mountaintop photo: Michael Terry

Flora of Virginia: What's a Flora?

The word flora can refer to the plants of a region or to a reference book that describes the plants of that region and aids in their identification. The Flora of Virginia, published in November 2012, has the following features:

Cover illustration for the Flora of Virginia drawn by Virginia botanical artist Lara Call Gastinger

Taxonomic descriptions for every plant taxon native to Virginia or well established here, including family, genus and species, as well as subspecies and varieties.

Identification keys, by which users answer a series of yes-or-no questions about a plant that narrow the possibilities until it is identified, to family, genus, or species.

Botanical illustrations Line drawings, rendered to scale, that accurately depict selected species. Some illustrations are plates comparing structures for difficult groups.

Taxonomic synonymies Scientific names change as research expands our knowledge of plants and clarifies taxonomic relationships. The Flora of Virginia is cutting-edge taxonomically. But to ensure that early research remains usable even though its taxonomic names may be outmoded, the Flora gives comprehensive synonymies.

Special sections on the history of botany in Virginia, vegetational communities, excluded taxa, a glossary, and a bibliography.


Flora cover: Barney Lipscomb