2nd Edition

World Economic Plants A Standard Reference, Second Edition

By John H. Wiersema, Blanca León Copyright 2013
    1336 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    Given the frequent movement of commercial plants outside their native location, the consistent and standard use of plant names for proper identification and communication has become increasingly important. This second edition of World Economic Plants: A Standard Reference is a key tool in the maintenance of standards for the basic science underlying the quest for security of food and other economic plant resources. Containing a substantial increase in content from the previous edition, this comprehensive and accessible work now documents more than 12,000 economically important vascular plants.

    This volume covers plants and plant products that are traded, regulated, or otherwise important to international commerce. The plant names and uses have been meticulously checked against the literature and by external peer reviewers, and names are up to date in their taxonomic classification and nomenclaturally correct according to international rules. Each entry includes the accepted scientific (Latin) name, synonyms, economic importance, common names in a variety of languages, and the geographical distribution of the species. The information on each plant can be accessed through either its scientific or common name, providing a global perspective on its native, introduced, or cultivated geographical distribution, and its economic usage or impacts.

    This reference covers all major groups of economic plants, including those used for human or animal food, materials, medicines, environmental purposes, gene sources for breeding, social purposes, as well as ones with negative impacts such as poisonous or disease-harboring plants or weeds. This compilation provides scientists, professionals, and students from various backgrounds with a global standard for communication regarding economically important plants. As collaboration across plant science increases, comprehensive standardized references such as this one are indispensible for addressing the global issues involved with agriculture and other human uses of plant diversity.

    New this edition:

    • Includes over 25 percent more economic plants—approximately 2,700 new plants
    • Comprises twice the data content of the first edition
    • Contains more than 50,000 common names in all principal world languages, now including some in their original scripts

    Scientific Names…xii
    Common names…xiv
    Economic Importance…xvi
    Geographical Distribution…xxi


    John H. Wiersema, Ph.D., has worked to develop an extensive and exhaustive taxonomic resource on economic plants, especially those important to global agriculture, for nearly 30 years. This activity has been carried out as the curator of taxonomic data for the USDA’s national germplasm system’s GRIN database. Through this work, Dr. Wiersema has gained global standing as a specialist in plant nomenclature, and now has direct editorial involvement with both the botanical and cultivated plant codes of international nomenclature and the international nomenclature journal Taxon. Dr. Wiersema is also well known as a specialist on the taxonomy of the water-lily family, and is responsible for the discovery and description of several new species and over 30 scientific publications on the group.

    Blanca Leon, Ph.D., is a plant taxonomist by training. She worked with John H. Wiersema from 1994 to 2000 with the USDA GRIN database and later joined the GRIN taxonomy team to work on projects related to the goals of the USDA’s national germplasm system. She is currently involved in developing with Dr. Wiersema a detailed overview of crop relatives. Dr. Leόn has extensive field work experience in tropical Andean South America. These experiences are manifested in her work both for projects like this book and also for her undertaking of the evaluation of the conservation status of endemism in a tropical country. Her research also deals with fern taxonomy, mainly of Neotropical Polypodiaceae, and with the biogeography of fern taxa. She has over 60 publications in different botanical journals.

    "Not only will readers find useful plants such as marigolds and com, they will also discover plants that have a negative economic impact, including noxious weeds and poisonous species. … beneficial to multilingual researchers or researchers working in culturally diverse departments. As a reference intended for experts, it has a place in agronomy, agriculture, botany, and specialized economic libraries. … Recommended."
    J. Clemons, State University of New York-ESF for CHOICE Magazine, March 2014

    "… useful as a reputable source of this kind of concentrated information, in handbook fashion. It is hard to find a comparable work because of the focus and extent of this volume and the number of entries."
    Journal of Agricultural & Food Information, July 2013

    "Several dictionaries and checklists of economic plants were available before the publication of this volume. The amount of information in this reference, however, supersedes all previous attempts. It is a monumental achievement, and I am sure that it will be heavily used for many years to come.
    —Marcel Rejmanek, University of California, Davis, Davis, California, USA, in Plant Science Bulletin, SUMMER 2013 VOLUME 59 NUMBER 2

    "... will be most useful in academic libraries, particularly those serving degree programs in agriculture, business, pharmacology, and food science."
    —Maren Williams for ARBAonline

    Praise for the First Edition:
    "This is a reference book—with some 13,000 scientific names and synonyms and almost 20,000 common names—there is a great deal to refer to. Given the care with which it has been prepared, partly via consultation with nearly 150 taxonomic or agricultural experts, it will likely achieve the 'standard' goal as well … . The main body of this tome is organized alphabetically by genus and within the genera by species epithet. In addition to the scientific name and author accepted by the experts consulted, synonyms are listed. Furthermore common name, uses and distribution are given … . This is a very fine book that I am glad to have on my shelf and I know I will consult it regularly. … The authors are to be congratulated—and thanked—for this monumental effort."
    —Gregory J. Anderson, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Plant Science Bulletin

    "If you have no idea why a plant is used, nor where it grows, this volume, as far as it goes, is a taxonomically thorough and useful first stop."
    —Hew D. V. Prendergast, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, New Phytol.

    "This excellent reference book will be close to my right hand at my computer to help me find the latest name for a disputed plant. … a very concise dictionary of the names, major synonyms, uses and distribution of greater than 9,500 of the most important economic plants. I admire the consistency of the formatting so you know where to find the info you seek."
    —James A. ("Jim") Duke, Botanical Consultant and best-selling author

    "This is the most thoroughly researched and reviewed book on the market for economic plants … . Moreover, Wiersema and Leόn’s book was reviewed by 150 specialists; no other can make that claim.”
    —Daniel Austin, Director of Environmental Sciences, Florida Atlantic University