What a great resource to find as we near Spring!
From the webpage:
The International Plant Names Index (IPNI) is a database of the names and associated basic bibliographical details of seed plants, ferns and lycophytes. Its goal is to eliminate the need for repeated reference to primary sources for basic bibliographic information about plant names. The data are freely available and are gradually being standardized and checked. IPNI will be a dynamic resource, depending on direct contributions by all members of the botanical community.
I entered the first plant name that came to mind: Peyote.
No “hits.” ?
Wikipedia gives Peyote’s binomial name as: Lophophora williamsii (think synonym).*
Searching on Lophophora williamsii, I got three (3) “hits.”
Had I bothered to read the FAQ before searching:
10. Can I use IPNI to search by common (vernacular) name?
No. IPNI does not include vernacular names of plants as these are rarely formally published. If you are looking for information about a plant for which you only have a common name you may find the following resources useful. (Please note that these links are to external sites which are not maintained by IPNI)
- The Royal Horticultural Society Plant Finder is a useful site for cultivar names
- Horticopia is a source of horticulutural plant information. You can browse plant lists but full information is available by subscription.
- SEPASAL contains information on useful plants from arid and semi-arid lands, and allows searches by vernacular names from many countries
- Raintree has alphabetical lists of common and scientific names of rainforest plants
- The USDA’s Plants database has common names for plants from the US
- Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database is searchable in any language and script and holds a lot of information including an index of medicinal plants
- For a reference book including many English vernacular names try Mabberley’s Plant-Book, A Portable Dictionary of Plants, their Classifications, and Uses, 3rd Edition by D.J.Mabberley (Cambridge University Press, 2008)
I understand the need to specialize in one form of names but “formally published” means that without a useful synonyms list, the general public has an additional burden to access publicly funded research results.
Even with a synonym list there is an additional burden because you have to look up terms in the list, then read the text with that understanding and then back to the synonym list again.
What would dramatically increase public access to publicly funded research would be to have a specialized synonym list for publications that transposes the jargon in articles to selected sets of synonyms. Would not be as precise or grammatical as the original, but it would allow the reading pubic to get a sense of even very technical research.
That could be a way to hitch topic maps to the access to publicly funded data band wagon.
I first saw this in a tweet by Bill Baker.
* A couple of other fun facts from Wikipedia on Peyote: 1. It’s conservation status is listed as “apparently secure,” and 2. Wikipedia has photos of Peyote “in the wild.” I suppose saying “Peyote growing in a pot” would raise too many questions.