Monday, February 6, 2017

Episode 354 (2-6-17): Virginia’s Plants in History, Music, and Water

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:13)

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, photos, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 2-3-17.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of February 6, 2017.  This week’s episode is an updated re-do of a show from January 2013.


This week, we drop in on a Virginia community supper where, on a cold winter evening, instrumental music honoring the natural vegetation of colonial Virginia had supper-goers calling out the names of native Virginia plants!   Sound unbelievable?  Well, just have a listen for about 50 seconds.

MUSIC and VOICES - ~ 51 sec
You’ve been listening to part of “Fair Meadows and Goodly Tall Trees,” performed by Timothy Seaman and Ardie Boggs on the 2006 CD, “Jamestown: On the Edge of a Vast Continent,” from Pine Wind Music.   The title comes from a description of Virginia’s coastal landscape by an English colonist in 1607.  Along with the music were the names of 13 plants found in water or wetlands in today’s Virginia.  Those plants are a small sample of the hundreds of aquatic and wetland plants—and the over 3000 total plants—growing wild in the Commonwealth.

While Virginia’s well known for its human history, the state also has a rich natural history, due in large part to its colorful, diverse, and complex plant life.   That remarkable natural resource is documented in the 1600-page Flora of Virginia. Published in late 2012, the Flora is the first comprehensive listing and description of Virginia’s plants since 1762.  In 2017, plant lovers and students will have two more learning opportunities: a Flora of Virginia Mobile App* is under development, and the Library of Virginia’s “Flora of Virginia” exhibition is being shown in eight Commonwealth localities between January and December.

[*11/7/17 note: In September 2017, the Flora Mobile App was released.  It can be ordered through the Flora Web site,]

Thanks to Blacksburg friends for lending their voices to this episode.  Thanks also to Timothy Seaman for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with a few more seconds of “Fair Meadows and Goodly Tall Trees.”

MUSIC - ~ 12 sec


For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“Fair Meadows and Goodly Tall Trees” and “Jamestown: On the Edge of a Vast Continent” are copyright 2006 by Timothy Seaman and Pine Wind Music, used with permission.

Plants mentioned in this episode (in the order mentioned), with scientific name in italics, are as follows:
Lizard’s-tail, Saururus cernuus;
Water Stargrass, Heteranthera dubia;
Sundew, Drosera (several species with this common name);
Wild Celery, Vallisneria americana;
Toad Rush, Juncus bufonius;
Spike Rush, Eleocharis (various species with this common name);
Water-willow, Justicia americana;
American Lotus, Nelumbo lutea;
Yellow Water Buttercup, Ranunculus flabellaris;
Sweetflag, Acorus calamus;
Sea Lavender, Limonium carolinianum;
Arrowhead, Sagittaria (several species with this common name);
Duckweed, Lemna (several species with this common name).

Thanks to Tom Wieboldt, retired associate curator of the herbarium in the Virginia Tech Department of Biological Sciences, for assistance with this episode in 2013.  Thanks to neighbors in Blacksburg, Virginia, for recording plant names on January 20 and 27, 2013.

This episode is an updated repeat of Episode 146, 1-28-13, which has been archived.

Above: Wild Celery near Dixon Landing on the James River (Nelson-Buckingham county line), July 11, 2009.
Above: Lizard’s-tail at Caledon State Park (King George County), June 30, 2009.
Water Stargrass on the Potomac River at Whites Ferry, near Leesburg (Loudoun County), August 14, 2008.


As of February 3, 2017, the following are the dates and locations scheduled in 2017 for the Library of Virginia’s “Flora of Virginia” traveling exhibition, according to the Flora of Virginia Web site at

Jan. 9–Feb. 18 - Russell County Public Library, Lebanon;
Feb. 20–April 1 - City of Chesapeake Central Library;
April 3–May 13 - Jamerson Memorial Library, Appomattox;
May 15–June 24 - City of Lexington Public Library;
June 24–Aug. 5 - Ettrick-Matoaca Library, South Chesterfield;
Aug. 7–Sept. 16 - Historic Christ Church, Weems (Lancaster County)
Sept. 18–Oct. 28 - Central Rappahannock Regional Library (Fredericksburg)
Oct. 30–Dec. 9 - Eastern Shore Public Library (Accomac).


