Botany

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Algae

Arkansas has a very diverse assemblage of algae. The majority of the research conducted on algae in the state is published in the Arkansas Academy of Science’s journal, but some is available in other journals and government publications. Most of the studies have been performed in northern Arkansas by Dr. Richard L. Meyer from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). He and his graduate students undertook many studies that were developed into MS and PhD theses. The studies were performed in rivers (Buffalo, White, Arkansas, and Mississippi rivers), a few lakes (Lake Chicot, Lake Fort Smith, and Lake Fayetteville), a few smaller ponds, a stream, and an agricultural rice field. Three studies were done in Hot Springs …

Arkansas Black Apple

The Arkansas Black Apple is recognized by early sources as having been first produced in 1870 in the orchard of a Mr. Brathwaite, which was then about one and a half miles northwest of Bentonville (Benton County). The fruit, a variety of Winesap, is usually round and of medium size. The flesh is yellow, fine grained, crisp, juicy, and aromatic, while the skin is dark red to black, hence its name. It ripens in October or November, and the fruit keeps well though the storage season of two to four months. Originally, the tree was thought to be a seedling of the Winesap Apple. It is a true native apple grown in the Ozarks of both Arkansas and Missouri. There …

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 …

Arkansas State Horticultural Society (ASHS)

The Arkansas State Horticultural Society (ASHS) is a horticultural crop producers’ organization whose primary purpose is to provide its members, through annual meetings, with information to enhance their horticultural enterprises. The Arkansas State Horticultural Society was formally organized on May 24, 1879, by nineteen men meeting in the council chamber of the city of Little Rock (Pulaski County). The organizers were engaged in horticultural pursuits and were aware of a growing interest in horticultural crops being grown on lands adjacent to the land-grant railroads then expanding through Arkansas. News of the May 24 meeting was published in area papers, extending an invitation for all interested to attend. The object of the society is “to collect and disseminate information relative to …

Bachman, Joseph

Joseph Bachman is widely recognized as Arkansas’s leading developer of grape varieties. During his career, he received national and international attention for his development of grape vines, winning several awards and supplying cuttings and plants to numerous nurseries. Joseph Bachman was born in 1853 in Lucerne, Switzerland. Little is known about his childhood, including his family, education, and early career. According to immigration records, Bachman arrived in New York on May 9, 1878, on a ship that had departed Le Havre, France, earlier that year. By 1881, following the advice of his relatives, Bachman had settled in the town of Altus (Franklin County), where many of his other countrymen resided. He held a wide array of occupations, serving as the …

Bodark

aka: Osage Orange
aka: Maclura pomifera
aka: Bois d'Arc
aka: Horse Apple
aka: Hedge Apple
The bodark tree (Maclura pomifera) is a common tree in Arkansas, known to live in at least forty-seven of the state’s seventy-five counties. The name “bodark” is a slurring of the French “bois d’arc,” meaning “wood of the bow”—a reference to the Osage Indians’ practice of making bows from the tree. The Osage connection survives in another common appellation, Osage orange, which refers to the unique fruit of the tree, as do other names, such as horse apple and hedge apple. Native to the area encompassing Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas, the bodark tree was among those described by William Dunbar of the Hunter-Dunbar Expedition while proceeding to the Ouachita River. French explorers had already encountered the Osage using …

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks (BGO) in Fayetteville (Washington County) opened in 2007 on acreage leased from the City of Fayetteville. The nonprofit organization is the result of a grassroots effort to establish a botanical garden with a mission of offering education, entertainment, and recreation to adults and children through a variety of events, programs, classes, and community connections. The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is a member of the American Horticulture Society—which allows BGO members reciprocal admission to gardens and arboretums across the country—and the American Public Gardens Association, which encourages involvement in gardening for all ages. The Botanical Garden Society of the Ozarks was incorporated in January 1994. The founder and first director was Donna Porter, who …

