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Simplified schematic of an island's flora - all its plant species, highlighted in boxes Flora.png
Simplified schematic of an island's flora – all its plant species, highlighted in boxes

Flora (pl.: floras or florae) is all the plant life present in a particular region or time, generally the naturally occurring (indigenous) native plants. The corresponding term for animals is fauna , and for fungi, it is funga . [1] Sometimes bacteria and fungi are also referred to as flora as in the terms gut flora or skin flora . [2] [3] [4]



The word "flora" comes from the Latin name of Flora, the goddess of plants, flowers, and fertility in Roman mythology. [5] The technical term "flora" is then derived from a metonymy of this goddess at the end of the sixteenth century. It was first used in poetry to denote the natural vegetation of an area, but soon also assumed the meaning of a work cataloguing such vegetation. Moreover, "Flora" was used to refer to the flowers of an artificial garden in the seventeenth century. [6]

The distinction between vegetation (the general appearance of a community) and flora (the taxonomic composition of a community) was first made by Jules Thurmann (1849). Prior to this, the two terms were used interchangeably. [7] [8]


Plants are grouped into floras based on region (floristic regions), period, special environment, or climate. Regions can be distinct habitats like mountain vs. flatland. Floras can mean plant life of a historic era as in fossil flora. Lastly, floras may be subdivided by special environments:


The botanical continents of the World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, used for classifying floras geographically WGSRPD World.svg
The botanical continents of the World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, used for classifying floras geographically
Floristic regions in Europe according to Wolfgang Frey and Rainer Losch Floristic regions in Europe (english).png
Floristic regions in Europe according to Wolfgang Frey and Rainer Lösch

The flora of a particular area or time period can be documented in a publication also known as a "flora" (often capitalized as "Flora" to distinguish the two meanings when they might be confused). Floras may require specialist botanical knowledge to use with any effectiveness. Traditionally they are books, but some are now published on CD-ROM or websites.

Simon Paulli's Flora Danica of 1648 is probably the first book titled "Flora" to refer to the plant world of a certain region. It mainly describes medicinal plants growing in Denmark. The Flora Sinensis by the Polish Jesuit Michał Boym is another early example of a book titled "Flora". [9] However, despite its title it covered not only plants but also some animals of the region, that is China and India. [6]

A published flora often contains diagnostic keys. Often these are dichotomous keys, which require the user to examine a plant repeatedly, and decide which one of two alternatives given best applies to the plant.

See also


Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vegetation</span> Assemblage of plant species

Vegetation is an assemblage of plant species and the ground cover they provide. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular taxa, life forms, structure, spatial extent, or any other specific botanical or geographic characteristics. It is broader than the term flora which refers to species composition. Perhaps the closest synonym is plant community, but vegetation can, and often does, refer to a wider range of spatial scales than that term does, including scales as large as the global. Primeval redwood forests, coastal mangrove stands, sphagnum bogs, desert soil crusts, roadside weed patches, wheat fields, cultivated gardens and lawns; all are encompassed by the term vegetation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Malesia</span> Biogeographical region in Southeast Asia

Malesia is a biogeographical region straddling the Equator and the boundaries of the Indomalayan and Australasian realms, and also a phytogeographical floristic region in the Paleotropical Kingdom. The original definition by the World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions included Papuasia, but this was split off in its 2001 version.

A phytochorion, in phytogeography, is a geographic area with a relatively uniform composition of plant species. Adjacent phytochoria do not usually have a sharp boundary, but rather a soft one, a transitional area in which many species from both regions overlap. The region of overlap is called a vegetation tension zone.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fauna</span> Set of animal species in any particular region and time

Fauna is all of the animal life present in a particular region or time. The corresponding term for plants is flora, and for fungi, it is funga. Flora, fauna, funga and other forms of life are collectively referred to as biota. Zoologists and paleontologists use fauna to refer to a typical collection of animals found in a specific time or place, e.g. the "Sonoran Desert fauna" or the "Burgess Shale fauna". Paleontologists sometimes refer to a sequence of faunal stages, which is a series of rocks all containing similar fossils. The study of animals of a particular region is called faunistics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flora (microbiology)</span>

In microbiology, collective bacteria and other microorganisms in a host are historically known as flora. Although microflora is commonly used, the term microbiota is becoming more common as microflora is a misnomer. Flora pertains to the Kingdom Plantae. Microbiota includes Archaea, Bacteria, Fungi and Protists. Microbiota with animal-like characteristics can be classified as microfauna.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">California Native Plant Society</span> Organization

The California Native Plant Society (CNPS) is a California environmental non-profit organization that seeks to increase understanding of California's native flora and to preserve it for future generations. The mission of CNPS is to conserve California native plants and their natural habitats, and increase understanding, appreciation, and horticultural use of native plants throughout the entire state and California Floristic Province.

