The Floristic Synthesis of North America is planned for release in 2010.  Once completed, it will represent the most comprehensive publication on the vascular flora for the North American Continent.  An effort of forty years by the Biota of North America Project directed by Dr. John Kartesz, the Synthesis documents over 4,500,000 state and county-level geographic records, nearly 300,000 images, and over 100,000 names for some 34,000 different plants.  It will be the first publication to treat the entire flora of the United States and Canada; the first to produce a US county-level atlas for the national flora; the first to include high-speed sort-and-search capabilities for hundreds of botanical fields; the first to include a digital random-access family key to all North American plant families.  Once published, it will be the largest single source collection of color and black and white images for North American plants in existence, (nearly 300,000 colored-images and 6,500 black and white drawings).  Following is a summary of the vast array of features that BONAP's new Floristic Synthesis of North America will provide.


1)   Nomenclature/Taxonomy Lexicon including

a)   Thesaurus of more than 100,000 plant names

b)   Botanical checklist providing the accepted names and synonyms of all 34,000 types of North American plants

c)   Common Names for all 25,000 North American plant families, genera, and species

d)   Plant ranking from NatureServe Plant Rarity-Rank files

e)   USFWS Wetland Plant Symbols

f)    USDA Plant Symbol Codes

2)   Phytogeographic Atlas providing:

a)   Printable distribution maps for any region (US state, US county, or Canadian province).

b)   State and County Map Galleries showing side-by-side comparisons of digital maps for multiple taxa

c)   County Gazetteer showing:

i)     Location and listing for all US states and counties

ii)   Transcription of county-level data from specimen and bibliography performed easily by simple mouse-clicks

d)  Phytogeographic voucher data for over 4,500,000 state and county records

e)   Comparative elevation and square mile values for every US county

3)   Biological Attributes including:

a)   Over 200 fields of horticulture, habitat, nativity, rarity, morphology, and phenology

b)   Plant Status Indicator (e.g, rarity, noxious, extinction)

4)   Regions/Zones:  Over 1000 searchable fields of ecological and physiogeographic regions/zones including:

a)   Bailey Ecoregions

b)   USGS HUC Regions

c)   WWF Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecoregions

d)  Cold Hardiness and Heat-Zones

e)   Glacial Regions

5)   Richness and Similarity Coefficient Quotients

a)   Display area densities for any taxon or plant type

b)   Density-gradient colored maps for all plant families, gener, plant habit, etc.

c)   Calculations made automatically for all queries

6)   Images

a)   300,000 colored photographs and over 6,500 black and white drawings

b)   Image Gallery providing side-by-side comparisons of images for all taxa

7)   Identification keys for all North American plant families

8)   Clickable links to scores of botanical web sites permitting versatile search capabilities

9)   Ability to construct your own tailor-made miniature Floristic Synthesis

10) Ability to add multiple plant descriptions for any taxon.



1) Nomenclature/Taxonomy Lexicon

Radically modified from the nomenclature and taxonomy used in the 1999 Synthesis of the North American Flora, the Nomenclature/Taxonomy Lexicon portion of the new Floristic Synthesis of North America incorporates many thousands of new names and unique classifications.  The Lexicon window serves both as an easily searchable name-index as well as the backbone for the new Floristic Synthesis.  Both the names and classifications have undergone rigorous reviews by national and international specialists, incorporating the highest degree of accuracy, the latest in scientific thought, and the most careful analyses possible in the application of all scientific names.  In total, nearly 100,000 scientific names have been assessed, representing approximately 23,000 species; 34,000 unique taxa (including subspecies and varieties); and 50,000 synonyms.  The names represent virtually all of those used over the past century of North American plant taxonomy.  The Lexicon offers several optional views, including a thesaurus (a simplified alphabetical listings of all scientific names found within the Floristic Synthesis, with accepted names bolded and associated synonyms lightly-grayed) and the checklist (a more expanded format, again with accepted names bolded and with related synonyms indented directly under the accepted name and lightly-grayed).  All generic and scientific names link directly to their family names (and vice-versa) with relationships easily viewed by simple mouse clicks.  Additionally, alphabetic or phylogenetic listings of plant family can be selected optionally.

