The Plant List

Last updated
The Plant List
Type of site
Available in English
Created by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanical Garden
Alexa rank 138,478 as of 20140119
LaunchedDecember 2010
Current statusInactive since 2013 (version 1.1), superseded by World Flora Online

The Plant List was a list of botanical names of species of plants created by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Missouri Botanical Garden and launched in 2010. [1] It was intended to be a comprehensive record of all known names of plant species over time, and was produced in response to Target 1 of the 2002-2010 Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSP C), to produce "An online flora of all known plants.” It has not been updated since 2013, and is superseded by World Flora Online. [2] [3]


World Flora Online

In October 2012, the follow-up project World Flora Online was launched with the aim to publish an online flora of all known plants by 2020. [4] This is a project of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, with the aim of halting the loss of plant species worldwide by 2020. It is developed by a collaborative group of institutions around the world response to the 2011-2020 GSPC’s updated Target 1. This aims to achieve an online Flora of all known plants by 2020. [2] It was conceived in 2012 by an initial group of four institutions; The Missouri Botanical Garden, The New York Botanical Garden, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. [5]

There is a complementary project called the International Plant Names Index, in which Kew is also involved. The IPNI aims to provide details of publication and does not aim to determine which are accepted species names. Newly published names are automatically added from IPNI to the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, a database which underlies the Plant List.


The Plant List has 1,064,035 scientific plant names of species rank, [6] of which 350,699 are accepted species names, belonging to 642 plant families and 17,020 plant genera. [7] The Plant List accepts approximately 350,699 unique species, with 470,624 synonyms for those species, which suggests that many species have been referred to under more than one name. As of 2014, The Plant List has determined that another 243,000 names are "unresolved", meaning that botanists have so far been unable to determine whether they are a separate species or a duplication of the 350,699 unique species.

Public attention

When The Plant List was launched in 2010 (the International Year of Biodiversity), it attracted media attention for its comprehensive approach. Fox News highlighted the number of synonyms encountered, suggesting that this reflected a "surprising lack" of biodiversity on earth." [8] The Plant List also attracted attention for building on the work of English naturalist Charles Darwin, who in the 1880s started a plant list called the Index Kewensis (IK). Kew has added an average of 6,000 species every year since the IK was first published with 400,000 names of species. [8] However, the IK (which by 1913 avoided making taxonomic judgement in its citations) is currently run as part of the IPNI rather than the Plant List. [9]

See also

Related Research Articles

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Government botanical research institute in the UK

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is a non-departmental public body in the United Kingdom sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. An internationally important botanical research and education institution, it employs 1,100 staff. Its board of trustees is chaired by Dame Amelia Fawcett.

International Plant Names Index Database of plant names

The International Plant Names Index (IPNI) describes itself as "a database of the names and associated basic bibliographical details of seed plants, ferns and lycophytes." Coverage of plant names is best at the rank of species and genus. It includes basic bibliographical details associated with the names. Its goals include eliminating the need for repeated reference to primary sources for basic bibliographic information about plant names.

The 1893 Index Kewensis (IK), maintained by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is a publication that aims to register all botanical names for seed plants at the rank of species and genera. It later came to include names of taxonomic families and ranks below that of species.

Index Fungorum is an international project to index all formal names in the fungus kingdom. As of 2015 the project is based at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, one of three partners along with Landcare Research and the Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

In biological nomenclature, a nomen novum, new replacement name is a technical term. It indicates a scientific name that is created specifically to replace another scientific name, but only when this other name cannot be used for technical, nomenclatural reasons ; it does not apply when a name is changed for taxonomic reasons. It is frequently abbreviated, e.g.nomen nov., nom. nov..

Dypsis canescens, also known as Chrysalidocarpus canescens, is a species of flowering plant in the family Arecaceae. It was identified in 1913 in Madagascar. It is probably extinct, given that it has not been seen for half a century.

The Australian Plant Name Index (APNI) is an online database of all published names of Australian vascular plants. It covers all names, whether current names, synonyms or invalid names. It includes bibliographic and typification details, information from the Australian Plant Census including distribution by state, links to other resources such as specimen collection maps and plant photographs, and the facility for notes and comments on other aspects.

