press & Media Websites

As the 2010 United Nations International Year of Biodiversity comes to a close, the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) announce the completion of The Plant List. This landmark international resource is a working list of all land plant species1, fundamental to understanding and documenting plant diversity and effective conservation of plants.

The completion of The Plant List accomplishes Target 1 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC), which called for a widely accessible working list of known plant species as a step towards a complete world flora. The Plant List can be accessed by visiting www.theplantlist.org.

Background Video

"The on-time completion of The Plant List is a significant accomplishment for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Missouri Botanical Garden, and our partners worldwide," said Professor Stephen Hopper, Director, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. "This is crucial to planning, implementing and monitoring plant conservation programs around the world."

Without accurate names, understanding and communication about global plant life would descend into inefficient chaos, costing vast sums of money and threatening lives in the case of plants used for food or medicine. The Plant List provides a way of linking the different scientific names used for a particular species together, thus meeting the needs of the conservation community by providing reliable names for all communication about plants and their uses.

The Plant List includes 1.25 million scientific plant names, of which 1.04 million are names of species rank. Of the species names included in The Plant List, about 300,000 (29 percent) are accepted names for species and about 480,000 (46 percent) are recorded as synonyms of those species. The status of the remaining 260,000 names is "unresolved" since the contributing data sets do not contain sufficient evidence to decide whether they should be accepted names or synonyms. The Plant List includes a further 204,000 scientific plant names of infraspecific taxonomic rank linked to those species names. These numbers will change in the future as data quality improves.

Download press release.


Return to menu

The Plant List

Missouri Botanical Garden – Science and Conservation

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew


Press & Media

Return to menu

PR Contacts
Karen Hill
Missouri Botanical Garden Public Relations Dept.
(314) 577-0254 or karen.hill@mobot.org

Bryony Phillips
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Press Office
+44 (0) 208 332 5607 or pr@kew.org

News Releases
Missouri Botanical Garden, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Announce
Completion of The Plant List

Missouri Botanical Garden Joins Convention on
Biological Diversity’s Consortium of Scientific Partners

Fact Sheets
Science and Conservation at the Missouri Botanical Garden


The Long and Short of It The Plant List

Image Gallery
The Plant List Image Gallery

Additional Information

Return to menu

Global Strategy for Plant Conservation
A Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) was first proposed at the XVI International Botanical Congress in St. Louis in 1999. It was subsequently developed and adopted through the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2002, to guide policy and set priorities for implementation by each country worldwide. The GSPC highlights the importance of plants and the ecosystem services they provide for all life on earth, and aims to ensure their conservation.

The GSPC has 16 outcome-oriented targets under 5 main objectives:

Objective I: Plant diversity is well understood, documented and recognized;

Objective II: Plant diversity is urgently and effectively conserved;

Objective III: Plant diversity is used in a sustainable and equitable manner;

Objective IV: Education and awareness about plant diversity, its role in sustainable livelihoods and importance to all life on Earth is promoted;

Objective V: The capacities and public engagement necessary to implement the Strategy have been developed.

The 16 targets adopted in 2002 were set for achievement by 2010. These targets have recently been revised and updated by the CBD at its 10th Conference of the Parties in Nagoya, Japan, setting new plant conservation goals for 2020.

Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) Target 1 – 2010 Target
The first of the outcome oriented targets seen as fundamental to understanding and documenting plant diversity is:

  1. A widely accessible working list of known plant species, as a step towards a complete world flora.
Return to menu

Global Partnership for Plant Conservation (GPPC)
The Global Partnership for Plant Conservation brings together a wide range of international, regional and national organizations in order to contribute to the implementation of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) worldwide. To help nations meet the targets of the GSPC, this consortium of international and national plant and conservation agencies was formed in 2004. The Partnership is working to support national implementation and the GSPC, and to provide tools and resources on how each country can plan and act to meet the targets. The GPPC was included by the Convention on Biological Diversity as part of the flexible coordination mechanism of the GSPC and plays a significant role in helping to monitor and promote GSPC implementation. A Secretariat for the Partnership is hosted by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Missouri Botanical Garden are members of the GPPC. www.plants2010.org

The Plant List, a working list of known plant species, currently has some significant limitations: There is no coverage of algae (perhaps 30,000 known species). Coverage of monocots is comprehensive and fairly consistent but the completeness and accuracy of the synonymy information for other flowering plants is variable. Because of the nature of the information resources from which the list has been collated, coverage is probably weakest for SE Asia and for genera commencing with letters in the latter half of the alphabet. Collaboration in the future will be vital to ensure that the limitations summarized above are addressed so that The Plant List can meet more fully the needs of the conservation community.