From this Lexicon, fully expanded synonymized checklists or abbreviated checklists can be constructed for any geographic area from the size of a large physiogeographic region, e.g. Great Basin, US state or Canadian province, a US county or even a backyard or private woodlot.  The versatility of the Floristic Synthesis enables these checklists to be structured by common or scientific name.  Moreover, the Floristic Synthesis permits scientific names to be copied (by right-clicking) and pasted into manuscripts or other program files by mouse-clicks, thus saving countless editorial hours.

For every accepted plant family, genus, or species, a common name is provided.  The choice of common name was determined upon broad-based reviews from thousands of floristic publications, including state and regional floras, local florulas, conservation literature, wildflower guides, checklists, and historical documents, as well as from the botanical community at large, the lay-public, wildflower enthusiasts, foresters, and wildlife and range managers.  Each name has undergone the most rigorous analysis possible to establish internal conformity while maintaining the original name concept.  Common names for both families and genera are now searchable in the new Floristic Synthesis by individual group common names, e.g., hickory, maple, rose, violet, and it is also possible to use the common name as searchable entities for assessing plant distributions or for biological attributes.



2) Phytogeographic Atlas:

The Atlas window of the Floristic Synthesis provides an array of options. 

2-a) Geographic Regions:

In addition to permitting individual state/provincial or regional plant summaries for the original 70 geographic areas of the 1999 Synthesis of the North American Flora, the new Floristic Synthesis provides similar options for viewing plant distribution summaries for all 3,160 US counties or equivalent.  Over 4,500,000 individual state and county-level locations are represented, all documented via either herbarium/museum vouchers, or by what BONAP perceives to be accurate and fundamentally sound literature-based reports, including personal communications reports that are otherwise unavailable from specialists.  Each specific reference can be viewed simply by moving the cursor over a particular geographic area.  With this much refined geographic-scale resolution, it is now possible to determine and observe in a more meaningful way, relationships between any US state or county and the hundreds of individual plant attributes, e.g., rare plants, trees, shrubs or even red flowered, spring ephemerals.  Map zooming permits easy observation of county or state-line designations or even site specific location points.  Extensive search and sort capabilities enabling countless subsets are possible using the Phytogeographic Atlas.  Taxon-specific range maps reflecting state and/or county-level distributions and side-by-side comparisons of individual distribution maps can be generated by BONAP's new Floristic Synthesis with a simple mouse-click.  New Map Galleries (state and county) enable even broader comparisons of distribution maps to be made for numerous species within a particular genus or family and viewed simultaneously. 

2-b) County Gazetteer:

The County Gazetteer is a unique feature, enabling herbarium and museum curators, and other researchers to easily and rapidly transcribe county-level location data from voucher specimens or from bibliographic references.  Thousands of county-level transcriptions can be made quickly into digital listings by simple mouse-clicks.  Once a scientific name is selected, FIPS code, county, and state names are all listed automatically and simultaneously.  State or county-level reports from monographs, revisions, floras, field sites, plant nurseries, etc. can be saved digitally as text files and easily reproduced.  By using this feature, floristicians, nurserymen, foresters, range managers, and others can produce inventories of their plants without typing a single scientific name.


