Plant Taxon (Scientific Name) Lookup

Lookup Latin plant names in internationally recognized plant lists either WCVP (Kew) or WFO.
You are encouraged to experiment with the lookup, it will not change any of your own plant data.
Cannot lookup cultivars, ex: Aeonium 'Kiwi'.
For hybrids use multiplication sign × not x.

You are encouraged to experiment with the lookup, it will not change any of your own plant data.

The main purpose of 'Taxon Lookup' is to check that your plant names are considered 'accepted' (see below).
In addition lookup can point out any spelling mistakes or syntax errors in your plant names.

The lookup does not find plant names from images, you can use an online application like Google Lens to find the names of plants from photos.

The lookup uses one of two sets of data, WCVP (World Checklist of Vascular Plants) or WFO (World Flora Online).
WCVP is administered by Kew Gardens, new data sets are released about every 4 months.
WFO is administered by a consortium of Taxonomic Experts, new data sets are released about every 6 months.
Although WCVP is considered the standard WFO is offered because there are a few differences between the two.

Both data sets are stored within MOP-DB and are optimized for speed. Each has information for about 1.5 million plants.
In order to stay current MOP-DB intends to grab the lists from WCVP and WFO when new ones are released.

Note that neither data set contains cultivars like Aeonium 'Kiwi'.

Whether the lookup should consider upper and lower case when searching.
If you are logged in the default value is taken from your personal settings, see Settings in the main Help.

When this is checked and a plant name is not found in the authority's data set some alternative suggestions will be made. Depending on the situation making suggestions can make the lookup slower.

If you are logged in the default value for 'Suggestions' is taken from your personal settings, see Settings in the main Help.

The first suggestion stage analyzes the scientific name and breaks it into it's parts - genus, epithet, infra-epithet, etc. Those parts are then run through a spell checker that uses dictionaries built from the authorities' data. Like any spell checker a list of alternative spellings is produced, these alternatives are looked up in the authority's data and any that are found are shown. The number of spellings used depends on the 'Depth' setting.

The next stage looks up just the genus, epithet, and infra-epithet. Connecting terms like 'var.' are ignored which can result in finding plants that have been renamed slightly. A recent renaming trend is to change 'var.' to 'subsp.' this stage will find those.

The following stages use the combinations 'genus + epithet', 'genus + empty epithet', and 'epithet + infra-epithet' to find results.

When using 'Single' mode only 'Scientific Name' will be used to make suggestions and only if an exact match for that 'Scientific Name' is not found.

This setting limits the number of results to show per plant name. It is used in 'Single' mode and when 'Suggestions' are produced. If you are logged in the default is taken from your personal settings, see Settings in the main Help.

'Depth' controls the number of spell checker suggestions to try when a plant name is not found. It is only used when 'Suggestions' is checked. The higher the value the more attempts are made to find the plant name therefore the longer it will take, although in some circumstances the extra time is negligable. If the name you are looking up has multiple spelling mistakes raising the value of 'Depth' might produce a hit.
Selecting a Depth value of 10 or more invokes a more verbose spell check mode which can take longer but might produce more results.
If you are logged in the default value is taken from your personal settings, see Settings in the main Help.

This error can occur when the list of plants found cannot fit in available memory. The error is fatal meaning the lookup cannot continue. If you get this error use your back button to return to the search tool and narrow the search criteria.

1) Lookups currently do not find scientific plant names that include English, examples: 'Aloe Hybrid' or 'Cereus forbesii monstrose'. Also they will not find names with a comment (starting with a comma or open parenthesis) examples: 'Aloe arborescens, Yellow form' or 'Aloe (#2)'. And they will often not find names with cristata, monstrosa, etc. although they are Latin words the WCVP and WFO data doesn't always include those forms of a plant, probably because they are just a growth form rather than a seperate plant.
However 'Suggestions' comes to the rescue; with it enabled further lookups will be made ignoring the extra words.

2) There are plants in WCVP and WFO that have a status of 'Invalid', 'Illegitimate', 'Misapplied', 'Unchecked', or 'Unplaced', one can only assume that they are there because, although incorrect, they have information that needs to be retained. MOP-DB also keeps those plants in its lists which can lead to confusion at times. When your lookup only has results with a status being one of the above you can assume the name is not valid. However your lookup might also find a name with a status of 'Accepted' which should be considered valid.

See the section called 'Plant Scientific Names' on this website's main Help page, and a PDF document explaining some of the syntax at 'Plant Name Syntax'. Both can also be accessed using help in the main menu.

When a lookup finds a plant with a status of 'Accepted' it is the recommended name to use. Obviously plants you obtained in the past may have been renamed, but it is also possible that you were given the wrong name, nurseries are not always accurate with their names.

The 'accepted' name of a plant is not necessarily either unique or static. Organizations like WCVP and WFO are attempting to manage lists of the accepted names of all known plants, however they don't always agree. Now that we have molecular analysis enabling us to see the DNA of plants we are finding there are plants that need to be moved from their current species or even genus to another, hence they need to be renamed.
When a DNA researcher proposes a rename it has to be agreed by the authorities before they will publish it.

If you have a mind to keep the names of your plants up to date you can run a lookup of all your pants each time MOP-DB grabs a new list.

Driven by the results of molecular analysis (DNA), many species have been re-named recently. Name changes have been dubbed with the terms lumping and splitting, used by Charles Darwin back in 1857.

Lumping is when it is found that two plants are actually the same species, resulting in both being given the same (scientific) name.
Splitting is when it is found that two plants that had been given the same name are different, one of them is given a different name, possibly an already existing name.

The trend in the early 2020's is towards lumping, perhaps driven by the idea that unless DNA shows differences between species then they are the same. However there are many folks in plant collection and production who are of the opinion that lumping has been over-zealous and that DNA analysis is not yet sufficiently advanced to make such decisions.
On the other hand there is an opportunity for DNA analysis to show us when two previously considered different species are really the same leading to a much needed reduction in the number of names being used.


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