The University of Washington Herbarium at the Burke Museum has completed a Second Edition of the Flora of the Pacific Northwest, based on the original manual published in 1973 by C. Leo Hitchcock and Arthur Cronquist. The Second Edition is available from the University of Washington Press and resellers.
The original, 730-page, single volume book was designed by the authors to be a portable plant identification manual for professional and amateur botanists. Even today it remains a singular piece of scholarship and a model for how to produce a flora. The Second Edition has been fully updated to include all native and naturalized taxa presently known from the region, with up-to-date nomenclature and classifications, while maintaining the original's familiar layout, styles, and use of illustrated keys.
Work on the Second Edition of the Flora began in 2013. All treatments and illustrations were completed in October, 2017, followed by final layout work by the UW Press in preparation for printing. The book was published in October, 2018.
The completed Flora covers 159 families, 1,141 genera and 5,335 terminal taxa, representing about 826 pages of content. New illustrations were commissioned for 1,379 taxa.
Project costs totalled slightly over $500,000 for content production (revising treatments and keys, acquisition of new illustrations), editing, layout and printing. Publishing and printing costs were shared with the University of Washington Press. Royalties from sales of the 2nd Edition received by the Herbarium will help support future work on the Flora, including subsequent revisions and complimentary online resources.
Neither a region’s flora nor the science of vascular plant taxonomy is static in their nature. In the 40 years since publication of First Edition of the Flora of the Pacific Northwest significant changes have occurred to the region’s flora (e.g., discovery of new species, arrival of additional non-native species) and to the classification and naming of the taxa covered in that volume. Notable changes between the two editions include:
- 25% net increase in the number of species and infraspecies treated;
- 38% net increase in the number of genera treated;
- 23% net increase in the number of families treated;
- 42% of species and infraspecies treated in the First Edition have seen nomenclatural or taxonomic changes.
The Flora of the Pacific Northwest is a vital resource for academic researchers, federal and state agency botanists, land managers, undergraduate and graduate students, and amateur botany enthusiasts. At the time of publication , users of the First Edition of the Flora could arrive at a currently accepted name for nearly all taxa within the region when using the keys provided. Today those same keys would achieve a similar result for only 41% of the region's taxa. In the absence of an updated Flora, users must increasingly consult other state/province and continental-scale floras. Developing models predicting distribution changes in response to climate change, determining the correct identification of a rare species in a national park, exploring possible topics for taxonomic research, describing new species, or learning about the wildflowers where one recreates or lives all require a contemporary and comprehensive flora. The needs for a new flora are numerous.