May 2nd through May 8th is National Wildflower Week, overseen by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Devoting a week to celebrating wildflowers “aims not only to highlight wildflowers’ beauty, but to encourage citizens to understand their value and take steps to protect them.” Each day this week we’ll be highlighting one of our fantastic titles that cover wildflowers.
First up is one of our new Southern Gateways Guides. Botanist Timothy P. Spira’s Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont: A Naturalist’s Guide to the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia is a field guide filled with 361 beautiful color photos (also taken by Spira). The guide is organized by the plants’ larger geographical community so the reader gets a better understanding of how they exist alongside one another in their natural environment. This excerpt elaborates on the idea of these natural communities:
An ecological community is an assemblage of plants, animals, and other organisms living together at the same place and time. Species aren’t isolated entities but interact with each other in intricate ways. Co-occurring plants compete with each other for light, water, nutrients, and space. Animals interact with plants by pollinating their flowers, dispersing their seeds, and grazing on their tissues. For many nature enthusiasts, the enjoyment of native plants isn’t just a celebration of their natural beauty, or the satisfaction that comes with learning their names, but also stems from an understanding of the complex interrelationships among species in their natural environments.
Communities provide the context within which species interact with each other and their physical environment. The structure and composition of natural
communities varies, largely due to changes in the physical environment. Regional landscapes often have a mosaic of communities present, reflecting differences in moisture availability, soil type, topography, and other factors. Because adjoining communities often grade into one another, it can be difficult to tell where one community ends and another begins.
To learn more, check out one of Spira’s many upcoming events in the area. Visit his author page for more details. And stay tuned for more wildflower fun all week long!
Excerpt from Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont. Copyright © 2011 by Timothy P. Spira.