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Flora of North America North of Mexico Guide for Contributors—May 2006

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Flora of North America Guide for Contributors

May 2006——page

Flora of North America North of Mexico
Guide for Contributors—May 2006


1. Introduction and coverage

2. General instructions for treatments

2.1. Entry for family and subdivisions of families

2.2. Entry for genus and subdivisions of genera

2.3. Entry for species

2.4. Entry for species with infraspecies

2.5. Entry for infraspecies

2.6. Keys

2.7. Vernacular names

2.8. Status indicators

2.9. Basionym and synonyms

2.10. Description paragraphs

2.11. Numbers, measurements, and conventions

2.12. Chromosome numbers

2.13. Number-of-taxa statements

2.14. Phenology, habitat, and distribution statements

2.15. Maps and dot placement indicators

2.16. Discussion paragraphs

2.17. Citation of literature

3. Suggested references for style, nomenclatural citations, and literature citations

4. Abbreviations and symbols

4.1. Bibliographic abbreviations

4.2. Nomenclatural abbreviations

4.3. Measurement abbreviations

4.4. Other abbreviations

4.5. Symbols

Appendix A. Minimum Characters for All Family Descriptions

Appendix B. Sample Treatment

Appendix C. Checklist for Authors of Vascular Plant Taxa

Appendix D. Guidelines for Working with Illustrators

1. Introduction and Coverage

The Flora of North America North of Mexico, to be published in 30 volumes, is a synoptic floristic account of the plants of Greenland, St. Pierre and Miquelon, Canada, and the continental United States of America (including the Florida Keys and the Aleutian Islands). The Flora includes accepted names, literature citations, selected synonyms, identification keys, descriptions, chromosome numbers, summaries of habitats and geographic ranges, phenological information, conservation status, and significant biological observations, as well as occurrence maps and illustrations. Each volume contains a bibliography and an index to taxa treated.

This guide describes standardizations intended to make the Flora easy to use and relatively consistent across vascular plant volumes. Exceptions to the guide are made when it is necessary to convey information about particular taxa; editors must approve the exceptions. Communication with editors throughout the manuscript preparation process is encouraged.

This guide contains information to help with preparing treatments of vascular plant taxa (sections 2--4, Appendix A), a sample treatment (Appendix B), a checklist for authors (Appendix C), and guidelines for working with illustrators (Appendix D). Contributors are encouraged to use recent volumes (e.g., vols. 5, 19, 20, and 21) of the Flora as a model for treatment content. Details regarding final manuscript format, which are primarily the responsibility of technical editors, are covered in the FNA Editorial Handbook. Guidelines particular to bryophyte treatments are available through

Submit manuscripts to the volume editor in both electronic and hardcopy form. Accepted manuscripts will be sent by the volume editor to the taxon editor (if volume editor is not filling the role), regional reviewers, editorial director, managing editor, nomenclatural editor, bibliographic editor, and technical editor. Authors will have the opportunity to review their manuscripts twice; first, following taxonomic review, when the author(s) will interact with the volume or taxon editor, possibly multiple times, to ensure the information is complete and accurate, and second, after near-final editing, giving the author(s) opportunity to check the final version.

Contact information and published volumes are available at the FNA website,, or the Bryophyte website,

2. General Instructions for Treatments

Taxa to treat in full include native species, native species thought to be extirpated, named hybrids that are well established, and introduced plants that are naturalized or found frequently outside cultivation.

New names, names for new taxa, and new combinations must be published prior to their use in the flora. Journals recommended for prompt publication include Novon, a journal of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Sida, a publication of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, among others.

Treatments should be synoptic, not monographic; treatments should be diagnostic, descriptive, and succinct. With few exceptions, taxa below the family are presented in taxonomic sequence. If no classification is possible, the taxa may be arranged alphabetically.

Spell out name of each taxon fully and number sequentially; label infraspecific taxa alphanumerically.

Infrafamilial, infrageneric, and infraspecific groupings may be included as needed. See, for example: tribes and subtribes in Asteraceae (vols. 19--21), subgenera in Cyperus (vol. 23: 141--191) and sections in Carex (vol. 23: 254--572).

Treatments at each taxonomic level are similar generally. The order of elements for each entry is specified below. Certain elements (vernacular name, derivation of name, status indicator letter(s), basionym, synonyms, discussion, and selected references) are not always necessary. In the entries below, periods mark separate paragraphs (punctuation within paragraphs is described in later sections).

2.1. Entry for family

Family name, family authority, vernacular name, status indicator letter(s). Treatment author. Morphologic description (see Appendix A, Minimum Characters for All Family Descriptions). Number of genera and number of species worldwide, number of genera and species in the flora, general distribution both in the flora and worldwide. Discussion. Selected references. Key to genera.

