A Word about Collecting
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3 ix along the way there were many real botanists who offered help, guidance, and suggestions. Foremost among those who contributed was James Estes, who arranged my position as volunteer herbarium assistant at the University of Oklahoma’s Bebb Herbarium. Once there, Curator Emeritus George Goodman and graduate student Staria Vanderpool willingly and kindly offered help until I was able to work on my own. Election to the editorial committee of the Flora of Oklahoma project was my introduction to the scientific description of flowering plants. Committee members who were most helpful included Chief Editor Ronald Tyrl, Susan Barber , Paul Buck, Wayne Elisens, Larry Magrath, and Connie Taylor, all professors of botany at Oklahoma universities. Access to the wildlands of Oklahoma was provided by Nora Jones and Jim Erwin of The Nature Conservancy. Those explorations into wild swamps, stony prairies, and marshy wetlands were the occasion of many of the photographs in this book. Audiences and field companions came from the Oklahoma Native Plant Society and the Oklahoma Academy of Science. Jim Norman provided priceless access to the orchid sites of eastern Oklahoma. Forrest Johnson, of the Oklahoma Biological Survey, was my partner in the botanical exploration and documentation of The Nature Conservancy ’s Pontotoc Ridge Preserve. How to Use This Book 3 xi When I started compiling the photographs for this book, I was simultaneously working with the Oklahoma Native Plant Society, the University of Oklahoma’s Bebb Herbarium , The Nature Conservancy’s Oklahoma chapter, the Oklahoma State Fair as judge of the 4-H wildflower exhibits , and the Flora of Oklahoma project. There was an obvious need for a place for people interested in wildflowers but not able to study them scientifically to go for immediate help. So, this book is organized in a way that will allow a child of ten or a gardener of a certain age or a traveler passing through to identify at a glance the plant before her. Most of the selections are of wildflowers that are accessible along roadsides and in parks throughout the state. A few are rare and hard to find, but it is worth a considerable effort to find them. Using the Color Index will help you find out whether the plant you see is the one you want to know about. The index is divided into four color groups: white, cream, green, brown, straw; red, orange, yellow; pink, orchid, purple, rose, magenta, rosepink ; and blue, violet, blue-violet, lavender. For example, the bloom of great bulrush is first green; the pollinated flower turns brown. Thus in the index, great bulrush is under the category white, cream, green, brown, straw, listed as green 3 xii and brown; hoary vervain, with its deep blue or purple flowers , is under the categories blue, violet, blue-violet, lavender and pink, orchid, purple, rose, magenta, rose-pink. Each described species has two or more photographs, one showing the entire plant growing in its natural habitat and another, a close-up view, showing the plant in bloom. Where I could not avoid using technical terms, a definition is included in the text (or the Glossary). For more help in finding a name for the plant you have blooming before you, the map shows the diversity of Oklahoma habitats, roughly divided north-south by I-40 and east-west by I-35, as well as the Cross Timbers, an area originally dominated by post oaks and blackjack oaks, that separates the more heavily forested eastern United States from the almost treeless Great Plains. Each area has its own, if relatively small, mountains. The northeast has the Ozarks, shading to the Great Plains toward the west. The southeast starts with the Ouachitas and terminates with the Red River floodplain. Southwest, there are the Arbuckles and the Wichitas, with the canyons of the branches of the Red River beyond. And even the northwest is not a flat prairie; following the various forks of the Canadian, Cimarron, and Arkansas Rivers are sand dunes and the strange, low Glass Mountains. The Panhandle, way out west, is a shortgrass prairie habitat of its own, terminating in the beginning of Rocky Mountain flora at Black Mesa. Comprehending families and their relationships is essential to comprehending the overall organization of a flora. Thus I have included not just representative wildflowers but a representative range of families to introduce the structure of Oklahoma’s plant communities. The book begins with descriptions of all the families included, followed by the wildflower species themselves, presented...


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