This study was initially conceived in 2008 by members of Roaring Gap Club who were fully aware of how global climate change and land use is altering our native flora. Their intentions were to promote a better understanding of plant biodiversity within this county and use information gathered through this baseline documentation for the preservation of our natural heritage.
These donors approached the author (who was more than willing to conduct this research) about the prospects of a county-wide inventory, and subsequently generated funds to support this project over a four year period (2008-2012). Concerted efforts to identify and physically document the flora began in 2008 and are still currently underway.
I was raised in Alleghany County, where as a child I would explore surrounding woodlands in admiration of nature. I have spent much of my life here and I gained a real appreciation for plants in general while working for Russell Shaw through my teenage years at Roaring Gap. Later, I had the privilege to work with a consummate botanist and mentor, Dr. Ralph Thompson, at Berea College, Berea, Kentucky. After finishing my B.A. degree, I returned to North Carolina to pursue a M.S. degree in Biology at Appalachian State University under the supervision of Dr. Zack Murrell. At Appalachian State I continued to study floristics, specifically, the vascular flora of Mount Jefferson State Natural Area in Ashe County, North Carolina. Since the completion of my M.S. degree, I have had the privilege to work with a broad community of botanists and other scientists that I consider not only colleagues, but friends. In this respect, I have been truly blessed.
(In the field with Giant Featherbells [Stenanthium gramineum var. robustum], Sparta Bog. Photo courtesy of Dr. Wendy Zomlefer [University of Georgia]).
Ironically, I’m not the first botanist to call Alleghany County my home. Dr. Patrick McMillan (Clemson University, http://www.clemson.edu/public/expeditions/) also spent a great deal of his early years exploring the natural areas of this small, rural mountain county. His contributions to understanding plant diversity in this county, along with a wealth of many others (including the late Dr. A.E. Radford) cannot be over emphasized.
I would like to express my gratitude to the many botanists that have accompanied me on field excursions in Alleghany County. These individuals include: Ralph Thompson (BEREA), Thomas Wieboldt (VPI), Alexander Krings (NCSC), Michael Denslow (BOON), John Nelson (USCH), Johnny Townsend (VA Natural Heritage Program), Zack Murrell (BOON), Ron Lance (Balsam Mountain Trust), and Wendy Zomlefer (GA). A very special thanks goes to James Padgett (NC Natural Heritage Program), who collaborated with me throughout the vast majority of this project, while concurrently working on an inventory of the significant natural areas of Alleghany County.
Derick B. Poindexter
Department of Biology
I.W. Carpenter, Jr.
572 Rivers St.
Boone, NC 28608