New England Wild Flower Society's Flora Novae Angliae: A Manual for the Identification of Native and Naturalized Higher Vascular Plants of New England

New England Wild Flower Society's Flora Novae Angliae: A Manual for the Identification of Native and Naturalized Higher Vascular Plants of New England

by Arthur Haines, Elizabeth J. Farnsworth, New England New England Wild Flower Society, Gordon Morrison

This comprehensive manual offers accurate, up-to-date, and clear information for identifying New England's remarkable array of tracheophytes (vascular plants, excluding mosses). With fully researched entries on some 3,500 native and nonnative species, the book is the first in decades to provide a complete and correct botanical reference for the region's

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This comprehensive manual offers accurate, up-to-date, and clear information for identifying New England's remarkable array of tracheophytes (vascular plants, excluding mosses). With fully researched entries on some 3,500 native and nonnative species, the book is the first in decades to provide a complete and correct botanical reference for the region's noncultivated plants. The volume includes many new species not documented in New England before, while also excluding many species that have erroneously appeared in earlier manuals.

Focusing on the taxonomy and distribution of New England plants, the manual is largely dedicated to identification keys and to species entries that provide scientific name, origin, regional conservation ranking, common name, synonyms, distribution, ecology, and other miscellaneous items of interest. Nearly one-third of the entries are accompanied by helpful black-and-white line illustrations.

Additional special features:

  • Precise distribution information, accurate to the state level
  • Details on unusual plant groups not included in other sources
  • Reliable and versatile keys for identification
  • Tips on recognizing hybrid plants in the field
  • A companion interactive teaching Web site (under development)
  • Comprehensive glossary

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post - Aaron Leitko

“The hefty green tome offers a complete guide for identifying upward of 3,500 native and naturalized plant species currently growing roots in six Northeastern states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont)’s a pleasure just to page through the illustrations: black-and-white drawings that look a bit like extraterrestrial creepy-crawlies.”—Aaron Leitko, Washington Post
Library Journal
Based on almost ten years of empirical field research by Haines (Ancestral Plants), this guide represents a comprehensive update to and revision of significantly outdated and inaccurate subject research. Nearly 3500 of New England's wild, vascular plant species—both native and non-native—are described in six major chapters. Prefacing these are ten brief, multipage segments devoted to family-grouping explanations. Stunning, margin-bound scientific drawings by Farnsworth and Morrison beautifully clarify the written descriptions. Even with the helpful glossary, field-specific terms make this inaccessible for lay readers. Recommended for botanists and extremely knowledgeable enthusiasts.

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New England Wild Flower Society's Flora Novae Angliae

A Manual for the Identification of Native and Naturalized Higher Vascular Plants of New England
By Arthur Haines


Copyright © 2011 New England Wild Flower Society
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-300-17154-9


New England is composed of the six northeastern-most states—Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont (map, p. vi). Though it is somewhat of an arbitrarily defined area, it does have some degree of natural boundaries, including the Atlantic Ocean on much of its eastern border, the St. John River on portions of its northern and northeastern border, Lake Champlain on its northwestern border, the Berkshires and included watersheds (e.g., Housatonic River) on or near its western border, and Long Island sound on its southern border. It is considered to have a well-studied flora, and several manuals have been written that treat the tracheophytes (i.e., vascular plants excluding mosses) occurring in the region. However, it is important to note that no comprehensive flora has been written with a strong focus on updating the taxonomy (i.e., names and circumscription of taxa) and distribution of New England's tracheophytes since Fernald (1950b). Though Seymour (1982) and Magee and Ahles (1999) are more recent works that made important contributions to the knowledge of the region's plants, the former relied heavily on the taxonomy set forth by Fernald (1950b) and the latter used plant distributions generated primarily from the herbarium surveys performed by the late Harry Ahles in the 1970s. Because of these facts, significant aspects of each manual were out-dated when printed. Major focus has been placed on updating (and in many cases verifying) the accumulated knowledge of the regional flora. However, as with any project, limitations in time and funding have meant that not every question could be explored and many issues remain to be answered.

