In the fall of 1998 Fred Weinmann initiated a series of meetings to discuss the development of a checklist for the flora of Washington State and the possible publication of a new flora for the state. From these meetings a set of protocols was developed, with a preliminary draft checklist assembled by 2001-2002 with the help of Peter Zika and about a dozen other volunteers. Paul Rodman volunteered his time and expertise to assemble the programs, databases, and website to facilitate development of the checklist and make it available online. Over 1,000 hours of time had gone into development of the checklist to this point, with Fred Weinmann and Peter Zika having compiled the bulk of the checklist contents. During this period the checklist was called the Washington Flora Project and was available online at http://flora.ilangainc.com/.
Additional revisions were added to the checklist during 2002-2003, after which development on the checklist came to a halt due to difficulties in updating the checklist database. A few additional revisions compiled during 2003-2004 never made it into the checklist.
In 2006 discussions between the University of Washington Herbarium, Fred Weimann, and Peter Zika led to a proposal to migrate the checklist to the Herbarium for maintenence and further development. Under this proposal the checklist was to be redesigned to allow continued revisions to the checklist data, thereby preventing the stagnation and loss of the checklist. A grant from the Bureau of Land Management provided funding for this transfer. The Herbarium provided the remaining funding, server space, and staff support needed to transfer and maintain the checklist.
In early 2007 the new checklist databases and website were completed and made available online in a new format that allows continued revisions and development of the checklist data, turning the checklist into a dynamic document that can be easily updated as new information becomes available. At this time the name of the checklist was changed to the Washington Flora Checklist and the checklist web address was changed to http://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/waflora/checklist.php.
Past Floristic Work in Washington State
The Flora of the State of Washington was authored by Charles V. Piper and published by the U.S. National Herbarium in 1906. This represents the only flora which is both comprehensive (for the time) and limited to, the vascular plants of Washington State. Currently, the flora/manual most widely used by field botanists and other botany practitioners in the state is Flora of the Pacific Northwest (Hitchcock and Cronquist 1973, 1976) and its 5 part precursor, Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest, Parts 1-5 (Hitchcock et al. 1955-1969). These latter publications are comprehensive and they are particularly advantageous to botanists of Washington in that the entire state is included within the geographic range covered.
There have been several sources of revisions to the Washington state flora in the decades since publication of the Hitchcock et al. treatises. Much research has been completed which has resulted in taxonomic and nomenclatural revisions, species have been discovered which were not previously known to occur in the state (a few are undescribed or newly described species), many taxa have become naturalized in the state via accidental introduction or by escape from cultivation. Some of these changes have been published in several recent floras covering all or part of Washington state; however, the nomenclature and taxonomy is inconsistent. Other changes (e.g. additions to the state flora) have been recorded by individuals or agencies but are not published and therefore not known beyond a few individuals. All of these events combine to create a need for a current checklist for the plants native and naturalized in the state of Washington.