<i>Pteropyrum</i> genus of plants

Pteropyrum is a genus of plants in the family Polygonaceae. Plants of the World Online accepts two species, native to Iran, Oman and the Gulf States.

<i>Anemonoides oregana</i> species of plant

Anemonoides oregana is a species of flowering plant in the buttercup family known by the common names blue windflower, Oregon anemone, and western wood anemone. It is native to the forests of Washington, Oregon, and northern California in western North America, generally below 7,000 feet (2,100 m) elevation.

<i>Stenanthium</i> genus of plants

Stenanthium is a North American genus of flowering plants in the tribe Melanthieae of the family Melanthiaceae.

The World Checklist of Selected Plant Families is an "international collaborative programme that provides the latest peer reviewed and published opinions on the accepted scientific names and synonyms of selected plant families." Maintained by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, it is available online, allowing searches for the names of families, genera and species, as well as the ability to create checklists.

The Kew Rule was used by some authors to determine the application of synonymous names in botanical nomenclature up to about 1906, but was and still is contrary to codes of botanical nomenclature including the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants. Index Kewensis, a publication that aimed to list all botanical names for seed plants at the ranks of species and genus, used the Kew Rule until its Supplement IV was published in 1913.

Carex gunniana is an Australia species of sedge that was first described in 1845 by Boott in the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London. It is native to eastern Australia and Tasmania.

<i>Aureolaria levigata</i> species of plant

Aureolaria levigata, commonly known as entireleaf yellow false foxglove or Appalachian oak-leech, is a species of flowering plant in the family Orobanchaceae. It is native to much of the Appalachian Mountains and surrounding areas in the eastern United States. It is also found in a disjunct population in southwestern Mississippi.

Plants of the World Online is an online database published by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It was launched in March 2017 with the ultimate aim being "to enable users to access information on all the world's known seed-bearing plants by 2020". The initial focus was on tropical African Floras, particularly Flora Zambesiaca, Flora of West Tropical Africa and Flora of Tropical East Africa.

World Flora Online Encyclopedic list of scientific plant names

World Flora Online is an Internet-based compendium of the world’s plant species.

<i>Scleria pauciflora</i> species of plant

Scleria pauciflora, known as few-flowered nutrush, papillose nut-sedge, and Carolina-whipgrass, is a plant in the sedge family (Cyperaceae) native to northern Mexico, the eastern United States, southern Canada, and Cuba. It is common across a broad stretch of the southeastern United States in many different habitat types, becoming rare at the northern end of its distribution.

<i>Mickelopteris</i> genus of ferns

Mickelopteris is a genus of ferns in the subfamily Cheilanthoideae of the family Pteridaceae with a single species Mickelopteris cordata. Synonyms include Parahemionitis cordata and Hemionitis cordataRoxb. ex Hook. & Grev. The species is native to south-eastern Asia, from India to Taiwan and the Philippines.

<i>Androsace laevigata</i> species of plant

Androsace laevigata, synonym Douglasia laevigata, known as the cliff dwarf primrose, is a species of flowering plant in the primrose family, Primulaceae. It is native to the central Pacific coastal mountains of North America below 2,400 metres (8,000 ft) elevation. Its habitat includes cliffs, rocks, and alpine.

Androsace americana, synonym Douglasia arctica, known as the Mackenzie River dwarf primrose, is a species of flowering plant in the primrose family, Primulaceae. It is native to subarctic North America.


  1. "World's Largest Plants Database Assembled". 2010. Archived from the original on 2012-07-13. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  2. 1 2 "Home — The Plant List". Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  3. "Home". Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  4. "Website of the World Flora Online Consortium". The World Flora Online Consortium. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  5. "World Flora Online". Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  6. "Summary Statistics". The Plant List. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
  7. "US, British scientists drew up the comprehensive list of world's known land plants". CBC.[ dead link ]
  8. 1 2 "World's Plant Life Far Less Diverse Than Previously Thought". Fox News. 30 December 2010.
  9. "About the Index Kewensis". International Plant Names Index. 2004.