Biodiv Sci ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (7): 22254.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2022254

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How many known vascular plant species are there in the world? An integration of multiple global plant databases

Hong Qian1,*(), Jian Zhang2, Jingchao Zhao2   

  1. 1. Research and Collections Center, Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL 62703, USA
    2. Zhejiang Tiantong Forest Ecosystem National Observation and Research Station, School of Ecological and Environmental Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
  • Received:2022-05-10 Accepted:2022-06-28 Online:2022-07-20 Published:2022-07-08
  • Contact: Hong Qian


Aims: Despite that vascular plants constitute an important component of overall global biodiversity and have been studied well over two centuries, the questions of “How many species of vascular plants are there in the world and how many of them have been discovered and described?” remain open. Here, we address the second of the two questions.
Method: We synthesized four global plant databases.
Results & Conclusions: Our study shows that for the entire global flora of vascular plants (including natural hybrids), 376,366 species have been discovered and validly described. When natural hybrids are excluded, the global flora includes 369,054 species of vascular plant species, of which pteridophytes (ferns and lycophytes), gymnosperms and angiosperms have 13,810, 1,172 and 354,072 species, respectively. The number of vascular plant species derived from our study is larger than any of the other four databases by at least 17,700 species.

Key words: angiosperm, flowering plant, gymnosperm, lycophyte, pteridophyte, species diversity