The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew has launched the first online database of the world’s flora.
Plants of the World Online (POWO) contains information on identification, distribution, traits, threat status, molecular phylogenies and uses of all known seed-bearing plants around the world.
“It’s one thing to know something, it’s quite another to share it so the knowledge can be useful to others,” said Kew’s Dr Abigail Barker.
Scientists examine collected specimens from the Herbarium at RBG, Kew © RBG Kew
The user-friendly search interface is aimed at researchers and enthusiasts, allowing people to search by Latin name and common name.
The portal launched in March 2017 with a focus on the Floras of Tropical West, East and southern Africa and monocotyledons.
Additional data and further links to other collection sources at Kew will be added over the coming months.
An example of one of Kew’s Herbarium specimens © RBG Kew
The Victorian Herbarium and Fungarium at Kew contains the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections with over 8.5 million items.
These collections represent 95 per cent of known flowering plants and over 60 per cent of known fungal genera, yet 80 per cent of this information is unavailable online.
By 2020, the database will be be the most comprehensive and accessible resource online for plants.