flora

noun

flo·​ra ˈflȯr-ə How to pronounce flora (audio)
plural floras also florae ˈflȯr-ˌē How to pronounce flora (audio)
-ˌī
1
: a treatise on or list of the plants of an area or period
2
: plant, bacterial, or fungal life
especially : such life characteristic of a region, period, or special environment
fossil flora
intestinal flora
compare fauna

Did you know?

You may be familiar with the common phrase “flora and fauna,” which broadly refers to just about every visible living thing. While fauna specifically refers to the animals of a region, flora represents the plants. Flora made its way into English from New Latin via the Latin word flōra, which comes from the name of the Roman goddess of flowers and the flowering season (the time of the year when flowers bloom). Flora, who was depicted as a beautiful young woman in a long, flowing dress with flowers in her hair, strewing flowers over the earth, was especially known for wildflowers and plants not raised for food. Her name also lives on and continues to thrive through the related words floral, floret, and flourish.

Did you know?

Flora Has Roots in Roman Mythology

Flora means "flower" in Latin, and Flora was the Roman goddess of spring and flowering plants, especially wildflowers and plants not raised for food. She was shown as a beautiful young woman in a long, flowing dress with flowers in her hair, strewing flowers over the earth. English preserves her name in such words as floral, floret, and flourish. A region's flora may range from tiny violets to towering trees. The common phrase "flora and fauna" covers just about every visible living thing.

Examples of flora in a Sentence

an amazing variety of coastal flora the floras of different coastal regions
Recent Examples on the Web Keep an eye out for Southern California’s quintessential flora along the way, such as lemonade berry and toyon. Maura Fox, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Mar. 2024 The company has also announced sustainability targets that include using 100 percent renewable energy at sites and stores by 2026 via the LIFE 360 program—not to mention the preservation of 12.4 million acres of habitat for flora and fauna worldwide by 2030. Demetrius Simms, Robb Report, 14 Mar. 2024 While filming The Outrun, Saoirse Ronan delivered lambs, swam with seals and communed with her fair share of flora and fauna. Mia Galuppo, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Feb. 2024 In the Everglades, alligators and crocodiles coexist (and are seen regularly), and the flora and fauna are so robust that this national park was the first set aside purely for its biodiversity. Evie Carrick, Travel + Leisure, 4 Feb. 2024 Around 4 in 5 people produce hydrogen during this anaerobic digestion process, and a breath test can be used to assess the degree to which their dairy consumption has stimulated their gut flora. Max Bennett, Discover Magazine, 29 Jan. 2024 Tour a botanical oasis in Westwood Learn about flora from all over the world on a walk through UCLA’s 7.5-acre public garden. Michael Charboneau, Los Angeles Times, 29 Feb. 2024 Comprising 18 main islands, three smaller islands, and 107 rocks and islets, the Galápagos is home to a remarkable variety of flora and fauna, with many species found nowhere else on Earth. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 14 Feb. 2024 The Espinosa Trail takes hikers to an inviting pool of water along the Pine Valley Creek and offers the chance to see a wide array of flora Head to the Cleveland National Forest for this moderately strenuous hike that leads to a sparkling pool of water. Maura Fox, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'flora.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

borrowed from New Latin, from Latin Flōra, the goddess of flowers and the flowering season, thematicized derivative from the stem of flōr-, flōs "flower, bloom" — more at flower entry 1

Note: In the early modern period, the names of figures from ancient myth or history were featured in book titles as symbols of the subject matter—as Urania for a work on astronomy, Mithridates for a work on languages, and Atlas for a cartographical work. Along such lines the name of the Roman goddess of flowers was used in the title of Latin works dealing with the cultivation of plants, as Flora, seu de florum cultura libri quattuor (Rome, 1633) by the Jesuit scholar Giovanni Battista Ferrari (1584-1655). A book by the Danish physician and naturalist Simon Paulli (1603-80) entitled Flora Danica, Det er: Dansk urtebog ("Danish Flora, that is, a Danish herbal book") (Copenhagen, 1648) described the medicinal plants of Denmark. Here the name Flora is used as a sort of metonym for the plants of the country, a usage also taken up in a Latin poem introducing the work, in which Balthica Flora ("Baltic Flora") is described as bringing forth "swelling sprouts" (turgentia germina) from her bosom. Similar uses of Flora followed, as in the Flora Sinensis ("Chinese Flora") (Vienna, 1656) by the Polish Jesuit Michał Boym (ca. 1612-59). In the eighteenth century flora began to be used generically outside of book titles as a collective name for the plants of a region or habitat. For details. and examples of Flora used metonymically in seventeenth-century Latin prose, see Dominik Beerens, "The Meaning of Flora," Humanistica Lovaniensia, vol. 68, no. 1 (Spring, 2019), pp. 237-49.

First Known Use

1777, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of flora was in 1777

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Cite this Entry

“Flora.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flora. Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

flora

noun
flo·​ra ˈflōr-ə How to pronounce flora (audio)
ˈflȯr-
plural floras also florae ˈflō(ə)r-ˌē How to pronounce flora (audio)
ˈflȯ(ə)r-,
-ˌī
: plants or plant life especially of a region, period, or environment

Medical Definition

flora

noun
plural floras also florae ˈflō(ə)r-ˌē How to pronounce flora (audio) ˈflȯ(ə)r- How to pronounce flora (audio)
-ˌī
1
: plant life
especially : the plants characteristic of a region, period, or special environment
fossil flora
compare fauna
2
: the microorganisms (as bacteria or fungi) living in or on the body
the beneficial flora of the intestine
potentially harmful skin flora
floral adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on flora

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