BOT 360F - Families of Vascular Plants

Assignment 1 - some more results (2004)

From your introduction to online bibliographic tools on 14 September 2004 and, later, your tour of the botanical material in the Noranda Earth Sciences Library you will have gotten some ideas about how to find the information you need for your studies of vascular plant families (click HERE for some of the 2002 results).

You were assigned a family that is present in the flora of Ontario, at least adventively, that is not covered in detail in this course. Here are some examples of how some members of the class handled this assignment. Note that several sites (e.g. DELTA, TAMU, FNA, etc.) were visited by most of the class because of the comprehensive nature of their coverage. On the other hand, some sites like the Kew Record site seem to have been used by only a few students. Be careful! In researching academic subjects the chances are that a tool like Kew Record (or BIOSIS or Web of Science) will get you into the scientific literature much more quickly than the more general search tools that many of you employed.


Document title: Pollen grain morphology maple
Search strategy: insert "aceraceae" into yahoo
Description of the website: This site gives a very brief description of the family and its pollen. The site doesn't seem to be kept up to date, if I guess correctly, the "8/00" beside the author's name means "last updated august of 2000". The reference it used was dated in 1975, which might be fine, but there might be new additional info that's not presented by this site. Also, this appears to be the only reference. Two pages that this site links to no longer exist. The author of the site is Owen Davis and one can contact him via email. (X. Zou)



Website: [actually]
Search Method: I went on the BOT307 course website and found the suggested list of major botany websites. I then chose the website for Flora of North America, and found Annonaceae under the alphabetical listing of the families included.
Authorship: The author of the page is Robert Kral. His credentials are unknown. However, the Flora of North America Association is responsible for the page and is actively maintained at the Harvard University Herbarium.
Organization: A list of facts regarding vegetative and reproductive morphology is given for the Annonaceae family. The importance of the family in the tropics is given, as well as a short description of the direction of research of Annonaceae. A small key is also provided at the bottom of the page to identify several genuses in the family.
Strengths/Weaknesses: The references used are clearly stated near the bottom of the page. A list of related links to other databases and flora websites are available. There are also links to additional information on several genera of Annonaceae. Contact information for the Flora of North America Association can be found on the homepage. When the site was last updated is unknown. (J. Yip)
[The treatment of the Annonaceae on this site corresponds to that published in Flora of North America, Vol. 3 (1997).]



URL: [Plant DNA C-values Database (release 2.0, January 2003)]
Search Strategy: [BUBL LINK Catalogue of Internet Resources]
Review: This site uses Plant-C values-of which the authors provide a brief definition-to organize information on plants. I could search under Aquifoliaceae and have three hits. The site gave the highest, lowest and the mean of the Plant-C values as well as the original primary papers from which it was derived. The 'Paper' column shows the author's papers researching the particular Plant-C Value. His citation for the website is clearly stated on the search page and an email is available for further contact. The website is useful if one is concerned with plant genome size or related genetic work. The search engine is useful if one wants to search by category, but is not as easy to use as search engines where you can simply type the name of the family to look for websites. (C Tse)



URL: 56_1.htm
Strategy used: searched through sites that have plant databases and came upon and then searched for Aspleniaceae in its explorer link Description of website: Provides a hierarchy tree of the family, meaning it lists its kingdom, then phylum, then class, then order of which the family Aspleniaceae belongs to. Also lists genera of the family. The link to the genera opens a page listing the species. There is a link for each species which opens a page that has a distribution map.
Evaluation: This site provides a large list of species that belong to the family, meaning this is a very good database. For each species there is a distribution map of where the species is located in North America. No text about information of the family itself is not found. However, much information can be found about the species. Sections of the information provided include: classification, conservation status, distribution, ecology & life history, economic attributes, management summary, population/occurrence delineation, population/occurrence viability. Each description of the species clearly states the authors/contributors and references. There is also a link for a google search where more information may be obtained. This site is recently updated (July 2004), therefore the list of species is up to date. 82 records of species that belong to Aspleniaceae are found. All work is well organized. This site therefore would be very useful to find information about the species that belong to the family Aspleniaceae. (D. Tam)



