Working Groups
Alien Plant Working Group
Medicinal Plant Working Group
Restoration Working Group
Plant Conservation Alliance


2004 Meeting Summaries

November 2004 | March 2004 | Other Meeting Summaries

Notes from Plant Conseration Alliance Meeting
10 November 2004
NatureServe, Rosslyn, VA
(Notes taken by P. De Angelis & edited by Olivia Kwong)

Olivia Kwong (Soc. for Ecological Restoration & BLM) sitting in for Peggy Olwell. Sign-up sheet passed around. Introductions.

New participants

US Army Corps of Engineers - interested in joining PCA


At Large


Updates on Committee Activities

Alien Plant (APWG, <>) - Olivia:

Medicinal Plant (MPWG, <>) - Patricia De Angelis (US FWS):

Native Plant Materials Development (NPMD, <>) - John Englert (NRCS):

Public Outreach

Restoration (RWG, <>)

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF, - Ellen Lippincott (NFWF):

MOU - Olivia:

Janet Meakin Poor Symposium: 10 Years of PCA - Olivia/Patricia:

Other - Scott Fredericks (EPA):

Wayne Owen (USDA FS):

Upcoming Meetings - Patricia

Meeting Adjourned.

Notes from Plant Conseration Alliance Meeting
10 March 2004
NatureServe, Rosslyn, VA
(Notes taken by P. De Angelis & edited by Olivia Kwong)


Olivia Kwong (Soc. for Ecological Restoration & BLM) sitting in for Peggy Olwell. Sign-up sheet passed around. Introductions.



Updates on Committee Activities

Alien Plant (APWG, <>):

Medicinal Plant (MPWG, <> Update from Patricia De Angelis:

Native Plant Materials Development <> Olivia speaking for Carol Spurrier:

Public Outreach:

Restoration <>:


NGO Committee: Late addition to agenda! Kathryn Kennedy (The Center for Plant Conservation):

Plant Conseration Alliance MOU:


Late arrival: Nan Vance (USDA-FS)
Involved in various projects that touch upon many of the WG efforts. In from Corvallis, Oregon for the North American Pollinators Campaign working on a task force to organize a photo exhibit by end of May; Trying to get Cypripedium montanum listed on Rgn. 6 Sensitive List; Working on oak restoration issues


Dr. John Kartesz (The Biota of North America <>): Implications and Applications of A National County-Level Database for Vascular Flora

Dr. Kartesz founded the Biota of North America Project (BONAP), based in North Carolina (<>), in 1969. He began cataloging county info in the 70's. His doctoral dissertation was "Flora of Nevada."

This past decade, the Synthesis of the North American Flora began to take shape. The first version was released in 1999 and provided native plant information at a state level. The NEW version of Synthesis of the North American Flora is about to be released. This version identifies plant occurrences down to the COUNTY level. Information was obtained from herbarium specimens, checklists and State Flora.

The goal is to be able to identify every N. American plant to the Genus level through a set of characters. Within the next couple of years, Dr. Kartesz believes that nearly 80% of all N. American plants will be able to be identified.

Hopes for future: By summer, he would like to see the Synthesis available on the internet. However, it would take about $100,000 to get it on the web and retain the characteristics of the current Synthesis. Although notices have gone out about the new Synthesis version being priced at $250, Dr. Kartesz is interested in keeping the price of the CD below $100.

New features of Synthesis:

Questions & Answers:

N. Vance: Is the West well represented?
Dr. K: Initially, Flora of New Mexico was problematic because it is organized differently than the rest; overcoming that was a challenge.

Other new features:

Dr. Kartesz Trivia Question: Which States do you think has the most badly documented flora?
Georgia - Yes - this is a reflection of being divided up into tiny counties and that there generally has not been much collecting in the State.
Florida - too much lumping
Mississippi - behind the game, only just got the State checklist together
NC - also (surprisingly) shabby

More new features of Synthesis:
- It can be modified! There's a mechanism for adding county occurrence entries (title of monograph can be input). Chris Meachum modified the program enabling data entry via pass over windows wherein a "window" appears next to the cursor as it moves across the map to reveal what county you are pointing to. This allowed Dr. K. to input 15,000 entries in one day! There is also the ability to change synonyms, etc. in order to personalize it. These features are currently turned off because it was feared that the integrity of the data would be compromised.
Audience suggestion: Show modified records in a different color and create mechanism for validating new entries.

