The Missouri Native Plant Society
study of this botanical heritage that we are fortunate enough to have around us. Jack Harris became acquainted with the group through his wife, Pat, who is the editor of MONPS' newsletter, The Petal Pusher.
Some of Jack and Pat's favorite MONPS trips have been to Helton Prairie Natural Area in Harrison County, where the group enjoyed a twilight plant slideshow on the prairie and observed nocturnal pollinators. They also enjoyed Sunklands Natural Area in Shannon County, one of the state's richest botanical areas with floral rarities like floating mats of plants growing in sinkhole ponds.
"On every trip there are new plants to discover," says Jack, "especially for newcomers like me."
Missouri has about 2,382 native plant species, varieties and subspecies. A "native" plant is one that has adapted to our various landscapes of the state over time. Well-known natives include pale purple coneflower and white oak.
Many native plants are considered "generalists," meaning they can grow in a variety of habitats and occur throughout the state, Trumpet creeper is a good example of a generalist.
"Conservative" plants grow only under certain conditions and only in specific, undisturbed natural communities. Examples include Missouri evening primrose on limestone glades, and smooth white violet in moist sandstone areas along small wooded, spring-fed streams.
"You can appreciate the landscape more fully when you recognize its individual elements," said Tim Smith, botanist for the Missouri Department of Conservation and MONPS member. "Many people join MONPS because they want someone to show them plants in the field rather than trying to learn about them from a book. Being able to recognize plants in the field is like being in a room full of friends instead of a room full of strangers."
In addition to organizing field trips, MONPS makes substantial contributions to the knowledge and protection of Missouri's plants. The society publishes "Missouriensis," a scientific journal of plant discoveries in Missouri, as well as its bi-monthly newsletter, "The Petal Pusher." The group also sponsors native plant sales to help Missourians incorporate native plants into their home landscaping. The MONPS website maintains fact sheets on native plant nurseries, native tree and shrub sources for landscaping, a calendar of events and other information.
MONPS members conducted plant inventories to help the recent revision of Julian Steyermark's Flora of Missouri. They also contributed plant specimens to herbaria around the state, produced plant lists for state parks and other areas to help with public land management,