Systematics of agricultural plants II


Project Number: 1275-21000-111-00D Researchers: Kirkbride, J. H.; Wiersema, J. H.; Rossman, A. Y. Start Date: 18-May-95 End Date: 17-May-00 Performing Institution: BELTSVILLE AGR RES CENTER, BELTSVILLE, MARYLAND 20705

Research Objectives: Develop a comprehensive monograph of Lotus subgenus Pedrosia including horticulturally important forage crops. Develop a database on fruits and seeds of faboid legumes with a key and an illustrated text for identification. Revise and publish a comprehensive reference resource on the scientific and common names of vascular plants important in national and international agriculture.

Approach: Taxonomic literature, type and reference specimens of Lotus subgenus Pedrosia will be used to develop accurate and complete descriptions of species and infraspecific taxa. Data will be constructed in DELTA format to produce keys and determine evolutionary hypothesis using cladistic techniques. A similar approach will be used for the project on faboid fruits and seeds including the preparation of SEM and line-drawings for illustrations. The reference resource on scientific and common names of vascular plants and the account of scientific names in the Rosaceae involve reviewing all scientific names based on accurate nomenclature for authors synonyms, common names, distribution, taxonomic references, and plant uses. Data will be available through GRIN.

Progress: Accurate scientific and common names of crop plants are essential for communication about agricultural commodities. Scientific names provide a unique, accepted name for each vascular plant while common names may differ throughout the U.S. and regions of the world. The scientific names of about 50,000 species of vascular plants have been reviewed for accuracy and related to important common names, geographic distribution and economic uses. These taxonomic data are accessed through the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) and are available to users over the Internet at . A publication concerning comprehensive information on about 10,000 economically important vascular plants is almost completed. A CRADA was signed to facilitate the publication of this information. Accurate scientific names are the vehicle through which all data on plant germplasm are linked. Seeds are the most common form of commercial exchange of agricultural crops. A standard nomenclature dealing with seed crops was produced and published of all scientific names of vascular plants important to the commercial seed industry. This reference is used to expedite the national and international commercial exchange of agriculturally important crops as seeds. This project provides an accurate and authoritative reference site for scientific and common names of plants that is used by plant breeders, agronomists, farmers, extension agents, plant quarantine officials, commodity exchange personnel and most people involved in agriculture. Seeds in the legume tribe that includes peas and beans are commercially important as food crops and noxious weeds. In order to accurately identify these seeds, a comprehensive reference manual is needed. A hardcopy reference and database have been developed that includes an interactive key for the identification of seeds in the 450 faboid genera as well as descriptions and illustrations. This reference will be used by plant regulatory and seed trade officials as well as scientists throughout the world. A second project on legumes involves the poorly understood genus, Lotus or bird’s-foot trefoil, a major forage crop and ground cover in pastures and along highways in the United States. Many species of Lotus as susceptible to root and crown rotting organisms, and the common cultivars are annuals. The five most agriculturally important taxa of Lotus have been described along with a key for their identification. A worldwide checklist includes all Lotus species with their geographic distributions. This work will support agricultural scientists in searching for new germplasm and developing forage crops for increased feed, pasture improvement and soil conservations


  1. KIRKBRIDE, JR., J.H. and WIERSEMA, J.H. 1997. Bobgunnia, a new African genus of tribe Swartzieae (Fabaceae, Faboidea). Brittonia
  2. HELLQUIST, C.B. and WIERSEMA, J.H. 1996. Observations on native Nymphaea of northern North America and their use in water gardening. Water Garden Journal 12:9-15.
  3. KIRKBRIDE, JR., J.H. 1997. Manipulus rubiacearum-VI. Brittonia
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