Historical Field Botany: A 100-year retrospective assessment of Emma Cole’s Grand Rapids Flora (1901)
Over 100 years ago an outstanding botanist named Emma J. Cole published Grand Rapids Flora: A Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Ferns Growing Without Cultivation in the Vicinity of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Cole 1901). Since those “horse and buggy” days enormous changes have taken place within and around Grand Rapids that have impacted the botanical richness of our region. Yet, Cole’s book remains the most recent comprehensive botanical inventory of Greater Grand Rapids. The primary goals of this research project are to identify and gain access to as many of the specific locations described by Cole as possible, evaluating their present-day status compared with her descriptions from 1901. In some cases, whole natural areas have been lost, whereas in some cases remnant vegetation has persisted.
The project will involve collecting and identifying the plants of these areas, with specimens deposited in the Calvin College Herbarium to document the study. Certain sites deemed as potentially high quality will receive more concentrated investigation. Students involved in this project will also help to determine the current status of the 34 species listed by Cole that are presently considered rare and endangered in the state of Michigan. These students will work closely with Drs. Garrett Crow and David Warners, and will collaborate with the lead botanist of the Michigan Natural Features Inventory with respect to rare plants. The work from this project will eventually contribute to an updated manuscript, Flora of the Grand Rapids Area.
Dr. Garrett Crow, adjunct faculty in Calvin's Biology Department and Emeritus Professor of Biology at the University of New Hampshire will be the primary investigator of this project. I will be involved as well, but in more of an consulting-type role. We will also be assisted in this project by Brad Slaughter, field botanist with the Michigan Natural Features Inventory.
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