Flora Novae Angliae is primarily to serve as a checklist of the approximately 3520 native and naturalized tracheophytes (or higher vascular plants) that occur in New England and a manual for their identification. Additionally, this work also provides common names, synonymy, local distribution, ecology, and regional conservation status for the included plants and treats approximately 320 hybrids. Further references and discussions are provided for some taxa, especially those groups or species that are difficult and/or have confusing taxonomic histories. Illustrations are found for approximately one in every three species. The illustrations usually focus on diagnostic characters, especially those that may be difficult to explain by words alone.

For this first edition of Flora Novae Angliae, the precision of plant distributions is to state level. All distribution statements are, insofar as possible, vouchered by herbarium specimens (in a few cases, correspondence and journal articles have been used where experienced botanists discuss species that are unlikely to be misidentified). This level of precision was chosen due to the constraints (e.g., time, funding) to properly preparing plant records to the county level. Even for accurate reporting of plant distribution to state level, numerous problems have arisen. A major issue centers on regional floras that were not prepared by persons who understood the critical need for museum specimen vouchering—Fernald (1922a) discussed one such flora and the problems it created (and still creates today with the current species lists for Rhode Island). Another major problem is the continued listing of species that have been shown not to occur in the region (often as a result of specimen annotation or taxonomic realignment). This issue is especially prevalent with authors who do not frequent herbaria or are not intimately familiar with the pertinent literature of their region. This situation is exacerbated when authors do not perform any research to identify if the records are legitimate. As Fernald stated in volume 44 of Rhodora: "Errors once born never die but, on the contrary, by others not situated to know the facts are continually mistaken for the truth and consequently perpetuated." Many erroneous reports are noted in this manual with the purpose of ending their continued mention through the generations of botanical literature. No work is perfect and the mention of an author's erroneous report is not intended as insult or suggestion the work is without merit. Many potentially erroneous reports have also been noted. These are distribution statements by various authors that may be properly vouchered. These reports are noted with the comment that specimens are unknown (i.e., I was unable to find a voucher specimen for a given state in the time allotted for this project). In some cases, significant effort was put forth to locate specimens and many regional herbaria were searched. In other cases, only one or two major herbaria were searched and additional effort may locate a voucher specimen.

References are provided throughout this manual to enable users to continue their study beyond the information provided here. Selected references have been chosen because they highlight changes in taxonomy (i.e., they were the sources for names used in the flora), provide detailed descriptions of taxa (sometimes with illustrations), and/ or give excellent distribution information through maps or specimen citations. Therefore, some references cited in this manual are out-of-date as to names and circumscription of taxa, but they provide detailed (and valuable) information nonetheless.

Physical Region

Flora Novae Angliae is a manual for the identification of the tracheophytes growing outside of cultivation in New England and is not intended to provide a detailed treatise on the geology, climate, and ecoregions of the six member states. However, some discussion of the physical region is important to setting the stage for the diversity of the flora. The following characterization is largely adapted from Seymour (1982).

New England is characterized by hilly and mountainous terrain, topographic features that are part of the Appalachian Mountains. The northern tier of states (Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont) are by far the most mountainous and possess the highest peaks—Katahdin at 1606m (me), Mount Washington at 1917m (NH), and Mount Mansfield at 1339m (VT). The geology of New England's peaks is highly variable and ranges from primarily acidic rock (e.g., granite, schist) to basic rock (e.g., limestone, marble). The mountains and hills have been highly altered by glaciation and all but a tiny portion of New England (southern Marthas Vineyard) was covered during the last glacier. Alpine habitat is most abundant in Maine and New Hampshire.

Lakes and ponds are frequent over most of New England, especially the northern states and the Cape Cod region of Massachusetts. Lake Champlain in Vermont is the largest in the region (approximately 1130km2) and was, at one time, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean. Other large lakes include Moosehead Lake in Maine (311km2), Lake Winnipesauke in New Hampshire (184km2), and the Quabbin Resevoir in Massachusetts (100km2).

