Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: Woodlands Conservancy

In April I was lucky enough to participate in another intensive plant identification workshop lead by renowned southern botanist Dr. Charles Allen. This workshop took place at Woodlands Trail, allowing us to gain insight into the diversity of vegetation present at our site.

Over the course of two days, Dr. Allen identified hundreds of trees, shrubs, vines, wildflowers, grasses and more.  He covered the best identification characteristics of the plants, whether they were native or introduced, and other interesting facts.  I was constantly in awe of his vast knowledge and expertise!

I had already attended a previous workshop with Dr. Allen in November which covered the prominent autumnal foliage.  This new workshop focused on the very different spring foliage.  In an ever-changing forest with new plants popping up every two weeks, I was glad to have an expert guide identify even a portion of the total vegetation present.

Overall, it was an amazing and informative weekend full of exciting discoveries and snacking on delicious mulberries.  Dr. Charles Allen also pointed out edible components of multiple plants, and I definitely tasted a few things I never thought I would have!

Below are a few photos of my favorite findings:

272_Passiflora incarnata PURPLE PASSION FLOWER VINE 8.JPG

Passiflora incarnata, Passionflower, Maypop-  These are my absolute favorite of the native Louisiana vines.  The flowers are incredibly showy, and they only stay in bloom for about a day!  Getting to see them before they go to fruit (the fruits is called a Maypop) was a real treat.

62_Magnolia grandiflora SOUTHERN MAGNOLIA 1.JPG

Magnolia grandiflora, Southern Magnolia-  This magnolia was tucked away at the back of the property and escaped detection for years.  Most of the fragrant blooms were high in the tree, but we managed to collect one for an herbarium specimen.

150_Commelina virginica DAYFLOWER 1.JPG

Commelina virginica, Dayflower-  While there are many non-native species of dayflower present at the trail, I was very excited to find this native dayflower.  According to Dr. Allen they rarely bloom, however we ran across multiple different specimens all showing their lovely purple flowers.


As always, I tended to get distracted from the foliage by all of the amazing insects!  I managed to capture this photo of a Great Blue Skimmer resting on a branch.  Their name is very misleading, as it is only the mature male dragonflies that are actually blue, females and juveniles are not!

I’d like to thank the Tulane Center for Public Service for covering the cost of the workshop.  I had forgotten how much fun it is to be a student!


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This entry was posted on May 24, 2017 by in VISTA Field Reports.



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