Wiki article on this topic: Vegetation is an assemblage of plant species and the ground cover they provide. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular taxa, life forms, structure, spatial extent, or any other specific botanical or geographic characteristics. It is broader than the term flora which refers to species composition. Perhaps the closest synonym is plant community, but vegetation can, and often does, refer to a wider range of spatial scales than that term does, including scales as large as the global. Primeval redwood forests, coastal mangrove stands, sphagnum bogs, desert soil crusts, roadside weed patches, wheat fields, cultivated gardens and lawns; all are encompassed by the term vegetation.
The vegetation type is defined by characteristic dominant species, or a common aspect of the assemblage, such as an elevation range or environmental commonality. The contemporary use of vegetation approximates that of ecologist Frederic Clements' term earth cover, an expression still used by the Bureau of Land Management.
The distinction between vegetation and flora was first made by Jules Thurmann. Prior to this, the two terms were used indiscriminately, and still are in some contexts. Augustin de Candolle also made a similar distinction, but he used the terms "station" and "habitation". Later, the concept of vegetation would influence the usage of the term biome, with the inclusion of the animal element.
Other concepts similar to vegetation are "physiognomy of vegetation" and "formation".
Departing from Linnean taxonomy, Humboldt established a new science, dividing plant geography between taxonomists who studied plants as taxa and geographers who studied plants as vegetation. The physiognomic approach in the study of vegetation is common among biogeographers working on vegetation on a world scale, or when there is a lack of taxonomic knowledge of some place.
The concept of "vegetation type" is more ambiguous. The definition of a specific vegetation type may include not only physiognomy, but also floristic and habitat aspects. Furthermore, the phytosociological approach in the study of vegetation relies upon a fundamental unit, the plant association, which is defined upon flora.