Author Archives: Gary Fleming

Three new, potentially invasive exotics established in Virginia

Well-established populations of three new, introduced plants have been documented in Virginia during the 2013 field season.

Aldrovanda vesiculosa L. (waterwheel plant), a carnivorous aquatic in the Droseraceae, was found to be abundant in parts of an old, large impoundment at Fort A.P. Hill Military Reservation in Caroline County.  Evidently escaped from a nearby cultivated population, these plants represent one of only a few North American records for this Old World species.

Numerous individuals of Alnus glutinosa (L.) Gaertn. (black alder) were discovered in a small, weedy creek bottom adjacent to a golf course and old estate in Washington County.  Previous reports of single, escaped trees in Arlington and Fairfax counties did not seem substantial enough to consider this species “established” in the state.  This European alder is frequently used in wetland restoration plantings, and has been reported as invasive in seven states north of Virginia.

A low, sprawling, small-flowered Geranium found on a rich rocky embankment along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park (Page County) proved to be Geranium sibiricum L. (Siberian cranesbill).  The plant occurs for some distance along the Drive at this site and has obviously been undetected for some time.  This Eurasian species is well established in a number of state north and northwest of Virginia.

More information is available on the individual map pages for these species.

Study of Virginia Paper Birch underway

The appropriate level at which to treat members of the North American Paper Birch complex (Betula papyrifera sensu lato) continues to be a difficult and controversial question. In recent years, the isolated Virginia populations of this northern tree have been widely treated as Betula cordifolia (or Betula papyrifera var. cordifolia, depending on one’s taxonomic outlook). Yet the Flora of North American (Vol. 3) also maps Betula papyrifera (sensu stricto) in Virginia, and observations have suggested that our trees often have contradictory or mixed characters that make unequivocal placement difficult. A recent blog post by Devin Floyd (, describing a tree in Augusta County with characters that seem to fully match Betula papyrifera, drove home the need for a comprehensive reassessment of Virginia paper birch.

Consequently, the Virginia Natural Heritage Program, with assistance from Chip Morgan and the botany staff at Shenandoah National Park, has initiated a project to collect morphological data on Virginia paper birch through field visits of selected populations and a review of existing in-state herbarium material. These data will be analyzed in an attempt to determine the degree of variation among our populations, and how many taxa should be recognized. The project may take a while since the herbaria of Longwood University (FARM) and George Mason University (GMUF), both repositories for large numbers of paper birch specicmens, are both under renovation and inaccessible until later this year. Results will be posted when available.


Welcome to the New and Improved Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora

Although the site may look much the same, we have worked with RYP Marketing, Inc. to implement a number of changes and new features that will provide users with greater functionality and more complete data. First and foremost, the Habitat and Common Name fields have been populated for nearly all taxa. In addition, a new field, “Flora of Virginia Name/Status,” has been added to provide users with crosswalks to the treatments in the recently published Flora of Virginia manual. The “Comments” section has been fleshed out for many taxa, particularly those for which our taxonomic treatment varies from the Flora’s. Other new features and improvements include:

– improved Search function
– ability for users to generate a PDF checklist of the full Digital Atlas flora (see “Products” on right sidebar)
– annotated list of Excluded Taxa (viewable/downloadable PDF) – on main menu bar
– excerpts from earlier hard-copy editions (viewable/downloadable PDF) – on main menu bar
– a biography of Atlas founder Alton M. Harvill, Jr. (viewable/downloadable PDF) – on main menu bar
– updated information in all the “About” pages (on main menu bar)

Last but not least, we have added this News and Announcements section so that we can better share information about this site and botanical activity in Virginia.

Please read the new “About” documents for much more information about the current VBA organization, the Digital Atlas, and our relationship with the Flora of Virginia Project that has made possible and led to this site revision.

Update, 7-12-13: We are now pleased to offer the Digital Atlas maps in PDF format. For information about this document and how to order, please see the notice under “Products” on the right sidebar.