2.2. Entry for genus

Genus name, genus authority, bibliographic citation for taxon name, vernacular name, derivation of genus name, status indicator letter(s). Treatment author if different from family author. Basionym with author and bibliographic citation, synonyms. Morphologic description, chromosome base number (x =). Number of species worldwide, number of species in the flora, distribution worldwide. Discussion. Selected references. Key to species (or subgenera, sections, etc.).

2.3. Entry for species

Genus name and specific epithet, authority, bibliographic citation for taxon name, vernacular name, status indicator letter(s). Basionym with author and bibliographic citation, synonyms. Morphologic description, chromosome diploid number (2n =). Phenological information, habitat, elevation, distribution within the flora area, distribution outside the flora area. Discussion. Selected references.

2.4. Entry for species with infraspecies

Genus name and specific epithet, authority, bibliographic citation for taxon name, vernacular name, status indicator letter(s). Basionym with author and bibliographic citation, synonyms. Morphologic description, chromosome diploid number. Number of infraspecies worldwide, number of infraspecies in the flora, distribution both in the flora and worldwide. Discussion. Selected references. Key to infraspecies.

2.5. Entry for infraspecies

Genus name and specific epithet, authority, infraspecific epithet, authority, bibliographic citation for taxon name other than autonym, vernacular name, status indicator letter(s). Basionym with author and bibliographic citation, synonyms. Morphologic description, chromosome diploid number. Phenological information, habitat, elevation, distribution within the flora area, distribution outside the flora area. Discussion. Selected references.

Use one infraspecific rank within a genus (confer with taxon and lead editors for exceptions). Do not use ranks below variety. If only one infraspecific taxon for a species occurs in the flora, describe the infraspecies, not the species, and make that description parallel to descriptions of species in that genus.

2.6. Keys

Include a dichotomous, indented key for any taxon within which two or more taxa in the flora are treated. Subspecies and varieties should not be included in the key to species, but rather as a separate key under the appropriate species entry.

Make leads of each couplet parallel and treat characteristics in the same order. Number couplets; begin each lead of a pair with the same number followed by a period; and place the lead with fewer subordinate couplets first.

Information given in keys must be consistent with information given in descriptions and must be repeated in the descriptions.

Construction of keys, descriptions, and sequence of characters must be parallel for all taxa within a rank; e.g., within genus, subgenus, or section, if leaf shape is mentioned in one species, it must be mentioned in all species. Exceptions: in some families or genera, a character state that occurs in relatively few taxa should be noted at the highest rank possible, and then described only in those taxa in which it occurs.

A taxon may be keyed out more than once; if keyed more than once, add (in part) after the taxon name.

Avoid using characteristics in keys that require greater than 20\x magnification. Use distribution information sparingly and unambiguously in both key leads, and place it last in the character list. Note the keyboard strokes \x substituted for multiplication symbol, which should be used in similar instances in manuscripts submitted. See 4.5 Symbols for other keyboard substitutions.

2.7. Vernacular names

Give vernacular name(s) for genera, species, and infraspecies that reflect common usage and the language appropriate to their regional use.

2.8. Status indicators

After an accepted taxon heading, indicate the following conditions by the appropriate letter(s).

(e.g., 1. Asphodelus fistulosus Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 309. 1753
* Onion-weed F I)

C of conservation concern

E endemic

F illustrated

I introduced

W weedy

“Of conservation concern” applies to taxa that are globally rare or threatened based on NatureServe’s G1 or G2 designations ( or other compelling sources.

“Introduced” is defined broadly to mean the plant was released accidentally or deliberately into the flora area and now persists without cultivation (i.e., is naturalized).

“Weedy” applies to taxa listed by the State and Federal Composite List of All U.S. Noxious Weeds ( or the Invader Database System (

The editorial staff will assist authors in checking the databases given above.

2.9. Basionym and synonyms

Give basionym with author(s) and bibliographic citation. After the basionym, list in alphabetical order the synonyms with authors(s) but without bibliographic citations (for identical trinomials, subspecies precede varieties).

Synonyms to be accounted for include names accepted in recent floristic or monographic works that are significant for the taxon and region and names accepted in any of the works on the List of Selected Floras and Checklists. The organizational center and editors will help alert authors to such names. Long unused names are included only if they are basionyms.

Mention misapplied, pro parte, and sensu names in discussion; do not list them in synonymy. The word “sensu” should not be used; use instead: “in the sense of” “in the broad sense” “in the narrow sense”

2.10. Description paragraphs

Descriptions must confirm characteristics used in keys. Repeat characteristics used in keys in descriptions at the same level; i.e., characters used in key to genera must be treated in descriptions of genera. Descriptions of all taxa within a rank must be directly comparable (parallel); e.g., within genus, subgenus, or section, if anther size is given for one species, it must be given for all species.

