About PlanEAr


PlanEAr is a database of Argentine plants, created as a preliminary source of information on the state of conservation of the species that constitute the flora of the country. This first stage includes the endemic vascular plants of Argentina and also endemics that are shared with Uruguay and Chile (see Plants included in the database).

The creation of PlanEAr is in response to the need to advance with objective 7 of the Action Plan of the Argentine Botanic Garden network (RAJB): “The Argentine botanic gardens will undertake a preliminary evaluation of the state of conservation of all known plant species on a national and regional level” (RAJB 2007). This proposal is linked, in turn, with the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, a document adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity, ratified by the Argentine Republic, which proposes to carry out “A preliminary assessment of the conservation status of all known plant species, at national, regional and international levels” (CDB and BGCI 2005).

The project is aimed at a preliminary categorization of the degree of threat to each species according to a scale of risk at five levels, based on available information (see Categories Used), and constitutes a first approximation for promoting the application of the categories proposed by the IUCN for inclusion in the Red Lists.

The centre of operations of PlanEAr is in the Departamento de Biología, Bioquímica y Farmacia, Universidad Nacional del Sur, in Bahía Blanca, with a working group consisting of: Carlos B. Villamil, Ana E. de Villalobos and Rosemary L. Scoffield.

The project has been carried out in close collaboration with the Temperate South American Plants Specialist Group (GEPSAT), belonging to the Species Survival Committee (SSC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), many of whose members have collaborated in the categorization process. The project was carried out thanks to a signed agreement between the Departamento de Biología, Bioquímica y Farmacia, Universidad Nacional del Sur and Botanic Garden Conservation International (BGCI), financed by the program “Investing in Nature” of the HSBC.

Plants included in the database

The database has been constructed using the nomenclature and distribution data cited in the Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares del Cono Sur (Zuloaga et al., 2008).

Only taxa at the species level have been included in the list. Taxa which include infraspecific levels have only been included when all of these are endemic to the area in question.

The information provided corresponds to plants from one of following distribution areas:

First Group
Plants with a known distribution area that falls within the political boundaries of Argentina.

Second Group
Plants with a distribution area restricted to Argentina and Uruguay.

Third Group
Plants with a distribution area mainly in Argentina, but also present in restricted areas of Chile.

The database does NOT include species with distribution areas that are restricted to Chile and Uruguay exclusively.


PlanEAr is the first global compilation of relevant information for the conservation of plants that conform the national flora of Argentina. This exercise has confronted us with what conservationists call “the taxonomic impediment” which emphasizes, once again, the need for taxonomic studies as a basis for developing effective conservation policies.

The criteria used in the Catálogo de Plantas Vasculares del Cono Sur (Zuloaga et al., 2008) have been followed for genera and families, as well as the nomenclature used for taxa included in this publication. The accepted names appear in bold face. Additionally, alternative names have been included in the list, without any judgement on their validity, as many of these have frequently been used in botanical publications and monographs or in other natural history publications that are not specifically botanical. In all these cases italics have been used and they are linked to the currently accepted names.

Family names

The names of the families used in the database are those accepted in the Catálogo de Plantas Vasculares del Cono Sur (Zuloaga et al., 2008). The traditional designations (Compositae, Cruciferae, Gramineae, Labiatae, Leguminosae, Umbelliferae) have been replaced by those preferred in more recent publications (Asteraceae, Brassicaceae, Poaceae, Lamiaceae, Fabaceae, Apiaceae). In the more recent classification systems the genera that were traditionally recognized in Liliaceae and Amaryllidaceae have been redistributed in several families (Alliaceae, Agapanthaceae, Agavaceae, Alstroemeriaceae, Anthericaceae, Asparagaceae, Asphodelaceae, Hyacinthaceae, Hypoxidaceae, Philesiaceae, Ruscaceae) some of which include endemic species. In other cases, one family (Asclepiadaceae) has been included in another (Apocynaceae) or, as occurs with Scrophulariaceae, several genera have been transferred to another family (Plantaginaceae), or have been put into independent families (Calceolariaceae).

Subjective aspects of the assignation of categories

Five threat categories (1-5) have been defined, based on the area of distribution and relative abundance or rarity of the species. However, the subjective opinion of the experts consulted has been taken into account when assigning a category, as well as their experience concerning the state and demographic evolution of populations, exploitation pressure, habitat destruction and any other threat factors.