Phytogeography or botanical geography is the branch of biogeography that is concerned with the geographic distribution of plant species and their influence on the earth's surface. Phytogeography is concerned with all aspects of plant distribution, from the controls on the distribution of individual species ranges to the factors that govern the composition of entire communities and floras. Geobotany, by contrast, focuses on the geographic space's influence on plants.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">California Floristic Province</span> Region of uniform plant variety in the western United States and Mexico

The California Floristic Province (CFP) is a floristic province with a Mediterranean-type climate located on the Pacific Coast of North America with a distinctive flora similar to other regions with a winter rainfall and summer drought climate like the Mediterranean Basin. This biodiversity hotspot is known for being the home of the Sierran giant sequoia tree and its close relative the coast redwood. In 1996, the Province was designated as a biodiversity hotspot allowing it to join ranks among 33 other areas in the world with many endemic species. To be named a biodiversity hotspot, an area has to contain species and plant life that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The California Floristic Province is home to over 3,000 species of vascular plants, 60% of which are endemic to the province.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wildlife of Brazil</span> Overview of the wildlife of Brazil

The wildlife of Brazil comprises all naturally occurring animals, plants, and fungi in the South American country. Home to 60% of the Amazon Rainforest, which accounts for approximately one-tenth of all species in the world, Brazil is considered to have the greatest biodiversity of any country on the planet. It has the most known species of plants (60,000), freshwater fish (3,000), amphibians (1,188), snakes (430), insects (90,000) and mammals (775) It also ranks third on the list of countries with the most bird species (1,971) and the third with the most reptile species (848). The number of fungal species is unknown. Approximately two-thirds of all species worldwide are found in tropical areas, often coinciding with developing countries such as Brazil. Brazil is second only to Indonesia as the country with the most endemic species.

The native flora of the United States includes about 17,000 species of vascular plants, plus tens of thousands of additional species of other plants and plant-like organisms such as algae, lichens and other fungi, and mosses. About 3,800 additional non-native species of vascular plants are recorded as established outside of cultivation in the U.S., as well as a much smaller number of non-native non-vascular plants and plant relatives. The United States possesses one of the most diverse temperate floras in the world, comparable only to that of China.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flora of Australia</span> Plant species of Australia

The flora of Australia comprises a vast assemblage of plant species estimated to over 21,000 vascular and 14,000 non-vascular plants, 250,000 species of fungi and over 3,000 lichens. The flora has strong affinities with the flora of Gondwana, and below the family level has a highly endemic angiosperm flora whose diversity was shaped by the effects of continental drift and climate change since the Cretaceous. Prominent features of the Australian flora are adaptations to aridity and fire which include scleromorphy and serotiny. These adaptations are common in species from the large and well-known families Proteaceae (Banksia), Myrtaceae, and Fabaceae.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wombat State Forest</span> Protected area in Victoria, Australia

The Wombat State Forest is located 50 kilometres (31 mi) west of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, between Woodend and Daylesford, at the Great Dividing Range. The forest is approximately 70,000 hectares in size and sits upon Ordovician or Cenozoic sediments. The Bullarook Wombat State Forest was proclaimed in 1871.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cape Lowland Freshwater Wetland</span> Vegetation type endemic to the Western Cape, South Africa

Cape Lowland Freshwater Wetland is a critically endangered vegetation type of the Western Cape, South Africa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ecology of Tasmania</span>

The biodiversity of Tasmania is of exceptional biological and paleoecological interest. A state of Australia, it is a large South Pacific archipelago of one large main island and a range of smaller islands. The terrain includes a variety of reefs, atolls, many small islands, and a variety of topographical and edaphic regions on the largest island, all of which promote the development of unusually concentrated biodiversity. During long periods geographically and genetically isolated, it is known for its unique flora and fauna. The region's climate is oceanic.

