DATABASES: The Green Scene

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Science  03 Nov 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5493, pp. 895
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5493.895d

Can't see the forest for the trees? The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Plants Database offers clear and concise information on thousands of plants, from towering redwoods to tiny wetland sedges, for botanists and weekend gardeners alike. The site has four major branches, each laden with the fruit of knowledge. In the Gallery, users can pluck some eye-popping pictures. Plant Topics sprouts searchable databases on everything from invasive species to culturally significant plants. A “characteristics” viewer sorts species and varieties by more than 100 criteria, from their ability to withstand drought to flower color, and a tool that would draw a plant's evolutionary family tree is in the works. Plant Tools offers erosion-control and nutrient-management models, while a links page connects browsers to green pastures elsewhere on the Web. There are also downloadable plant taxonomies organized by state—and don't miss the Plant of the Week profile.

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