TITLE: PLANTS Database

Access: http://plants.usda.gov/

PLANTS Database Web site is an innovative new resource developed by the National Plant Data Center (NPDC), a branch of the U.S.D.A.'s Natural Resources Conservation Service. PLANTS disseminates authoritative information about the vascular and non-vascular plants of the United States and its territories. Judged to be one of the top 50 innovative programs in federal government, PLANTS supports the NPDC's mission to acquire, develop, improve, and disseminate plant data in order to support efforts to improve the ecological health of the United States.

The homepage for the database is divided into several sections. "Plant topics" provides easy access to images, distribution information, fact sheets, and classification information for alternative crops, wetland plants, and plants that are culturally significant, threatened, endangered, invasive, or noxious. A link to the advanced query mode for the database can be accessed from this section of the homepage. "Plant tools links to specialized databases including the "Crop Nutrient Tool" for calculating crop yields and nutritional requirements, and the "VegSpec" tool for determining site-specific adaptability of plant species. "Resources offsite" provides direct links to numerous national and global plant checklists. "PLANTS download" provides data files that can be downloaded into Excel or other spreadsheets; also included are the "Complete PLANTS checklist," the plants checklists for various states, a grazing and spatial analysis tool for the state lists, and U.S. Forest Service data.

A simple search of the PLANTS database, using either the common or scientific plant name, provides access to a profile for the specified plant. Each plant profile includes photographic images and a distribution map. Also included are links to information about related genera, information about the plant's endangered/threatened status, and many related Web sites. A simple search on Abies concolor also provides links to a plant dictionary, a gymnosperm database, a medicinal plants site, research on wood anatomy, and much more. Advanced searches can be qualified by core data specifications such as distribution, taxonomy, life form, U.S. nativity, and legal status as well as characteristics data

including morphology/physiology, growth requirements, reproduction/propagation, and suitability/use.

PLANTS facilitates information exchange among various government agencies and is a valuable resource for librarians, students, botanists, ecologists, gardeners, farmers, ranchers, and environmental scientists.

Susan Case
University of Kansas
scase@ku.edu


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