Chandler, Florence Clyde

Florence Clyde Chandler was a plant geneticist with a broad background in tree-breeding and the induction of polyploidy (the quality of having one or more extra sets of chromosomes) in flowering plants. Her exceptional success inducing polyploidy in the nuclei by using colchicines resulted in the production of a series of outstanding tetraploid and diploid verbenas. During World War II, she worked at the Guatemalan experimental station as a cinchona (a type of evergreen tree) breeder, where she furthered the successful development of a derivative for quinine, a malaria remedy. Born on September 28, 1901, in Oliver (Scott County) to William Festus Chandler and Nannie Charlotte Shannon, Florence Chandler was educated at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington …

Chowning, Frank Edwin

Frank Chowning was a longtime Little Rock (Pulaski County) attorney. He was also a plant enthusiast whose work with irises, especially his hybridization efforts, earned him an international reputation. Francis Edwin Chowning was born on May 26, 1894, in Rison (Cleveland County) to Nathaniel Barnett Chowning and Deborah Curtis Marks Chowning. Chowning grew up and received his early education in Rison before attending Henderson-Brown College (now Henderson State University) in Arkadelphia (Clark County). His time at Henderson-Brown was interrupted by World War I, during which Chowning served in the U.S. Army, earning the rank of lieutenant while stationed in France. Following the war, he earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1922. He married Martha Speakes Bradford in 1928, …

Famous and Historic Tree Program

The purpose of the Arkansas Famous and Historic Tree Program (AFHTP) is to create a greater awareness and appreciation of the state’s trees through the recognition of their historical background. The AFHTP used four criteria to determine the historic status of a tree or tree community. These criteria were modeled after the National Register of Historic Places criteria and include a tree’s association with significant events, people, and landmarks. Significant horticultural, ecological, or structural characteristics, or ability to yield cultural information in local, state, or national history are also assessed. The AFHTP formally originated in 1995 within Arkansas State Parks, though its establishment had been the ambition of several state agencies since the 1970s. The creation of the program led …

Ferns

Ferns are among the most ancient plant forms, distinguished by having a defined vascular system, reproducing by spores, and often having deeply divided leaves that unfurl from a coiled fiddlehead (crozier). They originally appeared in the fossil record about 360 million years ago, but most modern ferns arose in the early Cretaceous period about 145 million years ago. Discussed here are “true” ferns as understood in the horticultural sense and not in the broader classification used by botanists that include horsetails (Equisetum, of which Arkansas has four species), whisk ferns (Psilotum, one species), and sometimes Selaginella (ten species). Using botanist James H. Peck’s inclusive 2011 list, Arkansas has about eighty species of true ferns that are native to the state, …

Hunter, Carl Glenn

Conservationist Carl Glenn Hunter achieved prominence in two branches of the Arkansas outdoors—its fauna and its flora. Activities with wildflowers of the state made him a household name in Arkansas and beyond after his retirement as a wildlife biologist. Carl Hunter was born on August 30, 1923, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). He graduated from Little Rock High School (now Central High School) in 1941 and received a bachelor of science in agriculture degree from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1945. In college, Hunter worked part time for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC); he became a full-time employee in July 1945. He was one of the first hires of the agency after it …

Kudzu

Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is an invasive vine characterized by aggressive growth and clusters of grape-scented purple flowers. It was recognized as a weed in 1972 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). A native plant of Asia, kudzu has been used for over two millennia in Asian cooking and medicine. Kudzu was introduced to the United States at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition (1876) and to southerners at the New Orleans Exposition (1884–1886). Kudzu’s foothold in the American South is largely the result of the efforts of Charles Pleas, Channing Cope, and the Soil Conservation Service (SCS). Pleas owned Glen Arden Nursery in Chipley, Florida, along with his wife, Lillie. After Pleas discovered kudzu’s usefulness for livestock forage and as a …

Lavacaberry

The Lavacaberry is a hybrid variety of berry that takes its name from the town of Lavaca (Sebastian County), where it was planted extensively in the 1940s. The introduction of the berry to the town helped reinvigorate the local economy at a time when the effects of the Depression were still being felt. In 1937, the Lavaca School District hired Idus H. Fielder as a vocational instructor. In his eagerness to help local growers, Fielder met Ed Girard, a local farmer, to discuss the plight of the farmers. After listening to Girard and others, Fielder remembered a berry from the farm of R. E. Hallett in McRae (White County). The berry was known as a “California Red Raspberry,” and Hallett …