3) Biological Attributes:

The Biological Attributes window includes hundreds of new fields related to specific groupings of plants that BONAP selected because of their interest to a broad and diverse audience or due to their national and international significance.  They range from fields of morphology, e.g., armature, stem surface and texture, woodiness; to rarity categories (both federal and state listings); nativity; habitats, e.g., alpine, vernal pools, wetlands; habit-types, e.g. ferns, forbs, grasses and grass-like, shrubs, trees, vines; weediness; invasiveness; duration; endemism (both state and national); state trees and state wildflowers, etc.  Scores of horticultural fields have also been added, such as, hedge plants, rock garden plants, variegated-leaf plants, city-tree plants, flowering seasons, flower colors, along with many fields from the 1999 Synthesis of North American Flora, such as, herbs of commerce, medicinal plants, edible drink and toxic plants, butterfly plants, hummingbird and other bird plants, ornamental grasses, perfume plants, and many more.  For foresters and range managers we have included more specific fields, such as, major range plants, trees and shrubs, timber trees, tanning plants, weeds, and invasive exotics etc.  As with the Atlas, the Biological Attributes window incorporates full Boolean operations, enabling vast comparisons to be made between and among specific attributes in concert with the geographic distributions.



4) Regions/Zones:

By incorporating the most widely used ecological, physiographic, and other types of natural aquatic and terrestrial subdivisions, BONAP has partitioned the North American continent into more than 1000 subunits.  Each subunit is searchable in a fashion similar to the geographic subunits within the Atlas or Biological Attributes.  For example, the Region/Zone feature includes all of the Bailey Ecoregions, along with those of Omernik, the World Wildlife Fund's Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecoregions, the US Geological Survey Physiographic regions, and all of their HUC Wetland categories, mountain and Wisconsin glaciers, along with hardiness and heat zones as defined by the American Horticultural Society and US Department of Agriculture, as well as incremental elevation zones for all US counties, ranging from areas below sea-level to above 20,000 feet.  Engaging any of these Regions/Zones will display plant taxa limited or restricted to those areas, similar to the functionality offered within the Biological Attributes window.  Like the Biological Attributes and the Atlas, the Regions/Zones incorporate Boolean logic and are fully interactive with the fields from within both windows.


5) Richness and Similarity Coefficient Quotients:

Specific algorithms for assessing Richness Coefficient Quotient, Similarity Coefficient Quotient, and other forms of logics, have been incorporated into the Floristic Synthesis, thus permitting meaningful empirical comparisons of data to be made automatically.  The Richness Coefficient Quotient displays a summary of the number of taxa at any rank for any specific query.  When linked with particular families, genera, or species (with infraspecific taxa) or even with any biological attributes, beautifully detailed density-gradation maps can be generated automatically illustrating the number of taxa represented by each specific query.  These density-gradation, county or state distributional maps can also be produced automatically for any taxon or any biological attributes simply by a mouse-click.  With the appropriate acknowledgment, they can be saved or printed for publication purposes.

The Similarity Coefficient Quotient permits comparisons of the percentage of taxa shared at any rank for any two or more counties, states or multiple geographic areas.  These calculations are made automatically with each query.  For example, the percent of plant families, genera, species, hybrids, etc of Siskiyou County, California can be made automatically with those of Orange County, North Carolina by a simple mouse-click.


6) Digital Photographs and Other Plant Images:

BONAP has included its vast collection of photographic images and black and white drawings into the new Floristic Synthesis.  These images represent the single, largest collection of North American native and exotic plant species in existence.  The collection exceeds 250,000 images, representing some 20,000 unique types of plant.  In order to thoroughly display the plants' appearance in the field or herbarium, multiple photographs depicting many unique morphologies of each individual species are provided.  This collection was developed over a twenty-year period and contains both digital and film reproductions.  BONAP is enormously grateful to the hundreds of professional and amateur photographers who unselfishly contributed their photographs (in many cases their entire life-time collection of slides!).  We have gone to great length to assure the truest color reproduction and accuracy in identification.

To supplement the color slides and digital images, BONAP has also incorporated black and white drawings for thousands of species, focusing on specific morphologies or illustrating species that are difficult to photograph effectively, e.g., grasses and sedges.  For most states, nearly 90% of their floras are illustrated by a combination of these images.  They help enormously as both identification and education aids.  BONAP's goal is to have every species photographed or illustrated within the next few years. 

