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Plant Species Numbers

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Even today the number of plant species currently in existence is not clear. New species are still being identified and calculating anything like an accurate number is further complicated by the many examples of the same species in different areas being known by different names. Target 1 of the GSPC calls for “a widely accessible working list of know plant species, as a step towards a complete world flora, and it is expected that the working list will be complete by 2008. In the meantime, the best estimate we have of the number of known plant species is around 400,000.

How many of these plant species are under threat is also unclear. In 1997, the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN) Red List of Plants included some 34,000 threatened species (out of 60,000 evaluated). Since then, the IUCN Red Listing criteria have changed, and only around 11,000 species have been evaluated with the new system. However, of those evaluated, some 8,000 species were found to be under threat. Both of these assessments indicate that well over half of all plants evaluated are at risk. At the national level, we know that around 20% of the UK’s flora is threatened. A global estimate of one in four plant species being under threat of extinction is therefore reasonable.

For all media enquiries, contact David Jeffreys on 020 8840 7931 or e-mail at:

Climate Change and Plant Conservation

Climate change is already happening and is predicted to get much worse. This page outlines the effects that climate change may have on plant communities, and thus the threats to the well-being of human societies that depend on them.


BGCI PlantSearch Database
The BGCI plant search allows you to research plants in living collections all around the world. It gives cross-referenced information with Red Data Lists, plant images, the International Plant Names Index, Crop Wild Relatives, and the Tree Conservation Database.