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Philippine Plants

An Analysis of the Flora

Included Plants

The Philippines has a long and complex history that has included waves of plant introductions.  Some of these can be considered natural, i.e. occurring not as a result of the actions of humans.  Those species that arrived in the Philippines as a result of natural dispersal and population movement are considered native, as are the indigenous species whose origins trace to the Philippines.

In contrast, there are species whose center of origin is outside the Philippines but whose presence there can be directly or indirectly traced to the actions of humans.  Such introductions may have occurred many millennia ago, particularly for plants that were useful to humans and therefore cultivated.  Because the Philippines is a tropical country, it is possible to here cultivate plants from many parts of the world.  For this reason, the list of plants that are cultivated in the Philippines could be quite extensive, albeit not particularly useful for documenting the flora.  In addition to commonly cultivated species, it appears the Leonard Co also included introduced ones that have escaped from cultivation and persist without human intervention. Such plants are referred to as naturalized.

Analysis of the Flora

All family, genus and species names used in Co’s Digital Flora were entered into a spreadsheet (available upon request) which then allowed various analyses to be conducted.  A tabulation of which species are native as opposed to introduced and/or naturalized was then made using information in Co’s text, as well as other sources.  Native species that are also cultivated in the Philippines were included in the native category.  Conversely, non-native cultivated species were included in the introduced category. This tabulation should be considered a rough estimate given that each species was not researched individually in this context.

Considering the number of taxa for the entire flora (including subspecies, varieties and forms across all taxonomic groups) there exists 9555 taxa of native plants and 618 taxa of introduced (naturalized or not) and cultivated plants for a total of 10,173 taxa (names).  When counting only species (lumping all subspecific ranks), the total is 9850. These species occur in 1933 genera which are in 255 families. The family concept used here is a modified version of APGIII (2009).  Non-native, introduced plants thus constitute just over 6% of the Philippine flora.

The flora can also be assessed along taxonomic lines.  For the pteridophytes (technically lycophytes and monilophytes), the vast majority of plants are named at the species level without subspecific ranks, so here taxon nearly equals species.  Moreover, essentially all species were recorded as being native.  This scoring may well be revised once complete entries for many species are available.  In any event, there are 1029 species of pteridophytes listed, these being in 156 genera and 33 families. Thus, pteridophytes constitute 10.4% of the Philippine flora.

Of the three vascular plant groups, gymnosperms are the smallest with 7 families, 15 genera and 44 species.  The majority of species are native with 5 genera containing cultivated species: Araucaria, Cycas, Cupressus, Juniperus, and Platycladus.

The angiosperms are the most diverse and numerous group in the Philippine flora with 215 families, 1806 genera and 8853 species or 9105 taxa (names including all with subspecific ranks). Of these 9105 taxa, 8496 (93%) are native and 609 (7%) are non-native and/or cultivated. Of the 1759 genera, 1601 (91%) are native and 158 (9%) are introduced and/or cultivated.

The table below shows the 17 most-speciose genera in the Philippine flora, i.e. those that have 50 or more species.  All but one (Diplazium) are angiosperms.

Genus Family Species
Syzygium Myrtaceae 192
BulbophyllumOrchidaceae 163
Psychotria Rubiaceae 123
Begonia Begoniaceae 105
Cyrtandra Gesneriaceae 104
Ficus Moraceae 104
Dendrochilum Orchidaceae 102
Elatostema Urticaceae 96
HoyaApocynaceae 95
MedinillaMelastomataceae 86
Dendrobium Orchidaceae 67
Piper Piperaceae 66
Schefflera Araliaceae 65
Saurauia Actinidiaceae 57
Pandanus Pandanaceae 57
Ardisia Primulaceae 57
Diplazium Woodsiaceae 50

Photographic Coverage of the Flora

The links to photographs on the PhytoImages server occur at the genus and species ranks.  For genera in which no photos yet exist on the server, we have indicated “No Photos”. If the word Photos is linked, this takes one to a window displaying all available photos for that genus, whether any of the species derive from the Philippines or not.  We felt this was important because it allows the user to at least get some photographic information on that genus instead of none at all.  In other cases, the photos for that genus, while not being from plants taken in the Philippines, still represent the same species as is found in that country.  And of course, as Co’s Digital Flora of the Philippines grows, more and more of the genera with “No Photos” will be represented photographically.  We strongly encourage anyone with photos of plants in this category to consider sharing those photos to fill the gap.

Tabulating our photographic coverage, it is excellent at the rank of family with 97% for pteridophytes, 100% for gymnosperms, and 91% for angiosperms.  At the rank of genus, 79% for pteridophytes, 93% for gymnosperms, and 69% for angiosperms. Finally, at the rank of species, 26% for pteridophytes, 29% for gymnosperms, and 22% for angiosperms. For all taxonomic groups, 70% of the genera and 22% of the species have been photographed.

Recommended Citation: Pelser, P.B., J.F. Barcelona & D.L. Nickrent (eds.). 2011 onwards. Co's Digital Flora of the Philippines.

Copyright © 2011, Co's Digital Flora of the Philippines

Last updated October 21, 2012