Field & Forest Plants of Virginia

The flora of Virginia is still being discovered. Help us bring all the species to light!

The US state of Virginia was founded 230 years ago, yet scientists are still discovering new plant species and populations within its borders. For example, scientists described a new species of Bachelors’ Buttons native to southern Virginia in 2012 [see inset, Marshallia legrandii Weakley; credit: Doug Goldman hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS database]. Although herbarium specimens of this species were made in the 1960’s, they lay in cabinets misidentified for nearly 50 years until they came to the attention of taxonomic specialists. This discovery is not an exception. The majority of new plant species are discovered for the first time as herbarium specimens rather than as live plants in the field (see Bebber et al. 2010. Herbaria are a major frontier for species discovery. PNAS 107 (51) 22169-22171; doi: 10.1073/pnas.1011841108)

In this Expedition, we have assembled a wide range of Virginian plant species, native and non-native, with two biodiversity discovery objectives in mind. The Expedition will create digitized data about herbarium sheets of native plant species, which will allow more taxonomic specialists to explore the plant biodiversity of Virginia and possibly discover new taxa, like Marshallia legrandii. The Expedition will also liberate data about the distribution of non-native and potentially invasive plants at the county level. Currently, the Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora (http://www.vaplantatlas.org) lacks complete maps for naturalized non-native taxa. Expedition data will be used to improve this online resource to monitor the spread of non-native plants.

How to Participate

This project has the following active expeditions:

Expeditions % Complete Join In
Field & Forest Plants of Virginia I   78.44% Notes From Nature V2  
Organization
George Mason University 
Contact
Andrea Weeks 
Contact Title
State lead 
Organization Website
http://biology.gmu.edu/herbarium
Project Partners
South East Regional Network of Expertise and Collections (SERNEC). Virginia Master Naturalists and Virginia Native Plant Society. 
Funding Source
National Science Foundation #EF-1410086, “Digitization TCN: Collaborative Research: The Key to the Cabinets: Building and sustaining a research database for a global biodiversity hotspot.” and the Virginia Native Plant Society. 
Geographic Scope
The Commonwealth of Virginia, USA  
Taxonomic Scope
Vascular plants 
Temporal Scope
1880's to present 
Language Skills Required
English 
Keywords
Virginia, biodiversity discovery, native plants, non-native plants