Categories used

  1. Plants very abundant in places of origin and with a wide geographic distribution in more than one of the large phytogeographic units in the country (Selva Misionera, Selva Tucumano-Oranense, Chaco, Espinal, Pampa, Monte, Puna, Patagonia, Altoandina, Bosques Subantárticos).
  2. Plants abundant, only present in one of the large phytogeographic units in the country.
  3. Plants common, although not abundant, in one or more of the phytogeographic units in the country (the case of taxa of disperse distribution).
  4. Plants restricted to only one political province, or with reduced areas shared by two or more adjoining political provinces.
  5. Plants of restricted distribution (as in 4) but with sparse populations or with populations that are thought to be affected by one or more threat factors (destruction of habitat, overexploitation, biological invasion, etc.).

The categorization process

  1. In order to categorize each species a tentative approximation was carried out by considering the known distribution area (see Categories Used). In the case of species endemic to Argentina, the distribution indicated (by province) is equivalent to the global distribution of each one of them in their area of origin. The bibliographic references indicated were consulted for each species and, taking the relevant information available into account, a tentative category was assigned by the PlanEAr team.
  2. The lists with the assigned categories in 1 were sent to one or more experts in the taxonomic group or in the area of reference, who made any changes to the tentative categorization that they considered appropriate. The categories assigned by each expert are to be found in the information given for each species. In numerous cases there were discrepancies between the categories assigned by different experts.
  3. All the assigned categories in 2 were revised by the PlanEAr team and a single value was assigned in order to make the final categorization system more uniform.

The assignation of threat categories

The decision to assign a threat category is a complex process in which a variety of interacting factors must be considered. Among these the correct identification of the taxon in question is especially important. Although the Argentine flora has been revised on numerous occasions for the elaboration of regional floras, revisions and monographs, there are many reasons which determine that the classification and nomenclature corresponding to a taxon must be modified. However it is not the purpose of this project to resolve aspects related to the systematics of each group, but rather to draw attention to cases in which the risk of extinction of a plant deserves the attention of biologists, naturalists, conservationists and decision makers who manage natural resources.

There are numerous systems of categorization of the degree of threat to which a taxon may be submitted, for instance the system proposed by the IUCN of Red Lists and Red Books which can be consulted on-line (www.iucn.org/redlist, www.iucnredlist.org). Although the application of these criteria offers multiple advantages (relative objectivity, possibility for comparison with other groups of organisms, etc.) at the same time it also presents serious inconveniences for the characterization of a large number of taxa when the available information on their biology and distribution is scarce. The situation is not resolved by using alternative systems (www.ramas.com/RapidList.htm) when the limiting factor is the lack of information on the biology and area of occupation, as occurs in most Argentina species.

The present contribution does not aspire to characterize indefinitely the status of conservation of the endemic vascular plants of Argentina (which total around 1660 species), but rather it offers a tool with which to select species for research for a more precise categorization adjusted to the IUCN criteria.

Bias in the assignation of categories

In some cases experts have assigned two or more different categories or have not been able to decide between two consecutive categories. In these cases, due to lack of additional information, an average value of the proposed categories has been taken, or in special cases, the higher of two categories has been accepted. This is especially significant in the case of taxa for which there is little information on population size, frequency and abundance. It is probable that the low number of species in categories 1and 2 is partly due to the lack of data on abundance of many species.

Presentation of the data

Data corresponding to the area of distribution are presented by political province in Argentina. Although this is not a good phytogeographic criterium it gives a preliminary approximation that is adequate for the purpose of this project. Additional information is given for each species, if available, on the phytogeographic province to which it belongs as recognized in the Flora Fanerogámica Argentina (Hunziker 1994 et seq.), as well as other relevant data such as altitude, habitat, soil type, exposure and factors concerning threat (overexploitation, habitat destruction, overgrazing, etc.).

Similar information is given for each species also found in Uruguay (Group 2), except that threat categories have not been assigned.

In Grupo 3 (Argentina and Chile) information is given only for species that occur in one, or sometimes two, of the political regions of Chile.


The names of the experts who collaborated in the elaboration of PlanEAr are listed. Additional information is also given about the systematic group or geographic area for which each expert has contributed information, their institutional affiliation and their email address, when authorized.