Arkansas Native Plant Society

The Arkansas Native Plant Society (ANPS) was established in 1980 to promote, first, the preservation, conservation, study, and enjoyment of the native plants of Arkansas; second, the education of the public regarding the value of native plants and their habitats; and, third, the publication of related information. Regular meetings are held in the spring and fall of each year to conduct business, give presentations, and embark on field trips. The ANPS newsletter, Claytonia, is published preceding the spring and fall meetings.

On November 17, 1979, consideration to form ANPS took place at the annual Arkansas Biological Curriculum Development Conference on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway (Faulkner County). In a session discussing endangered plants, the possibility was raised of forming a state organization to promote native and endangered plants. Present during the conference were Dr. Don Culwell of UCA, Dr. Gary Tucker of Arkansas Tech University, Dr. Jewel Moore of UCA, Dr. Leon Richards of Arkansas State University (ASU), Dr. Ron Doran of Harding University, Gwen Barber of Mulberry (Crawford County), and Richard Davis and Bill Shepherd of Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission.

The steering committee first met in December 1979 in Little Rock (Pulaski County); discussions took place dealing with the purposes and goals of such a society and how they could be met. The committee mailed letters throughout the state to people with potential botanical interest.

The second meeting of the steering committee was held on March 1, 1980, at UCA. Acting officers were Culwell as president, Davis as secretary-treasurer, and Dr. Robert Wright of UCA as newsletter editor. Also present at the meeting were Dr. Tom Clark and Dr. Art Johnson (both from Hendrix College), Moore, Dr. Dan Marsh of Henderson State University (HSU), Shepherd, Tucker, and Barber.

The steering committee’s third meeting was held on March 28, 1980, during the Arkansas Academy of Science meeting at ASU in Jonesboro (Craighead County). The constitution committee (Wright, Moore, Johnson, and Clark) reported its work and plan for ratification at the fall meeting. The society was formally organized on September 20, 1980, at a statewide meeting in Mena (Polk County), with adoption of bylaws and election of officers Culwell (president), Barber (vice president), Davis (secretary-treasurer), and Wright (newsletter editor and historian).

Activities over the years have included numerous statewide field trips noting native vegetation from a perspective of education, preservation, and personal enrichment. ANPS has been involved in the monitoring of local plant populations and legislative action relating to native vegetation, the management of roadside native plant populations (in cooperation with the Arkansas Department of Transportation), and wildflower and woody plant identification workshops.

An annual program involving the auction of potted native plants, seeds, and plant products has provided funding for ANPS memorial awards. Memorial awards are made each year in honor of Arkansas botanists (Dwight Moore, Delsie Demaree, Carl Amason, and Aileen McWilliam) to recognize and support Arkansas botanical achievement in research and conservation efforts.

Professional botanists within ANPS have written the Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Arkansas, as well as the Atlas of the Vascular Plants of Arkansas, which documents all native and naturalized vascular plants growing in the state by county.

ANPS membership began in 1980 with 104 charter members and grew to approximately 450 members in 2014, with members located in Arkansas as well as nationally.

For additional information:
Arkansas Native Plant Society. (accessed November 23, 2020).

Arkansas Native Plant Society Records. Special Collections. University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Dr. Donald E. Culwell Collection. University of Central Arkansas Archives and Special Collections, Conway, Arkansas.

Donald E. Culwell
Arkansas Native Plant Society


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