World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP)

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Quick Search

Search Tip

To achieve the most efficient search, try to include as many characters of the genus and species and avoid searching by family alone. Searches by family will return several thousand rows of data, and slow down your search considerably.

The quick search function is located on the home page allowing searches by:

  • Family
  • Family and Genus
  • Family Genus and Species Epithet
  • Genus
  • Genus and Species Epithet

If the Family is included as part of the search term it must be written in full e.g.
Euphorbiaceae, Orchidaceae, Rubiaceae etc.

The wildcard character '*' can be used to search for partial matches on both the Genus and Species terms e.g.

  • Amal* or
  • Amalia acumin* or
  • Amal* acumin*

If the wildcard character is included it must be preceded by at least 3 characters e.g. 'ama*' is accepted, but 'a*' will not be.

The total number of names that can be returned from any search is 7000. If a search returns more than 7000 names then the first 7000 will be displayed in the results list. Refining your search criteria will reduce the number of names returned (see search tip).

To request the full list of names generated by a search, please email the checklist editor via the 'contact us' page or alternatively use your own browser mailer and mail to wcb@kew.org

Advanced Search

Navigate to the advanced search page by using the links on the home page, or the the horizontal menu bar link at the top of the results and detail pages.

The advanced search page permits searches by a single element or combination of elements that make up a scientific plant name. Distribution i.e. areas of the world in which a plant grows, can also be included in a search.

The search terms available include:

  • Family
  • Genus
  • Species
  • Author
  • Infraspecific Rank
  • Infraspecific Epithet
  • Place of Publication
  • Year Published
  • TDWG Geographical code

* Each element that makes up a plant name is explained in the section Botanical Terms below.

The wildcard character '*' can be used to search for partial matches on fields except Family and the TDWG distribution codes. If the wildcard character is included it must be preceded by at least 3 characters e.g. 'ama*' is accepted, but 'a*' will not be.

To include distribution as part of a search first select one of the three TDWG levels from the option boxes. Next select the TDWG codes from the drop down list. A search can include more than one TDWG code. To select multiple codes from the list box hold down the 'CTRL' key and click the desired codes.

The total number of names that can be returned from any search is 7000. If a search returns more than 7000 names then the first 7000 will be displayed in the results list. Refining your search criteria will reduce the number of names returned (see search tip).

To request the full list of names generated by a search, please email the checklist editor via the 'contact us' page or alternatively use your own browser mailer and mail to wcb@kew.org

Results List

A search that returns more than one name will list all the matches on the results screen. The number of names returned by the search is displayed at the top of the screen, followed by the list of names.

Clicking on any name in the results list will navigate to a detailed overview of that name; help is on the Name Detail page.

The names are listed alphabetically by Genus and Species.

Names in bold text indicate Accepted names and Names in plain text Non Accepted Names.

Search Tip!

If a search returns only one record then you will be directed straight to the 'Name Detail' page.

Name Detail Page

The 'Name Detail' page is displayed by clicking on any name in the results list or if a search result returns one record.

The name of the plant selected/searched for is displayed at the top of the screen along with any nomenclatural remarks.

Next the taxonomic status of the name is described as either Accepted, Synonym or Unplaced.

The content of the detail page differs slightly depending on whether a name is accepted or not.

If a name is a synonym then their accepted name is also listed as a hyperlink. By clicking on the hyperlink the 'Name Detail' page for the accepted name will be displayed

Any Homotypic synonyms are also included on the 'Name Detail' page for synonyms.

If a name is accepted then any synonyms are listed on a separate 'Synonyms' page. To open the synonyms page click on the 'Synonyms' hyperlink at the top of the detail page. This hyperlink will only be displayed if an accepted name has synonyms.

Clicking on any synonym will open the 'Name Detail' page for that synonym.

If a name is accepted the distribution will also be displayed. The distribution includes both text and codes that follows the TDWG standard.

Finally the name detail page also includes:

  • Family
  • Lifeform
  • Checklist compiler

Any references that agree/disagree with the checklist, listed by date of entry into the database.

Build a Checklist

The 'Build a Checklist' page can be accessed by following the link on the home page, or the horizontal menu bar link at the top of the results and detail pages.

The 'Build a Checklist' tool allows you to create your own bespoke checklist and print the results through your web browser.