NCBI Taxonomy Browser:
Searching the keyword 'Bignoniaceae' in the NCBI browser led to pages of very detailed information on the family Bignoniaceae that would be very useful for scientific research. However, readers need a strong scientific background to be able to comprehend the information presented. This website can get a little confusing when exploring it: On each page, there are many links to pages with many other links and it is easy to get a little lost and overwhelmed by all the technical information, however the pages provide very detailed, original information about plant morphology and lineage, nucleotide, protein, genome, and taxonomy/phylogeny. In addition, there are many links out to external information resources for further research. Because this website is maintained by the U.S. Government, the information given on this site are legitimate and updated regularly. (N. Soo)



The Royal Botanical Gardens - Kew Record of Taxonomic Literature
Universal Resource Locator (URL):
Search Strategy: Link is provided on the BOT307 website
Web Content:
Before I register on the website - There is nothing on record when I search for Butomaceae. Within Kew Record, search for the genus Butomus, instead of Butomaceae. By search for information on Butomus, 32 articles are found, with article name, author, journal name, year of publications, etc.
After I register on the website - I search for the Family Butomaceae, there are 112 documents listing available. Articles are listed by years of publication; the oldest article record available is from 1971. This is an excellent resource of finding literature on Butomaceae. With registration, it provides with a more thorough and advance search on the subject and larger number of reference available.
Authority: Royal Botanic Gardens; e-mail contact at the bottom of the page
Review: This is an excellent site of locating scientific literature on any plant family. The key to use this website is registration. It is a simple process, asking only for your name, organization you belong to, and e-mail address. After you fill out the information, you are automatically registered for 10 years! (F. Song)




Search Engine:

NCBI Taxonomy Browser


Typed Callitrichaceae into the search box.


The credit for the information on the site goes to: Joe Bischoff, Mikhail Domrachev, Scott Federhen, Carol Hotton, Detlef Leipe, Vladimir Soussov, Richard Sternberg, Sean Turner.


Lists the different species in Callitrichaceae and each is a link leading to more information about the species.  Taxonomy ID, rank, genetic code, mitcochondrial genetic code are provided as well as Entrez records on nucleotide, protein, popset and taxonomy (which are all links leading to the appropriate information of the species).

Original information or

Based on other sources?:

The information is based on other sources because Entrez and Genbank searches are usually created by scientists all over the world inputting their information onto the databases.

Sources Stated:

No sources are stated but a list of names of credits is provided at the bottom of the page.  (See author section)

Other references provided?:

Yes, the Entrez records are all links leading to other pages (that belong to NCBI) with information about the specific species.  There are also external information resources provided which are links to websites outside NCBI which contain information about the species.   


The species of Callitriche were further investigated on the site and the origin sequence of the species is provided on this link:

The species' protein sequence is provided at this link:

(U. Shah)



Website Title: NCBI Taxonomy Browser
Author(s): Not specified, but website credits go to: J. Bischoff, M. Domrachev, S. Federhen, C. Hotton, D. Leipe, V. Soussov, R. Sternberg and S. Turner.
Contact Information: Send questions and comments about the site to
Search Strategy: Recommended in the BOT 307H1F Plant Vascular Family website.
Review: The site is a collection of journal articles, gene sequences, protein sequences, 3D domains and links. To find information on the Caryophyllaceae, type the name of the family into the search box. Links to the family and individual species will appear. For more information, checkmark all the boxes below the search box. Links to articles, protein sequences, gene sequences, structure and 3D domains will appear. This site is an excellent source for primary literature and gene sequences. For example, the site provides the gene sequence for DicGT1 mRNA for Dianthus caryophyllus. To see the gene sequence, click the <Nucleotide> icon at the top of the page and search for <Caryophyllaceae> or <Dianthus caryophyllus>. Another benefit of the site is that it is continuously being updated. (K. Rivera)



