Western Australian Flora Statistics 2010 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 2010’s data with the previous year.

  • the addition of 386 names to the Census of Western Australian Plants database;
  • there are 168 additional taxa recognised as occurring in the State: 158 native taxa and 10 naturalised taxa;
  • the number of published species rose by 87 to 10,811, including 75 native species and 12 naturalised species;
  • a decrease, for the third consecutive year, in the number (-43) of manuscript names in current use, down to 260, due either to their formal publication or their conversion to phrase names as part of the Australian Plant Census project;
  • a significant increase (+118) in the number of phrase names in current use, up to 1,340;
  • therefore, there has been an increase (75) in the number of putative taxa yet to be researched and published, from 1,525 in 2009 to 1,600 in 2010;
  • for the first time, additional figures have been calculated to split the number of current species into native and alien components: of the 12,224 current species of vascular plants in the Census, there are 1,190 naturalised species and 11,034 native species;
  • an additional 103 cryptogam names entered into the Census of Western Australian Plants database (16 of these were synonyms);
  • the addition of 80 algal taxa, 2 mosses and a lichen;
  • an increase in the number of cryptogams recorded in the Census to 1,908 taxa, or 1,882 species;
  • that again there has been no addition of fungal names in the last year and these groups are still very poorly represented in the Census.

New classification

This is also the first floristic summary published subsequent to the WA Herbarium's adoption of the APGIII classification, which has seen a major rearrangement of family (and some generic) concepts and relationships. These changes are not so noticeable at the species rank, however, you will notice that the accompanying 'Green's Census' tables are now arranged according to the new linear sequence and detail the currently accepted familial classification.

Table 2. number of taxa at each major rank in the four 'classical' vascular plant groups under the old Englerian classification (2009) and the new APGIII classification (2010). (See also: Table 4 from ‘Green’s Census’.)
Group Families Genera Species
2010 2009 2010 2009 2010 2009
Pteridophytes 20 24 45 45 98 96
Gymnosperms 5 5 7 7 24 24
Monocotyledons 50 51 405 408 2,060 2,035
Dicotyledons 136 150 1,136 1,135 8,629 8,569
Total 211 230 1,593 1,595 10,811 10,724


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 2010.

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