Archive for the ‘Plant Distribution’ category

Database of Vascular Plants of Canada Released

December 14, 2010

Canadensys announces the release of VASCAN, the Database of Vascular Plants of Canada, a comprehensive list of all vascular plants reported in Canada, Greenland (Denmark) and Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France).

Canadensys is a Canada-wide effort to unlock the biodiversity information held in biological collections. The network currently includes biological collections from 11 participating universities, five botanical gardens, and two museums, covering insects, fungi and plants. The network is operated from the Biodiversity Centre, Université de Montréal.

The goal of VASCAN is to provide an up-to-date, documented source of the names of vascular plants in Canada, Greenland, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon, both scientific and vernacular. For every species, subspecies and variety, VASCAN provides the accepted scientific name (Latin), the accepted French and English vernacular names, and their synonyms/alternatives in Canada. The distribution status (native, introduced, etc.) of the plant for each province or territory, and the habit (tree, shrub, herb or vine) of the plant in Canada are given. Maps at the provincial/territorial level are provided with an indication of status. For reported hybrids (nothotaxa or hybrid formulas), the parents also are provided. A source is given for each name, classification and distribution information (still being completed).
All taxa are linked to a classification. The following were used: Smith et al. (2006) for ferns, APG III (2009) for flowering plants, and Chase and Reveal (2009) for the higher taxonomy.

It is possible to generate lists in VASCAN using the Checklist builder tool. Data can be downloaded from VASCAN under the Creative Commons (BY-NC) license.

New Lists Posted on NYFA Google Map of Plant Lists

November 16, 2010

Lists recently posted include these lists from St. Lawrence and Jefferson Counties by Anne Johnson:

Payne Lake

Grass Lake

Butterfield Lake

Sylvia Lake

In addition to these are lists from the Moose River Plains by the Keelans and Oakwood Cemetery in Troy by Warren Broderick.

Click the Google map of plant lists in the links section on the right side of the page.

Deer Impact Study on Vegetation Taking Place at Beaver Meadows State Forest

August 23, 2010

We all know how destructive deer populations have been on native plants in New York.  DEC is now funding a study to quantify this effect on a state forest in Chenango County.  See more details HERE. We hope more of these studies will result in better management practices that will stop the serious loss of native vegetation. – Steve Young

Is Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris) Native or Exotic? It’s both!

August 3, 2010

I always thought that Prunella was exotic but it is listed as native in Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide. As it turns out there are two varieties and one is native (var. lanceolata) and one is not (var. vulgaris).  In the NYFA Atlas David Werier sets forth the history of this distinction:

Numerous early botanists recognized Prunella vulgaris as consisting of at least two taxa. One is considered to be native to North America (P. vulgaris var. lanceolata) and the other as native to Eurasia (P. v. var. vulgaris). Fernald (1913b) gives an overview of how these taxa have been treated in North America, provides a key to the varieties, and publishes the new combination P. v. var. lanceolata (W.P.C. Barton) Fernald. Fernald (1950) and Gleason and Cronquist (1991) follow this taxonomy while Mitchell (1986) and Mitchell and Tucker (1997) treat Prunella vulgaris as a non-native taxon without infraspecific taxa. A limited study from California (Nelson 1964) supports the distinction between the two taxa and also demonstrates support for a limited amount of introgression or hybridization at one California population. We follow Fernald in recognition of two taxa but a modern large scale study is still warranted. The North American native taxon (P. vulgaris var. lanceolata) has median cauline leaf blades ovate to ovate-oblong, 1.5-2.5 (avg. 2) times as long as wide, and rounded at the base. The Eurasian P. vulgaris var. vulgaris has median cauline leaf blades lanceolate to oblong, 2-5 (avg. 3) times as long as wide, and cuneate at the base (Fernald 1913b).

It would be nice to know if the distribution differs in range or ecology in New York so you might want to try to distinguish them in the field. Be sure to use the leaves in the middle of the stem for the measurements.  See the Atlas entry for the species HERE.

Dragon’s Mouth Orchid Rediscovered On Long Island

June 10, 2010

It had been 25 long years since the state rare Dragon’s Mouth Orchid (Arethusa bulbosa) was seen on Long Island. Kim Smith, New York Natural Heritage Program State Parks Botanist was bushwacking through some wet thickets in a state park in Suffolk County when she spotted just one plant of this rare orchid. After further searching Kim did not turn up any additional plants. Now that we know they are still here we can intensify our efforts to locate more plants. Arethusa is an orchid that grows in medium to high pH wetlands and usually with sphagnum. It has been recorded from many upstate counties but wetland habitat loss has reduced its numbers.  It is very hard to see when it is not in flower and may not come up every year which limits the time when searches can be performed. It sure is rewarding to find it however since it is one of our most beautiful orchids. – Steve Young

Arethusa in the Adirondacks - Photo Steve Young

Rails to Trails And The Need for Botanical Surveys.

January 29, 2010

The link below shows the need for complete botanical surveys when old railroads are converted to trails for the public. The article is by Steve Daniel who has had experience with a trail conversion near Rochester. The article also appeared in a recent issue of the NYFA News – Steve Young

New County-Level Maps of North American Flora Available

January 20, 2010

Yesterday afternoon, we launched our complete set of county-level maps of the North American vascular flora on our BONAP website ( We have also updated the data of our Digital North American Flora page. Although we are painfully aware of the prolonged delay in loading maps for large genera, until additional programming can be performed to ameliorate this problem, this is the best we can offer. Please let us know what you think and keep watching this site for major changes.


Dr. John Kartesz, Director
9319 Bracken Lane
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

(919) 967-6240


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