Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Native or not?

A few days ago, while emailing with Joe Marcus – collections manager and native plant information specialist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center – I asked why isn't Sida filicaulis (spreading sida) listed in the plant image database? His reply was interesting, so I thought I'd share:

"Great question!  The answer is a bit complicated.
"Our taxonomic authority is The Synthesis of North American Flora, a database of all vascular plants found in North America, north of Mexico. The USDA Plants website uses the same taxonomic authority. These resources list Sida filicaulis as a synonym for Sida abutifolia. So Sida abutifolia is the correct name for the species according to our authority on botanical names.
"Here’s where the question gets interesting. The USDA Plants website considers Sida abutifolia an introduced species in North America (native to Puerto Rico). In general, we use nativity information found on the USDA Plants website to determine whether or not we publish a species in NPIN, though we’re not locked into that the way we are on botanical names. Since USDA Plants considers the species non-native, we have not included in the NPIN databases. However, another USDA website, USDA ARS-GRIN – which usually has excellent distribution information – considers the plant to be native to Florida, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona as well as other places outside North America. If we followed USDA ARS-GRIN we could include Sida abutifolia in NPIN. I’ve been considering doing just that pending a more thorough investigation of the scientific literature.
"Thus, a very real answer to your question is that it may not be listed in NPIN because I haven’t yet pursued it. When I can carve out some time to do that, I will."

Thanks, Joe!

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