Using the drop down lists and options available, a checklist can be created for a single genus, a whole family, an area of distribution or a mixture of genera and distribution.

To select a genus, first choose a family from the family drop down list and this will populate the genus list with genera that belong to the chosen family. Please note that for large families this may take a few seconds. Only one genus can be selected from the genus list, however the first item in the list is 'all genera' and this option will produce a family checklist. For large families i.e. Orchidaceae there are also genera subgroups e.g. 'all genera a-b'. This option will output a checklist of all Orchidaceae genera that start with the letters a and b.

To select distribution, first choose a distribution level from one of the three options and this will populate the distribution list. Please note that multiple items can be selected from this list.

Search Tip

Please note that there is a limit of 7000 accepted names per checklist. Requesting a checklist for an entire family or large area of distribution may return several thousand names and may take a few minutes to complete. To achieve the most efficient search, limit your criteria to a single genus or small area of distribution.

Once the content for the checklist has been selected there are five styles of checklist to choose from:

Summary Checklist

All names are listed by taxonomic status i.e. accepted then synonyms then unplaced names. Each name includes a place of publication and the accepted names also list distribution and lifeform where available.

Summary Checklist (Alphabetical)

All names are listed alphabetically. Each name includes a place of publication and the accepted names also list distribution and lifeform where available.

Detailed Checklist

A synonymised checklist. All names are listed by taxonomic status i.e. accepted then synonyms then unplaced names. The accepted names are also followed by their synonyms (listed by date), both with full bibliographic reference. This is the style that is used for the 'World Checklist & Bibliography' publications.

Detailed Checklist (Alphabetical)

All names are listed alphabetically. The accepted names are also followed by their synonyms (listed by date), both with full bibliographic reference.

Unplaced

A list of all the unplaced names in a particular family, genus or area.

Botanical Terms used in the Checklist

Family

A group of plant genus sharing common features and distinctive characteristics. Family is the taxonomic category above genus and below order.

Genus

The smallest botanical group containing related but distinct species. Related genera from a family.

Species

A group of plants having common characteristics, distinct from others in the same genus. The basic unit in classification.

Author

In the Advanced search the Author can be either the Primary or Parenthetical author.

The Primary author is the author of the name.

The Parenthetical author is the author of the element on which the name is based.

Infraspecific Rank

The rank of the unit of classification below the rank of species.

Infraspecific Epithet

The name of the unit of classification below the rank of species.

Place of publication

The publication in which the name was first validly published.

Year Published

The year the name was effectively published as defined by the ICBN.

Accepted Name

The correct name for a species, considering current knowledge and literature.

Synonym

A name to which another is preferred, considering current knowledge and literature.

Homotypic Synonym

With an identical type.

Heterotypic Synonym

With a distinct type.

Basionym

The validly published name on which the name is based.

Geographical Distribution

Distributions of species and taxa of lower rank are furnished in two ways: firstly by a generalised statement in narrative form, and secondly as TDWG geographical codes (Brummitt, 2001) expressed to that system's third level. Examples of the former include:

  • Texas to C. America
  • Mexico (Veracruz)
  • Europe to Iran
  • E. Himalaya, Tibet, China (W. Yunnan)
  • Philippines (Luzon)
  • S. Trop. America

When the presence of a taxon in a given region or location is not certainly known, a question mark is used, e.g. New Ireland ?; when an exact location within a country is not known, a question mark within brackets is used, e.g. Mexico (?). Distributions of genera are furnished in a relatively simplified form, any special features being given within brackets.

With respect to the TDWG codes, the region is indicated by the two-digit number (representative of the first two levels), the first digit also indicating the continent. The letter codes following the digits, when given, represent the third-level unit (a country, state or other comparable area). They usually are the first three letters of a given unit's name, but sometimes are contractions. When pointing to a particular code, the complete name will be provided. If the country code is not known, '+' is used. For taxa that are known or appear to be extinct in a given region, '†' is used after the country code. Naturalisation is expressed by putting the third-level codes in lower case and, if in a second-level region all occurrences are the result of naturalisation, the code number for the region is placed in brackets. The application of question marks is as indicated above for geographical regions. Examples include:

  • 12 SPA [SW. Europe: Spain]
  • 32 + [C. Asia (more exact distribution not known)]
  • 36 CHN? 38 JAP KOR [Doubtful in China Northcentral, Eastern Asia; Japan and Korea]
  • 51 NZN NZS [New Zealand: North and South Islands]
  • (76) ari 77 NWM TEX [SC. U.S.A., naturalised in Arizona]
  • 77 TEX† [SC. U.S.A.: Texas, where extinct]

The complete list of TDWG codes can be downloaded from http://www.tdwg.org/geo2.htm. Most of the geographical terms used can be found in the Times Atlas 2000.

