[PCA] NOTES: Summary of March 10 PCA Meeting

Plant Conservation plant at plantconservation.org
Fri Mar 19 10:34:05 CST 2004

These notes will be added to the website later, please let me know if
there are any corrections that need to be made!



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.


- Larry Morse (NatureServe): Botanical Society of Washington is presenting
at the Wahington Academy of Science in Ballston area (March 20-21).
- Wayne Owen (U.S. Forest Service): Celebrating Wildflowers seed packets
containing native species were developed for garden use; sample packets
distributed at meeting (Colorado blue columbine)
- Gary Krupnick (Smithsonian Dept. of Botany,
<http://www.nmnh.si.edu/botany/>): Smithsonian Botany Symposium,
"Botanical Progress, Horticultural Innovations, and Cultural Changes," on
May 6-8, 2004.  Sponsored jointly with Dumbarton Oaks, where May 6-7
portion of the Symposium will be held.  Saturday session (May 8) will be
at Smithsonian.  May register to attend one portion or both.
- See Smithsonian Dept. of Botany website for info on newly released book,
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
- Larry Morse: BSW trip planned in April to Great Falls; WV, Va. and Md.
Native Plant Societies also have full slates of trips planned for spring.
- Kathryn Kennedy (The Center for Plant Conservation
<http://www.centerforplantconservation.org/>): CPC's 2003 Plant
Conservation Directory has just been released; put together with funding
assistance from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).  The
directory is available on-line and printed copies will be available for
sale soon.


Updates on Committee Activities

Alien Plant (APWG, <http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/>):
- Looking for reviewers for fact sheets (notices on e-mail list)
- reprints of Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas will be
available for ordering soon (info will be on website).

Medicinal Plant (MPWG, <http://www.nps.gov/plants/medicinal/> Update from
Patricia De Angelis:
- Symposium on Industrial leadership for the Preservation of Medicinal and
Aromatic Plants II - Proceedings are being developed and will be available
on the website soon
- Regional Workshops - Three regional workshops are being planned so MPWG
can become familiar with medicinal plant issues across the U.S. and find
ways to promote MPWG activities.  Made possible with NFWF funding, the
meetings will likely be invite only with the idea that the workshops have
the potential to generate new partnerships and more in-depth meetings in
the future.  Three regions have been chosen: Eastern Mountain, Southwest
and Pacific Northwest.  The Eastern Mountain workshop is the furthest
along - invitations have already been sent out.  The focus will be to
collate regional research information on cultivation and sustainable
harvest of medicinal plants native to the Appalachians and the Ozarks.
- Garden Club of America-MPWG Partnership: GCA provides MPWG with major
volunteer base with which MPWG achieves its annual inventory and
monitoring activities.  This year (2004), five sites will be visited and
two new sites are being planned.  The sites are in Colorado, North
Carolina and Virginia.  Information on these field sites will be made
available on the MPWG website soon.
- Industrial Symposium III - time to start planning for the next
Symposium.  Nothing concrete as yet.
- Website - The MPWG website will soon show signs of life.  Working on
several ideas with the webmistress, Olivia Kwong, such as developing a
member directory, med. plant fact sheets in conjunction with the IUCN-SSC
Medicinal Plant Specialist Group
(<http://www.iucn.org/themes/ssc/sgs/mpsg/>), funding links, etc.

Native Plant Materials Development <http://www.nps.gov/plants/sos/> Olivia
speaking for Carol Spurrier:
- Developing searchable database of lists of target plants
- Student Conservation Association (SCA) teams are being trained this week
for seed collection.
- Last year, over 500 sample collections were sent to Royal Botanic
Gardens, Kew from the US (approximately 200 of which had been collected by
SCA teams).  The seeds are cleaned & tested by RBG and half are stored
there (with an agreement in place for US retaining ownership of the seed -
seed usage is to be specified by the US, not RBG).  The other half are
returned to the US to the USDA storage facility.
- Wayne Owen mentioned that the USDA Forest Service is drafting its native
plant materials use policy, similar to the work that NPMD is doing

Public Outreach:
- Endangered Species Poster just came out
- Per: Patricia De Angelis (FWS) - Garden Club of America is very
interested in having Dave Harrelson speak at an upcoming meeting

Restoration <http://www.nps.gov/plants/restore/>:
- No report

- Panel meeting next week to rank grant applications
- Updated project lists will be put on the web soon.

NGO Committee: Late addition to agenda!  Kathryn Kennedy (The Center for
Plant Conservation):
- Kathryn has volunteered to organize the NGO group for PCA!
- Will pull together the PCA Cooperators to operate in a cohesive manner
to support the efforts of the agencies
- Over next six months, she will contact signatories, ask what they have
to offer, what activities they would like to participate in, etc
- Will report at the next meeting.

Plant Conseration Alliance MOU:
- Officially has two signatories! (FWS and FS)
- Copies with the two signatures made available at meeting in case other
agencies needed to take back to their agency.  Let Olivia know if you were
not at the meeting and need a copy.


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 <http://www.bonap.org>):
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 (<http://www.bonap.org/>), 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:
-Can list by synonym (alphabetical listing of all synonyms; nearly 75,000
-Can list by valid binomial (with associated synonyms)
-Can pull up images!  Currently 16,000 of the 30,000 plants in Synthesis
have images associated with them.  Images run the gamut from full color
photographs to line drawings.
-New fields: Flower color, flower season, endemism

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:
- On the map, introduced species have a pink background (i.e. species that
were introduced to the US).  The program does not show native US species
which are introduced to other states/counties.
- State listed noxious weeds also have a specific map color within the
state that has it listed.
- County occurrences which have been found to be incorrect are shown as
- There are nearly 6 million records in this database!

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
Florida - too much lumping
Mississippi - behind the game, only just got the State list 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 - i.e. 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

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.
(<http://invader.dbs.umt.edu/>).  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 a botanical background, allowing them to more easily use the
Synthesis to explore North American plants (ie. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts,

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? (<http://plants.usda.gov/>)
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

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

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 (<http://herb.umd.umich.edu/>).

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 email.unc.edu>.

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