Lost 40

The Lost 40 is a forty-acre tract of mature forest along Wolf Branch (a tributary of Moro Creek) in southeastern Calhoun County. Owned by PotlatchDeltic Corporation, the tract is known for its large trees, some more than 200 years old, and has variously been described as “primary,” “virgin,” and “old-growth.” It has been the site of several scientific studies conducted by the faculty and students of the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM) School of Forestry and Natural Resources, and is protected by a forty-year cooperative management agreement between PotlatchDeltic and the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) signed in 1996. Lost Forty Brewing, a brewery based in Little Rock (Pulaski County), takes its name from the tract. Several natural communities …

Maple-Leaf Oak

aka: Quercus acerifolia
Maple-leaf oak (Quercus acerifolia) is a rare tree species commonly agreed to occur at just four sites in the world, all of which are in Arkansas. All of these sites are open, rocky woodlands on sandstone or novaculite substrate and are located at the tops of high-elevation ridges in the Arkansas Valley and Ouachita Mountains: Magazine Mountain in Logan County, Porter Mountain in Polk County, Pryor Mountain in Montgomery County, and Sugarloaf Mountain in Sebastian County. The growth form of maple-leaf oak ranges from short, stunted multi-trunked shrubs to single-trunked trees up to fifty feet tall. It is most easily distinguished by its upper leaves, which are commonly as wide or wider than they are long, with three to five …

Moore, James Norman (Jim)

James Norman (Jim) Moore bred a number of fruit species to be more easily grown in Arkansas. One of the world’s leading authorities on small fruits and a well-regarded professor at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), he co-wrote the field-changing Advances in Fruit Breeding (1975) and formed the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Fruit Breeding Program, which became the most productive in the world of horticultural science. Jim Moore was born on June 10, 1931, in Plumerville (Conway County) and grew up in Vilonia (Faulkner County). Moore earned a BSA in 1956 and an MS in 1957 from the University of Arkansas. He married Jan Moore before they moved to New Jersey in 1957 for …

Moosberg, Carl Avriette

Cotton breeder Carl Avriette Moosberg demonstrated that advances in the early maturing of cotton were possible. His Rex variety, introduced in 1957, reduced expense for pesticide by shortening the time required to maturity, while offering disease resistance and strong fiber. The success of Rex encouraged all major cottonseed companies to develop earlier maturing cotton varieties. Moosberg’s research improved the economics of growing cotton in Arkansas in the mid 1900s. Carl Moosberg was born on August 24, 1905, in Tyler, Texas, the third of four sons born to Frank Olaf Moosberg and Anna Trofast, immigrants from Sweden. He graduated from high school in Wills Point, Texas, in 1923 and went to work for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in …

Nuttall, Thomas

Thomas Nuttall, a preeminent and far-ranging field naturalist, participated in the early scientific exploration of Arkansas and is remembered both for identifying a number of the state’s plants and for his description of early Arkansas life. His notes on people living in the territory—both Native Americans and American settlers—have provided valuable information for historians and researchers ever since they were first published in 1821. Thomas Nuttall was born to James Nuttall and Margaret Hardacre Nuttall on January 5, 1786, in Long Preston, Yorkshire, England. He was the oldest of three siblings; he had two sisters, Susan (Susannah) and Elizabeth. He never married and had no children. After attending the village school, Nuttall worked as a journeyman printer for his uncle …

Shrubs

In 2016, a total of 436 kinds of woody plants were known to occur in the wild in Arkansas, comprising 419 species plus another seventeen varieties and subspecies. Of these, 185 can be considered trees, 189 are best described as shrubs, and sixty-two are woody vines. In some cases it is difficult to draw a hard line between these categories, and various references differ in their criteria for each. For the purposes of this entry, however, each category is defined as follows: Trees are defined as perennial, often single- or relatively few–stemmed woody plants typically greater than five meters (sixteen feet) in height at maturity. Shrubs are defined as perennial, often multi-stemmed woody or semi-woody plants usually less than five …

