New Virginia Flora Coming Out in Fall 2012

Now that all the retrospectives are over, it’s time to look ahead.  What horticultural events are you most looking forward to this year?

In addition to the Philadelphia Flower Show in March — which I’ve never attended but am determined to this year — I’m excited about the publication of a book. 

A draft of the new Flora of Virginia

Not a gardening book or a design book.  Nope, it’s the new Flora of Virginia, slated to come out in fall of 2012.  The book is being produced by The Flora Project of Virginia, partnering with several other groups: Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Virginia Academy of Science, and the Virginia Native Plant Society.

Flora Virginica, published in the 18th century

The old flora for Virginia, entitled Flora Virginica, was published in the mid-1700’s, so yeah, a new one is due.  The fact that it’s taken this long to produce a new one suggests that it’s a massive undertaking.

Up till now, botanists and naturalists have been getting by with a variety of other regional floras in order to help identify plants here in Virginia — books which collectively weigh 13 pounds so are rather cumbersome to take into the field.

Botanists currently have to consult several different reference books when ID-ing Virginia species.

The new Flora will contain taxonomic descriptions of every species native to or well-established in Virginia, along with identification keys and botanical illustrations.  In addition, the Flora Project of Virginia is putting together a digital atlas, which will contain beautiful color photographs of hundreds of species.

I can’t wait!  Perhaps I’ll be getting in a bit over my head by ordering the new Flora, since I’m certainly no botanist.  But I’m chuffed at the idea of finally having one comprehensive book profiling all the plants in my beloved home state.  I have visions of myself taking a six month hiatus from work and family responsibilities, wandering all over the woods of Virginia with my new Flora. 

Aquilegia canadensis


You can pre-order the Flora of Virginia here. 

If you’re über-horticultural, you can check out the Flora of North America website.  It will be a mere 30 volumes when complete.

3 thoughts on “New Virginia Flora Coming Out in Fall 2012

  1. This would be a handy book to have. I had smartweed growing in my garden last summer that took a while to identify. I should have pulled it but it was pretty and played well with others so I let it stay.

  2. Mary,
    This is fascinating! The project puts me in mind of the Oxford English Dictionary which took over 40 years to complete. The Flora of Virginia folks apparently didn’t want to rush things in putting out a new edition. It sounds like a tremendous resource and I am glad you wrote about it! Thank you!

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