Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Highlights from Flora-Quest

After two weeks on the road, I have finally returned home to catch up on paper work and write a stack of thank-yous to some of the most interesting people on earth: our Flora-Quest guides.

Steve McKee answers a patrons questions, while guides Kevin Bradbury, Rich Gardner and Jenny Richards supervise the loading of vans, while dodging the morning mist.

What makes Flora-Quest?  The simple answer is: the guides.  We gather 20 or so of the most knowledgeable guides around to lead trips into the forest.  You don't have to worry about getting lost, or struggling to find the rarest of the flora.  Our guides do the driving and teach about forest ecology.  Most of our guides are well versed botanists, birders and lovers of reptiles and amphibians.  It is a dicey bunch, but we have come to love this gig and our time together each year!   

Greg Miller of The Big Year book and movie fame was our celebrity birding guide this year.  He helped friends Dave and Laurie find some awesome birds- like a "lifer" Kentucky Warbler.

Yellow Lady's-slipper, Cypripedium parviflorum
Wild Geranium and Devil's-bit, Chamaelirium luteum
But botany is king at this event.  Everyone wants to ogle the old favorites like Yellow Lady's-slipper and see something new, like the Devil's-bit.  This unusual flower was at peak bloom during our visit.

Carmen DeLeon, Mike Belt-Wang and Matt Herron 

 A new addition to our program was the "Flora-Quest Fellows."  It was wonderful to have scholar-ships provided by The Scioto Foundation. These students gave back as much as they got.  We hope they will return!  (Tim Fultz and Megan Bihun were also returning Flora Fellows.)

We love having vendors and authors on hand before and after our banquet.  It provides an opportunity to ask those important questions and discuss the plants we saw during the field trips.
Bob Henn signed and sold his book, Wildflowers of Ohio.

The rarest of the rare was in bloom this year!  Collinsonia verticillata, Early Stoneroot is an endangered plant in Ohio, with our only known population in the Turkey Lake area of Shawnee.  Guide Kevin Bradbury, a reformed Dobro player and past park manager for Shawnee State Park, knew right where to find it.  Many suggest a Teay's Valley influence for this plant; that might be a great program for a future Flora-Quest! 

Jason Larson advertises his services.
 Our Emcee for the event was Jason Larson. He struck just the right chord with the audience and put up my constant harassment.  Not only is Jason a fabulous botanist, he is one of Ohio's best birders and a ton of fun in the field!

Lot's of photos are in circulation on Facebook and there is a Flora-Quest page if you would like to post your photos.  I also suggest you check out the blogs from Andrew Gibson- Natural Treasures of Ohio, Heather Aubke -Heather of the Hills and Dave Lewis- Bird's From Behind.  We are thrilled they were with us at Flora-Quest in 2012 and hope to see them again in the future!


  1. Hi Cheryl,

    I've been reading this 95 year old wildflower book, that I just bought. It has all kinds of interesting information. A cute name given to the Lady's Slipper is Whip-poor-will Shoes. Have you ever heard them called that?
    Looks like everyone had a great time at Flora Quest. I'm going to make it down there one of these years.

    Diana D.

  2. Whip-poor-will Shoes is a new one on me! Sounds like an interesting book.

    We have a great time, hope you do join us! Cheryl

  3. We really had a great time and I would HIGHLY recommend it to all the birders out there!
    Just remember that botanists don't whisper...