Information about this website

General Considerations:

The two main objectives for this website are: 1) to document the plants growing wild in the state, and 2) to aid in their identification. The information is intended to be useful to the amateur, and use of specialized jargon has been kept to a minimum.

Plants appearing on this website include both native and nonnative (introduced) species. Since introduced species comprise roughly a third of our flora, and are important contributors to the region's overall ecology, any reference omitting them would be incomplete by design. Thus, the criterion for inclusion on this website is that the species in question be documented growing wild in Missouri, or at least in a well-naturalized condition. Cultivars and horticultural forms, while perhaps beautiful and interesting in their own right, are explicitly excluded. Of course, this website is currently (and probably always will be) far from comprehensive. New species are added as images become available and as time permits.

Is That Plant Edible? Note that accurate identification of some species is very difficult, requiring experience and minute examination. No plant gathered from the wild should ever be consumed unless the identity is known beyond question and the species is known to be edible. "Natural" does not mean safe—there are lots of lethally poisonous plants to be found in Missouri (and elsewhere). Note, too, that there is difference between "edible" and "palatable."

Will That Plant Cure My Lumbago? A careful search will reveal some claimed medicinal use, either historical or contemporaneous, for nearly every plant in our flora. Native Americans, for example, used plants extensively because they were eager or desperate to cure the numerous afflictions which plagued mankind prior to science-based medicine. In most cases, clinical efficacy of these herbal remedies cannot be demonstrated. (There are a few notable exceptions, such as Artemisia annua extracts for treatment of malaria.) Once again we note the caveat that "natural" does not imply "safe," nor does it imply "efficacious." There is no conspiracy which seeks to conceal effectiveness of herbal treatments; there is simply nothing to conceal. Plants in our flora do contain secondary metabolites in a vast array of structural types, and one or more of these, or derivatives of them, might very well prove to be clinically useful. But that proof lies in research and objective testing, not anecdotal accounts, no matter how well intended.

Can I Use Those Photos? The photos on missouriplants.com are not to be used without permission. The good news is that permission for most purposes is easy to obtain by contacting us (missouriplants at yahoo dot com). The basic requirement is proper attribution—we have spent countless hours accumulating the images on these pages and do not wish the credit to go to others. Furthermore, the images on this site have all been greatly reduced in order to facilitate transmission over slower connections. In many cases, much higher resolution versions can be made available for appropriate uses.

Who's Minding the Site? This website is currently edited by members of the Missouri Native Plant Society, from a site originally begun by Dan Tenaglia. Feeback is welcomed via email (missouriplants at yahoo dot com). We appreciate being notified of errors (though we reserve the right to decide what is in error), and suggestions for future enhancements.

Sources:

The primary source of botanical information for this website was George Yatskievych's Steyermark's Flora of Missouri. This is currently the standard reference work for Missouri flora and a must-have for anyone with a serious interest in the wild plants of the state. George's vast knowledge and impeccable style have served as an inspiration to many.

Yatskievych's work was an update to previous work compiled by Julian Steyermark. Steyermark is considered the father of Missouri botany (at least in modern times), and during his lifetime collected tens of thousands of specimens throughout the state. His magnum opus Flora of Missouri was the state's first comprehensive floristic manual.

Since all printed botanical references begin to descend into obsolescence even before emerging from the presses, numerous more recent works have been used to supplement or replace the older information from the above sources. Important sources include the following.

Missouri Botanical Gardens Tropicos database (http://www.tropicos.org/) was consulted extensively for Missouri specimen and other data.

Dr. John Kartesz's BONAP’s Taxonomic Data Center (http://bonap.net/tdc) was the source for nearly all U.S. plant distribution data.

Ladd, D. and J.R. Thomas, Ecological checklist of the Missouri flora for Floristic Quality Assessment. Phytoneuron 2015-12: 1–274 contains numerous taxonomic revisions, as well as revised Coefficient of Conservatism values and other data.

Dr. Alan Weakley's Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States (University of North Carolina Herbarium, North Carolina Botanical Garden, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill NC 27599-3280)

Gleason and Cronquist, Manual of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada, 2nd ed., New York Botanical Garden, 1991

M.L. Fernald, Gray's Manual of Botany, 8th ed., D. Van Nostrand Co., 1950

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