Dr. Kartesz agreed. He currently envisions making at least one copy available in each state with a chosen state contact in charge of updating and sending new data back to Dr. Kartesz. Each entry must have a voucher specimen associated with it.
Audience suggestion: Have list of state contacts made available so that new info can be funneled from the "masses" to the state contact and back to Dr. Kartesz.

Dr. Kartesz is open to modeling the information network on existing structures - e.g. the Natural Heritage Network (<>).

Organizing Synthesis by County has revealed many new entries that were previously unrecorded on State lists.

Dr. Kartesz Trivia Question: Which State has required the least amount of modification during this comprehensive review?
Answer: Missouri. It is the best vouchered state at the county level with 25,000-28,000 entries! Reviews of other herbaria and literature have not added or removed many county occurrences for species. Kathryn Kennedy noted that this is probably due to good funding of the Missouri Department of Conservation out of the state sales tax in the past (however, this may change).

In fact, several State Flora are great within the state. Where additions are made, it has been from herbaria located outside of the state (such as at the National Herbarium). At least 20% of the records that have gone into Synthesis were previously recorded but had not been found on the checklists. Another 20% simply had never been documented.

It is interesting to look at different iterations of various Flora - you can see how plant sightings increase or move over time. There are several different reasons for these expansions and contractions - ease of access, proximity to Universities, habitat change, etc.

N. Vance: Similarly, one can see the spread of invasives in the Invaders Database - it demonstrates 100-200 years of the progress of weeds. (<>). Also a living document.

Another new feature is that there will be a link for group common name. This could potentially tap the group of users with interest in botany that do not have an academic botanical background, allowing them to more easily use the Synthesis to explore North American plants (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, gardening groups, etc.).

Question: What would you do in the case of a species like black cohosh, which has recently been transferred to a new Genus that has at least two distinct groups of common names?
Answer: There is a mechanism to allow for multiple common names to be associated with one group. For example, Prunus is known by major fruits such as apricot, almond and cherry.

Question: How has this work been funded?
Answer: Living from contract to contract - but none written expressly for this work - borrowed from linkages with or tail ends of existing contracts to get this far.

Question: What degree of overlap does Synthesis have with Scott Peterson's PLANTS database? (<>)
Answer: Dr. Kartesz sends updates to the PLANTS database group, but due to the complexity of the PLANTS site, a huge number of links need to be changed for each update, so it takes over a month for PLANTS to be updated.

Discussion about Synthesis' Future:
Dr. Kartesz has been giving thought to the idea of having a Federal agency take over this project, as they are the primary users. There were many suggestions from audience to seek non-governmental repository and make updates available on an annual basis.

Kathryn Kennedy suggested finding an institutional home such as partnering with the Botanical Society of America and Missouri Botanical Garden, for instance. Then Federal funding and subscriptions would help fund things. A website with a Members Only area for updates.

Patricia De Angelis suggested that the PCA NGO committee might take this on. PCA's tenth anniversary is this year. What better way to show that PCA has made a difference for native plants than to support this native plants directory?

Audience members suggested that a mechanism for annual updates be instituted to coordinate the potentially large amounts of data that may come in from around the Nation.

Question: What does it cost to maintain this project?
Answer: Right now scraping by on 100,000/year.

Question: What would be an ideal budget/staff?
Answer: A total of 4 employees (don't want too many people) at $50,000 each (including himself). Add overhead and equipment, etc. About $250,000.

Getting this on the web: Individuals have told him it would cost $100,000 to put this on the web. Would need a University with botanical experience. Dr. Chris Meachum (visiting scholar at Jepson Herbarium in UC Berkeley) has done the bulk of the programming work.

Dr. Kartesz posited that if 3-4 people with taxonomic experience were hired to go through the four major U.S. collections that have yet to be thoroughly searched (Harvard, New York, Philadelphia Academy and D.C.'s National Herbarium) using the tools to add county occurrences within the Synthesis, within four years the first three collections would be finished and a large portion of the National Collection would have county level data within the US added to the database.

Dr. K. has also been coordinating data exchange with D. Moerman's Native American Database (<>).

Larry Morse (NatureServe): There is also a Natural Heritage Program maintained entirely by the Navajo (<>)

Dr. K. asked people to pass on their suggestions or thoughts to him at <kartesz at>.

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