Character states common to all taxa should be placed in description for next higher rank; e.g., if corollas are red in all species of genus X, so state in description of genus X and do not repeat corolla color in each description of each taxon recognized in genus X. Exception: a character state common to all species of a genus may be treated at species level to avoid lengthening the descriptions of other genera.

Particular characters to include in the descriptions should be worked out between taxon editor and author.

Describe plants in the conventional order: from habit to seeds, base to apex, proximal to distal, abaxial before adaxial, and staminate before pistillate. Place each major structure in a separate sentence and separate subparts by semicolons. Use plural for plant parts except a part that occurs singly within the next more inclusive part. The general order for describing characters is given below. Note that it is not required that all of these be included.

Growth Form, persistence, habit, nutrition. Roots and/or other belowground parts. Stems general; trunks; bark; wood; branches, shoots; twigs. Buds general. Leaves general arrangement; stipules; petiole; leaf blade; lobes; higher-order axes and petiolules; leaflets; modified leaflets. Scape if described. Inflorescences general position, type; peduncle; branches (i.e., description of higher-order axes); bracts; different flower (or head or spikelet) types. Pedicel if described. Flowers general (including sexuality); receptacle and hypanthia; perianth (tepals) or calyx (sepals) and/or corolla (petals); corona; glands and/or discs; androecia (at flowering); gynoecia (at flowering). Fruits general type; aggregation of or division within fruit; fruit or mericarp structure; accessory structures; multiple fruit structure. Seeds external structures, internal anatomy; germination, abortion; endosperm; embryos.

For a particular structure or organ system, describe parts in the following order:

presence, number, position/insertion, arrangement, orientation, connation, adnation, coherence, adherence

Describe features of a whole organ in the following order:

color, odor, symmetry, architecture, shape, dimensions (length, width, thickness, mass), texture, base, margins, peripheral region, central area, apex, surface, vestiture, internal parts, exudates

Unless otherwise stated, descriptions for vascular plants assume that plants are green, photosynthetic, and reproductively mature; woody plants are perennial; roots are fibrous; stems are erect; leaves of perennial plants are deciduous; leaves are estipulate, petiolate, and simple; flowers are bisexual, radially symmetric, and pedicellate; perianth parts are hypogynous, distinct, and free; and ovaries are superior.

Keep descriptions succinct (ideally fewer than 700 characters and spaces would suffice for most taxa).

Minimize technical language in descriptions; instead, use common English equivalents in place of Latin or Latinized terminology. Specialized terms should be defined in the family or generic descriptions. To avoid ambiguity, use the terms distal rather than upper; proximal rather than lower; abaxial rather than below, lower, or dorsal; and adaxial rather than above, upper, or ventral. Kiger and Porter’s Categorical Glossary for the Flora of North America Project details botanical terminology commonly used in the flora (see

2.11. Numbers, measurements, and conventions used in descriptions

Use metric measures at the appropriate scale, e.g., 1--3 mm rather than 0.1--0.3 cm. To aid comparability, use same unit of measure for same structure; i.e., if leaf length is given in cm in one species, give it in cm for all species in the genus. Measurements are assumed approximate; omit ca., about, +/-, or up to.

Place characteristics found only outside the flora area in square brackets: anthers 1.2--2[--3.5] mm; shrubs [trees].

Give unusual or additional characteristics or notes parenthetically: petals pink (white).

Give extreme limits of measurements or counts parenthetically: seeds (1--)2--4 mm; stems 1(--2).

Use numeric ranges when possible, not adjectives: flowers 180--240 OR flowers ca. 200 [NOT flowers numerous]; petals 1--2 mm [NOT petals small].

A single measure is understood to be length (or height): trees to 15 m [NOT trees to 15 m tall].

Give length by width as: sepals 3--5 x 0.3--0.5 cm; leaf blade 12--24 x 5--8 mm.

Give fractions from smaller to larger: maroon spots in proximal 1/2--2/3.

Round decimal fractions to one decimal place: 0.3 mm [NOT 0.34 mm].

Omit following decimal place for whole numbers: 1.5--2 cm [NOT 1.5--2.0 cm].

Use numerals in descriptions: apex 2-fid; 2 veins (or 2-veined) [NOT apex bifid; two veins or two-veined].

State “times” in relative measures: 2 times as long as wide OR lengths 2 times widths [NOT twice as long as wide; 2X as long].

Contrast “none” with “some” and “present” with “absent”: glands present versus glands absent [NOT glands present versus glands inconspicuous].

