VASCAN is the Database of Vascular Plants of Canada. It is a comprehensive list of all vascular plants reported in Canada, Greenland (Denmark) and Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France). VASCAN is literature-based, though recent additions are sometimes specimen-based.

For every species, subspecies and variety in VASCAN we provide the accepted scientific name (Latin), the accepted French and English vernacular name, and their synonyms/alternatives in Canada. We indicate the distribution status (native, introduced, etc.) of the plant for each province or territory, and the habit (tree, shrub, herb or vine) of the plant in Canada. For reported hybrids (nothotaxa or hybrid formulas), we also provide the hybrid parents, except for introduced hybrids. We refer to a source for all name, classification and distribution information.

All taxa are linked to a classification. We follow Christenhusz et al. (2011a) for lycophytes, Smith et al. (2006) for ferns, Christenhusz et al. (2011b) for gymnosperms, APG III (2009) for flowering plants and Chase and Reveal (2009) for the higher taxonomy. We do not provide core information (synonyms, vernacular names, etc.) for most higher taxa (above species), but we do calculate a distribution* and habit based on lower taxa.

VASCAN does not include information on conservation status, invasiveness or weediness. Please use websites such as NatureServe Canada, Invasive Species or Weed Info to find such information. VASCAN should not be used as an authoritative source for scientific names or taxon concepts. Please use sources such as the International Plant Names Index (IPNI), Tropicos, the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), the Index Nominum Genericorum (ING) or the Index Nominum Supragenericorum Plantarum Vascularium instead.

* Not included in the dataset download for technical reasons.


VASCAN developed from the need to validate data from eastern Canada (Ontario and eastward), Greenland and Saint Pierre and Miquelon for the Flora of North America (FNA) project and from the need to provide French vernacular names for taxa present in Quebec in the FNA. It expanded when Parks Canada wanted to harmonize the names from vascular plant species lists of its parks across the country. At the time we also realized that - aside from the now taxonomically more or less out-of-date flora by Scoggan (1978-1979) - there was not only no standardized scientific name list for the country - despite worthwhile efforts from the Synthesis of the North American Flora (BONAP) and PLANTS - but also no standardized source of Canadian English and French vernacular names. Several endemic taxa of conservation concern in Canada had been neglected in floras or web-based lists. Names used for plants in English Canada are not necessarily those used in the United States, for instance, and thus U.S. sources were not always appropriate for this goal. Finally, several national organizations expressed the need for a web-based list of Canadian taxa, with data on provincial/territorial distribution.

The current goal of VASCAN is to provide an up-to-date, documented source of the names of vascular plants in Canada, Greenland, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon, both scientific or vernacular. The latter two are added because their floras are intimately related to that of Canada and it is useful for Canadians and others to know about them. VASCAN has no pretention to be an official list for these polities. Another source of names for living Canadian organisms is ITIS Canada, with which we are collaborating closely. Provincial distributions are provided to help Canadians visualize the relationship among the floras of their provinces and territories. VASCAN does not intend to replace regional or provincial lists but to act as a complement to them. Likewise, the taxonomy adopted by VASCAN, while aiming to be as current as possible, does not preclude the use of alternate taxonomic concepts in other floras, though with time it is hoped that we will be able to converge on a single accepted taxonomy, at least at the species level. This is, after all, an avowed international goal. In that respect, VASCAN adopted the taxonomy published in the Flora of North America (FNA), provided that it accounted for all the taxa reported to date in Canada. Progress in taxonomy and phylogeny since the publication of individual FNA volumes, however, means that the taxonomy of VASCAN sometimes differs from it.


Data compilation




Partial funding for the project was provided by:

Citation, rights and disclaimer

Preferred citation

Brouillet, L., F. Coursol, S.J. Meades, M. Favreau, M. Anions, P. Bélisle & P. Desmet. 2010+. VASCAN, the Database of Vascular Plants of Canada. http://data.canadensys.net/vascan/ (consulted on 2024-04-16)

For a single taxon:
Brouillet et al. 2010+. Acer saccharum Marshall in VASCAN, the Database of Vascular Plants of Canada. http://data.canadensys.net/vascan/taxon/9214 (consulted on 2024-04-16)

For a single vernacular name:
Brouillet et al. 2010+. sugar maple in VASCAN, the Database of Vascular Plants of Canada. http://data.canadensys.net/vascan/vernacular/25478 (consulted on 2024-04-16)

Intellectual property rights

All data in the Database of Vascular Plants of Canada (VASCAN) have been released into the public domain under the CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. Although you are free to use the data as you want, we advise you to follow these norms. We have also released the VASCAN source code and database model.


Although we make every effort to provide accurate and complete information in the VASCAN database, we take no responsibility with regard to the use, accuracy, reliability or completeness of the provided data.


We are dependent on colleagues and users to help us improve the database and we welcome feedback backed by authoritative data. This is a collective effort after all, built upon the work done by our illustrious predecessors (many of which are cited in the database), as well as a number of collaborators.

VASCAN updates and tips are announced via @Canadensys on Twitter.

Distribution status codes

We use the following codes and colours for the distribution status:

  • Native - Taxon present as a result of natural processes only, without human agency.
  • Introduced - Taxon established (naturalized) in a region outside of its original range, as a result of human activity, either deliberate or accidental. Taxa are considered introduced in Canada when they became established after European colonization.
  • Ephemeral - Taxon not established permanently in the region, but recurring in the wild on a near-annual basis, usually from cultivation (e.g. wheat, tomato, etc.).
  • Excluded - Taxon reported from the region, but not established or erroneously determined.
  • Extirpated - Taxon native to the region, but currently considered eradicated. This status is only given after active search, and is usually determined by a conservation agency.
  • Doubtful - Taxon reported from the region by a source, but information not yet validated.
  • Absent - Taxon not reported from the region.