The African Plants Initiative (API) was conceived as a web-based, electronic venture that would provide rapid access to images of type specimens of African plant names. This soon grew to also encompass images of living plants, associated taxonomic literature, artwork, and related texts. In many respects, Africa, which is host to a flora of over 50,000 species, for which about six times that number of alternative and incorrect names are available, has historically lagged behind the world in terms of both taxonomic capacity and access to the global electronic ether. Through the API, a consortium of 73 institutions from the North and South, 291,289 specimen images alone are now available for accessing through the Internet. In this regard, the API has been a pioneer in and has become a catalyst for facilitating the generation and dissemination of fundamental taxonomic information on African plants, a role it is increasingly fulfilling through the JSTOR Plant Science portals.
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