Vaccinium photo: Michael Terry

Recommended reading from Flora contributors

Here are some books recommended by the crowd that’s bringing you the Flora of Virginia:

Cover of Remarkable Trees of Virginia, a book on Virginia plants and Virginia trees by Nancy Hugo, Jeff Kirwan, and Robert Llewellyn Remarkable Trees of Virginia
by Nancy Ross Hugo and Jeffrey Kirwan; photography by Robert Llewellyn (2008, University of Virginia Press, 216 pages, 100 color photographs)

Recommended by Donna M.E. Ware, curator emerita of the William and Mary Herbarium and member of the Flora of Virginia Project Foundation board

One aspect of the value of this fine book is represented by the intense joy it brought one reader (William and Mary ornithologist Ruth Beck) when through it she encountered many old “tree friends” she first met during a career of field work and other travels in Virginia. Yet one need not have met these protagonists personally to gain a sense of their character and delight in the stories about them. The rich prose and arresting photographs help meet the deep-seated human need to truly see natural elements of the landscape. This is reflected, for example, in Ms. Hugo’s comments (page 25) on a white oak in Floyd County, described by Dennis Anderson as having a cavity that once served as a pick-up window for moonshine customers. Ms. Hugo notes that this was in a time “when people noticed holes in trees the way they notice holes in cell phone coverage today,” sad testimony to the attention we pay to nature now. I recommend this book as a visual treat in the broadest sense. [Nancy Hugo is also on the board of directors of the Flora Project Foundation.]

Cover of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, a book recommended by Alan Weakley, an author of the Flora of Virginia Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
by Barbara Kingsolver, with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver (2007, HarperCollins, 384 pages)

Recommended by Alan Weakley, curator of the University of North Carolina Herbarium and a co-author of the Flora of Virginia

Barbara Kingsolver has written a marvelously funny, human, informative, and thought-provoking book about our food. The centerpiece is her family's one-year experiment in subsisting on (and enjoying!) primarily what they could grow on their farm in southwestern Virginia. Along the way, the reader will learn a good deal about farming, gardening, canning, animal husbandry, and the impacts of the global economy on America’s food supply and how we eat. She reminds us of the annual agricultural rhythms by which every generation before ours (at least those in the temperate zone) ate: roots, tubers, meat, or canned or dried foods in the winter, greens in the spring, fruits and vegetables in the summer and fall. Now, for better and worse, we get anything we want whenever we want it, shipped from halfway around the globe: broccoli in February, apples in June, spring lamb in October, asparagus in December. I recently learned that over half the apple juice consumed in the United States came from China, and I have to admit I took that as something of an affront; I'm sure that as I was growing up in Virginia in the 1960s nearly every apple—and glass of apple juice, bowl of applesauce, spoonful of apple butter, serving of fried apples—that I consumed (and there were a lot) came from the Shenandoah Valley, and that the rare non-Virginia apple or apple product that passed my lips came from somewhere far away and foreign, like ... West Virginia or Pennsylvania. While not per se a book about our native flora, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle has everything to do with the plants on which our diets are based, rural Virginia, the fellowship of family, friends, and neighbors, land use in America, and conservation, health, economic, and energy issues that affect us all.