Scientific Illustration

Monumental Flora of North America Project Well Under Way

Originally appeared in The Botanical Artist, Volume 14 issue 3


The Flora of North America (FNA) is a florilegium consisting of 30 volumes, which are scheduled to be completed by 2011. The treatments for the volumes are written by 90 specialists with over 800 contributors who write their entries as volunteers or with the support of their home institutions. The volumes are edited and prepared at different editorial centers, currently including Missouri Botanical Garden, the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Utah State University, Université de Montréal, University of Kansas, and Miami University in Ohio. 

The goal of FNA is to present the most scientifically authoritative understanding of relationships, characteristics, and distributions of the nearly 20,100 species of vascular plants and bryophytes that grow outside of cultivation in North America north of Mexico. The area covered is a phytogeographically significant region of 21,461,119 square km. About 20% of the flora of the area is found nowhere else. 

In addition to keys, nomenclatural information, descriptions, and distributions, the volumes include occurrence maps and illustrations. Every genus has at least one illustration and genera with multiple species have illustrations for about one in six species. The illustrations are rigorously reviewed by authors, editors, and others, ensuring that they be as scientifically accurate as possible. The artists for the project were selected for their ability to produce such drawings and to do so beautifully. Having worked on Volumes 19, 20, and 21, ASBA member Marjorie Leggitt is currently lead illustrator for Flora of North America Volume 9: Rosaceae and will have produced over 180 plates in time for a 2009 publication date. 

  • Alchemilla monticola, Aphanes occidentalis, Malacomeles denticulata
    Pen and ink illustrations by Marjorie C. Leggitt
    © Flora of North America