Lifeform

The terminology for life-forms, definitions of which follow, is based on the system of Raunkiær (1934, especially chapters 1 and 2) with modifications derived from Flora van België, het Groothertogdom Luxemburg, Noord-Frankrijk en de aangrenzende gebieden (De Langhe et al. 1983: pp. xvii-xviii, 869 (fig. 16)). Many plant families have their own particular lifeforms. It is therefor only attempted to give a very broad and general lifeform, mainly to aid global searches over different groups.

Main Categories:

phanerophyte (phan.)
stems: woody and persisting for several years
buds: normally above 3 m
e.g.: small and large trees

herbaceous phanerophyte (herb. phan.)
stems: herbaceous and persisting for several years
buds: above soil-level
e.g.: Musa balbisiana

nanophanerophyte (nanophan.)
stems: woody and persisting for several years
buds: above soil level but normally below 3 m
e.g.: shrubs

chamerophyte (cham.)
stems: herbaceous and/or woody and persisting for several years
buds: on or just above soil level, never above 50 cm
e.g.: Alyssum, Acaena, Acantholimon, Saxifraga

hemicryptophyte (hemicr.)
stems: herbaceous, often dying back after the growing season, with shoots
at soil level surviving
buds: just on or below soil level
e.g.: Aster, Viola odorata

geophyte
hemicryptophytes that survive unfavourable seasons in the form of a rhizome, bulb, tuber or rootbud.
The term tuber is used here in a broad sense and includes every storage organ that is not a rhizome, bulb or rootbud.

helophyte (hel.)
hemicryptophytes that grow in soil saturated with water or in water. leaf and flower
bearing shoots rise above water
e.g.: Typha, Echinodorus

hydrophyte
stems: vegetative shoots sunk in water
buds: permanently or temporarily on the bottom of the water

hydrohemicryptophyte (hydrohemicr.)
e.g. Stratioides

hydrogeophyte
e.g. Nymphaea, Nuphar

hydrotherophyte (hydrother.)
e.g. Lemna, Utricularia vulgaris

therophyte (ther.)
plants that survive unfavourable seasons in the form of seeds and complete their life-history during the favourable season.
e.g. annuals

Others

bamboo
biennial
pseudobulb
pachycaul
cereiform
cauduciform

Additional Information

climbing (cl.)
e.g.: cl. phan.: Hedera helix
cl. nanophan.: Clematis florida
cl. hemicr.: Vicia cracca
cl. tuber geophyte: Tropaeolum tuberosum
cl. ther.: Pisum sativum
(cl.) nanophan: for plants that are sometimes climbing
succulent (succ.)
e.g.: succ. nanophan.: Opuntia ficus-indica
succ. cham.: Lophophora williamsii
succ. ther.: Sedum azureum
cl. succ. nanophan.: Cissus quadrangula

Epiphytic and lithophytic
Growing on trees or rocks, without extracting nutrition from the host.

parasitic (par.)
hemiparasitic (hemipar.)
parasitic plants that are still able to photosynthesise
e.g. Viscum album is a hemipar. nanophan.
holoparasitic (holopar.)
parasitic plants that are fully dependent on their host
e.g. Orobanche ramosa is a holopar. ther.

holomycotroph (often wrongly called saprophyte)
e.g. Neottia nidus-avis is holomycotroph.