The flora and fauna of Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Biomes in Brazil</span>

According to IBGE (2004), Brazil has its territory occupied by six terrestrial biomes and one marine biome.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Remnant natural area</span> Flora and fauna that has not been significantly disturbed

A remnant natural area, also known as remnant habitat, is an ecological community containing native flora and fauna that has not been significantly disturbed by destructive activities such as agriculture, logging, pollution, development, fire suppression, or non-native species invasion. The more disturbed an area has been, the less characteristic it becomes of remnant habitat. Remnant areas are also described as "biologically intact" or "ecologically intact."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Giuliana Furci</span> Chilean Mycologist

Giuliana Furci OSI is a field mycologist, speaker, author, and founder and CEO of the Fungi Foundation. She is a Harvard University associate, National Geographic Explorer, Dame of the Order of the Star of Italy, deputy chair of the IUCN Fungal Conservation Committee, and author of several titles including a series of field guides to Chilean fungi and co-author of titles such as the 1st State of the World's Fungi and the publication delimiting the term “funga” and the 3F Proposal - Fauna, Flora & Funga. Giuliana has held consulting positions in U.S. philanthropic foundations as well as full-time positions in international and Chilean marine conservation non-profits. She sits on the Board of Fundación Acción Fauna, and on the advisory board of the Society for the Protection of Underground Networks (SPUN), and other organizations. Giuliana has received several distinctions including the 2022 Buffett/National Geographic Leadership in Conservation in Latin America Award, 2022 Gordon and Tina Wasson Award from the Mycological Society of America, and the 2013 Presidents Award from the International Society for Fungal Conservation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Escaped plant</span> Plant that escapes cultivation

An escaped plant is a cultivated plant that has escaped from agriculture, forestry or garden cultivation and has become naturalized in the wild. Usually not native to an area, escaped plants may become invasive. Therefore, escaped plants are the subject of research in invasion biology.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Funga</span> Set of macroscopic fungi species in any particular region and time

In life sciences, funga is a recent term for the kingdom fungi similar to the longstanding fauna for animals and flora for plants. The term seeks to simplify projects oriented toward implementation of educational and conservation goals. An informal meeting held during the IX Congreso Latinoamericano de Micología resulted in a proposal for the term in 2018; alternative terms were also proposed and discussed. Funga was recommended by the IUCN in 2021. The term highlights parallel terminology referring to treatments of these macroorganisms of particular geographical areas.


  1. Kuhar, Francisco; Furci, Giuliana; Drechsler-Santos, Elisandro Ricardo; Pfister, Donald H. (December 2018). "Delimitation of Funga as a valid term for the diversity of fungal communities: the Fauna, Flora & Funga proposal (FF&F)". IMA Fungus. 9 (2): A71–A74. doi:10.1007/BF03449441. hdl: 11336/88035 . ISSN   2210-6359.
  2. "flora". Merriam-Webster. Archived from the original on 2006-04-30. Retrieved 2006-05-03.
  3. Clifford E. Starliper; Rita Villella; Patricia Morrison; Jay Mathais. "Sampling the bacterial flora of freshwater mussels" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-02-01. Retrieved 2014-01-02.
  4. John, D.M.; Whitton, B.A.; Brook, A.J. (2002). The Freshwater Algal Flora of the British Isles: An Identification Guide to Freshwater and Terrestrial Algae. Cambridge University Press. ISBN   9780521770514.
  5. Rengel, Kathleen N. Daly; revised by Marian; Daly, Kathleen (2009). Greek and Roman mythology, A to Z (3rd ed.). New York: Chelsea House Publishers. ISBN   978-1604134124.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. 1 2 Berrens, Dominik (2019-03-21). "The Meaning of Flora". Humanistica Lovaniensia. Journal of Neo-Latin Studies. 68 (1): 237–249. doi: 10.30986/2019.237 . ISSN   2593-3019. Archived from the original on 2021-05-24. Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  7. Thurmann, J. (1849). Essai de Phytostatique appliqué à la chaîne du Jura et aux contrées voisines. Berne: Jent et Gassmann, Archived 2017-10-02 at the Wayback Machine .
  8. Martins, F. R. & Batalha, M. A. (2011). Formas de vida, espectro biológico de Raunkiaer e fisionomia da vegetação. In: Felfili, J. M., Eisenlohr, P. V.; Fiuza de Melo, M. M. R.; Andrade, L. A.; Meira Neto, J. A. A. (Org.). Fitossociologia no Brasil: métodos e estudos de caso. Vol. 1. Viçosa: Editora UFV. p. 44-85. Archived 2016-09-24 at the Wayback Machine . Earlier version, 2003, Archived 2016-08-27 at the Wayback Machine .
  9. Flora Sinensis Archived 2010-02-06 at the Wayback Machine (access to the facsimile of the book, its French translation, and an article about it)