Vaccinium photo: Michael Terry

News for the Flora of Virginia Project

It's official! BRIT Press will publish Flora of Virginia

The Flora of Virginia Project and the publishing arm of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, in Fort Worth, signed an agreement in July that moves the creation of the Flora a giant step forward. Publication is set for late 2012.

"The BRIT Press is delighted to be working with the Flora of Virginia Project in publishing this remarkable flora," said Barney Lipscomb, Dorothea Leonhardt Chair of Texas Botany with BRIT and head of the BRIT Press. "The Flora of Virginia is a 21st-century flora that will present critical information about the plant life of Virginia and surrounding states."

Flora of Virginia Book Flora of Virginia Book The Flora will be the most modern single-volume flora for our region and will reflect the latest advances in genetics and thought in plant biosystematics. It will be the first statewide plant manual for Virginia since Flora Virginica in 1762.

"We are very happy to have a publisher—but we're especially happy that it's the BRIT Press," said Chris Ludwig, director of the Flora Project and a co-author of the Flora of Virginia. "This is such a good match, and that has been clear since our first conversations over a year ago."

BRIT's mission illustrates why the Flora is in the right hands. States its website: "BRIT is a global institute for the conservation and preservation of plant diversity through research, education, scientific publications, and collections." The BRIT Press's editions include systematic monographs, botanical histories—and floras, like Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas and the Illustrated Flora of East Texas, of which Lipscomb is a co-author.

"The Flora will be vital for managing Virginia's natural resources and fundamentally important to all levels of education in Virginia," Lipscomb said. "But it will also provide trustworthy information that will meet the needs of the commercial and nonprofit sectors and local, state, and federal governments." The Flora is expected to be in demand as well in neighboring states, which share many taxa with Virginia but lack a current flora.

Illustrations from Flora of Virginia on exhibit at Blandy through August

Dominion Virginia Logo

Native plants take center stage in an exhibition of illustrations from the upcoming Flora of Virginia open through August at the State Arboretum of Virginia at the University of Virginia's Blandy Experimental Farm. The grand opening is set for Sunday, July 11, from 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

The Flora, to be published in 2012, will describe more than 3,500 species native to or naturalized in Virginia, of which 1,400 will be illustrated with pen-and-ink drawings. Three artists—Lara Call Gastinger, Michael Terry, and Roy Fuller—were commissioned to illustrate the volume, and all are represented in the show.

All illustrations in the exhibition portray plants native to Virginia, including the sweet bay (Magnolia virginiana), tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera), bluntscale bulrush (Schoenoplectus purshianus; achene shown at left, illustrated by Michael Terry), common running-cedar (Diphasiastrum digitatum), Kates Mountain clover (Trifolium virginicum), dune sandspur (Cenchrus tribuloides), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) and small whorled pogonia (Isotria medeoloides).

For more on the artists, visit our Staff page: Blandy's website, which includes directions, is at

Dominion awards Flora Project $10,000 Earth Day grant

Dominion Virginia Logo

Dominion Resources has provided the Flora of Virginia Project a $10,000 grant to support the writing of family treatments for the Flora of Virginia. The grant is part of Dominion's $1.1 million Earth Day initiative supporting community-based environmental projects and organizations in the 11 states in which it provides energy. April 22 was the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

"Dominion's commitment to the environment has been longstanding, as evidenced by the nearly $3.5 billion we have invested in the last decade to reduce the impact of our operations on the air, water, and land," said Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president, and CEO. "We also recognize the importance of the efforts of other like-minded organizations, so we are pleased to be able to partner with them through these grants to help protect endangered species, restore wetlands, preserve forests, educate the public, and support environmental outreach."

In Virginia, Dominion provided almost $520,000 to 41 organizations. Other recipients included Ducks Unlimited, the Audubon Society's Important Bird Areas program, the Nature Conservancy, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Dominion is the state's largest electric utility.

Maryland NPS backs Flora of Virginia Project


Here at the Flora of Virginia Project, we have always felt that the Flora was going to be greeted warmly in neighboring states. In May, when we received a leadership donation from the Maryland Native Plant Society, we realized that we were right: botanists beyond our borders are also anticipating publication of the Flora of Virginia.

"I'm a member of VNPS myself, and when I received Sally Anderson's letter soliciting donations to the Flora Project this year, it occurred to me that MNPS might also offer support," said Kirsten Johnson, president of the Maryland society.

The Virginia Native Plant Society’s 2010 fundraising drive will benefit the Flora Project and has a goal of $20,000.

"It took no persuasion whatsoever at the board meeting," Johnson said. "The discussion was short, and the vote unanimous." Members of the two societies attend each other's conferences and workshops, and "most of us travel the short distance into Virginia several times a year for botanizing," she said.

Maryland's flora (a volume each on woody and herbaceous plants, by Russell G. Brown and Melvin L. Brown) is out of print and high-dollar when it surfaces. "There is no question that the Flora of Virginia will be an important reference tool for Maryland botanists, as I would expect it to be for other neighboring states," Johnson said.

The Flora will be published in late 2012.

Columbia Gas/NiSource supports Flora Project

Virginia botany: Asplenium trichomanes photo by Kenneth Lawless

Columbia Gas of Virginia and the NiSource Charitable Foundation have awarded the Flora of Virginia Project a $5,000 grant toward creation of plant family treatments for the Flora of Virginia.

