Monday, 31 May 2010


In 1840 Bavarian botanist Carl Von Martius* began a complete census of the known species of plants in Brazil, a list which was finally published in 1906, long after his death. 22,000 species, which was an incredible achievement for the time.

The Jardim Botanico in Rio has just published online the updated version, an astronomical 37,488 plants and 3,633 fungi! Actually these are only the KNOWN species, it is estimated that there might be over 60,000 species on the final list, but no one really knows.

The list breaks down into 3,496 algae and seaweeds, 1,521 mosses, 1,521 ferns, 23 conifers and cycads and 31,255 "everything else". Why so many? Well, Brazil is NOT just the Amazon, or indeed the Mata Atlantica. As well as these incredibly fertile regions there are deserts, mountains, and thousands of miles of coastline. Virtually anything can, and does, grow here.

The online database is well laid out, and not only gives synonyms but also a little map showing distribution, with a bit of luck there might even be pictures in the future, who knows.

*why was a Bavarian botanist in Brazil? That's an interesting story, but for another time

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