Floristics and Endemism in the Western Australian Flora


There has been a steady growth in the discovery of new plant taxa over the last century. In 1912 East recorded 4166 native vascular plant species in WA, and in 1969 Beard reported 5802 (see Table 1 below, under Endemism). In the most current table the comparable figure is now 10,402.

The following graph plots the increase in formally recognised vascular plant species (including naturalised aliens) between 1889 and 2009, and includes a trend-line indicating an estimated size for the WA vascular flora in 2040 approaching 14,000 published species. Also included is data and a trendline of growth in the WA Herbarium specimen collection over a similar period, useful for estimating the size of the collection space required during the development of plans for the Herbarium in the Department's Conservation Science Centre, completed in 2010.

Chart graphic

Increase in the number of published vascular plant species recognised as occurring in WA
Author Mueller East Gardner Beard Green Hnatiuk Paczkowska
& Chapman
FloraBase FloraBase
Year 1889 1912 1931 1969 1985 1990 2000 2005 2009

3560 4166 4500 5802 7954 8316 9640 10186 10724

Note: Figures for East (1912) and Beard (1969) represent published native species only; all others include naturalised alien species.

Descriptive Catalogue

The following three tables and full citations for references mentioned are available from Paczkowska and Chapman (2000). A complete version of the introduction to this book is available in PDF format (requires Acrobat Reader). Note that data presented in these tables was sourced from the information systems of the Western Australian Herbarium on 20 January 2000.

Table 2

Table 3

Table 4


The following three tables are taken from Beard, Chapman and Gioia (2000). A complete version of this paper is available in PDF format (requires Acrobat Reader).

Beard, Chapman, Gioia Table 1

Beard, Chapman, Gioia Table 2

Beard, Chapman, Gioia Table 3


  • Beard, J.S. (1969). Endemism in the Western Australian flora at the species level. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 52: 18—20.
  • Beard, J.S., Chapman, A.R. and Gioia, P. (2000). Species richness and endemism in the Western Australian flora. Journal of Biogeography 27, 1257-1268.
  • East, J.J. (1912). The flora of Western Australia. In: Cyclopedia of Western Australia (ed. J.S. Battye). Kussey & Gillingham, Adelaide, pp 37—45.
  • Gardner, C.A. (1931). Enumeratio plantarum Australiae Occidentalis: a systematic census of the plants occurring in Western Australia, Govt. Printer, Perth.
  • Green, J.W. (1981). Census of the Vascular Plants of Western Australia. 1st edn. Western Australian Herbarium, Perth.
  • Mueller, F.J.H. von (1889). Second systematic census of Australian plants, with chronologic, literary and geographic annotations. Part 1. Vasculares. Govt. Printer, Melbourne.
  • Paczkowska, G. and Chapman, A.R. (2000). The Western Australian Flora — A Descriptive Catalogue. Wildflower Society of Western Australia (Inc.), the Western Australian Herbarium, CALM and the Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority, Perth.

Compiled by Alex Chapman; last updated on 10 August 2009.