At the Missouri Botanical Garden, on December 3rd and 4th, 2007, a meeting, guided by Dr. Peter Raven of representatives of private and public arboreta and gardens, universities, and various professionals met to discuss the need and practicality of initiating, planning, and producing an updated and detailed accounting of all native and exotic plants that are found in cultivation in North America north of Mexico. The product would be a web-based information framework with resources that link knowledge that has been and will be generated and held at numerous sites throughout the world. The project will use centralized, constantly updated, specialist-generated lists of relevant species, varieties, and cultivars of concern that will have forward electronic links to specialized data resources.
Such a flora of cultivated plants would be of interest and use to designers of gardens, managers of landscapes, land-use planners and managers, agricultural, horticultural and recreational businesses, climate change interests groups, government planning and regulatory agencies, supplemental and alternative energy interests, and stakeholders across a large spectrum involved in quality of life issues. Knowledge about plants and other organisms existing in North America is crucial for wise maintenance and future planning initiatives within the region. A logical and complementary effort focused on providing knowledge about cultivated plants in North America north of Mexico.
The consortium of participating organizations initially will include representatives of various free-standing museums, universities, governmental and non-governmental agencies, and representative professional and amateur societies whose reason for existence includes the advancement of knowledge about plants, especially those plants found in cultivation
The project’s core concept comes from several famous and recognizable publications including the six-volume European Garden Flora, a work whose last volume appeared in 2000. Those printed volumes announced themselves to be the “definitive manual for the accurate identification of cultivated ornamental plants” and was designed to “meet the highest scientific standards.” Furthermore, that work was “kept as uncomplicated as possible so that the work is fully accessible to the informed nurseryman, gardener and landscape architect, as well as to the professional botanist.” These same concepts also form the central platform from which the proposed electronic “Cultivated Flora of North America” is based.
A steering committee was appointed and will be seeking interested parties and supporters as the project moves forward. The steering committee will be working to gather information on design, scope and execution, as well as seeking financial support through direct grants as well as indirect support of funding opportunities. This will be a ten year project that will provide detailed, authoritative information about plants found under cultivation in North America north of Mexico. It will include data on plants that are grown for food, other non-edible uses, and about those that add pleasure to our existence.