Contrast counts with counts: petals 0 versus petals 3--8 [NOT petals absent versus petals 3--8].

Use nouns that agree in number within a phrase: sepals distinct to bases [NOT sepals distinct to base].

2.12. Chromosome numbers

Cite base numbers for the genus at end of the description if available, e.g., x = 6. The base number will be the lowest reported haploid number for the genus unless research supports a different interpretation. There should be a single base number for a taxon; avoid x = 4, 5, or 6, etc.

Give diploid chromosome numbers for species or infraspecies if available, e.g., 2n = 18. If a count is available only from an area adjacent to the flora, state the area in parentheses, e.g., 2n = 14(West Indies).

No new counts are published in the flora; base chromosome numbers on published, vouchered count(s).

Citations for chromosome counts are not required, unless they are mentioned in the discussion section.

2.13. Number-of-taxa statements for family, genus, and species for which infraspecies are treated

Following the description of each family, genus, and species for which infraspecies are treated, state the number of taxa and the general distribution. Separate regions by commas.

Family: Genera 5, species 92 (2 genera, 5 species in the flora): tropical regions worldwide.

Genus: Species 5 (2 in the flora): North America, Europe, Asia.

Species with infraspecies: Subspecies 8 (3 in the flora): sw United States, n Mexico.

Monospecific taxon: Genus 1, species 1: North America. OR Species 1: s Florida.

Introduced taxon: Species ca. 4 (1 in the flora): introduced; Asia.

2.14. Phenology, habitat, elevation, and distribution statements for species and infraspecies

Following the species or infraspecies description, include flowering and/or fruiting time, habitat type, elevation range, and worldwide distribution.

A general example, properly punctuated, is given below (see 2.15 for details regarding the maps and dot placement indicators that are set off with **)

Flowering spring; fruiting late summer. Wet, mossy, arctic and alpine tundra, lakeshores, alluvial streams, gneissic seashores; 40--600 m; Greenland**s**; B.C.**n**, N.W.T.**s**, Nunavut**c**, Que.**c**, Yukon**c**; Alaska**w,PH**; Eurasia.

Two additions to distribution statements are possible: (1) “of conservation concern” inserted before the elevation range; (2) “introduced” inserted after the elevation range.

Flowering spring--fall. Riverine shoals and pools; of conservation concern; 300--400 m; Ala.

Fruiting summer. Margins of lakes; 0--100 m; introduced; Fla.; Central America; South America.


Flowering and/or fruiting times should be given (usually available from herbarium specimens or other sources of information). Authors should confer with taxon editors about preferences for describing phenology by seasons or months. The modifiers early, mid, or late may be included. If using months abbreviate them to the first three letters (e.g., Flowering Jan--Mar; fruiting May--Jul).


Describe habitat types in easily understood terms; use plural forms, e.g., savannas, woodlands.


Estimate the elevation range within the flora from specimen label data or other reliable sources. Express the elevation range in increments of 10 if below 100 meters or in increments of 100 if above 100 m by rounding downward at the lower extreme and upward at the upper extreme. For an elevation range near sea level, stating 0 m is appropriate.


For each species, provide the worldwide distribution. Begin with distribution within the flora. List provinces of Canada and states of the United States where the taxon is recorded and supported by herbarium vouchers; do not cite the specimen vouchers in the text.

The distribution statement should contain only a list of regions. The discussion paragraph is the appropriate location to mention doubtful records, historical occurrences, expected distributions, and restricted ranges (e.g., to one or several counties within a state, to a particular vegetation type, etc.).

Order the major regions of the world as follows:

Greenland; St. Pierre and Miquelon; Canada; United States; Mexico; West Indies; Bermuda; Central America; South America; Eurasia (or Europe; Asia); Africa; Atlantic Islands (including Macaronesia); Indian Ocean Islands; Pacific Islands (including Hawaii and New Zealand); Australia; Antarctica.

If the distribution outside the flora area is localized to specific political units that are considered noteworthy, alphabetize the countries and place them in parentheses:

Central America (Belize, Guatemala).

If the taxon occurs widely in Mexico, simply state Mexico or indicate its regional distribution (e.g., s Mexico). If the taxon is localized to any of the 11 northern states, list them alphabetically in parentheses:

(Baja California, Baja California Sur, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas).

List the provinces of Canada and states of the United States using abbreviations if indicated. The order of the provinces/states follows alphabetical sequence of full names, as given below.

Canadian provinces and abbreviations
United States (except Hawaii1) and abbreviations
British Columbia
New Brunswick
New Hampshire
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nfld. and Labr.2
New Jersey
Northwest Territories
New Mexico
Nova Scotia
New York
North Carolina
District of Columbia
North Dakota
Prince Edward Island
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia
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