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Flora

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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]

Etymology

The word "flora" comes from the Latin name of Flora, the goddess of plants, flowers, and fertility in Roman mythology.[5] [6]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.[7]

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.[8][9]

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:

  • Native flora. The native and indigenous flora of an area.
  • Agricultural and horticultural flora (garden flora). The plants that are deliberately grown by humans.
  • Weed flora. Traditionally this classification was applied to plants regarded as undesirable and studied in efforts to control or eradicate them. Today the designation is less often used as a classification of plant life since it includes three different types of plants: weedy species, invasive species (that may or may not be weedy), and native and introduced non-weedy species that are agriculturally undesirable. Many native plants previously considered weeds have been shown to be beneficial or even necessary to various ecosystems.

Documentation

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 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".[10] However, despite its title it covered not only plants but also some animals of the region, that is China and India.[7]

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

Categories

References

  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. ^ Flora - inside the secret world of plants. Great Britain: Penguin Random House. October 2018. ISBN 9780241254806.((cite book)): CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  7. ^ a b 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.
  8. ^ Thurmann, J. (1849). Essai de Phytostatique appliqué à la chaîne du Jura et aux contrées voisines. Berne: Jent et Gassmann, [1] Archived 2017-10-02 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ 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. [2] Archived 2016-09-24 at the Wayback Machine. Earlier version, 2003, [3] Archived 2016-08-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ 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)
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Flora
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