In many references about the origin of plant species, you still see reference to the "Old World" or "New World". This somewhat archaic reference actually refers to the two continents that were first visited by Europeans once they started to sail to the west. Many plant species were "discovered" by European plant explorers in this region and were then introduced to the rest of the world.

As you can see from the map, saying that something is native to the "New World" really does not tell you much. Of course, there are tropical, subtropical, temperate, desert, rainforest and every other possible plant environment included. So, unfortunately, this geographic term is almost beyond any real use for gaining a better understanding of a particular plant genus or species...but, it is often the only thing we have...sorry.


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