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Planta Europeæ: enumeratio systematica et synonymica plantarum phanerogamicarum in Europa sponte crescentium vel mere inquilinarum

Nature volume 44, pages 100101 | Download Citation



WHAT is most wanted in systematic botany at the present time is a general flora of Europe, worked out for the different countries on one uniform plan, with the sub-species and varieties placed in their proper subordination under the primary specific types, and the synonyms worked out carefully. The number of plants in Europe is about the same as in the United States. For these Asa Gray planned a general flora in three volumes, of which the middle one, containing the Gamopetalæ, was published shortly before his death, and the first and third left in a forward state of preparation. Many years ago Mr. Bentham planned and carried out, with the assistance of Baron von Mueller, a complete flora of Australia. There are 40 or 50 per cent. more plants in India than in Europe. Sir Joseph Hooker's “Flora of British India,” containing descriptions and full synonymy of every species, has reached the end of the Dicotyledons, and in the last part the Orchideæ are finished, so that five-sixths of the work is now done. There is, however, no such book in existence as a general descriptive flora of Europe. For Europe the difficulty lies far more in the bibliography than in the plants themselves. An enormous number of subordinate forms have been described under specific names, and the number of channels of publication in the way of journals and reports of societies becomes greater and greater every year. Nyman's “Sylloge”, published in 1854-55, and his later “Conspectus,” have been a great boon to all European workers. Though they do not contain any descriptions, they give a tabular view of the whole European flora, tracing out in detail the geographical distribution of the species; and in the “Conspectus” especially, great pains has been taken to separate the subordinate from the primary types. The present work, like Nyman's, does not contain any descriptions. It deals with the geographical range of the species much more briefly, indicating it within the compass of a single line. Its strong point is bibliography, and it gives under species a list of all the names that have been applied to it by different authors, with a citation of the book and page where each name is published, with a note of the date of publication. The plan followed can be best illustrated by an example, and the following is the way in which the cultivated wheats are dealt with:—

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