Rivers are also numerous in New England. The largest is the Connecticut River which originates north of New England and flows north to south the entire length of New England into Long Island sound. Maine has additional large rivers (Penobscot, Kennebec, Androscoggin). Several rivers in New England harbor identifiable assemblages of plants due to their underlying bedrock and/or associated climate. These include the St. John River and Aroostook River in northern Maine with their ice-scoured, Laurentian shorelines, the Housatonic and Hoosic Rivers in western Massachusetts and Connecticut that flow through limestone and marble dominated bedrock regions, and the lower reaches of the Connecticut River (CT), Merrimack River (MA), and Kennebec River (ME) with large stretches of fresh and brackish tidal habitat.

The coastal plain of New England harbors some species that are typical of the mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States. Coastal plain communities are most prevalent in Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts. This plain extends up the Connecticut River into Massachusetts where some species occur that are otherwise unknown from inland locations. Of note is that the region of Maine with hydrologic features most resembling coastal plain pondshores is found inland in the southwestern portion of the state.

All but one state in New England (Vermont) border the Atlantic Ocean. This greatly affects the hydrology, salinity, geology, and climate of the near-coastal regions. In descending order, the total length of tidal shoreline for the five states that border the Atlantic Ocean is: Maine with 5565km, Massachusetts with 2430km, Connecticut with 989km, Rhode Island with 614km, and New Hampshire with 210km. Saline, brackish, and fresh tidal habitats are found in these five states.

Mean annual temperature varies considerably from southern to northern New England. Southern Connecticut has a mean temperature of approximately 10.5 C. This varies to approximately 3.8 C in northern Maine and New Hampshire. Total annual precipitation for the New England states is mostly between 101cm and 127cm (exceptions occur). This is comparable to much of the northeastern and central-eastern United States. Humidity is highest along the southeastern coastal areas of New England and northern New Hampshire and northwestern Maine at approximately 80%. The humidity decreases in large areas of interior New England to 70%. Again, this is comparable to much of the central and eastern United States.

Given the high degree of variation in the physical region of New England, it is easy to perceive why a great diversity exists in the regional flora. Of note is that several taxa are endemic to New England, including (but not limited to) Carex oronensis, Crataegus bicknellii, Crataegus schizophylla, Digitaria filiformis var. laeviglume, Eupatorium novae-angliae, and Potentilla robbinsiana. Several near-endemics are also known, including Eleocharis diandra, Geum peckii, Pedicularis furbishiae, and Persicaria puritanorum. Additional species that occur in the region are still being described new to science. Examples from the past ten years include Eleocharis aestuum and Carex reznicekii. This is noteworthy given the extensive study this flora has received. Undoubtedly more species await discovery.

Taxonomy and Philosophy

As previously stated, well-supported advances in plant systematics have been incorporated into this manual. These advancements are important for furthering our understanding of the species growing outside of cultivation on the New England landscape. They sometimes affect the definition of species and can have implications for conservation (e.g., a species considered to be rare in one or more states may prove to be an environmental form of a more common and wider ranging species). These advancements do not always simplify the taxonomy and identification of local plants. In fact, some changes made in this flora will not be seen as favorable because they create additional challenges for amateur and professional botanists (e.g., intellectual challenges of understanding new definitions of species, memorization challenge of large families that have separated into numerous smaller families). However, the complexity created by these changes is not considered to be a sufficient cause to ignore them—advancement of our understanding of what has occurred and is occurring on the landscape is the priority. Taxonomy is not intended to make simplified lists of plants, it is intended to reflect our current understanding of the flora.

As with other works that I have authored (e.g., Haines 2003a), the nomenclature used in this manual has attempted to adhere to three policies, in addition to following obvious practices (e.g., conforming to rules of nomenclature). The policies are: monophyly; non-arbitrariness; and consistency (see Haines 2003a for expanded discussion of these policies). This flora is not a final work, but instead, a contribution to the taxonomy of tracheophytes in New England. Ideas and principles printed herein may require alteration as new data are uncovered by later workers. Nomenclature is not meant to be a static system, contrary to popular desire. It needs to change to reflect our best estimate of evolutionary relationships. If nomenclature remained fixed, we would still be recognizing mountain holly (Ilex mucronatus) as belonging to the cranberry genus (Vaccinium) and sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina) as belonging to the sweet-gum genus (Liquidambar).

