November 5, 2018

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Updated Book Compiles 45 Years of Changes in Pacific Northwest Flora

Second edition of Flora of the Pacific Northwest Published

Burke PR

Seattle – Burke Museum and University of Washington botanists have created a much-needed second edition of the Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Published by the UW Press, the new edition took five years to complete and is the first update on Pacific Northwest vascular plant diversity and distributions since the book was published in 1973. In the past 45 years, much has changed; the second edition documents the doubling of non-native species in the Pacific Northwest, the addition of 1,000 taxa (species, subspecies, and varieties) to the region’s flora, and the reclassification or renaming of 40% of the taxa in the first edition. 

The original Flora became an instant classic for its innovative style of providing species descriptions in the identification keys and for its comprehensive illustrations of nearly all treated taxa. Students rely on it as an essential primer, while veteran botanists and natural resource managers use it as the definitive reference for the region’s flora.

“This book enables us to be better stewards, we know what’s here, whether it’s common or rare, or invasive,” said David Giblin, collection manager for the University of Washington Herbarium at the Burke Museum. “It enhances our ability to preserve plant diversity in our region for future generations.”

This completely revised and updated edition captures the advances in vascular plant systematics over the decades since publication of the first edition. These advances, together with significant changes in plant nomenclature, the description of taxa new to science from the region, and the recent documentation of new native and nonnative species in the Pacific Northwest, required a thorough revision of this authoritative work.

Flora of the Pacific Northwest, 2nd edition covers all of Washington, the northern half of Oregon, Idaho north of the Snake River Plain, the mountainous portion of western Montana, and the southern portion of British Columbia. It accounts for the wild-growing native and introduced vascular plants falling within those boundaries and includes:

  • Treatment of 5,545 taxa (more than 1,100 taxa added to this edition)
  • Illustrations for 4,716 taxa (1,382 more than the first edition)
  • Over 700 newly documented non-native taxa in the Pacific Northwest
  • Nomenclature changes for more than 40 percent of the taxa included in the first edition

These enhancements make this new edition the most comprehensive reference on Pacific Northwest vascular plants for professional and amateur botanists, ecologists, rare plant biologists, plant taxonomy instructors, land managers, nursery professionals, and gardeners.

The 1,100 new taxa consist mainly of existing native and non-native species newly documented in the region, as well as a number of taxa new to science. Many of the new regional records were collected during the Herbarium’s annual forays held throughout the Pacific Northwest.

“With the recent revision of The Jepson Manual of California Plants, and the soon-to-be-completed Flora of Oregon, up to date floristic treatments are now available for the entire west coast of the U.S.,” said Dr. Richard Olmstead, curator of the University of Washington Herbarium at the Burke Museum and UW biology professor.

The new illustrations are in the style of those found in the 1973 edition of the Flora. The book includes over 1,300 new illustrations to go along with the 3,000 original illustrations by illustrators Jeanne R. Janish and John Ramely.

Crystal Shin, a scientific illustrator and the primary illustrator for the revision, worked to match the style of the original illustrations so they seamlessly fit. “Before inking, I study the style and techniques that [Jeanne] used on a similar species,” said Shin. “I like her work very much and my ink drawing style is pretty close to hers.”

Shin started the illustration process with a plant specimen where she went over the specimen’s characteristics with one of the Burke Museum botanists. They determined which parts of the plant to include in the illustration. She then used a microscope and magnifying glass to examine the plant’s details, specifically its length of hairs, textures, marks, veins, shapes, and more. After studying the plant, Crystal proceeded with the illustration process of pencil sketching and then inking. Project staff then scanned, edited, and archived the illustrations for later placement alongside the text.

It took approximately two hours to complete each illustration before being placed on the page in the book.

The newest edition of Flora can be purchased for $75.00 at the University Bookstore, local bookstores, and book retailers across the country and online at

Publication info: Flora of the Pacific Northwest: An Illustrated Manual. C. Leo Hitchcock and Arthur Cronquist. Second edition, University of Washington Press, revised by David E. Giblin, Ben S. Legler, Peter F. Zika, and Richard G. Olmstead.

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Drawings of Impatiens plants

Illustrations of Impatiens in the revision of the Flora of the Pacific Northwest book.
Illustrations: Crystal Shin

Flora of the Pacific Northwest book cover

Book cover of the 2nd edition of the Flora of the Pacific Northwest: An Illustrated Manual.
Photo: University of Washington Press

Flora foray team with pressed plants

Participants in the 2016 Foray to Coeur d’Alene National Forest, Idaho, with full presses after three days of collecting.
Photo: Ben Legler/Burke Museum


For high-resolution photos, interviews, and more information please contact:

Burke Museum Public Relations

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