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Plant facts & figures

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Plant facts & figures

Simple up-to-date global facts about plants . . . the number of species, their biomass, and so forth, can be difficult to find. I have assembled this kind of information here (in one place) for those who might find it useful. Please keep me up-to-date with any errors or omissions.

Biomass

Biomass as carbon content (factors out water) in gigatons of carbon (GtC).[1]

Plants comprise 80% of all the carbon stored in living organisms. Plants are mainly terrestrial, animals mainly marine, bacteria and archaea mostly deep subsurface. Terrestrial biomass is two orders of magnitude greater than marine. Human biomass is an order of magnitude greater higher than that of all wild mammals combined. Humans and their livestock outweigh wild mammals >20-fold. Domesticated fowl exceeds all other birds. In the last 10,000 years humans have halved wild plant biomass. The seas are mostly occupied by microbes, mainly bacteria and protists (≈70% total marine biomass, the remaining ≈30% mostly arthropods and fish). The deep subsurface holds ≈15% of the total biomass in the biosphere (mostly surface-attached bacteria and archaea). [1]

ORGANISM
all life
plants
bacteria
fungi
archaea
protista
animals
viruses
humans
BIOMASS - GtC[1]
550
450
70
12
8
4
2
0.2
0.06

Collections

INSTITUTION
Botanic garden
Herbarium
Gene/seed bank
Agricultural seed bank
NUMBER IN WORLD
3991[2]
3324[2]
97 (350 in bot gds of 74 countries): Most held in Millennium Seed Bank, Kew. Total 57,051 spp. in 2020[2]
1750[2]

Herbaria

HERBARIA
3324 (N America 844; Europe 828)[2]
Total specimens
392,353,689 (Dec. 2019)

Botanic gardens

Species in living collections
107,340 (31% total vasc. pt species)[2]

Conservation

Human activities are accelerating the rate of biodiversity loss such that two in five plant species is threatened with extinction.[2]

THREAT
Agriculture & aquaculture
Biological resource use
Natural system modification
Residential & commercial devt
Invasive biota
Energy production & mining
Climate change
Other human disturbance
Transport & access corridors
Pollution
Geological events
PERCENTAGE
32.8
21.1
10.8
10.5
6.5
5.4
4.1
3.2
2.5
1.7
0.9

Food

EDIBLE PLANTS
Number
Current food crops - 2020
Staple crops
Sources of large-seeded grasses
Potential new sources
NUMBERS
7039 (in 2319 genera, 288 families)[2][3]
417 (5.9% of total vailable)
15 (90% energy intake - mostly rice, maize, wheat)[4]
56 (32 SW Asia & Medn; E Asia 6; C America 5; Sahara 4; N America 4; Australia 2; S America 2; W Europe 1)[5]
Sub-Saharan Africa; India; SE Asia; Papua New Guinea[2]

Medicinal plants

PLANT SPECIES WITH MEDICINAL PROPERTIES
25,791 [2][9]

Primary productivity

Human appropriation of net primary productivity (HANPP)

Human appropriation of net primary productivity

Development of NPP components and HANPP by land use type from 1910 to 2005 in gigatonnes of carbon per year (GtC/y).
Courtesy Krausmann 2013.

Regional breakdown of global HANPP (excluding human-induced fires) in the year 2000

Courtesy Krausmann 2013

Species number

The total number of species in the world is extremely difficult to determine. Current estimates range between 8 and 10 million.

Plants in the biosphere

Known and estimates of undescribed species on Earth, arranged in major taxonomic groups. Left: number of species (orange = estimated undescribed species, blue = described). Right: percentage of species already described (green) assumed unknown (yellow)

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons – Gregor Hagedorn – Accessed 22 October 2020

The World Flora Online (WFO) is a consortium of leading botanical institutions worldwide aiming to achieve an online Flora of all known plants in line with the 2011-2020 Global Strategy for Plant Conservation Target 1. No breakdown of numbers by taxonomic category is available yet.

The following are the numbers of accepted species listed in the former Plant List which follows the Kew taxonomic system of classification. It is still a work in progress.

PLANT GROUP
Vascular plants (all below groups)
Angiosperms (flowering plants)
Gymnosperms (conifers)
Ferns & allies
Mosses & liverworts
SPECIES NUMBERS
350,699 (642 families, 17,020 genera)
304,419 (405 families, 14,559 genera)
1,104 (12 families, 88 genera)
10,620 (48 families, 587 genera)
34,556 (177 families, 1822 genera)

Trees

Number

WORLD TOTAL
3.041 trillion (3,041,000,000,000)[6][7]
Estimates initially based on satellite imagery have been supplemented by additional estimates using calculations of forest surface cover and density per square kilometer. Sub-arctic forests have the highest densities a tree every meter. Boreal forests of North America, Scandinavia, and Russia are densely packed with skinny conifers and are estimated to hold about 750 billion trees, representing 24% of the total trees in the world. Slightly fewer than half the world’s trees occur in tropical and sub-tropical forests where about 1.3 trillion trees (43% of the total) occur.[6][7]

Fastest growing

Fastest growing – bamboo 91 cm (35 in) per day or at a rate of 0.00003 km/h (0.00002 mph).[10]

Greatest volume

Volume Sequoiadendron giganteum, Giant Redwood (General Sherman), Sequoia National Park, California. 52,508 cu ft. Probably the world’s largest individual organism[11]

Oldest

Oldest tree >4,700 years, Pinus longaeva Bristlecone Pine (Methuselah), White Mountain Range, California
(c. 4,900 Pinus longaeva Bristlecone Pine (Prometheus), Nevada cut down in 1964)[11]

Oldest clonal tree Picea abies, Norway Spruce (Pando), in Sweden 9,550 years. Populus tremuloides, Quaking Aspen (Pando), Utah, c. 80,000 years and >6000 tons. [11]

List of the world’s oldest trees.

Tallest

TREE
Sequoia sempervirens, Coast Redwood (Hyperion), Redwood National Park, California
Eucalyptus regnans, Mountain Ash (Centurion), Styx Valley, Tasmania. (tallest flowering plant)
HEIGHT
116 m (380 ft)[8]
95 m (331 ft)[8]
tallest trees

Tallest Trees in the World

Image Courtesy Candide Gardening

Widest girth

11.6 m (38 ft) Widest girth in the world is the Arbol del Tule, a Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) located in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Media Gallery

The Biggest Trees in the World ! How big it could be ?

MAD LAB – 2019 – 11:14

First published on the internet – 21 October 2020

 

The Community of Life
Showing biological divisions, geological ages and major evolutionary events
Courtesy Evogeneao https://www.evogeneao.com

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