The Leipzig Catalogue of Vascular Plants - An improved taxonomic reference list for all known vascular plants

An intriguing alternative to Plants of the World Online - preprint available at:

From the abstract:
“We provide an updated and much improved reference list of 1,315,479 scientific plant taxa names for all described vascular plant taxa names globally. The Leipzig Catalogue of Vascular Plants (LCVP; version 1.0.2) contains 351.176 accepted species (plus 6.160 natural hybrids), within 13.422 genera, 561 families and 84 orders. The LCVP a) contains more information on the taxonomic status of global plant names than any other similar resource… For easy access and integration into automated data processing pipelines, we provide an ‘R’-package (lcvplants) with the LCV.”
Data are also available here:


Very cool! I’ve found POWO to be a real mixed bag. One of my biggest issues when we changed over was that it lacked nominate infrataxa, which I found completely unconscionable (there are scads of validly published nominate infrataxa with consequential rarity statuses). Doing a quick sift-through of this dataset however, I immediately notice that it lacks nominate infrataxa too. Now I’m left to wonder if there’s some nomenclatural convention governing this, and if I’m the one who’s got it all backwards.


This is neither a critique of the contents of the Leipzig Catalogue, nor a defense of POWO. But I have to point out that the Leipzig paper seems to misrepresent POWO in comparing to their system. They state,

“…(this comparison includes only vascular plants and excludes infra-specific taxa since LCVP covers only vascular plants and POWO does not include taxa below species level). TPL and POWO cover all plants, LCVP only vascular plants.”

As far as I can tell from its public-facing interface, POWO does not cover non-vascular plants, and does cover taxa below species level, just like the Leipzig Catalog.

POWO does acknowledge that coverage of infraspecific names is not exhaustive, but it is at least as extensive as IPNI, from which it draws, just like the Leipzig Catalogue does. If the Leipzig Catalogue has improved incorporation of infraspecific names over POWO, they don’t say how.

Instead, they spend a lot of their paper comparing their work to The Plant List (TPL), predecessor to POWO, at the end of which they admit that “TPL was not updated for many years, and is mainly based on taxonomic information (i.e. not molecular phylogenies).” So a bit of a red herring analysis they are presenting…

Again, I have not yet compared actual taxonomic and nomenclatural content of the Leipzig Catalogue to that of POWO, but their presentation does give me pause.


Considering the absolutely herculean effort that has gone into updating vascular plant taxonomy on iNat to align with POWO (or deviate from POWO’s taxonomy in specific cases), I’m extremely wary of suggested alternatives.


I don’t follow. POWO has nominate infrataxa, i.e.,

Are there other nominate infrataxa that are missing?

Yes, they do have some and are continually adding more, but a lot are still missing.

This doesn’t bother me a lot, since if POWO accepts any infraspecific taxa, then by definition they also accept the autonym.

Seems like they could just run a script to automatically add all the missing ones. But I feel comfortable inferring their presence whenever other infraspecific taxa are listed.


Interesting. As one of the local pteridologists, I’m not particularly thrilled with the fern arrangement that POWO has adopted from GLOVAP. That said, POWO is adding new names as they get published and updating their arrangement; it’s not clear from this paper what support structure exists to keep LCVP up-to-date.