The Georgia Botanical Society initiated the Park Partnerships program in late 2006. The program involves the partnership between the GBS and a State Park or Historic Site, with the goal of helping the park/historic site learn about and protect their native flora. Partnership activities can include inventorying the park to create a comprehensive plant list; stewardship of protected plant species; a report on the invasive exotic plant species that pose a threat to the park; a vegetation community map; a map of protected or interesting species; a PowerPoint presentation with photographs and brief descriptions of interesting and common plants; and leading wildflower walks for the public.
Pickett’s Mill Battlefield State Historic Site
The Botanical Society began partnering with Pickett’s Mill Battlefield State Historic Site, which is managed by Chuck Winchester and located northwest of Atlanta, near Dallas, in Paulding County. The effort began in November of 2006, and is the society’s first Park Partnership. It has grown into an exciting effort that is linking together many groups with many restoration and protected plant interests, as well as providing comprehensive floristic information to the Site’s staff. Some of the many facets of this project include:
General Botanical Inventories
Four days of field inventorying have occurred between November 2006 and September 2007, yielding a plant list maintained by Tom Patrick (a DNR botanist who is also a Botanical Society member) of nearly 325 plant species. There are many different habitats in the historic site, leading to a diversity of native plants. Swathes of pink lady’s slippers (Cypripedium acaule) occur in dry oak woods, along with Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora), pipsissewa (Chimaphila maculata), and butterfly pea (Clitoria mariana). A steep, rocky north facing slope supports marginal shield fern (Dryopteris marginalis, unusual in the Piedmont), wood anemone (Anemome quinquefolia), alumroot (Heuchera americana), and eastern slender toothwort (Cardamine angustata). Low-lying mesic areas have a rich, diverse flora with an almost mountain-like feel in places, with black cohosh (Actaea racemosa), mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides), northern maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum), giant chickweed (Stellaria pubera), lemon balm (Collinsonia canadensis), fairy wand (Chamaelirium luteum) and much, much more. Former hay and corn fields that have been allowed to succeed to natural meadows are rich in composites, grasses and legumes, including black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), butterfly weed (Asclepium tuberosa), passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), Maryland goldenaster (Chrysopsis marilandica), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), pencil flower (Stylosanthes biflora), purple bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), and many, many others. These fields are getting particular attention from Botanical Society and DNR Natural Heritage Botanists because of their diversity.
Pickett’s Mill inventory days appear on the field trip list, and all Georgia Botanical Society members are welcome to join the plant inventories for an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Building a comprehensive list together builds great camaraderie. Some of the society’s best botanists are dedicated to this project and key out the plants while in the field, providing a wonderful learning experience for all.
Quantitative Meadow Inventories
In addition to listing all species found in the park, Elaine Nash, a Georgia Botanical Society botanist who specializes in meadow species, is working with DNR botanist Lisa Kruse and the Pickett’s Mill Staff to lay out survey plots that will enable them to better understand species composition and methods for obtaining seeds that will yield a high diversity of seeds without harming protected plants.
Acting on an observation made by a park visitor, Steven Redmond and Chuck Winchester found and photographed the Three Birds Orchid (Triphora trianthophora), which was later identified as such by BotSoccer Rich Reaves. This is the first time the orchid has been found in the Piedmont. When the orchids bloomed in August 2007, Steven and several BotSoccers, including Scott Ranger, Jim Drake, Tom Patrick and Mike Christison, located, photographed, and surveyed several different clusters of the orchid.
Georgia Aster Stewardship
The staff of Pickett’s Mill State Historic Site are proud to have the state protected Georgia Aster (Symphyotrichum georgianum) on the site’s grounds. Two members of the Botanical Society, Mike Christison and Maureen Donohue, have become stewards of the Georgia Aster, to help the historic site staff and DNR protect and manage this species. Steven Redmond, Elaine Nash, Lisa Kruse and Tom Patrick are aiding these efforts. Stewardship includes counting the aster populations, searching for new populations on the site, working to determine seed viability and propagation of the aster, and working with the park and other state entities in recommending management strategies for the aster. BotSoccers will also continue to work with the Historic Site to create a Georgia Aster display garden near the Visitors Center.
Invasive Exotic Species Assessment
Fortunately, exotic invasive species have not been identified as a major threat in most areas of the park. Nepal grass (Microstegium vimineum) is a problem on the former terraces, and Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) occurs in the fields. Management strategies will be considered as the assessment continues.
Workshops and Field Trips for the Public and the Botanical Society
The Botanical Society plans to lead public walks and workshops on the flora of Pickett’s Mill. Elaine Nash will lead the first such walk, on meadow wildflowers, this fall, while the composites are still in bloom.