Search Method: Google -
Website: Rockrose family (Cistaceae) - http://www.botanical-
Author: Vincent Martinez Centelles. His credentials are not given although he hosts a large website. His contact information is available at the bottom of the Botanical-Online homepage.
Evaluation: The website, along with being in three languages, covers a huge scope of dealing with many aspects of plants. Although a large website, it is most likely a personal page as it has a guestbook, and the information, therefore, should be treated carefully. It provides basic information about the family along with the important genera. The information is also most likely secondary. Some pictures of species in the important genera are also given. References and acknowledgements for work on his website have their contact information listed on the bottom of the homepage. The site also contains advertisements which, along with the missing credentials of the author, damage its credibility. Links can be found from the homepage leading to other websites including those in different languages. I would recommend this website to people interested in botany, but not worried about detail. (J. Pun)



Search Strategy: Used the search engine infomine ( This search engine lead to more sites with material content that had more depth and substance than the other URLs retrieved using google and WebCrawler. [It's true that this search engine returns mostly academic sites, but it knows about far fewer sites than does, say, google. For example, it doesn't seem to know about any BOT307 family pages because evidently no one has told it about them. Rosaceae is a good example to try; the BOT307 page comes up on the 7th page of google hits; Infomine finds only 16 sites.]
This web page [part of the website, "The Parasitic Plant Connection"] presented the information in a very organized layout with bolded headings and all information provided included listed references that indicated secondary sources. The link back to the homepage showed that this website was affiliated with a university institution. This homepage was set up in such a way that there was a separate icon for contact information, references and other links to obtain more information. Through the listed criteria, this website not only provides a sufficient amount of content but also a reliable and factual information about convolvulaceae. (J. Ongcangco)


Crassulaceae Beautiful Flowers of France
Search strategy: google-Crassulaceae
Research: Secondary and Primary
Author: Erick Dronnet
Description: Included range of plant type, general morphology of leaves flowers and fruit and reproductive type. There were additional pages with specific species that included photos and specific information regarding leaf and stem and flower morphology and location. The information was good and there also was a table of evolutionary classification and the position of the Crassulaceae family within them. The author also provided contact information and links to related sites. Initially the site was in French but google translated it to English. (M. Mpela)



URL: Search Strategy: I have previously visited this page. I decided to use this page to search for information on Dennstaedtiaceae, and found it.
Information Provided: Information on the genera of Dennstaedtiaceae are listed as up-to-date news, books, and links.
Evaluation of the URL: ScienceDaily connects you to news, books and webpages regarding your search terms. The pages on Dennstaedtiaceae genera do not list news or books but do have links to webpages with information on each genus.
Overall: The page does not provide any information. However, it is useful to link to other pages that will provide information.

NOTE: In searching for websites, it felt very comfortable using websites to which I am accustomed. I also used sites listed on the bot307 webpage, sites located from the directory listed on the bot307 webpage, and sites found using the search engine Google. The fastest and most effective search method of all was using sites that I am accustomed to. Using websites listed on bot307 took more time as I had to familiarize myself with the site, though I did find reliable information. Using the directory, was more time consuming because of the sheer size of the directory. Using google was very strenuous and tiring, but was necessary because the family Dennstaedtiaceae was not listed in the other websites given on the bot307 coursepage. (S. Meerwali)

[As with Infomine above, sciencedaily doesn't seem to return anywhere near the riches that google does (try for yourself to see if any BOT307 pages (for example) that deal with families that we've studied are found. "Comfort" may not be the best criterion to go by in searching for information, and instead it may be helpful to get comfortable scanning google output for sites that look promising.]

Search Strategy: I used INFOMINE ( and typed "plant families" in the search box. I went through all the websites and chose "SWISS_PROT" and then typed "Dryopteridaceae" and selected NEWT Taxonomy in options. It displayed one hit for Dryopteridaceae.
Authority/Affiliation: Swiss-Prot uses NCBI databases as cross-referenced databases. Additionally, Swiss-Prot has their own several databases. This website is affiliated with by the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics which provides them with ExPASy (Expert Protein Analysis System) proteomics (web) server.
Currency: Like NCBI Taxonomy, Swiss-Prot website is constantly modified and updated. Content Coverage/Reliability/Accuracy: Swiss-Prot provides the information nucleotide, protein sequences or gene obtained from a particular organism similar to NCBI taxonomy website. Swiss-Prot's results show the number of Swiss-Prot entries along with TrEMBL entries. Unlike NCBI, Swiss-Prot does not provide any external information on the organism instead it strictly gives the protein or gene sequenced obtained from the organism. This website provides accurate and reliable information as it cross-references with other databases from NCBI. Organization: Unlike the NCBI website organization, Swiss-Prot shows the results in a very organized way. It displays the database entry in very effective way as all the information is organized under headings. The sequences are displayed in two different formats. Also, the name of protein and gene are clearly stated Conclusion: I like Swiss-Prot website better than NCBI taxonomy website because Swiss-Prot website was easy to follow and also easy to perform search. Additionally, I was quickly able to pick out the species I searched in NCBI to find proteins and genes obtained from it. Swiss-Prot also mentioned the gene named rbcL obtained from this specie in contrast to NCBI taxonomy which only gave the name of protein. (S. Malik)



