With the goal of maximizing project results in the short-term, the data-basing, geo-referencing, imaging, and mounting in the HN herbarium started with 11 plant families selected on the following bases: they are diverse and widespread in Vietnam, but also of manageable size; there is a specialist on them at NY and/or HN so as to ensure quick turnaround on identifications; they include both monocots and dicots and represent different lineages within vascular plants; and they represent a variety of life forms. These families account for ca. 14,000 specimens. Thorough curation of and (consequently) clean data for these families can now make it possible to generate valid estimates for relative collecting densities and detect priority gaps in the botanical inventory. The plant family checklists will allow investigators to make comparisons with neighboring floras and quantify rates of endemism and locate centers of endemism.
Except for specimens collected during colonial times, specimen data for the Vietnam flora were essentially cut off from the world. Moreover, the few checklists available were not vouchered, and even recent collections tended to be poorly distributed. As noted above, in addition to the 11 specialists directly participating in this project, we are distributing duplicates from recent collections to an interactive network of active specialists for Southeast Asian plants developed by NYBG during the past year. As for the 11 specialists, they will be asked to provide not only identifications but also syntheses for their groups of new taxa, new records, distributions, affinities, and rare and/or possibly endangered taxa. A similar strategy has worked extremely well for the flora of Acre, Brazil.