NBII Botany Site

For more information about plants nationwide, visit the NBII Botany Web site for Web resources on plants and the diverse factors affecting plants and plant communities nationally.

The NBII Botany site features species information and lists, databases, atlases, and libraries, herbaria and botanical collections, and botanical organizations such as native plant societies and invasive plant councils.

Other notable national Botany resources include:

Bullet point eFloras.org
Bullet point Botanicus.org
Bullet point NBII Invasive Plants Web Site
Bullet point Plant Conservation Alliance
Bullet point Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Plant Image Collection
Bullet point U.S. Department of Agriculture PLANTS Database
Bullet point U.S. Forest Service

Exotic and Invasive Plants

Kudzu (Pueraria lobata)
Kudzu (Pueraria lobata)
[Photo: NBII/DIL ]
View regional Invasive Species  that threaten native plant communities. Download regional invasive species data, view interactive maps, and search the SAIN invasive species database for more information.

Plants (Kingdom Plantae)

What are Plants?
Producing their food through photosynthesis, plants include all photosynthetic organisms found within the taxonomic kingdom Plantae. Kingdom Plantae is further organized into taxonomic divisions. The majority of divisions include nonvascular plants such as algae, liverworts, hornworts, mosses, and flagellates. Nonvascular plants lack a vascular system that conducts water in vascular tissues throughout the plant. Vascular plants, members of the subkingdom Tracheobionta, do have vascular tissues. Vascular plants include ferns, club mosses, angiosperms (flowering plants) and gymnosperms (non-flowering plants).

Photosynthetic organisms within the taxonomic kingdom Plantae common to the southeastern U.S. are presented below.

Vascular Plants
Inundated clubmoss (Lycopodiella inundata) [Copyright: T.F. Niehaus / Smithsonian Institution, used with permission.]

Club Mosses (division Lycopodiophyta)
Vascular club mosses are generally larger than nonvascular mosses and bear resemblance to some ferns.

Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea L.) [Photo: U.S. EPA]

Ferns and Fern Allies (division Pteridophyta)
Ferns are non-flowering plants characterized by leaf-like structures called fronds and true roots originating from a rhizome. Fern allies are not ferns but are similar to ferns because they reproduce with spores.

Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) [Photo: Robert H. Mohlenbrock, USDA]

Gymnosperms (division Coniferophyta)
Gymnosperms are non-flowering plants including conifers, which are cone-bearing trees such as pine, spruce, and fir trees.

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)  [Photo: John F. Mitchell, U.S NPS]

Angiosperms (division Magnoliophyta)
Angiosperms are flowering, seed bearing plants that form seeds in fruits. This includes flowering trees, shrubs, forbs, and grasses.

Nonvascular Plants
Microscopic view of a phytoplankton cell (Akashiwo sanguinea) collected during the September 2004 algal bloom in San Francisco Bay, California [Photo: U.S. Geological Survey]

Algae and single-celled photosynthetic organisms
Algae and photosynthetic microorganisms such as phytoplankton are important components of many aquatic ecosystems with both positive and negative impacts. Microflora are important food sources, but Algae Bloom and Red Tides can be harmful and toxic.

Lichen [Photo: U.S. NPS]

Lichens and Fungi
Although not truly a plant, lichens are plant-like colonies of mutualistic fungi and algae existing in a symbiotic relationship.

Liverwort (Conocephalum conicum) [Photo: U.S. NPS]

Liverworts and Hornworts (division Hepatophyta)
Liverworts are primitive photosynthetic plants with no vascular system.

Moss (Tetraphis pellucida) [Photo: U.S. NPS]

Mosses and Hornworts (division Bryophyta)
These plants have no roots, leaves, or stems. They must live near water or other moist locations.

Ecological Importance of Plants
Plants are a cornerstone of the foundations of life in ecosystems. Thought of as producers, plants capture light energy radiated from the sun and convert it into the sugars and starches that other organisms consume for energy. In addition to producing energy, plants convert raw materials present in the ecosystem such as carbon from the atmosphere and inorganic minerals and compounds from the soil including nitrogen, potassium, and iron and make these elemental nutrients available to other life forms. From the simplest plants, such as algae, to towering forest trees such as Oaks, plants provide food and habitat. Plant communities provide shelter, cycle nutrients, and protect water quality.