Search Strategy: from The New York Botanical Garden Vascular Plant Types Database a search for my family generated this site
Evaluation: This site is a catalogue of about 606 specimens under the taxa of the family Eriocaulaceae: Carptotepala, Dupatya, Eriocaulon, Fockonia, Lachnocaulon, Leiothrix, Mesanthemum, Paepalanthus, Rondonanthus, Syngonanthus, Tonina and Wurdackia. Specific plant specimens were given a current name, the collector, brief description, location, habitat and type. Detailed images for each specimen were provided. This site would be useful for research in a particular plant in the family, but not for general information about Eriocaulaceae. The New York Botanical Garden is a museum with educational and research programs related with plants. (V. Liu)



Search strategy: Subject directories defined [], Flowering Plant Gateway

Wikipedia is a free content encyclopedia written collaboratively by contributors worldwide. The author of the document is not provided since everyone is freely to edit and modify the content of this page and the author's qualification to write on the topic remains unknown. This is an example of non-authoritative source and the visitors looking for references should be suspicious and selective. (W. Li)



Search Method: This website was found by searching for the term, "Lauraceae" in the Google search engine.
This webpage provides very brief and general information about the plant family, Lauraceae. The common name, a brief description of the Lauraceae family's characteristics, number of species within the family and taxonomic classification are provided. This page is published by Athenic Systems, an information technology company that specializes in providing general information regarding plant families, including Lauraceae, to the general public and to organizations that manage land (e.g. botanical gardens, cities, landscapers). Athenic Systems obtains its information from its own botanists, horticulturists and foresters, as well as the University of Kentucky. Sources are not listed on website. Links to species of plants belonging to Lauraceae are provided. These links lead to pages that provide the genus and species names of the plant and its area of distribution in the world. (P. Kwan)



Website: The Jepson Manual
Search Strategy: Link from California Native Plant LINK EXCHANGE
Contact: Tom Rosatti and Richard Moe
Credit: James C. Hickman, B.G. Baldwin, S. Boyd, B.J. Ertter, D.J. Keil, R.W. Patterson, T.J. Rosatti, and D.H. Wilken.
Evaluation: This website is essentially a flora for California. It provides two keys which cover nine of the ten (according to this website) species in the family. Provides habit, morphological and anatomical details for the family, genus, and the nine out of ten species present in family. Each species also has ecology, elevation, bioregional distribution map for California, and distribution outside of California where applicable is listed. Of special interest is potential threats to the species (such as agriculture) and a link to the Jepson Horticultural Database which has horticultural information for some of the species. Overall this is a superb website. It is particularly suited to the Limnanthaceae because almost all the species in this family are present in California, and as a result are listed on this website. (W. Iles)


Search Method:; Web search query: "lycopodiaceae"
Organization: The Provincial Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador; Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation
Image Credit: Unstated
Review: This web site mainly serves as a virtual tour on plants found in Newfoundland and Labrador. Quality digital pictures of plant genera that belong to family Lycopodiaceae are displayed by clicking on the genera names. The names of the photographers are stated for every group of pictures. The major point of improvement of this web site would be its lack of text and descriptions on the plants of interest. Images are categorized by parts of the plant body; descriptions of where the photos were taken are displayed on the headings. The photographers seem to work for the organization. (T. Hsieh)



