Applied Taxonomy

An important component of research at NCSC is the development of applied taxonomic resources based on the results of basic systematic studies. Researchers are currently engaged in a variety of projects along these lines--from floristic inventories of significant natural areas, to online diagnostic tools, to contributions to major national and international floras.

Online diagnostic tools

We have been developing online resources for over ten years, but are particularly excited about recent technological advances in multi-access keys and mobile applications. Our online resources are often commodity specific or geared towared specific plant groups of applied interest (e.g., wetland plants). Examples of recent projects include the following:

Weeds of Container Nurseries in the United States (Bernard et al. 2009)

Citrus ID: Hosts and Potential Hosts of Citrus Pests and Diseases in the United States (Saville et al. 2011)

Additional online tools may be found here.


NCSC-associated faculty and students have or are currently participating in a number of important flora initiatives, including:

Flora of China (e.g., Xiang & Boufford 2005)

Flora de Nicaragua (e.g., Fantz 2001a, 2001b, 2001c)

Flora Mesoamericana (e.g., Fantz 2009b)

Flora of the Venezuelan Guyana (e.g., Fantz 1999)

Flora of North America (NCSC-associated researchers are providing treatments for Aesculus, Borago, Bouchetia, Bowlesia, Canavalia, Cephalanthus, Clitoria, Cullen, Dictamnus, Mitchella, Mucuna, Parkinsonia, Styphnolobium, Triphasia; in various stages of publication). 

In addition, Preston and Braham (2002) published a revised treatment of the trees of North America:

North American Trees (Preston & Braham 2002)

Additional current projects include developing treatments for the Flora de la República de Cuba, Legumes of Arizona, and Flora of the Guianas.

While the above projects focus largely on development of taxonomic treatments for specific taxon groups, NCSC researchers are also engaged in providing comprehensive manuals and checklists for significant natural areas in North Carolina. These works are frequently conducted at the request of local land managers that require an understanding of the flora and plant communities of their sites as a prerequisite to developing proper natural resource management plans. An example of this type of work is the recently published:

Manual of the vascular flora of Nags Head Woods (Krings 2010).

Floristic work of this sort is on-going. Over the years, researchers from the Department of Plant Biology and NCSC have been involved in numerous floristic inventories throughout North Carolina - resulting in the compilation of many checklists, as well as in the development of a broader understanding of various plant community types. 

Floristic research now also directly contributes to molecular phylogenetic studies through our DNA banking initiative.  A unique attribute of this initiative in North Carolina is its focus on the scale of florulas, rather than select taxa.  Collecting in silica, in addition to making regular vouchers, was trialed in 2008 and is now the standard practice by floristic researchers at NCSC. 

The map below shows some of the areas that have been studied in the past.  For study citations, simply select the represented county of choice.

North Carolina map with localities of some past floristic research

Continued graduate study opportunities in floristics exist in our department.  Interested persons may wish to contact Dr. Alexander Krings via email or at the following address:

Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, Campus Box 7612

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, NC 27695-7612, USA