Used in Audio

Flora of Virginia Project, “Flora Exhibit Itinerary,” online at  This link has information about the Library of Virginia’s traveling “Flora of Virginia” exhibition.

The Mariners Museum of Newport News, Va., “Colonial Period: Exploration of the Chesapeake Bay,” accessed online at  This is the source of information on the quote, “...fair meadows and goodly tall trees.”

Alan S. Weakley, J. Christopher Ludwig, and John F. Townsend, Flora of Virginia, Flora of Virginia Project, Inc., Richmond, Va. and the Botanical Research Institute of Texas Press, Fort Worth, Tex., 2012 (reprinted 2013).  More information is available online at This approximately 1600-page book is considered the “first manual of [Virginia’s] plants since 1762’s Flora Virginica,” according to the project’s Web site.   It includes descriptions, identification information, and 1,400 illustrations about more than 3000 vascular plants—that is, plants with specific tissues for transporting water and dissolved substances (vascular plants include ferns and fern allies, gymnosperms, and angiosperms).  Key partners in development of the book were the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Virginia Botanical Association, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, the Virginia Academy of Science, and the Virginia Native Plant Society.  For ordering information, please visit, or contact the Flora of Virginia Project at P.O. Box 512, Richmond, VA 23218-0512; phone (804) 371-5561; e-mail:

For More Information about Plants in Virginia

Mary Reid Barrow, Grow Wild Celery in your Home for the Bay, Virginian-Pilot, 1/16/13.

Peter W. Bergstrom et al., Underwater Grasses in Chesapeake Bay & Mid-Atlantic Coastal Waters: Guide to Identifying Submerged Aquatic Vegetation, University of Maryland Sea Grant Publications, College Park, Md., 2006, 76 pages; information available online at

Chesapeake Bay Program, “Bay Grasses,” online at

Virginia Native Plant Society, online at; this organization provides information about native species and natural plant habitats.   Located at 400 Blandy Farm Lane, Unit #2, Boyce, VA 22620; (540) 837-1600.

VTree, the Web site for the dendrology course by Dr. John Seiler in Virginia Tech’s Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, offers identification keys and fact sheets to trees and other woody plants throughout North America.  The site is online at; at this site are also links to download the VTree Mobile App.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above ( See the “Plants” subject category.

For other episodes on aquatic plants or wetlands in Virginia, please see the following:
Episode 169, 7/8/13 – on marshes and other wetlands;
Episode 269, 6/8/15 – on wetlands in the definition of “Waters of the United States” in the federal Clean Water Act;
Episode 186, 11/4/13 – on photosynthesis;
Episode 325, 7/18/16 – on Chesapeake Bay submerged aquatic vegetation (“Bay grasses”);
Episode 327, 8/1/16 – on wetlands generally.


The episode may help with Virginia 2013 Music SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

This episode may also help with the following Virginia 2010 Science SOLs:

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 - Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Life Processes Theme
4.4 – basic plant anatomy and processes.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
6.7 - natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; and water monitoring.

Life Science Course
LS.4 - organisms’ classification based on features.

Earth Science Course
ES.6 – renewable vs. non-renewable resources (including energy resources).

Biology Course
BIO.8 - dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2008 Social Studies SOLs:

Virginia Studies Course
VS.3 – first permanent English settlement in America.

World Geography Course
WG.2 - how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.7 - types and significance of natural, human, and capital resources.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2015 Social Studies SOLs, which become effective in the 2017-18 school year:

Virginia Studies Course
VS.3 – first permanent English settlement in America.
VS.9 – how national events affected Virginia and its citizens.

World Geography Course
WG.2 - how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.4 - types and significance of natural, human, and capital resources.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at