World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions

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The World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions is a biogeography system developed by the international Biodiversity Information Standards—TDWG, formerly The International Working Group on Taxonomic Databases.[1] Developing these standards for data fields in botanical databases was done to promote the wider and more effective dissemination of information about the World's heritage of biological organisms for the benefit of the world at large.

Plant Distribution scales[edit]

The scheme provides scale standards to use for describing plant distributions, approximately from continents down to the country level. It defines geographic places at four scales:[1]

  1. Continental — botanical continents
  2. Regional or sub-continental;
  3. "Botanical Country" — generally equates to a political country, but may split large countries or omit outlying areas.
  4. "Basic Recording Units" — only used for very large countries, to subdivide into states or provinces on purely political grounds.

Continental scale[edit]

The World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions defines nine botanical continents:

Principles of organization[edit]

The scheme is particularly aimed at taxonomic databases.[2] It represents a compromise between political and botanical divisions. All boundaries either follow a political boundary (country boundary, province boundary, etc.), or coast lines.[3] The scheme aims to follow botanical tradition, in terms of the categories of works like the Flora Europaea, Flora Malesiana, or Med-Checklist.[4]


For more botanical classifications using phytogeography, the scheme's document endorses the Floristic kingdoms, Floristic regions, and Floristic provinces, as classified by Armen Takhtajan.[5]


Works using the scheme include the World Conservation Union—IUCN;[6] the Germplasm Resources Information Network—GRIN, and the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, published by Kew Gardens;[7]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Biodiversity Information Standards—TDWG: Scheme homepage . accessed 4.4.2013
  2. ^ Brummitt, 2001, page iii
  3. ^ Brummitt, 2001, page ix
  4. ^ Brummitt, 2001, page xiii
  5. ^ Brummitt, 2001, page v, citing A. Takhtajan (1986). Floristic Regions of the World.
  6. ^ TDWG: Usage Info
  7. ^ "About the Checklist". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 

External links[edit]