The Tennessee Native Plant Society and the Kentucky Native Plant Society held a joint meeting this past weekend at Land Between the Lakes. Austin Peay State University’s Prof Edward Chester’s Friday night program titled “My Life and Times in the Big Barrens of Kentucky and Tennessee” set the stage for a weekend of botanizing in this beautiful and diverse habitat. Dr. Chester is heading up the creation of the new manual of Tennessee vascular flora, which will be published by the University of Tennessee Press.
Saturday, the group took a field trip to Hematite Lake, a recreational lake in the Land Between the Lakes created in the 1930’s. The 2-mile trail around the lake was loaded with interesting plant communities. Hike leaders were Tara Littlefield and Julian Campbell, both of the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, with the able assistance of Dr. Chester, Eastern Kentucky University Professor Brad Ruhfel and Tennessee State Natural Heritage Botanist Todd Crabtree.
Those who elected not to go on the field trip were treated to two talks by butterfly expert Rita Venable, whose book on the butterflies of Tennessee is due out this fall. Dr. Ron Jones, also of Eastern Kentucky University, presented Saturday night’s program on “Woody Plants of Kentucky and Tennessee, Current Status and Future Prospects in the Age of Climate Change.” Jones and Eugene Wofford’s book on woody plant identification in winter is due out a year from now.
Pictured above is cutleaf rosinweed, Silphium pinnatifidum. Below, Dr. Chester is on the left. In the background are Brad Ruhfel, Tara Littlefield with her baby and husband, who is a botanist at the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest. Tara is credited with discovering a new species of clover, Trifolium kentuckiense.