Plants of the Southeastern United States
Flora size in North America is greatest in the southeastern United States. The high diversity may be related to the region's warm, humid climate, which is thought to be favorable for plant growth (Sisk, 1998).

The U.S. Department of Agriculture PLANTS database lists 20,619 plant species found in the Southeastern U.S. region encompassing Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi [view data records]. Of these, 1,027 species are recognized by state or federal agencies as threatened or endangered species [view data records].

State-listed Noxious Weeds
As of 2008, The USDA PLANTS database identifies nine state-listed noxious weed species in Kentucky [view records], three species in Tennessee [view records], 152 species in North Carolina [view records], 136 species in South Carolina [view records], 132 species in Alabama [view records], and nine species in Mississippi [view records]. A state noxious weed list for Georgia is not currently available.

Wetland Indicator Plant Species
The USDA PLANTS database lists 2550 plant species that are wetland indicators in Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi [view records].

For more about plants, see the Web resources for plants of the southeastern United States on this page.

To view references, please click "more..." below.

Web Resources for Plants of the Southeastern United States
Showing 10 of 308 ( Show All )
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Southeast U.S. Plant Research Resources
Showing 53 Results
ExpandDuke Herbarium
ExpandGeorgia Southern University Herbarium Collection Specimens List
ExpandHerbarium Database, Flora of the Southeastern United States
ExpandHerbarium of the University of Louisiana at Monroe
ExpandHerbarium, A.C. Moore, University of South Carolina
ExpandHerbarium, Algae, Duke University
ExpandHerbarium, Arkansas Tech University
ExpandHerbarium, Austin Peay State University
ExpandHerbarium, Biology Department, Georgia Southwestern University
ExpandHerbarium, Bryophyte, University of Tennessee
ExpandHerbarium, Bryophytes & Lichens, Thomas M. Pullen, University of Mississippi
ExpandHerbarium, Clemson University
ExpandHerbarium, Eastern Kentucky University
ExpandHerbarium, Florida State University
ExpandHerbarium, Fungal, Duke University
ExpandHerbarium, Fungal, University of Tennessee
ExpandHerbarium, Georgia Southern University
ExpandHerbarium, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory
ExpandHerbarium, I.W. Carpenter, Jr., Appalachian State University
ExpandHerbarium, Lichen, Duke University
ExpandHerbarium, Massey, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
ExpandHerbarium, Mississippi Museum of Natural Sciences
ExpandHerbarium, Mississippi State University
ExpandHerbarium, Moss, Duke University
ExpandHerbarium, Murray State University
ExpandHerbarium, Mycological, Julian H. Miller, University of Georgia
ExpandHerbarium, Northern Kentucky University
ExpandHerbarium, Old Dominion University
ExpandHerbarium, Paul L. Hollister, Tennessee Technological University
ExpandHerbarium, Slime Molds, Thomas M. Pullen, University of Mississippi
ExpandHerbarium, Southern Research Station, United States Forest Service
ExpandHerbarium, Thomas M. Pullen, University of Mississippi
ExpandHerbarium, Troy University
ExpandHerbarium, University of Alabama
ExpandHerbarium, University of Georgia
ExpandHerbarium, University of Kentucky
ExpandHerbarium, University of North Carolina
ExpandHerbarium, University of North Carolina
ExpandHerbarium, University of Southern Mississippi
ExpandHerbarium, University of the South / Sewanee
ExpandHerbarium, Valdosta State University
ExpandHerbarium, Vascular Plant, Duke University
ExpandHerbarium, Vascular Plants, Thomas M. Pullen, University of Mississippi
ExpandHerbarium, Virginia Commonwealth University
ExpandHerbarium, Wake Forest University
ExpandHerbarium, Western Carolina University
ExpandHerbarium, Western Kentucky University
ExpandJohn D. Freeman Herbarium - Auburn University
ExpandPullen Herbarium, University of Mississippi
ExpandRobert K. Godfrey Herbarium at Florida State University
ExpandThe University of Florida Herbarium (FLAS)
ExpandUniversity of Tennessee Herbarium
ExpandUpstate Herbarium, University of South Carolina
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