A few years ago I took to hunting for wildflowers along the Billy Goat B and Billy Goat C trails in C&O Canal NHP, along the Potomac River in Maryland. For awhile I just enjoyed the view, but then I started trying to identify the plants, which led to a few book purchases, which led to the creation of a spreadsheet. And then I started photographing the plants with an iPhone, which led to buying a real camera (Nikon D3200), which later led to a better camera (Nikon D750). And then my friends got tired of hearing me talk about it and told me to start a blog, so here it is.
Between February and October of 2013 I identified over 200 species, and found a few dozen more that I couldn’t quite figure out. In 2014 I identified 353 species. In 2015 I slacked off a bit and found fewer than 300, but I did find some new things, including one plant listed as S1 in Maryland. 2016 was more about photographing flowers than finding new ones.
In addition to the Potomac Gorge, I spend time on the Cabin John Trail, and occasionally other areas along the Potomac or in the Maryland Piedmont. And whenever I travel, I make at least a little time for botanizing.
When researching I start with the following books:
- Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide by Lawrence Newcomb (Little, Brown and Company)
- Wildflowers in the Field and Forest (A Field Guide to the Northeastern United States) by Steven Clemants and Carol Gracie (Oxford University Press)
- Peterson Field Guides Wildflowers (Northeastern/North-central North America) by Roger Tory Peterson and Margaret McKenny (Houghton Mifflin Company)
A few particularly useful websites:
- http://plants.usda.gov/java/ the USDA PLANTS Database for basic data on location and conservation status
- http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/ Dr. John Hilty’s excellent Illinois Wildflowers site for detailed but not overly technical descriptions of plants and their habitats
- https://gobotany.newenglandwild.org/ the New England Wildflower Society’s site for detailed, technical descriptions and good keys
- http://www.itis.gov/ the Integrated Taxonomy Information System for the latest in taxonomy
- http://bonap.org/ the Biota of North America Program for county-level location maps of species
- http://eol.org/info/search the Encyclopedia of Life website: “Information and pictures of all species known to science”
And, finally, a wonderful work-in-progress that I’m proud to play a small part in:
- http://www.marylandbiodiversity.com/ the Maryland Biodiversity Project, “a 501(c)3 non-profit organization focused on cataloging all the living things of Maryland”
I am not a botanist. If you believe I’ve misidentified a plant or made any mistake, please leave a (detailed) comment.