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Plants

Plants

There are currently 4,516 known species, subspecies, and varieties of vascular plants that inhabit Oregon's diverse landscapes. These include ferns, conifers, grasses, and flowering annual and perennial herbs. The nonvascular mosses and liverworts comprise an additional 600 types (450 mosses, 150 liverwort taxa). These form the foundation of the food chain, harnessing the energy of the sun to make life on earth possible. The diversity of many groups, notably conifer trees, is greater in Oregon than anywhere else in the world.

pitcher plant

Avi Hesterman (Eight Dollar Mountain)

There is a critical need for new references to catalogue and identify the plants of Oregon. The most recent flora, or plant identification manual, was written by Morton Peck in 1961. Since that time, scientific research and discoveries have revealed many plants that are new to Oregon. An intense effort to capture this information began in 1988, when Karl Urban took a year's sabbatical to compile a digital checklist of Oregon plants. In 1994, Scott Sundberg, hired at OSU to combine the University of Oregon and OSU herbaria, chose to take on the task of creating a flora for the state, and used Carl's list as the starting point for the Oregon Flora Project. The project's website is an excellent source for learning about plants in Oregon.

TThe Oregon Flora Project has created a number of useful online tools. The Oregon Plant Atlas allows users to create distribution maps of plants in Oregon based on all specimens and observations databased by the Oregon Flora Project. A Checklist that catalogs all Oregon plants and their synonyms, and a photo gallery with one of the most extensive collections of Oregon plant photographs, will soon be available. The Native Plant Society of Oregon and CalPhotos also have online plant photographs. The Oregon Flora Project,has also created a prototype digital key to the native plants of Oregon.

Authored by Jimmy Kagan, INR Information Program Manager (2007). Reviewed by Linda Hardison, Oregon Flora Project Coordinator (2007).