Digitizing The World's Plants

Originally posted on Agritate, which is no longer active.

Four botanic gardens are teaming up to create a catalog of the world’s plants--or, at least 400,000 of them.

The New York Botanical Garden, the Missouri Botanic Garden, the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh are going to develop World Flora in the next 8 years. From what I’ve read, it seems like a cross between The Plant List, which I already use to verify plant identities and which is run by Kew and Missouri, and the US Department of Agriculture’s PLANTS database, which includes information on plant ranges and photos.

Having previously been a part of an herbarium digitizing effort, I don’t really envy the interns who will be working day and night on this project. But it’ll be a nice resource when it’s finished.

My main hope with this database is that taxonomy becomes easier to keep track of—one could just create adaptive online content that autoupdates on your blog when a plant name is changed in the database, instead of forcing you to search and get confused about which species you blogged about three years ago. That’s my dream! It could also help botanical journals do the exact same thing with the digital editions of their publications, too, I guess.

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