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What Is Flora and Fauna?

By J. Beam
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Flora and fauna refer to plant and wildlife, respectively. The term is often used to refer to the indigenous plant and wildlife of a geographical region. Both are collective terms, referring to groups of plant or wildlife specific to a region or a time period. For example, the flora and fauna of a warm region may consist of tropical to warm-temperate vegetation and exotic species of birds.

By definition, flora is a word of Latin origin referring to Flora, the goddess of flowers. The term can refer to a group of plants or to bacteria. Flora is the root of the word floral, which means pertaining to flowers. Fauna can refer to the animal life or classification of animals of a certain region, time period, or environment. The term is also of Latin origin, and in Roman mythology, Fauna was the sister of Faunus, a good spirit of the forest and plains.

The flora and fauna of any given region are usually explained in biological terms to include the genus and species of plant and animal life, their preferred growing or breeding habits, and their connection to one another in the environment as well. In addition to geographical groupings, environment also helps further their classification. For example, aquatic flora and fauna of a region refers to the plant and animal life found in the waters in or surrounding a geographic region.

Biologists and environmentalists study the plants and animals of a region for a number of reasons. Preservation and conservation are main reasons why they are important to researchers, as their ability to teach scientists new things about biology. Several organizations, including Fauna and Flora International (FFI), work together to use their research and findings to further policy on conservation and preservation as well as biodiversity.

What’s in a Name: Flora and Fauna

Both flora and fauna are words that have roots in Latin. Flora comes from earlier Latin root words for flower, flor or flos. Flora later refers to the goddess of flowers in Latin. Fauna is also a later Latin translation, coming from the name of a goddess; the sister of Faunus is Fauna, the rural goddess. When you talk about the flora and the fauna of a place, you are talking about the plants and animals that live there.

The flora and fauna of an area aren’t just discussed in blanket old Latin terms, however. Scientists break their classifications down even further into genus and species. They record details about their wildlife by studying their reproductive habits, diets, young rearing, and relationships in the wild. Plantlife is very similar. Scientists record their reproductive methods, native regions, hardiness zones, and potential threats to growing environments.

In earlier times, scientists used the term flora to describe the handbooks and manuals they used to record a region's wildlife and plant life.

Flora

Remember that flora refers to the plant life of a region. Each region has a bounty of plant life. As a result, scientists divided flora into subsections to make classification easier and more accessible. The three unique classifications are native flora, horticultural flora, and weed flora.

Native Flora

Native flora is the vegetation or plantlife in a region that is indigenous to that area. Native plants grow better with less manipulation than plants that have been brought from elsewhere or translated because the conditions are suitable for their cultivation. Watering responsibilities are less frequent, as is the need for fertilizer as the necessary nutrients are found in the native soil.

Horticultural Flora

Horticultural flora refers to plants that are cultivated explicitly by humans for consumption or production. Horticultural flora can be agricultural plants or horticultural cultivars used for landscaping. Some examples of horticultural flora are:

  • Ornamental trees, flowers, and grasses
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Flowers
  • Lawn grasses
  • Wheat
  • Rice

Weed Flora

Initially, weed flora used to refer to plants that human beings found to be unpleasant and removed from the region in which they lived. The term “weeding” is synonymous with weed flora cultivars. However, as ecosystems become more and more advanced and the knowledge of flora deepened, even the most staunch weeders realize that there are no band plants or “weeds,” just dangerous invasive species.

Invasive Species: Flora or Fauna

Invasive species can come in the form of both flora and fauna. Invasive species refer to plant or animal life that is non-native to the ecosystem of a particular area. Why does this identification matter? The presence of non-native species often causes harm to the health of a site. Invasive species take the resources for themselves, interrupt the delicate balance of the ecosystem, and harm others in the process. Humans can be invasive species, too.

Invasive species are spread by people, accidents, and the natural movement of plants and animals. Invasive species must be returned to their primary origin or destroyed to maintain the health of an ecosystem. If not, there is a real danger of extinction, destruction, and forever changed habitats.

Fauna

Fauna refers to all of the wildlife in a particular region. Often scientists refer to the past and present fauna of an area when referring to nature. Fauna requires a similar subcategory system to classify wildlife in a specific place at a particular time in history. There are many subcategories of fauna, though the most common are as follows.

Megafauna

Megafauna refers to the animals or wildlife that is so big they can be seen with the naked eye from quite a far distance away. An example of megafauna from this period would be an elephant. An example of megafauna from the past would be a ground sloth.

Macrofauna

An interestingly specific category of macrofauna is smaller than an earthworm but one centimeter or more long. An example of macrofauna is a snail.

Microfauna

Microfauna is microscopic animals that cannot be seen with the naked eye. You guessed it; you need a microscope to see these teeny weeny creatures native to a specific area. An example of living microfauna is rotifers that live in water bacteria.

