Western Australian Flora Statistics 2019 Flora Statistics

Statistics for the Western Australian flora at or below the rank of species for all groups traditionally managed by herbaria, including vascular plants, algae, fungi, lichens, mosses and slime moulds.



Comparison of 2019’s data with the previous year.

After 19 years of publishing and enhancing this yearly summary of WA floristics, this year’s flora statistics figures have been automatically calculated from the data held in the department's Census of Western Australian Plants database. Many thanks go to the Census developer Paul Gioia, and FloraBase developer Ben Richardson for their steady efforts over recent years in making this possible, and to the curation staff of the WA Herbarium for so scrupulously maintaining the Census data over many decades.

For the vascular plants

  • the addition of 261 vascular plant names to the Census of Western Australian Plants database (including 177 synonyms);
  • there are 89 additional vascular taxa recognised as occurring in the State: 68 native taxa and 21 naturalised taxa;
  • the number of published vascular species rose by 85 to 11,709, including 63 native species and 22 naturalised species;
  • an additional 15 named hybrids have appeared in the Census, an anomalous increase of some 23%;
  • a decrease of 23 putative vascular plant taxa awaiting analysis and description: manuscript names (down by 2 to 20), and phrase names (down by 21 to 1,174), due predominantly to their transition into published taxa;
  • so, for the ninth year in succession, there has been a decrease (-23) in the number of putative taxa yet to be researched and published, from 1,217 in 2018 to 1,194 in 2019;
  • at this rate of reduction (23 taxa per year) and assuming no further discoveries and no increase in taxonomic resource in the State, it would take c. 52 years to complete the inventory of just the vascular plant taxa in the State.

For the cryptogams

  • the net addition of 112 cryptogam names entered into the Census of Western Australian Plants database (including 26 synonyms);
  • for the first time, we can publish the numbers of native and alien taxa and species for each of the cryptogam groups; these are numbers including those yet to be formally published, which have been reported for some years. The number of new alien taxa and species is 13 (meaning that all taxa added were at the rank of species). The number of native cryptogam taxa is 2,645, of which 2,617 are at the rank of species.
  • an additional 86 current published native cryptogam species are now recorded in the Census: 56 fungi, 18 lichens, 6 slime moulds, 5 algae, and 1 moss;
  • the number of published native lichen species now significantly exceeds 2004 estimates. When publishing the lichen census for WA that year Cranfield (2004) estimated there would be c. 700 lichen species occurring in the State—there are now 805 recorded in the Census;
  • for most other cryptogam groups, however, the gap between the estimated number of species from the literature and the known described taxa recorded in the State's Census is significant (cf. the notes for each cryptogamic group below for estimated total numbers).


Used in its traditional sense to retain compatibility with previous tables and for ease of use. ‘Dicotyledons’ now refers to a paraphyletic assemblage of the Nymphaeales, ‘magnoliids’ and ‘eudicot’ clades, see our systematic sequence.
A published name at the rank of species.
Commonly refers to a published name at any rank, but these statistics only refer to taxa at or below species rank.


Statistics for the cryptogamic flora groups were first compiled in 2006. For these, the statistics should only be considered adequate or representative for the lichens, myxomycetes and for the mosses (bryophyta) of the Perth region. For the remaining groups, specialists have provided the following estimates of the actual number of species that could be found to occur in WA once adequate field and taxonomic studies have been made.

Fungi (both macro- and micro-fungi)
Pascoe (1991) suggests the ratio of plants to fungi is about 1:10 in Australia, i.e. 25,000 plants (native and exotic), and 250,000 fungi. So, if WA has 14,000 vascular plants, then the estimated number of fungi in WA would be 140,000 (Neale Bougher, pers. comm.).
Lichens (lichenised fungi)
Ray Cranfield (pers. comm.) suggests that even with the recent publication of a State census of lichens (Cranfield, 2004), there are likely to be in the order of another 70 taxa likely to be discovered in coming years.
Algae (including marine macro- and micro-algae, dinoflagellates, diatoms and freshwater macro-algae)
John Huisman (pers. comm.) notes that the estimated number of macroalgae occurring in WA is 1,400, given that much of the northwest remains to be explored and we are still uncovering new records/species in all parts of WA. He also notes that “my earlier compilation of diatom/dinoflagellate and other microalgal records for WA included around 600 diatoms and 150 dinoflagellates (the other groups were negligible); marine and freshwater were included. The multiplication factor used by Watson et al. (1995) to estimate the world’s algal species was x10, so WA’s microalgae will probably add up to approximately 7,500 spp.” If we also allow around 100 species of freshwater macroalgae, then the putative number of algae will total some 9,000 taxa.
Bryophytes (the paraphyletic assemblage of mosses, liverworts and hornworts)
Streimann & Klazenga (2002) list 212 moss taxa occurring in WA, and McCarthy (2003) lists 90 taxa of liverworts and hornworts. As these figures are comparable in size to those listed for the Australian Capital Territory (a region one-thousandth the area), we might expect there are a number of bryophytes yet to discover. Conservatively, the estimated number of taxa occurring in WA could be put at 400 (Ray Cranfield, pers. comm.)
Myxomycetes (slime moulds)
After the publication of a census of slime moulds (Knight and Brims, 2010) the estimated maximum number of taxa occurring in WA may be put at 200 (Karina Knight, pers. comm.)


  • Biggs, L. and Chappill, J., (2008). An annotated census of the mosses of the Perth Region, Western Australia. Nuytsia 18 (1) : 1–30.
  • Cranfield, R.J., (2004). Lichen Census of Western Australia. Nuytsia 15 (2) : 193–220.
  • Huisman, J.M., Cowan, R.A. & Entwisle, T.J. (1998). Biodiversity of Australian marine macroalgae — a progress report. Bot. Mar. 41: 89–93.
  • Knight, K.J. and Brims M.H. (2010). Myxomycota census of Western Australia. Nuytsia 20: 283–307.
  • McCarthy, P.M. (2003). Catalogue of Australian liverworts and hornworts. Flora of Australia supplementary series. Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra.
  • Pascoe, I.G. (1991). History of systematic mycology in Australia. In: History of Systematic Botany in Australasia. Ed by: P. Short. Australian Systematic Botany Society Inc. pp. 259–264.
  • Streimann, H. and Klazenga, N. (2002). Catalogue of Australian mosses. Flora of Australia supplementary series. Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra.
  • Watson, R.T., Heywood, V.H., Baste, I., Dias, B., Gamez, R., Janetos, T., Reid, W. & Ruark, G. (1995). Global Biodiversity Assessment. Summary for Policy-Makers. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, New York, Melbourne. 46 pp.

Compiled by Alex Chapman; last updated on 1 June 2019.

Recommended figures
  • Current Taxa: The actual number of known taxon names in Western Australia
  • Published Species: A conservative estimate of the number of well-documented species