Tuesday, February 5, 2013

E-Flora BC: Non-established Vascular Plant Species in BC

 The vascular plants of British Columbia, as presented on E-Flora BC, are comprised of species that are considered part of the flora of BC.  This list of species is determined for the province by the BC Flora Committee, which works under the umbrella of the British Columbia Conservation Data Centre (BCCDC). The committee is comprised of a team of expert BC botanists who assess species presence in the province, including assessing accuracy of specimen identification and assessing current literature on taxonomic classification within families, genera and species. Each year the flora of the province is reviewed by the committee and species are either added or removed from the 'official' list.

However, there is a second list of species now maintained by the BCCDC. This is a list of non-established species in the province. Penny et al. (2013) described these as follows:  "...there are also other vascular plants present in the province that are not easily categorized but broadly fit into a classification of 'non-established' taxa. They are not formally considered part of the BC flora until they have been confirmed as regularly-occurring, but these plants have been observed growing without cultivation in the province." 

E-Flora BC now presents a list of these non-established species via a link on the home page.  Atlas pages have been set up with short summary information on the species presence in BC (and collections made), prepared by botanist Frank Lomer. These are garden species that have escaped or arise from garden waste, species that are brought in with agricultural stock, or they may even be incoming species naturally expanding their range. They might, at some future point, become established.

Non-established species in BC can include such familiar food species as the potato (Solanum tuberosum), sugar beets (Beta vulgaris), peanuts (Arachis hypogaea), familiar garden plants such staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), or street trees such as red maple (Acer rubrum).  The list even includes Cannabis sativa (marijuana). Lomer (2013) says of this species: "Cultivated mildly narcotic herb occurs rarely as a casual in waste places. Several collections over the years. (S. Wilcock s.n. @ UBC). Ephemeral."

By including this list of non-established species on E-Flora BC, we hope to increase awareness of them, and collect data.  Let us know if you find reproducing populations of these species, or if you notice other species that you feel are 'establishing', but aren't on our list.  

Read more about non-established species in BC here.

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