Other Abbreviations
A.alpine/arctic
Agg.aggregate
al.alii: others
Arch.archipelago
app.approaching, close to
auct.of author
C.Central
cham.chamaephyte
cit.citatus: cited
cl.climbing
Co.county
comb.combinatio: combination
cons.conservandus: to be conserved
cppo.centre page pull-out
cult.cultus: cultivated
cv.cultivarietas: cultivar
descr.description
Distr.district
DT. dry tropical (desert/steppe)
E.East(ern)
etc.et cetera: and the rest
e.g.exampli gratia: for example
G.temperate
hel.helophyte
hort.hortorum: of gardens
I./Isisland(s)
ICBNInternational Code of Botanical Nomenclature
i.e.id est: that is
ign.ignotus: unknown
in litt.in litteris: in correspondence
ined.ineditus: unpublished, provisional name
inq.inquilinus: naturalised
i.q.idem quod: the same as
Kep.kepulauan (islands)
Khr. Khrebet: mountain range
Medit.mediterranean
MTmonsoon tropical (savanna)
Mt./Mtsmountain(s)
N.North(ern)
nanophan.nanophanerophyte
No.numero: number
noh.new orchid hybrids
nom. cons.nomen conservandum: name conserved in ICBN
nom. illeg.nomen illegitimum: illegitimate name
nom. inval.invalid name
nom. nud.nomen nudum: name without a description
nom. rejic.nomen rejiciendum: name rejected in ICBN
nom. superfl.nomen superfluum: name superfluous when published
nov.novus: new
opus utique oppr.operautique oppressa: suppressed publication in ICBN
orth. var.orthographic variant
par.parasitic
Pen.peninsula(r)
phan.phanerophyte
p.p.pro parte: partly
Prov.province
q.e.quod est: which is
q.v.quod vide: which see
eg.region
Rep.republic
SSubtropical
S.South(ern)
seq.sequens: following
s.l.sensu lato: in the broad sense
sp.species
s.p.without page number
sphalm.sphalmate: by mistake
s.s.sensu stricto: in the narrow sense
st.status
Subtropsubtropical
suc.successor
syn.synonymon: synonym
Ttropical
temp.temperate
ther.therophyte
Trop.tropical
vol.volume: volume
viz.videlicet: namely
W.West(ern)
WTwet tropical
?not known, doubtful
extinct
+distribution incomplete
*basionym/replaced synonym

References

Bridson, G., comp. & ed. (2004). Botanico-Periodicum Huntianum/Second Edition. Pittsburgh: Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation.
Brummitt, R. K. (1992). Vascular Plant Families and Genera. 804 pp. Kew: Royal Botanic Gardens. [http://www.kew.org.uk/data/vascplnt.html]
Brummitt, R. K. (2001). World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, ed 2. xvi, 138 pp. Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Penna. (for the International Working Group on Taxonomic Databases for Plant Sciences). (Plant Taxonomic Database Standards, 2: version 1.0.) [http://www.tdwg.org/geo2.htm]
Brummitt, R. K. & Powell, C. E., (1992). Authors of Plant Names. 732 pp. Kew: Royal Botanic Gardens. [http://www.ipni.org/ipni/query_author.html]
De Langhe, J. E. et al. (1983). Flora van België, het Groothertogdom Luxemburg, Noord-Frankrijk en de aangrenzende gebieden. civ, 970 pp., illus., map. Patrimonium, Nationale Plantentuin van België, Meise.
Farr, E. R., Leussink, J. A. & Stafleu, F. A. (eds). (1979). Index Nominum Genericorum (Plantarum). 3 vols. Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema, Utrecht. (Regnum Vegetabile, 100-102). [http://rathbun.si.edu/botany/ing/]
Farr, E. R., Leussink, J. A. & Zijlstra, G. (eds). (1986). Index Nominum Genericorum (Plantarum): Supplementum I. xv, 126 pp. Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema, The Hague. (Regnum Vegetabile, 113.)
Greuter, W. et al. (1993). Names in Current Use for Extant Plant Genera (Names in current use, 3). xxvii, 1464 pp. Koeltz, Koenigstein. (Regnum Vegetabile.)
Raunkiær, C. (1934). The Life Forms of Plants and Statistical Plant Geography. xvi, 632 pp., illus. Oxford University Press, London.
Stafleu, F. & Cowan, R. S. (1976-88). Taxonomic Literature: A Selective Guide to Botanical Publications and Collections with Dates, Commentaries and Types. 2nd edn. 7 vols. Utrecht: Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema. (Regnum Vegetabilie 94, 98, 105, 110, 112, 115, 116.) Continued as Stafleu, F. et al.. (1992-2000). Taxonomic Literature, Supplement. Vols. 1-6. Koenigstein, Germany: Koeltz. (Regnum Vegetabile 125, passim. As of 2000 six volumes published.) [http://tl2.idcpublishers.info/]