Stern’s Medlar

aka: Crataegus × Canescens
aka: Mespilus canescens
Stern’s medlar (Mespilus canescens or Crataegus × canescens) is a rare shrub in the rose family known in the wild from about twenty-five individual plants at a single site near Slovak (Prairie County). It was first discovered in 1969 by Jane Stern but was not named until 1990, when it was formally described (as Mespilus canescens) by Dr. James Phipps of the University of Western Ontario. Its origin, taxonomic placement, and proper scientific name are a matter of debate among botanists and represent one of the most curious and persistent mysteries in North American botany. Stern’s medlar is a showy species with a number of desirable ornamental properties including dense groupings of quarter-sized white flowers, multiple trunks, arching branches, patchy …

Trees

When European explorers first came to Arkansas in the sixteenth century, they found the vast majority of the state covered by some type of forest or woodland. In general, the upland areas of the state were covered by short-leaf pine/oak/hickory forests in areas underlain by acidic rocks (primarily sandstone and chert) and by oak/hickory forests in areas underlain by neutral to calcareous rocks (primarily limestone and dolomite). Lowland areas of eastern and southern Arkansas were covered primarily by bottomland hardwood forests, with bald-cypress/water-tupelo swamps in the wettest areas. The Gulf Coastal Plain of southern Arkansas was covered by a mix of forest types, with loblolly and/or short-leaf pine dominant in many areas. Within these general forest types were hundreds of …

University of Arkansas Rice Research and Extension Center

The University of Arkansas Rice Research and Extension Center (RREC), one of five research and extension centers in the University of Arkansas System’s statewide Division of Agriculture, is one of the best known and oldest rice research centers in the world. Arkansas produces almost half the rice grown in the United States, and the center has played a vital role in the success of the Arkansas rice industry. RREC is located nine miles east of Stuttgart (Arkansas County) on Highway 130. Originally called the Rice Branch Station, it was authorized by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1923, and work commenced on it in December 1926. The University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) made an earlier attempt at establishing a …

Vines

In 2016, a total of 436 kinds of woody plants were known to occur in the wild in Arkansas, comprising 419 species plus another seventeen varieties and subspecies. Of these, 185 can be considered trees, 189 are best described as shrubs, and sixty-two are woody vines. In some cases, it is difficult to draw a hard line between these categories, and various reference works differ in their criteria for each. For the purposes of this entry, however, each category is defined as follows: Trees are defined as perennial, often single- or relatively few–stemmed woody plants typically greater than five meters (sixteen feet) in height at maturity. Shrubs are defined as perennial, often multi-stemmed woody or semi-woody plants usually less than …

Wildflowers

The varied ecosystems in Arkansas enable a large variety of wildflowers to grow within the state. From the river deltas to the mountaintops, Arkansas boasts an abundant array of over 600 native wildflowers. The majority of wildflowers in Arkansas are along rural roads and secluded areas. Due to the growing population and changes in the environment, the areas in which wildflowers grow are in constant fluctuation. Although highways and the development of land have eliminated a majority of the state’s native wildflowers, programs are under way to preserve these flowers and bring them back to the roadways. Common WildflowersThe most common wildflowers on Arkansas highways today are as follows: An in-depth list with descriptions of Arkansas wildflowers was written by …

Williams, Virginia Anne Rice

Biochemist Virginia Anne Rice Williams helped develop more nutritious grains through her pioneering studies of rice, a major Arkansas crop. She conducted important research on the B-vitamin content of rice, on ways to keep rice from turning rancid in storage, and on the vitamin fortification of rice. Virginia Rice was born in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Roderic J. Rice, a banker, and Mattie Thurman. Her high school teachers urged her to pursue music as a career, as she was a gifted musician. Fearing that she would not succeed as a concert musician, however, she opted for science, a field in which she also excelled. In 1940, Rice graduated from Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) with a BA …