Website's Name: American Journal of Botany
URL: =relevance &author1=&fulltext=Melastomataceae&pubdate _year=&volume= &firstpage= [Note that if you click on this link you will have to log in as a U of T student, staff member, or other person who is authorized to use the U of T online journal subscriptions]
Search Strategy: By going to the University of Toronto's library web page, I had access to e-journals. Then by typing in a key search word such as "Botany", a number of journals containing that word showed up. I chose to browse through the American Journal of Botany and searched for the family "Melastomataceae".
Evaluation: This URL resulted in finding 31 articles about Melastomataceae. Therefore, the information that was provided was original and they were clearly acknowledged. This site mainly consisted of a myriad of articles that could be read online and were relevant to my family of interest. The information that was provided about the family varied from journal to journal, although I did come across some journals which provided general information about the family followed by the related research information. The homepage did provide links to other related websites; however, what I found very interesting was that it was possible to search for Melastomataceae in other journals directly from this URL, as it was an option available at the bottom of the page, making it possible to access other references very easily. I have to say that one of the best ways to find information about the family is through e-journals and students who do have access to this method should take advantage of it. (S. Gupta)



Website: Washington State Department of Ecology
How I found it: Through Yahoo , search words Menyanthaceae
Author: Kathy Hamel
Contact info:
Author Credentials: N/A
Last updated: N/A
The State of Washington does not warrant accuracy of information published on this system. Although the information is useful and well presented, the website is not reliable since there are no claims of reliability of the information on this website and information about the author credentials of this site is not available either. Also, the website does not provide other links to other pages with information on this plant family.
Positive: This is a very useful site. It is an online version of the aquatic plant identification manual for Washington's Freshwater Plants. This site is easy to use, as I just went right to the plant species index to find my information. It gives a short description of the leaf, step, flower, fruit, root, propagation, importance of plant, distribution and habitat. A useful thing is that they have a section that explains what the plant may be confused with providing a link to that as well. It also provides pictures of the flowers as well. (C. Gulesserian)



Digital Flora of Texas, Texas A&M University ull&coll=flora-family&type=docnums&query=11
Search method: While browsing around the Digital Flora of Texas website, I happened to stumble on some links that led to the TAMU Bioinformatics Working Group site, and even more clicking led to this page (, which allowed me to search for the family I needed.
This is a very informative page, not just because it talks about the vegetative and reproductive morphology of the Nyssaceae, but because it also explains this family's relationship with a very close relative, the Cornaceae. The page explains when Nyssaceae and Cornaceae are considered as one family, and when they are not (which also sheds light on why there are so few pages on the web dedicated to the general characteristics of the Nyssaceae family). It then further explains in great detail the characteristics of the genus Nyssa and its species, such as morphology (vegetative, reproductive, fruit) and geographical location, as well as practical uses. The author, Monique Reed, is a Texas A&M Herbarium botanist. This primary source web page, along with the DELTA page, is probably one of the best sites on the web to find various Nyssaceae characteristics. (J. Geronimo)



Document Title: Osmunda regalis: Flora of Northern Ireland web site
Search Strategy: Using the Google search engine using the keywords "family Osmundaceae", I found this website that contained a database of the flora that are present in Northern Ireland. A further search on the website (using the family name) led me to the specific species indicated.
Content: Provides general description of the species regarding habitat and morphology. Photos and maps are also available. A high school student can understand information presented.
Authority: No specific author is mentioned. However, the website states that the information in the database was collected through the Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI) Atlas 2000 Project. Botanists from the UK and Ireland performed detailed surveys of the flowering plants and ferns growing in the area. The information was gathered from various survey teams in Ireland and from the Botany Department of the Ulster Museum. There were links to all the contributing groups and contact information was available. The records are held electronically by the Vascular Plant Database for Northern Ireland (VPDNI).
Affiliation: The sponsors of the website are the Environment and Heritage Service (EHS) and the Ulster Museum (which runs a collection-centered environmental project called Habitas). EHS is an agency with the Department of Environment of the Northern Ireland government.
Currency: There is no specific date mentioned or dates of update. There is a copyright date of 2000-2004 from the EHS. The information was collected from the BSBI Atlas 2000 Project that ran from 1995 to 1999. All links in the website are updated and appears to be well maintained.
Reliability/Accuracy: The material appears to be factual, accurate, and reliable as major agencies with the government and museums are involved. Links to all the organizations involved in the project are available and the information gathered appears to be original research material. The contribution of information from the museum, however, is not clearly stated and may be secondary.
Weaknesses/Strengths: Information appears to be from reliable sources. However, the information for this specific species is short and not very detailed.
(J. Esguerra)



