Samoa and its small group of islands were first settled by the Polynesians some
3,000 years ago. In 1722, they were discovered Jacob
Roggeveen, a Dutch explorer.
1900, it became an unorganized U.S. territory, and in fact, it's today the only
U.S. territory located south of the Equator. These rugged islands (fringed by
reefs) have narrow coastal plains. All are volcanic in origin.
vascular flora of American Samoa, based upon Whistler 1980, 1992b, 1994, 1998,
and the present work, is now estimated to be about 343 flowering plants, 135 ferns,
and 9 fern allies. Rare native plants have not been well documented.
angiosperm flora of the Samoan archipelago is about one third as large as that
of Fiji, which lies just 1140 km (700 mi) to the west, but it is larger than that
of any other tropical Polynesian archipelago or island except Hawai'i, which has
more species but fewer genera.
The flora is estimated to comprise about
540 native species of flowering plants (Whistler 1992a), two thirds of them dicots.
These are included in about 283 genera in 95 plant families. The level of endemism
of the angiosperms is estimated to be about 30% at the species level, but only
one genus, Sarcopygme of the Rubiaceae family, is endemic to the archipelago.
September 2007, Michael Thomas and Art Whistler in conjunction with the National
Fish and Wildlife Foundation embarked on a project to document the rare plants
of American Samoa. 109 plants were documented as a result of the project.