Botanists Create a List of Every Plant Known to Man

plant list photo Photo: brewbooks / CC

A team of botanists have unveiled a new research tool which aims to settle one of the field's most basic of complications; there are some 375,000 plant species on Earth, but they're known by a whopping 1.25 million names. To help ease the taxonomic disparity and consolidate the world of botanical studies, an international team of researchers have compiled an extensive 'Plant List' -- containing every species known to man, and the various names they're known by. According to ThePlantList.org, researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanical Gardens pored over plant databases from around the world to compile a list of 1,244,871 scientific plant names, along with their accepted Latin classifications. Over the centuries of botanical study, some species of plants were named multiple times as official records were either non-existent or unavailable to avoid redundancies.

One of the scientists involved with creating the Plant List, Eimear Nic Lughadha, explains why it's so important that botanists get on the same page when it comes to naming, via The Huffington Post:

"If you only know it by one of its many names you only get part of the story," said Eimear Nic Lughadha, the senior scientist at Kew responsible for the list.

It's a problem that frustrates everyone from agricultural regulators to pharmaceutical researchers.

"Imagine trying to find everything that's ever been published about a plant: Which chemicals are in it, whether it's poisonous or not, where is it found," said Alan Paton, one of Nic Lughadha's colleagues at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. "To find that information, you need to know all of the different scientific names that have been used for it."

Not only will the plant help researchers better understand flora globally, it will also aid in its conservation. "It is crucial for research, forecasting, and monitoring programs for plants worldwide," said the director of Kew Gardens, Stephen Hopper, about the list. So the comprehensive database will not only help botanists better understand plants throughout the world today, it just may help ensure they'll be around for other generations, too.

More on the World of Botany
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Tags: Biodiversity

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