"We are pleased to provide this donation in support of the Foundation of the Flora of Virginia Project," said Bob Innes, director of communications and community relations for Columbia Gas of Virginia, based in Chesterfield County. "The Flora of Virginia will help educate generations of students on the importance of sustaining our environment."

Innes presented the donation Aug. 12 to J. Christopher Ludwig, director of the Flora Project and a co-author of the Flora.

"We at the Flora Project are delighted to have the support of NiSource," Ludwig said. "This grant will help us as we continue writing the Flora." Virginia has a rich flora, with more than 3,500 plant species grouped into 200 families. Projected publication date is 2012.

The NiSource Charitable Foundation provides funding to nonprofit organizations making a difference in the communities in which NiSource companies operate or provide service. Columbia Gas of Virginia is one of NiSource's nine energy-distribution companies and serves 240,000 customers in Virginia. For more information, please visit or

Robins provides grant to Flora Project

Virginia plants: Pinus taeda photo by Hal Horwitz

The Robins Foundation in March awarded a $12,000 grant to the Flora of Virginia Project restricted to the work of creating the Flora of Virginia. The grant was made under the Richmond foundation's director-initiated grants program. The program allows individuals on the foundation's board of directors to provide funding to a limited number of organizations that they consider particularly deserving of support. Robins gives grants to nonprofit organizations whose projects it feels will improve the lives and opportunities of Virginians. Its areas of support include cultural, charitable, scientific, environmental, and educational projects. The Flora Project's primary focus is creation of the Flora, to be published in 2012. The Project is also beginning work on educational modules directed at grades K-12 and at community adult and youth programs. (4-09)

2 recent invaders in Virginia

Virginia botany: Vitex rotundifolia photo by Honolulu Board of Water Supply

Add two species to Virginia’s list of nonnative invasive plants. Vitex rotundifolia, right, native to the Pacific Rim, has gone wild on Norfolk’s Willoughby Spit, at Hampton Roads, where it was probably planted to stabilize dunes. Despite the Beach Vitex’s bent for pushing out dune shrubs and grasses, including sea oats (Uniola paniculata), at least in Virginia it’s limited to Willoughby. In the Carolinas, it’s so widespread, they have Vitex task forces, but with citizen involvement, they have high hopes of success in wiping it out. Success is likely here too, especially thanks to the plant’s limited range. A cutting and herbicide application program was planned for fall 2008.

Virginia plants: Oplismenus hirtellus photo by Gary Fleming

Less rosy is the outlook for the highly invasive Wavyleaf Basketgrass, Oplismenus hirtellus ssp. undulatifolius, recently found in Shenandoah National Park, on private land in Fauquier County, and at the Fraser Preserve on the Potomac River in Fairfax County. Like Microstegium vimineus (Japanese stiltgrass), it’s aggressive and shade tolerant, but it’s even worse, on three counts: it’s a stoloniferous perennial (one that can form new plants at the nodes and tips of its stolons, or runners), it doesn’t need disturbed soil to invade a forest, and its seeds are sticky, adhering to fabric and no doubt to pelts and feathers too. Monitoring is under way in efforts to manage this plant. For more information and other photographs, visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website. And if you find a population, contact Kevin Heffernan (804-786-9112) at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Division of Natural Heritage.

Gwathmey, Parsons groups support Flora

Virginia botany: Chaemacrista nictitans illustration by botanical artist Lara Call Gastinger

The Flora of Virginia Project has received grants from the Richard Gwathmey and Caroline T. Gwathmey Memorial Trust and the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation. The Gwathmey Trust provided $30,000 for creation of 300 botanical illustrations for the Flora of Virginia, the trust’s second grant to the Project. The Parsons Foundation provided $28,000 for the creation of seven family treatments. A full family treatment includes a family description, identification keys to genera and species, and synonymies (detailed references to previous taxonomic names for the same species). Genus and species are described and the descriptions checked against herbarium specimens collected in Virginia, ensuring that measurements are accurate for plants in the Virginia portion of a species range. Habitat and range information is added. The Flora will feature original line drawings of 1,400 core taxa as aids to identification.

Newly named orchid is limited to the Virginias

Virginia botany: Platanthera shriveri photo by Scott Shriver

A new orchid, Platanthera shriveri (Shriver's frilly orchid), was named by Paul Martin Brown, Clete Smith, and J. Scott Shriver in their 2008 paper "A new fringed Platanthera (Orchidaceae) from the central Appalachian mountains of eastern North America" (North American Native Orchid Journal Vol. 14, No. 4). Within the range of P. grandiflora, a well-known mountain species, the authors noticed populations of plants of a distinctive yet enduring appearance, which helped them rule out the possibility that it was a recent hybrid with P. lacera; the look of such hybrids is much more variable. They do think this species is of hybrid origin, but far back in its ancestry. P. shriveri is known only from one site in Virginia (in Highland County) and several in West Virginia, although it was formerly known at sites in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. The species was named for Shriver's late father, Albert.

Asplenium trichomanes, Kenneth Lawless; Pinus taeda, Hal Horwitz; Vitex rotundifolia, Honolulu Board of Water Supply; Oplismenus hirtellus ssp. undulatifolius, Gary P. Fleming, Division of Natural Heritage, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; Chamaecrista nictitans var. nictitans, Lara Call Gastinger; Platanthera shriveri, Scott Shriver