From articles written and published by the first author in newspapers over the past 7 years, a book is being created about Virginia's Coastal Plain wildflowers and grasses. The second author Dr. Gustavus Hall, Professor Emeritus, College of William and Mary, re-wrote portions of the text to ensure botanical accuracy. Louise Menges, Editor, maintained the photo inventory, selected appropriate images for each page, and designed the layout of each page.
Sponsored by the John Clayton Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society, many plants included are native to the Coastal Plain of Virginia, but some are introduced from other areas in the U.S. and from other countries. Included are non-woody plants often seen along roadsides, in meadows, gardens, and lawns. Many are weedy, with small flowers, not usually seen in field guides. Also included are grasses commonly seen in Virginia's Coastal Plain.
The plants included here occur in most counties of the Coastal Plain of Virginia, and some may be found throughout the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains from Cape Cod to Mexico. Originally Wildflowers & Grasses of Virginia's Coastal Plain was conceived to include only those plants native to the Coastal Plain. However, in decades of field work, the authors have observed very conspicuous non-native (introduced) plants displacing natives in many locations. These familiar, introduced plants are in Wildflowers & Grasses of Virginia's Coastal Plain, to help users distinguish desirable native plants from unwanted species.
The plants are arranged in Wildflowers & Grasses of Virginia's Coastal Plain by flower color (white, yellow, orange, red, pink, blue, violet, green, brown), indicated by a colored rectangle on the upper edge of the page. The grasses and grass-like plants (tan rectangle) are in the last section of Wildflowers & Grasses of Virginia's Coastal Plain. Within each color group the plants are arranged alphabetically by families. Photographs on each page show the most prominent feature of each plant, usually the flower.
Text follows the photographs with user-friendly descriptions of the plant's characteristics, habitat, range and growing conditions, and interesting facts about uses in folk medicine, by the Native Americans, and origins of the plant's names.
All photographs were contributed by members of local chapters of the Virginia Native Plant Society: Ellis Squires from the Northern Neck Chapter; and from the local John Clayton Chapter, Teta Kain, Seig Kopinitz, Louise Menges, Kathi Mestayer, Phillip Merritt, and Jan Newton; and Felice Bond from the Historic Rivers Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists.
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Helen Hamilton earned baccalaureate and master’s degrees in biology from Ohio University and Indiana University, respectively. She has taught biology, chemistry, and earth science in Virginia’s public schools and was a plant technician for the U.S. National Park Service. A Master Gardener, she was President of the John Clayton Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society, 2005–2012, and is Publicity Chair of the Williamsburg Botanical Garden. With a continued interest in learning and educating about local native plants, she leads tours and conducts classes about gardening for wildlife using native plants while avoiding introduced invasive species.
Gustavus Hall is Professor Emeritus of Biology from the College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia. Dr. Hall spent 29 years on the faculty where he taught general biology, general botany, plant systematics, courses on native and cultivated plants, plant anatomy, ornithology, and graduate-level biosystematics. He was major advisor for several dozen Master’s and Honor’s theses on native flora, many of which were presented at Virginia Academy of Science meetings and later published. Dr. Hall’s M.S. degree in botany is from Ohio University and his Ph.D. in botany is from Indiana University.