The Flora of North America: a hard copy and online continental flora

ID: 613 / 404

Category: Abstract

Track: Pending

Proposed Symposium Title: The Flora of North America: a hard copy and online continental flora


Geoffrey A. Levin

Affiliations: Research and Collections, Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Canada


The Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA) is a 30-volume work that includes taxonomic treatments for all the native and naturalized plants growing in the continental United States, Canada, Greenland, and St. Pierre and Miquelon. Treatments include accepted names and important synonyms, detailed morphological descriptions, dichotomous keys, phenology and habitat data, text- and map-based distributions, and line drawings of about 20% of the species. The project is a truly international effort involving a collaboration among about 1,000 authors, artists, reviewers, and editors from throughout the world. FNA is a vital tool for those concerned with conserving the continent’s flora for several reasons. For many groups, FNA provides the only comprehensive, modern North American treatments available anywhere. Although continental in scope, the treatments are reviewed by a team of about 75 botanists with expertise in their state or provincial floras, ensuring that important local variation and distributions are accurately reflected. The combination of keys and detailed technical descriptions improves plant identification. Furthermore, because taxonomic opinions vary, both among sources and over time, the included synonymy affords the opportunity for nomenclatural and taxonomic cross-walks. Because the treatments are made available online soon after they are published, they not only are widely accessible, but the finely parsed data are also made available in formats that improve data sharing and cross-linking. Efforts currently are underway to improve coordination among FNA, NatureServe, and the USDA-NRCS National Plant Data Team, organizations that play major roles in providing conservation data for North American plants. Looking to the future, we will be working to develop tools for moderated and versioned authoring and editing of treatments at FNA’s website (, allowing FNA to remain up-to-date by continuously incorporating results of new research.

Symposia selection: 66, ,

Key words: bioinformatics, conservation biology, floristics, North America, systematics