Flora of China Website -
Search Strategy - I used the search engine, which uses,,, and, to come up with a list of websites.
Authorship - This website was based on the Flora of China book outlining the botanical diversity of China. The authors for this page are Qiu Huaxing and C. Thomas Philbrick. There is no information suggesting that this is a government sponsored project; however the site mentions many collaborations with other botanical institutions such as the Missouri Botanical Garden.
Content - The site provides information about the general appearance of the plant, reproductive type, and prevalence in China. There is only one source cited - a journal article from Popularis Sin.
Organization - The families are arranged according to the volume and page in the actual Flora of China.
Stength/Weakness - All the information about Podostemaceae is on short page, making it easy to view; however, the text was written in a manner that was difficult to read. The text lacked any sentence structure; it just listed features of the plant family.
Are there links? There were no links to other sites about Podostemaceae, but there were links to other Floras, such as of Pakistan, North America, and Missouri on the homepage. There were also links to many online periodical resources. (S. Chung)



FloraBase - the Western Australian Flora:
The BIOME website also listed this site as a search result.
The author of this page is Leslie Watson, who is one of the editors of the WAGENERA (Western Australian Genera) project. This site is sponsored by Western Australian Herbarium and the Australian government. It has a very clear layout with clear subheadings and has more detail than the websites discussed above. There is also a small section on physiology and biochemistry, which is not found on other sites. There is a map showing the location of species belonging to this family in Western Australia and a link to a list of books on related topics. This, along with the Flora of North America website, is the best internet resource for researching plant families. (D. Chung)



Title: Eichhornia Crassipes - Pontederiaceae/Pickerelweed Family
Search Strategy:
i) Internet Directory for Botany, micro/idb-alpha/bot-bc.html#c, search for Pontederiaceae

ii) Link to (University of Florida, Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants - IFAS)
iii) Link to
iv) Search by common name, keyword
v) Link to
vi) Link to (Information from the book, Identification & Biology of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas)
i) Plant vegetative morphology
ii) Ecological significance
iii) Geographical distribution
iv) Life history - Reproduction
v) Two pictures of the eichhornia crassipes
Author(s): Langeland and Burks
Evaluation: At first, I found the IFAS homepage a little confusing to read being bombarded with links to different botanical sites and pictures, but once I found the link for plant information and pictures, it was quite easy to navigate through. There was also a link to a glossary in which I found quite useful. This website that I came upon contained information regarding Eichhornia crassipes (water hyacinth), which is one genus classified under the Pontederiaceae family, and its role as a non-native invasive species in the United States. The information provided about the plants vegetative morphology and reproductive mechanism was easy to read and to understand without any of the heavy scientific terminology used by most of the websites above. There were only two pictures provided which were not very clear, and additional links for more information regarding Eichhornia crasspies or its family, Pontederiaceae, were not available. I am not sure if this information is original. It was extracted from a book authored by Langeland and Burks called the Identification & Biology of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas, but sources were not acknowledged. Overall, I found the IFAS homepage to be very useful in researching invasive plant species in North America, in addition to the Pontederiaceae family.
(K. Chin)



Native Plants of Montara Mountain
This site is maintained by Chuck Kozak, with its latest update in October of 1999.
The information is not fully original, as the website includes a list of references used while the site was compiled. There are about 20 links to general botany sites and sites pertaining to natural areas in and around Montara Mountain, south of San Francisco, California. The site includes general information on the family Pteridaceae and more specifically on the species Pentagramma triangularis (Golden Black Fern). Information on this genus includes data on Fronds, Pinnae, Sori distribution and status. There are no links specifically to Pteridaceae. This website was found via "Google search", when the word Pteridaceae was typed in.
(F. Bourqui)



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