Entada rheedei Spreng. Image by dineshvalke via iNaturalist

3 July 2024

General information for the curation of the legume checklist

Guidelines for checking legume names - please contribute !


As legume researchers, we all need access to an accurate species list for gathering occurrence and trait data in a consistent manner and for curating all other types of data on legumes (phylogenomics, images, etc.). For this reason, in 2020 we initiated a project to update the legume list of names through an ongoing process with the aim to establish an up-to-date, consensus legume checklist with accepted names. The information that we gather will inform our own research as well as that of others, e.g. online projects such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), Catalogue of Life (CoL) and World Flora Online (WFO). The corrections we provide are fully integrated in Kew’s Plants of the World Online (POWO) portal via their World Checklist of Vascular Plants (WCVP) database by collaborating with Rafaël Govaerts, and are synchronised with the International Plant Name Index (IPNI). This document serves to provide a set of instructions that will guide taxonomists to enlist and become part of this global initiative.


1. Register

Tell us you want to help by sending the following details to the relevant coordinator(s) as listed in Table 1:

  • Name
  • Surname
  • Department/Faculty
  • Position
  • Country
  • Institutional affiliation (full address)
  • Email address
  • Legume group(s) of interest

If more than one person is willing to check names for the same group, the coordinator will liaise with all involved to establish a team.

2. Download data

Download the relevant checklist per subfamily and unplaced taxa from the Legume Data Portal. Once you have clicked on the relevant link below you will be directed to the Legume Data Portal GitHub, where you can click on the three little dots to the right of the file name to download.

3. Edit the checklist

As certain components of the checklist have been verified, one of two processes should be followed going forward: a) check data for the first time or b) maintain data. Herewith are detailed guidelines for both processes and a flow diagram to illustrate the steps.

Figure 1. Flow diagram illustrating the steps that should be followed in checklist curation.

Use published data and follow the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants when verifying data.

3.1 First time checks

  1. Check all data and record any correction in the ‘comment’ column only.
  2. For every record checked or checked and corrected, add your full name in the column “verified by” and the date on which the record was checked and verified on in the column “verified on (date)”.
  3. When a name does not appear in the checklist, visit the IPNI website, search for the name and if it is not in the IPNI database, register the name.
  4. It is important to highlight where new combinations are needed in the checklist. Unpublished names cannot be included in the final checklist. Therefore please comment if/when you intend to publish these or know who will publish these names.
  5. If you know of an additional publication justifying the taxonomic arrangement you propose, then please cite in the ‘comment’ column. If you notice that a paper with new synonymy has been missed, then it is sufficient to mention the paper once and there is no further need to make detailed changes. All the changes from that paper will then be added by the editors.
  6. If you question synonymy, you can check details on POWO where references are usually provided under the section “Publications” and/or IPNI.
  7. Name status categories that can be used include:
    • Accepted
    • Synonym
    • Unplaced
  8. More detailed categories that can be used, if you know, include:
    • Artificial Hybrid (treated the same as accepted)
    • Illegitimate (please indicate if homonym or superfluous) (treated as synonyms)
    • Invalid (treated as synonyms)
    • Misapplied (sensu auct.) (treated as synonyms)
    • Orthographic variation (treated as synonyms)
  9. Submit the updated checklist to the relevant coordinator (Table 1) according to their instructions, with a copy of the email to Marianne le Roux, Anne Bruneau or Juliana Rando. Rafaël Govaerts will incorporate corrections into the WCVP database and will contact taxonomists directly if certain corrections require clarification.

3.2 Data maintenance

After a particular component of a checklist has been verified (flagged accordingly in the “checked” column), data will require additional verification as unplaced names are discovered and included in the WCVP Fabaceae checklist and on Rhakhis, an online names editing tool that will slowly be integrated into our workflows.

For unplaced names in the Excel spreadsheets, data corrections should be made as explained above and submitted to the relevant coordinator. Maintenance will also include the notification of new synonymy or resurrection of names. In these cases, provide the reference to the publication.

For unplaced names in Rhakhis, log into the Rhakhis platform using your ORCID. Written and video instructions on how to use Rhakhis is available here and a sandbox, if you want to play around and familiarise yourself with the system. If there are unplaced names, they are listed on each taxon page towards the bottom.

Benefits of contributing to the consensus legume checklist

It will be beneficial to participate in this initiative for the following reasons:

  • Become an active member of the global legume team
  • Promote your research to a broader audience
  • Create synergy by combining research
  • Building upon the combined research of others
  • Receive co-authorship for your contribution to the checklist
  • Become part of the global legume community (TEN) that will serve international initiatives such as WFO, CoL and GBIF

Checklist publication

The WCVP Fabaceae legume checklist is integrated or is a stand-alone dataset on the following platforms:

  • Catalogue of Life
  • ChecklistBank
  • Global Biodiversity Information Facility
  • Legume Data Portal
  • Plants of the World Online
  • World Flora Online
  • Zenodo (archive of all checklist versions published to date)

Contact If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact Marianne le Roux, Anne Bruneau and Juliana Rando

Table 1. Contact details of coordinators for subfamilies, tribes, clades, or groups.