Valley Water Mill Plant Catalog
The Origins of the Valley Water Mill Plant Cataloging Project
by Linda S. Ellis
Springfield Plateau Master Naturalist
In the fall of 2011, I took the training classes provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation and became a member of the Master Naturalist volunteer force. Every trainee is asked to undertake a Capstone project to aid conservation causes in our area and I chose to create a plant catalog for the 70-acre park.
The cataloging team began in the fall of 2011 and walked the trails once a month between the end of March and first frost. I had created a basic plant list for a “Together Green” event at Valley Water Mill a number of years ago so we started with that and began to add to it. By October, 2016, the team has visited the park on 17 occassions and to date have cataloged 399 species of herbaceous forbs, shrubs, woody vines and trees.
Many people have been involved in this effort in the Plateau chapter. The Watershed Committee would like to thank the following Master Naturalists for participating:
Kathryn Boone, Linda Bower, Mark Bower, Christine Chiu, Stephanie Davidson, Linda Ellis, Carl Haworth, Jesse Haworth, Sue Helm, Sharon Hughes, Shelly Jones, David Ketchum, Barb Kipfer, Bob Kipfer, Debbie Lewis, Mary McCarthy, Marilyn Owen, Bob Ranney, Alane Roy, Marlyss Simmons, & Patricia Tursi
Our efforts were encouraged by Rob Hunt, former Watershed Center Coordinator and Mike Kromrey, Director of the Watershed committee.
A special thanks to Dr. Michelle Bowe, professor of botany at Missouri State University for her contributions to plant identification and to her student, Dr. Jeremy Keene. Thanks, also, to Dr. Ioana Popescu, plant biologist at Drury college, for bio-blitz contributions.
To identify and learn more about non-native species and control methods, visit the Missouri Department of Conservation website:
Native Plant Recommendations for Missouri Gardeners
Here is a list of 12 native plant species that are recommended for home gardeners in southwest Missouri. The list is arranged by blooming dates so something will be coming into flower each month if you plant them all. Native plants have evolved here and are accustomed to our seasons. They are usually drought tolerant, don’t need pampering, and are nectar sources for butterflies and hummingbirds. By Linda S. Ellis, Springfield Plateau Master Naturalist.
Milkweeds (Asclepias tuberosa)
Blooming Dates: June-July
Milkweed is the plant that monarch butterflies depend on for a larval food source. The orange variety, called “butterfly” milweed or the purple variety (Asclepias purpurescens) are probably the showiest for the garden and a necessity for attracting these endangered pollinators.
Asters (Symphyotricum novae-anglia)
Blooming Dates: September-October
There are more than 30 species of asters in the Ozarks and can be either purple or white. Asters are one of the last plants to supply nectar to migrating butterflies and is occasionally used by painted lady butterflies as a larval food plant. The New England aster likes wetter soil so it is good in water feature plantings, such as rain gardens. This aster can reach several feet in height so it is good to provide support when it is in full bloom.
Oblong-Leafed Aster (Symphyotricum oblongifolium)
Blooming Dates: October to frost
Oblong-leafed aster is a short, bushy plant that is very drought tolerant and thrives in rocky soil. The short nature of the plant makes it a good choice for naturalizing as it will self seed without becoming invasive.