Flora

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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 is all the plant life present in a particular region or time, generally the naturally occurring (indigenous) native plants. Sometimes bacteria and fungi are also referred to as flora, as in the terms gut flora or skin flora . [1] [2] [3]

Contents

Etymology

The word "flora" comes from the Latin name of Flora, the goddess of plants, flowers, and fertility in Roman mythology. [4] 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. [5]

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 indiscriminately. [6] [7]

Classifications

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:

Documentation

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". [8] However, despite its title it covered not only plants, but also some animals of the region, that is China and India. [9]

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

See also

Categories

Related Research Articles

Biogeographic realm Broadest biogeographic division of Earths land surface

A biogeographic realm or ecozone is the broadest biogeographic division of Earth's land surface, based on distributional patterns of terrestrial organisms. They are subdivided into bioregions, which are further subdivided into ecoregions.

Vegetation 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.

Malesia 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. It has been given different definitions. The World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions split off Papuasia in its 2001 version.

<i>Hibiscus rosa-sinensis</i> Species of flowering plant in the mallow family Malvaceae

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, known colloquially as Chinese hibiscus, China rose, Hawaiian hibiscus, rose mallow and shoeblack plant, is a species of tropical hibiscus, a flowering plant in the Hibisceae tribe of the family Malvaceae. It is widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions, but is not known in the wild, so that its native distribution is uncertain. An origin in some part of tropical Asia is likely. It is widely grown as an ornamental plant in the tropics and subtropics.

<i>Symphyotrichum novae-angliae</i> Species of flowering plant in the family Asteraceae native to central and eastern North America

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae is a species of flowering plant in the aster family (Asteraceae) native to central and eastern North America. Commonly known as New England aster, hairy Michaelmas-daisy, or Michaelmas daisy, it is a perennial, herbaceous plant usually between 30 and 120 centimeters tall and 60 to 90 cm wide.

<i>Populus alba</i> Species of plant of the genus Populus

Populus alba, commonly called silver poplar, silverleaf poplar, or white poplar, is a species of poplar, most closely related to the aspens. It is native to Morocco and then Portugal through central Europe to central Asia. It grows in moist sites, often by watersides, in regions with hot summers and cold to mild winters.

<i>Onoclea sensibilis</i> Species of fern

Onoclea sensibilis, the sensitive fern, also known as the bead fern, is a coarse-textured, medium to large-sized deciduous perennial fern. The name comes from its sensitivity to frost, the fronds dying quickly when first touched by it. It is sometimes treated as the only species in Onoclea, but some authors do not consider the genus monotypic.

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.

California Floristic Province 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.

Cape Floristic Region Smallest of the six recognised floral kingdoms of the world

The Cape Floristic Region is a floristic region located near the southern tip of South Africa. It is the only floristic region of the Cape Floristic Kingdom, and includes only one floristic province, known as the Cape Floristic Province.

Wildlife of Brazil 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 (55,000), freshwater fish (3,000), and mammals. It also ranks third on the list of countries with the most bird species (1,832) and second with the most reptile species (744). The number of fungal species is unknown but is large. 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.

<i>Symphyotrichum cordifolium</i> Species of flowering plant in the family Asteraceae native to North America

Symphyotrichum cordifolium, commonly known as common blue wood aster, heartleaf aster, and blue wood-aster, is a perennial herbaceous flowering plant in the family Asteraceae native to central and eastern North America. It reaches heights of up to 1.2 meters and has bluish daisy-like flowers which bloom late-summer and fall in its range.

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.

<i>Symphyotrichum lateriflorum</i> Species of flowering plant in the family Asteraceae native to central and eastern North America

Symphyotrichum lateriflorum is a species of flowering plant in the aster family (Asteraceae). Commonly known as calico aster, starved aster, and white woodland aster, it is native to eastern and central North America. It is a perennial and herbaceous plant that may reach heights up to 120 centimeters and widths up to 30 cm (1 ft).

Flora of Australia Plant species of Australia

The flora of Australia comprises a vast assemblage of plant species estimated to over 20,000 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.

Weed Plant considered undesirable in a particular place or situation

A weed is a plant considered undesirable in a particular situation, "a plant in the wrong place". Examples commonly are plants unwanted in human-controlled settings, such as farm fields, gardens, lawns, and parks. Taxonomically, the term "weed" has no botanical significance, because a plant that is a weed in one context is not a weed when growing in a situation where it is wanted, and where one species of plant is a valuable crop plant, another species in the same genus might be a serious weed, such as a wild bramble growing among cultivated loganberries. In the same way, volunteer crops (plants) are regarded as weeds in a subsequent crop. Many plants that people widely regard as weeds also are intentionally grown in gardens and other cultivated settings, in which case they are sometimes called beneficial weeds. The term weed is also applied to any plant that grows or reproduces aggressively, or is invasive outside its native habitat. More broadly, "weed" is occasionally applied pejoratively to species outside the plant kingdom, species that can survive in diverse environments and reproduce quickly; in this sense it has even been applied to humans.

<i>Symphyotrichum pilosum</i> Species of flowering plant in the family Asteraceae native to central and eastern North America

Symphyotrichum pilosum, commonly called hairy white oldfield aster or frost aster, is a flowering plant in the family Asteraceae native to central and eastern North America. It is a perennial, herbaceous plant that may reach 20 to 120 centimeters tall. Its flowers have white ray florets and yellow disk florets.

<i>Persoonia procumbens</i> Species of shrub

Persoonia procumbens is a plant in the family Proteaceae and is endemic to part of the New England Tableland. It is a prostrate shrub with rather fleshy, relatively large leaves and small groups of cylindrical yellow flowers. It is similar to P. daphnoides but has darker hairs on the young branches and smaller, less hairy flowers.

Vegetation classification is the process of classifying and mapping the vegetation over an area of the earth's surface. Vegetation classification is often performed by state based agencies as part of land use, resource and environmental management. Many different methods of vegetation classification have been used. In general, there has been a shift from structural classification used by forestry for the mapping of timber resources, to floristic community mapping for biodiversity management. Whereas older forestry-based schemes considered factors such as height, species and density of the woody canopy, floristic community mapping shifts the emphasis onto ecological factors such as climate, soil type and floristic associations. Classification mapping is usually now done using geographic information systems (GIS) software.

Escaped plant Garden plants escaping cultivation to wild

Escaped plants are cultivated plants, usually garden plants, that are not originally native to an area, and due to their dispersal strategies, have escaped from cultivation and have settled in the wild and bred there, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Escaped plants are purposefully introduced plants that have naturalized in the wild and can develop into invasive plants, the settlement of which is to be assessed as problematic. Other commonly used terms include escaped garden plant, garden escapee, escaped ornamental or garden refugee.

References

  1. "flora". Merriam-Webster.
  2. Clifford E. Starliper; Rita Villella; Patricia Morrison; Jay Mathais. "Sampling the bacterial flora of freshwater mussels" (PDF).
  3. John, D.M.; Whitton, B.A.; Brook, A.J. (2002). The Freshwater Algal Flora of the British Isles: An Identification Guid to Freshwater and Terrestrial Algae. Cambridge University Press. ISBN   9780521770514.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Thurmann, J. (1849). Essai de Phytostatique appliqué à la chaîne du Jura et aux contrées voisines. Berne: Jent et Gassmann, .
  7. 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. . Earlier version, 2003, .
  8. 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)
  9. 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.