Indicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia

What is an indicator plant?

All plants have a specific range of environmental conditions under which they grow and thrive. If we know the conditions a species is adapted to, the presence of that plant gives us insight into the local conditions. In Forest Ecology (FRST 201) at the University of British Columbia, students learn 69 important indicator plants for coastal British Columbia. Each plant indicates…

  • a soil nutrient regime (SNR): poor, medium, rich (or a range thereof)
  • a soil moisture regime (SMR): very dry, dry, moderately dry, medium, wet, very wet (or a range thereof)

Identifying the indicator plants at a forest site is a key step in classifying a forest ecosystem.

How to use this site

*Important Note: This site is currently in draft form. If you find errors or have suggestions, please contact Patrick Culbert.


This site and videos were created by Patrick Culbert with the support of a Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund grant. We greatly appreciate a number of photographers who graciously shared their plant photographs with us. Botanical drawings are used with permission (as noted) of University of Washington Press, Royal British Columbia Museum and Archives, and the Province of British Columbia. Videos were filmed on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.


Douglas, G.W. et al (Editors). 1998-2002. Illustrated Flora of British Columbia, Volumes 1 to 8. B.C. Min. Environ., Lands and Parks, and B.C. Min. For., Victoria, B.C.

Hitchcock, C. L., and A. Cronquist. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest: An Illustrated Manual. University of Washington Press, Seattle.

Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2018. E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia []. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Klinka, K., V. J. Krajina, A. Ceska, and A. M. Scagel. 1989. Indicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia. First edition. UBC Press, Vancouver.

Pojar, D. J., and A. MacKinnon. 2016. Plants of Coastal British Columbia: Including Washington, Oregon and Alaska. Revised edition. Lone Pine Publishing, Vancouver.

Schofield, W. B. 1992. Some Common Mosses Of British Columbia. 2nd edition. Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria.


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