New Book Explores Rare Wildflowers

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Last year, 273 plant species in Kentucky were considered endangered or threatened, and an additional 57 were listed under special concern.


Rare Wildflowers of Kentucky, coauthored by University of Kentucky Professor Thomas G. Barnes, PhD, has captured nearly all of the state’s flowers in peril, and it would make a terrific gift for your favorite organic gardener, botanist or horticultural professional.

Dr. Barnes and his coauthors recognize these wildflowers are part of the state’s natural heritage, and they’re using the new book to spread awareness and promote environmental preservation. Rare Wildflowers also offers readers a chance to view many of the disappearing flowers, which are seldom seen by the average person.

Dr. Barnes, a naturalist, award-winning photographer and wildlife specialist with the UK Department of Forestry, shot 220 full-color images for the book, many of which were captured in his personal garden.

“One of the ways that I accomplished some of the photography was to grow some of these rare plants in my garden,” he says. “I think that’s one thing that the average person can do. There are a number of good native-plant nurseries where you can buy native plants that aren’t any more difficult to grow than other plants.”

But the book is more than a collection of photos. Plants are organized by habitat, and each picture is accompanied by a detailed description of the flower’s species, ecological community and specific threats. The authors hope to entertain, inform and educate readers, providing concrete steps for conservation and preservation. Also included are references to the plants’ scientific species names and endangered status.

“Ecological repercussions can be pretty incredible and not really all that understood,” Dr. Barnes says. “But the reality is that every time we lose a species, a link in the cog of life is gone or a link on a spider web, and we cannot accurately predict when the web will collapse.”

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