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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. The corresponding term for animal life is fauna . Flora, fauna, and other forms of life, such as fungi, are collectively referred to as biota. Sometimes bacteria and fungi are also referred to as flora, as in the terms gut flora or skin flora . [1] [2] [3]



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]

Flora 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 of floras

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


Related Research Articles


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.

Southwest Australia Biogeographic region of Western Australia

Southwest Australia is a biogeographic region in Western Australia. It includes the Mediterranean-climate area of southwestern Australia, which is home to a diverse and distinctive flora and fauna.

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

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.

Biodiversity in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip is about the fauna and flora in the geographical region of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip. This geographical area within the region of Palestine extends from the Jordan River and Wadi Araba in the east, to the Mediterranean Sea and the Sinai desert in the west, to Lebanon in the north, and to the gulf of Aqaba, or Eilat in the south.

<i>Miscanthus sinensis</i>

Miscanthus sinensis, the maiden silvergrass, is a species of flowering plant in the grass family Poaceae, native to eastern Asia throughout most of China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea. It is an herbaceous perennial grass, growing to 0.8–2 m (3–7 ft) tall, rarely 4 m (13 ft), forming dense clumps from an underground rhizome. The leaves are 18–75 cm (7–30 in) tall and 0.3–2 cm broad. The flowers are purplish, held above the foliage. This plant is the preferred structure for the nesting of some species of paper wasps, such as Ropalidia fasciata.

<i>Viola sororia</i> Species of flowering plant genus Viola, in Eudicot family, Violaceae

Viola sororia, known commonly as the common blue violet, is a short-stemmed herbaceous perennial plant that is native to eastern North America. It is known by a number of common names, including common meadow violet, purple violet, the lesbian flower, woolly blue violet, hooded violet, and wood violet. Its cultivar 'Albiflora' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

Natural landscaping

Natural landscaping, also called native gardening, is the use of native plants, including trees, shrubs, groundcover, and grasses which are indigenous to the geographic area of the garden.

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.

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.

Flora 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 A 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 in fact 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 also is applied to any plant that grows or reproduces aggressively, or is invasive outside its native habitat. More broadly "weed" occasionally is 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.

Wombat State Forest 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.

Cape Flats Dune Strandveld Endangered vegetation type endemic to the coastal areas around Cape Town

Cape Flats Dune Strandveld is an endangered vegetation type. This is a unique type of Cape Strandveld that is endemic to the coastal areas around Cape Town, including the Cape Flats.

The wildlife of Turkey is abundant and very varied. Turkey is a large country with many geographic and climatic regions and a great diversity of plants and animals, each suited to its own particular habitat. About 1500 species of vertebrates have been recorded in the country and around 19,000 species of invertebrate. There are about 11,000 species of flowering plants; some of the world's staple crops were first cultivated in this area, and many of their wild relatives are still found here. The country acts as a cross roads with links to Europe, Asia and the Near East, and many birds use the country as a staging post during migration.

<i>Persoonia procumbens</i>

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.

The flora and fauna of Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan.

Biomes in Brazil

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

Remnant natural area 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."

The Biodiversity of South Africa is the variety of living organisms within the boundaries of South Africa and its exclusive economic zone. South Africa is a region of high biodiversity in the terrestrial and marine realms. The country is ranked sixth out of the world's seventeen megadiverse countries, and is rated among the top 10 for plant species diversity and third for marine endemism.


  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.