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An Arkansas Florilegium is a late-flowering extension of the work initiated sixty years ago with University of Arkansas botanist Edwin B. Smith's first entries in his pioneering Atlas and Annotated List of the Vascular Plants of Arkansas. Soon after this seminal survey of the state's flora was published in 1978, Kent Bonar, a Missouri-born Thoreau acolyte employed as a naturalist by the Arkansas Park Service, began lugging the volume along on hikes through the woods surrounding his Newton County home, entering hundreds upon hundreds of meticulous illustrations into Smith's work.
Thirty-five years later, with Smith retired and Bonar long gone from the park service but still drawing, Bonar's weathered and battered copy of the atlas was seized by a diverse cadre of amateur admirers motivated by fears of its damage or loss. Their fears were certainly justified; after all, the pages were now jammed to the margins with some 3,500 drawings, and the volume had already survived one accidental dunking in an Ozark stream.
An Arkansas Florilegium brings Smith's and Bonar's knowledge and lifelong diligence to the world in this unique mix of art, science, and Arkansas saga.
Edwin Smith was a professor of botany and curator of the Arkansas Herbarium at the University of Arkansas for thirty-two years. He was the author of, in addition to An Atlas and Annotated List of the Vascular Plants of Arkansas, Keys to the Flora of Arkansas.
Kent Bonar is a lifelong Missouri and Arkansas naturalist. He worked previously at Arkansas State Parks and the Arkansas Ecology Center and now lives in Newton County, Arkansas, where he continues to observe, document, and protect the Ozark National Forest.
Robert Cochran is a professor of English at the University of Arkansas and the series editor of The Arkansas Character.