All photographic images are copyrighted and cannot be used for any purposes without the expressed, written permission of the individual photographer.  The collection of images can be viewed individually or in an Image Gallery, where images of all species within a particular family or genera can be viewed simultaneously in thumbnail size.  By moving the cursor over any specific thumbnail image, an expanded, full-sized image can be viewed.  By using the Image Gallery, side-by-side comparisons of different species can also be viewed.


7) Identification Keys:

The Family Key represents the first digitized random-access Family Key designed specifically for identifying all North American plant families.  It incorporates fields of ecology, morphology, and phenology.  With each selection, superfluous character and character-states (those no longer applicable) are eliminated automatically, thus reducing selection errors.  Each selection is recorded and listed as an historical event, enabling the user to view the selection sequence.  Most importantly, when used interactively with the county-level distribution and biological attribute queries, virtually any unknown North American plant species can be identified to within a handful of possibilities (with the exception of taxonomically diverse genera, i.e., Astragalus, Crataegus, Eriogonum, Rubus, some grasses and sedges).  Further comparison with the colored images and black and white drawings can provide even more precise species-level identification.


8) Internet Links:

The Floristic Synthesis can link plant names at any rank to numerous national and international botanical web sites.  To make the internet connection as versatile as possible, BONAP has provided the links to scores of web sites, ranging from web sites specializing in state floras to those representing international plant indices (e.g., Google Image, Google, FNA, GRIN).  Thus, the often tedious and demanding effort of typing plant names for a particular web site has been nearly eliminated, saving countless hours of Internet searches. 


9) Build your own tailor-made Floristic Synthesis:

Responding to numerous requests, BONAP has incorporated the capability for users to produce their own tailor-made miniature Floristic Syntheses.  It is now possible for university professors, high school teachers, students, boy scouts or girl scouts, farmers, nurserymen, vacationers or homeowners to build their own, miniature Floristic Synthesis for any area, e.g., field study sites, school grounds, farms, nurseries, backyards, woodlots, or for planned vacation sites.  Once a specific list of plants is prepared, entered into a specialized window of the Floristic Synthesis, and saved as a text file, that document becomes part of the attributes field listing, and can serve as a framework upon which all data fields, such as images, biological attributes, and sort and search capabilities, are linked automatically.  High school teachers, for example, could produce a miniature Floristic Synthesis for plants restricted to just their school grounds or school properties.  They could then teach their students how to key these plants by using simplified choices (e.g., tree, shrub, flower time, flower color, etc. for just those species).  Foresters could enter plants restricted to a particular forest or woodlot, enabling the Floristic Synthesis to link automatically these plants to their hundreds of related morphological, phenological, or ecological fields, including an automatically generated identification key.  Prior to embarking on a vacation or a trip, travelers could enter the names of plants reported to occur within a particular National Park, National Seashore, or lake site from an existing plant list or florula of that area, by simply obtaining such lists and entering the scientific names into the miniature Floristic Synthesis.  By doing so, a tailor-made Floristic Synthesis could be prepared automatically for any particular location and be available to them upon arrival.  Private landowners or farmers could produce the same kinds of lists.  Moreover, the Floristic Synthesis itself could serve as an identification source for plants of a particular property and the resulting list of species could be entered by the same means.  Even if one felt uncomfortable in attempting plant identifications, one could request the services of a plantsman for a few days at various times of the year to catalog all plants on the property for a single growing-season.  Once this list is established, a fully functioning miniature Floristic Synthesis could be produced and seen as a florula for that area.  If additional plants occurrences are added over time, the original list could be assembled and automatically incorporated into the florula


10) The Floristic Synthesis provides a portal for multiple plant descriptions. Tens of thousands of descriptions can be loaded into the system from multiple sources with search capabilities. If desirable, personalized notes can be included with each plant description.