Edition 1 (1937) of this work listed just over 2000 species. A preliminary survey for this revision showed a three-fold increase of species for inclusion and an overall increase of information available for those in Edition 1. Families are being dealt with alphabetically, and genera within families, and species within genera also alphabetically.
The work is made up of 5 volumes. Volume 1, Families A to D woth over 1500species, appeared in 1985; Volume 2 with over 900 species of Families E to I in 1994; Volume 3, Families J to L, 960 species, in 1995; Volume 4, Families M to R, 1100 species in 1997; and Volume 5, Famihes S to Z, 800 species, in 2000. Volume 5 also contains some additonal information relevant to families A to R, as well as information regarding cryptogams which had been excluded from the First Edition. The sixth and final volume is an aggregation of all the indexes in the previous five volumes.
European and trade-names, if known, are given for each species. There follow a brief description, the sort of habitat each frequents, and then the known economic attributes in West Africa, and over the rest of Africa and beyond, if so wide-spread.