Infauna

Infauna is the animals that live in the sediment layers of bodies of water. Clams are an example of a notable infauna.

Cryofauna

Cryofauna can live in subzero temperatures or on ice without being harmed or disrupting homeostasis. Some examples of cryofauna are seals, penguins, and orcas.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon954367 — On Jun 01, 2014

I had a confusion with flora and fauna but now it is solved. I love this site. In fact, whenever I have any problem with some question in my mind, I always refer to this site on the internet and always get a perfect answer.

By DerpyHooves — On Feb 03, 2013

Thanks for the information. Wikipedia showed me this when I was recently researching the geography of Australia.

By anon298623 — On Oct 21, 2012

How is flora formed?

By anon298235 — On Oct 19, 2012

This is a great, informative article that has just the facts and nothing asking you to buy something. This is exactly what I was looking for. It tells what it is and it includes a history of the subject I was looking up. And now, I've learned something I didn't know before!

By anon296810 — On Oct 12, 2012

Do Flora and Fauna has something to do with the culture of a particular geographic region?

By Recepti — On Feb 01, 2012

Flora on the planet is diverse and beautiful. Your article is very useful, especially to people who are not in nature. Thanks to author articles and website!

By anon242792 — On Jan 25, 2012

Someone tell me what conflicts arose over flora and fauna?

By pilena — On Nov 07, 2011

I am researching these plants: celtis, harpery, horne ex baker, ulmaceae.

By anon206516 — On Aug 16, 2011

With all due respect, I disagree with this author's claim that fauna can be defined as wildlife. Fauna means animals, but wildlife can include plants:

World English Dictionary: wildlife — n. Wild animals and plants collectively.

By anon163795 — On Mar 29, 2011

Does flora and fauna specifically refer to "flowers and animals" or could it just mean like plants and animals?

By anon105906 — On Aug 23, 2010

Floora(sic) and Fauna are mentioned in the classic Frank Zappa track Dynah-moh Hum.

By anon92488 — On Jun 28, 2010

Thanks for a wonderful article.

By anon92262 — On Jun 27, 2010

well it was good and appropriate info was given.

By anon87257 — On May 29, 2010

Exactly what I was looking for. thanks, great article.

By anon86254 — On May 24, 2010

For everybody wondering: fauna means species and flora means flowers.

By anon80906 — On Apr 29, 2010

i like this!

By anon80836 — On Apr 28, 2010

I'm studying flora and fauna. could you please tell me the meanings or what these words mean to you, if they are plants or species? my tutor is getting me confused. lobed, potioles, dioecious, quadrangular, pubescent.

By anon77649 — On Apr 15, 2010

Great. i finally proved my dad wrong. he said both flora and fauna were plants but i got him.

By anon77427 — On Apr 14, 2010

a very well classified article.

By anon74851 — On Apr 04, 2010

nice article. contains good, knowledgeable material.

By anon72393 — On Mar 22, 2010

That was cool. Before visiting this site for many many years I thought the words flora and fauna were somewhat referring to the environment, but still I was not satisfied from inside, and believed that there was some exact meaning of these words, until i found this while doing some research. Thank you.

By anon71460 — On Mar 18, 2010

Not to be completely off topic, but aren't those the names of the conjoined twins in the Addams Family movie.

By anon71275 — On Mar 18, 2010

this is a great website but i think someone got her facts wrong, she said that australia has native flora and fauna. choose two of each and then label them. What?

By anon69042 — On Mar 05, 2010

This is a great website. it has given me the exact answer i have been looking for.

By anon68357 — On Mar 02, 2010

brilliant. i got just what i was looking for!

By anon66204 — On Feb 18, 2010

Perfect. I got the answer I was looking for.

By anon64399 — On Feb 07, 2010

i thank you for this article. I've found what i was searching for.

By anon61409 — On Jan 20, 2010

It's a wonderful article. i found my info. it's a cool article.

By anon60831 — On Jan 16, 2010

Awesome, thanks.

By anon55826 — On Dec 09, 2009

well it's really very good.

I think it's high time to wake up about our environment, and i believe that every person should understand their responsibilities for the

environment and nature because this is our mother.

She is sick now, so as a good son/daughter

we have the responsibility to make her healthy again. Goodbye and good luck to all.

By anon45377 — On Sep 16, 2009

Very cool article.

By anon33549 — On Jun 08, 2009

Wow I found my info. It's terrific! All that I can say is it's really good awesome and superb! I would consult my frndz 2 use wise geek. I got an A+. Thanks!! It's lovely.

By anon25859 — On Feb 04, 2009

This is a great, informative article that has just the facts and nothing asking you to buy something. This is exactly what I was looking for. It tells what it is and it includes a history of the subject I was looking up. And now, I've learned something I didn't know before!

By ybba — On Oct 21, 2008

What impacts do Tsunamis have on the ecosystems?

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