Virginia Botanical Associates

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Virginia Botanical Associates (VBA) was formed by Dr. Alton M. Harvill, Jr. (1916-2009), in the mid-1970’s to gather individuals with similar interests in Virginia’s flora. It grew gradually as individuals who demonstrated this interest through their field collections were invited to “join the flock”. Not until 1989 was the organization incorporated as a nonprofit entity with the mission of furthering knowledge of the state’s flora. In 2007, VBA was expanded to include herbarium curators or staff from several major institutions as our needs had come to include much more specimen-related work. Present membership includes John F. Townsend (DCR, President), Dr. Martha Case (WILLI), Beth Chambers (WILLI), Dr. Nancy Cowden (LYN), Gary P. Fleming (DCR, past president), Erika Gonzalez (FARM), Dr. W. John Hayden (URV), J. Christopher Ludwig (DCR), Rod Simmons (City of Alexandria), Dr. Andrea Weeks (GMUF), Thomas F. Wieboldt (VPI, Vice-President), and Robert A.S. Wright (Treasurer). Dr. Donna Ware recently retired after serving as president, liaison with the Flora of Virginia Project, and general all-round encourager. Other past members are Dr. Ted Bradley (GMUF), Dr. Rebecca Bray (ODU), Douglas W. Ogle (VHCC), Dr. Greg Plunkett (VCU), Dr. Gwynn W. Ramsey (LYN), and Charles E. Stevens. A biography of and tribute to Atlas founder Alton M. Harvill Jr., published by Robert A.S. Wright in Banisteria 38 (2012), is provided in the “Earlier Editions” section.

VBA administers the Barbara J. Harvill Fund for Botanical Research established to provide research grants to individuals for advancing knowledge of the phytogeography of Virginia. Dr. Harvill’s dedication to this effort resulted in three editions of Atlas of the Virginia Flora (1977-1981, 1986, and 1992), published largely at his own expense or with the help of generous private donors. Up to that point, the organization had been composed primarily of individuals who had collected significant numbers of specimens to document Virginia’s flora, or who had otherwise contributed significantly to this effort. Following Dr. Harvill’s retirement in 2000, remaining members focused for several years on updating the last hardcopy edition of the atlas with new distributional records, bringing the compilation closer to current trends in classification and nomenclature, and developing a more flexible way of making Virginia’s phytogeographic data available to others. During the period 2002-2005, all county distributional records for Virginia plants were entered into a database that could be readily updated and linked to a digital, web-based version of the atlas. The Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora went online in February 2005.

In 2006, VBA signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Flora of Virginia Project to provide the best possible distributional information available for the future Flora manual. As part of the collaboration, the Flora Project provided the Digital Atlas with photographs of selected species. From 2009 through 2012, personnel from both initiatives collaborated on the development of Virginia-specific descriptions of habitat, regional distribution, and relative abundance for all Virginia plants. These data, published in the Flora of Virginia in late 2012, have now been added to the Digital Atlas.

VBA remains committed to refining the phytogeographic information on the vascular plants of Virginia and being an up-to-date resource for all those interested in its flora. Click on About the Digital Atlas for further details.

References:

Harvill, A.M., Jr., Charles E. Stevens, & Donna M.E. Ware. 1977. Atlas of the Virginia Flora, Part I, Pteridophytes through Monocotyledons. Virginia Botanical Associates, Farmville. 59 pp.

Harvill, A.M., Jr., Ted R. Bradley, Charles E. Stevens. 1981. Atlas of the Virginia Flora, Part II, Dicotyledons. Virginia Botanical Associates, Farmville. p. 61-148.

Harvill, A.M., Jr., Ted R. Bradley, Charles E. Stevens, Thomas F. Wieboldt, Donna M.E. Ware, & Douglas W. Ogle. 1986. Atlas of the Virginia Flora, Second Edition. Virginia Botanical Associates, Farmville. 135 pp.

Harvill, A.M., Jr., Ted R. Bradley, Charles E. Stevens, Thomas F. Wieboldt, Donna M.E. Ware, Douglas W. Ogle, Gwynn W. Ramsey, & Gary P. Fleming. 1992. Atlas of the Virginia Flora III. Virginia Botanical Associates, Burkeville. 144 pp.