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Flora of China

Documenting the plant diversity of one of the world’s most ecologically rich countries

The Flora of China is an international collaborative research project, and one of the most successful examples of scientific co-operation between China and the West in recent times. Managed in collaboration by Missouri Botanical Garden and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Flora involves 11 major research institutions (four in China, four in the USA, and three in Europe including RBG, Kew), this large project draws on expertise from the botanical community worldwide. 

With approximately 30,000 species of flowering plants, China is one of the most ecologically rich countries in the world, and by far the richest of the North Temperate zone. One third of its native plants are endemic, that is, they are not found naturally anywhere else on Earth. China also has an exceptionally wide range of habitats, from cold temperate to humid tropical, from desert to rainforest, all merging in continuity within the one country.

The purpose of the Flora is to provide baseline information enabling practical end-users, such as agronomists, ecologists and conservationists, to accurately identify their plants. The Flora provides a reliable source of correct names, detailed information on the characteristics of each species, and on geographical distribution, habitat preferences, flowering and fruiting times, and other details. Distribution data gathered during the preparation of a Flora can also be used to identify areas rich in biodiversity which may need protection, and will also highlight rarities and areas where more collecting is needed.

RBG, Kew hosts Dr Mike Gilbert who is the European co-ordinator for the project. He is also supporting several volumes with contributions to family accounts together with scientific contributors who have been or are based at Kew.

Dave Simpson represents RBG, Kew on the Editorial Committee, having succeeded Simon Owens in 2007.

Kew staff, Honorary Research Fellows and Associates have recently contributed accounts for Volumes 10 (Fabaceae [Leguminosae]), 11 (Oxalidaceae through Aceraceae), 12 (13 (Clusiaceae through Araliaceae), 19 (Cucurbitaceae through Valerianaceae with Annonaceae and Berberidaceae), 20-21 (Asteraceae [Compositae]), 22 (Poaceae), 23 (Acoraceae through Cyperaceae) and 25 (Orchidaceae).

The work has also supported training for Chinese botanists, many of whom have visited RBG, Kew for extended visits.

The Flora will be completed in 2013.

 

Key papers published 2006-2011

1. Shi, Z., Chen, Y.L., Chen, Y. S., Lin, Y.R., Liu, S.W., Ge, X.J., Gao, T.G., Zhu, S.X., Liu, Y., Yang, Q.E., Humphries, C.J., Raab-Strauße, E. von, Gilbert, M.G., Nordenstam, B., Kilian, N., Brouillet, L., Illarionova, I.D., Hind, D.J.N., Jeffrey, C., Bayer, R.J., Kirschner, J., Greuter, W., Anderberg, A.A., Semple, J.C., Štƒõpánek, J., Freire, S.E., Martins, L., Koyama, H., Kawahara, T., Vincent, L., Sukhorukov, A.P., Mavrodiev, E.V. & Gottschlich, G. (2011). Asteraceae (Compositae). In: Wu Zhengyi, Raven, P.H. & Hong Deyuan (eds), Flora of China 20-21, pp.1-894. Science Press, Beijing & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St Louis. Published online.

2. Qiner Yang, Landrein S., Osborne, J. & Borosova, R. (2011). Caprifoliaceae. In: Wu Zhengyi, Raven, P.H. & Hong Deyuan (eds), Flora of China 19, pp. 616-641. Science Press, Beijing & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St Louis.

3. Dai Lunkai, Liang Songyun, Zhang Shuren, Tang Yancheng, Koyama, T., Tucker, G. C., Simpson, D.A., Noltie, H.J., Strong, M.T., Bruhl, J.J., Wilson, K.L. & Muasya, A.M. (2010). Cyperaceae. In: Wu Zhengyi, Raven, P.H. & Hong Deyuan (eds), Flora of China 23, pp.164-461. Science Press, Beijing & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St Louis.

4. Shugang Li, Langran Xu, Dezhao Chen, Xiangyun Zhu, Puhua Huang, Zhi Wei, Ren Sa, Prof. Dianxiang Zhang, Bojian Bao, Delin Wu, Hang Sun, Gao Xinfen, Supee S. Larsen, Ivan Nielsen, Dieter Podlech, Yingxin Liu, Hiroyoshi Ohashi, Chang Zhaoyang, Larsen,K. Jianqiang Li, Welsh, S.L., Vincent, M.A., Mingli Zhang, Gilbert, M.G., Pedley, L., Schrire, B.D., Yakovlev, G.P., Thulin, M., Nielsen, I.C., Byoung-Hee Choi, Turland, N.J., Polhill, R.M., Larsen, S.S. Ding Hou, Yu Iokawa, Wilmot-Dear, C.M., Kenicer, G., Nemoto, T., Lock, J.M., Salinas, A.D., Kramina, T.E., Brach, A.R., Bartholomew, B., Sokoloff, D.D. (2010). Fabacaeae. In: Wu Zhengyi, Raven, P.H. & Hong Deyuan (eds), Flora of China 25, pp.1-642. Science Press, Beijing & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St Louis.

5. Xinqi Chen, Liu Zhongjian, Guanghua Zhu, Kai-yung Lang, Zhanhe Ji, Yi-Bo Luo, Jin Xiaohua, Cribb, P.J., Wood, J.J., Gale, S.W., Ormerod, P., Vermeulen, J, Wood, H.P., Clayton, D. & Bell, A. (2009). Orchidaceae. In: Wu Zhengyi, Raven, P.H. & Hong Deyuan (eds), Flora of China 25, pp.1-569. Science Press, Beijing & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St Louis.

6. Shou-liang Chen, De-Zhu Li, Guanghua Zhu, Zhenlan Wu, Sheng-lian Lu, Liang Liu, Zheng-ping Wang, Bi-xing Sun, Zheng-de Zhu, Nianhe Xia, Liang-zhi Jia, Zhenhua Guo, Wenli Chen, Xiang Chen, Yang Guangyao, Phillips, S. M., Stapleton, C., Soreng, R. J.,. Aiken, S. G,. Tzvelev, N. N, Peterson, P. M.,. Renvoize, S. A., Olonova, M. V.& Ammann, K.(2006). Poaceae. In: Wu Zhengyi, Raven, P.H. & Hong Deyuan (eds), Flora of China 22, pp.1-715. Science Press, Beijing & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St Louis.

Project partners and collaborators

China

Institute of Botany, Beijing
Jiangsu Institute of Botany, Nanjing
Kunming Institute of Botany
South China Botanical Garden, Ghangzhou

FranceMusée National D’histoire Naturelle, Paris
UKRoyal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
USADepartment of Botany, Californian Academy of Sciences, San Francisco
Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri
National Museum of Natural History, The Smithsonian, Washington DC

Project funders

ChinaChinese Academy of Sciences
National Science Foundation of China
USA

The Starr Foundation
US National Science Foundation

Annex material