Flora of Virginia Project was undertaken in 2001 to steer the creation
of the first comprehensive reference work on the native and naturalized plants
of Virginia. The Project undertook a fourfold mission:
To produce a comprehensive manual of the plants of Virginia.
To provide a tool for plant identification and study by professional and avocational users, from academia, government, industry, and the public.
To incorporate the latest genetics-based information on evolutionary relationships, along with the best traditional taxonomic approaches.
To increase appreciation of and interest in conservation of Virginia's diverse and unique botanical heritage.
The Flora of Virginia, published in November 2012, describes 3,154 plant species or lower taxa in nearly 200 families, accompanied by 1,400 captioned, scaled, and botanically accurate illustrations. Plant dentification is driven by a series of dichotomous keys (i.e., keys that present a series of choices between two alternatives). The first key is to the plant families (sometimes leading directly to a genus). Within each family (except monogeneric families) is a key to the genera within that family, and within each genus (except monotypic genera), there is a key to the species within that genus. Descriptions include information on morphology, phenology (flowering and fruiting times) habitat, and status, as well as comments that may simplify identification or present other information of interest.
The Flora also includes a chapter on the history of botanical exploration in Virginia and one on the geological, climatic, topographic, and physical diversity that has resulted in the richness of the commonwealth's plant life. There is another chapter introducing 50 hot spots for botanizing in Virginia, convering all five physiographic provinces. In the back is a thorough listing of species that are not described and why, as well as a glossary, an extensive references section, and an index that includes all former scientific names for the plants.