Many authors follow a general trend of recognizing fewer or more taxonomic entities (i.e., lumping and splitting, respectively). Though many would argue that this manual follows a splitting philosophy, I would argue that the taxonomic concepts presented here are the result of the biosystematics data that have been collected. This type of information (and this information alone) should drive what we recognize. How easy or difficult it will be to remember, what the traditional circumscription of the taxa has been, or how an authority in a group prefers to present the material have nothing to do with the evolutionary history of a group of plants or the evolutionary processes that are occurring today. Such information has been ignored in this manual. It is important to incorporate the results of research papers and monographs into the working vocabulary of regional botanists. If this is not accomplished, two taxonomies result—one used by the experts who study specific groups and one used by the people who work in the field within a state or region. This approach always leads to the failure to protect some rare taxa because those working in the field are, on average, recognizing fewer entities than those who are most familiar with a given group. The typical long delay in accepting new information ("taxonomic inertia") only serves to hamper our ability to understand the flora and find and protect species of conservation concern.

For taxa above the rank of species, only monophyletic entities are used except where research is ongoing (i.e., no clear answer has been generated from the existing data). Use of the monophyly criterion helps eliminate some of the arbitrariness of naming systems and recognizes real groups of organisms. To this end, effort has been made to find family and genus names that are demonstrably monophyletic as well as valid and effectively published and possessing a morphological definition (in addition to the genetic one). Family treatment generally follows Judd et al. (2008) except for the notable exceptions below:

Lycophytes: Lycopodiaceae sensu lato (Haines 2003a).

Monilophytes: Polypodiaceae sensu lato Smith et al. (2006).

Monocots: Potamogetonaceae (Lindquist et al. 2006).

Tricolpates: Linderniaceae (Albach et al. 2005), Phyrmaceae and related families (Beardsley and Olmstead 2002), Primulaceae sensu lato (Källersjö et al. 2000), Santalaceae and related families (Nickrent et al. 2010).

Species concepts are changing and while morphological distinction is still very important, other types of data are being provided more weight than historically given. In other words, not all species recognized in this manual have the same level of morphogical separation from their congenerics. Some taxa may possess only one or two obvious differences from the most similar species but have marked differences in phenology (e.g., Solidago aestivalis from S. rugosa), ecology (e.g., Ranunculus caricetorum from R. hispidus), modern or historical geography (e.g., Stachys pilosa from S. palustris), and/or ploidy level (e.g., Juncus ambiguus from J. bufonius). Botanists who prefer simplified treatements, such as Gleason and Cronquist (1991), where large amounts of meaningful variation in morphology and ecology were lost to broadly defined taxa, will find Flora Novae Angliae to be substantially more complicated in some genera. However, I encourage them (and other botanists) to persevere in their study. There is no group of plants in New England that is beyond anyone's capabilities (though some groups will take longer to gain an appreciation for). Learning the tracheophyte species of New England requires field, museum, and literature study. Simply put, if you are willing to dedicate time to a group, you will be rewarded with increased understanding of that group.

Some authors debate how to treat species that may have weak support for their recognition. It is important to remember that the null hypothesis is one of no difference. This means that if a taxon lacks support it should not be recognized. Lack of support can be suggested by numerous intermediates that are the result of confluent morphologies (i.e., not the result of hybridization). However, it is important to take into account the observations of species range-wide. Intermediate morphologies in a small portion of a species' range is not necessarily justification to avoid recognition of the species. For example, Minuartia glabra appears to be a well-defined species over most of its range, particularly in the southeastern United States. However, in Maine it is difficult to identify apart from M. groenlandica at some sites because the typical morphological and ecological distinctions between them break down. These two species are still treated as separate in this manual because they are distinct over most of their range. Examination of species range-wide helps to avoid regional bias.


Excerpted from New England Wild Flower Society's Flora Novae Angliae by Arthur Haines Copyright © 2011 by New England Wild Flower Society. Excerpted by permission of YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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