A new book by the Oregon Flora Project is the first comprehensive assessment of the state’s native and naturalized plants since 1961.
“Flora of Oregon: Volume 1: Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms, and Monocots” was published in the fall of 2015 by the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. It can be ordered for $75 online at oregonflora.org. Volume 2 is due to be published in the fall of 2017, to be followed by volume 3 in late 2019.
In addition to descriptions of grasses, sedges, lilies, ferns and conifers, the first volume includes a history of botanists in Oregon, color photos and descriptions of the state’s 11 ecoregions, and 50 mapped locations for exploring botanical sites.
Botanists and citizens assembled nearly 600,000 observations of Oregon’s diverse flora, from the high desert to the Cascades and the Willamette Valley to coastal rain forests. Among the findings:
• Oregon is home to about 4,700 plant taxa (species, subspecies and varieties), making it the fifth most diverse state in the country. This is an increase of 15 percent compared with the previous recordings in 1961.
• A total of 159 taxa collected prior to 1961 have not been documented since then.
• Some plant species have moved into Oregon from Nevada and California, possibly reflecting the impacts of climate change.
“This book is for a broad audience,” Linda Hardison, project director and assistant professor in Oregon State University’s Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, said. “The information has practical uses for so many people — ranchers, gardeners, landscapers, planners…”
Correctly identifying plants can help everyone make good decisions, such as being aware of the presence of rare plants or invasive weeds, Hardison added. “With a new Flora, ranchers can recognize a new noxious weed that invades their property and, by controlling it, save their rangeland. This work is the basis for knowledge that touches every citizen of this state.”
More than 1,000 volunteers shared photos, reviewed data and submitted lists of plants seen on hikes. Additional support was provided by the Bureau of Land Management, the Oregon Community Foundation and the Native Plant Society of Oregon.
The Oregon Flora Project was profiled in the August Farwest Edition of Digger magazine. Click here to view a PDF of the article.