Return to menu

World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSPF)
This Checklist gives information on the accepted scientific names and synonyms of selected plant families. It allows users to search for all the scientific names of a particular plant, or the areas of the world in which it grows (distribution). The checklist includes 151 Seed Plant families. Different families are in different stages of review as indicated in the family list. WCSPF has been developed at Kew over the past 16 years, is edited by Rafael Govaerts, and supported by many other Kew staff (systematists and biodiversity informatics specialists) and by a network of 132 specialists from 25 countries worldwide. www.kew.org/wcsp

Tropicos® has been the Missouri Botanical Garden’s primary supporting database for botanical taxonomic research since 1982 and contains over one million plant names with synonymy, protologues, types, distributions, references, high resolution images and almost four million cross-referenced specimen records. The Internet face of Tropicos is www.tropicos.org, which provides open worldwide access, including integrated links to the botanicus.org repository of digitized botanical reference literature and other resources. It also incorporates datasets for numerous different floristic projects each covering different parts of the world – Madagascar, Peru, Mesoamerica, China, etc. These often reflect conflicting taxonomic views as to how many plants there are in a particular genus or which names are synonyms of which. Resolving such conflicts is part of the challenge for our Target 1 work.

Return to menu

International Plant Names Index (IPNI)
The International Plant Names Index is a database of the names and associated basic bibliographical details of seed plants, ferns and fern allies. Its goal is to eliminate the need for repeated reference to primary sources for basic bibliographic information about plant names. The data are freely available and are gradually being standardized and checked. IPNI is the product of an ongoing collaboration between the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Harvard University Herbaria and the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Canberra and is a dynamic resource, depending on direct contributions by all members of the botanical community. Unlike The Plant List and the World Checklist Series, IPNI does not present views on correct names and synonym relationships. www.ipni.org

Catalogue of Life
The Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life is planned to become a comprehensive catalogue of all known species of organisms on Earth. Rapid progress has been made recently and the tenth edition of the Annual Checklist, contains 1,257,735 species. This is probably just about two-thirds of the world's known species. This means that for many groups it continues to be deficient, and users will notice that many species are still missing from the Catalogue. The majority of the plant content within the Catalogue of Life derives from lists provided by Kew, the Missouri Botanical Garden and collaborators. The Plant List incorporates the peer-reviewed content disseminated via the Catalogue of Life together with other synonymy collated via a rules-based approach to produce a comprehensive working list as required by GSPC Target 1. www.catalogueoflife.org

Return to menu

Encyclopedia of Life (EoL)
EoL’s objective is to offer a webpage for every known species of life on Earth. Initiatives such as EoL depend on resources such as The Plant List in order to relate names to species so that all information about a particular species can more easily be obtained and synthesized. www.eol.org

The International Legume Database and Information Service (ILDIS)
The International Legume Database and Information Service is a long-term program of co-operation among legume specialists world-wide to create a biodiversity database for the Leguminosae (Fabaceae) family. The database provides a taxonomic checklist plus basic factual data on distribution, common names, life-forms, uses, literature references to descriptions, illustrations and maps. www.ildis.org

Return to menu

The Global Compositae Checklist
The Global Compositae Checklist is an integrated database of nomenclatural and taxonomic information for the second largest vascular plant family in the world. It is compiled from many contributed datasets. The database will be continually updated. The contributed data include more than 40,000 synonyms at species rank. References, infraspecific taxa and distribution data will be available in the next edition. All species are marked as "provisionally accepted names" in Beta version. www.compositae.org/checklist

Additional Information
Paton, A.J., Brummitt, N., Govaerts, R., Harman, K. Hinchcliffe, S., Allkin, R. & NicLughadha, E. (2008). Towards Target 1 Of The Global Strategy For Plant Conservation: A Working List Of All Known Plant Species – Progress and Prospects. Taxon 57: 602–611.

Return to menu