Since 2011, it's been the consensus of scientists and conservation leaders that creating a complete inventory of plant species is essential for providing the basic information needed to protect them so their full potential can be realized.
At present, approximately 350,000 species of vascular plants have been formally described by scientists, with an estimated 10% more yet to be discovered. Until now, most descriptions remain highly inaccessible, appearing only in their original scientific publications, many of which exist exclusively in print or have electronic versions locked behind online publishing paywalls.
The World Flora Online consortium (WFO) was established to systematize collaboration between plant-science institutions towards sharing research holdings and developing the infrastructure necessary to build a comprehensive online database--providing scholarly and colloquial names and synonyms, authoritative images, peer-reviewed descriptions, specimen lists and geographic distributions, conservation assessments, gene sequences, and more, for all known plant species on earth--and make it all publicly accessible.
The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) is one of four prominent international botanical organizations leading the effort to forge the WFO, along with the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Royal Botanic Gardens-Kew, and the Royal Botanic Gardens-Edinburgh. An additional 30 research institutions from many of the world's most biologically diverse countries, including Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, and Thailand, have also committed to contributing content as primary partners.
Thanks to generous funding from Google and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, NYBG now has the resources to begin large-scale digital capture of it's plant research holdings, beginning with the extensive Flora Neotropica monographs series, published by the NYBG Press since 1967. These 110 volumes constitute the cumulative wealth of scientific knowledge for an estimated 8,500 of the world's plant species, and are now being made freely-available for the very first time!
These and many other publications to be digitized at NYBG will be a primary data-source for the comprehensive WFO webportal, particularly for plants of the New World tropics where most past and present NYBG scientists have focused their long and illustrious careers in botany. This website is designed to provide open and up-to-date access to all resources generated at NYBG for the World Flora Online project, in addition to the latest research data, identification tools, images and collection details for representative specimens stored at the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium, and many other forms of supplemental scholarly content from our curators.