Plants of Northwest Arkansas, U.S.A.

Northwest Arkansas is now recognized as the 14th fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States. The population of the region doubled between 1990 and 2010 and is now adding more than 1,000 people per month. Most of this growth has occurred in Benton and Washington counties. As a result of this rapid growth, there is unprecedented interest in incorporating conservation-related information as the region plans for future growth.

 

Oak Savanna Shale Barrens Kessler_Witsell_small

Old growth post and blackjack oaks, some as much as 250 years old, growing in shale barrens on Kessler Mountain near Fayetteville, Arkansas. Photo by Theo Witsell.

It is already known that Benton and Washington counties are among the most biologically diverse in the state, but no comprehensive inventory has been conducted for either county. The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) is embarking on this inventory now, with the ultimate goal of identifying the highest priority areas and/or habitats for conservation. The first step in this process is to gather all available information on what lives where. A treasure trove of herbarium specimens exists from these counties but very little of the label data have been digitized. That’s where you can help the scientists of the ANHC as they explore the biological diversity of Northwest Arkansas.

 

Devil's Eyebrow_Limestone Glade2_WITSELL_small

Pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida) in a high quality limestone glade at Devil’s Eyebrow Natural Area near Garfield, Arkansas. Photo by Theo Witsell.

 

Please try out the two new Plants of Northwest Arkansas expeditions.

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