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Postings are excerpts from the exhibition catalog edited by Carol Woodin

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Louisiana Quillwort, Watercolor by Lee McCaffree, US

Isoetes louisianensis
Listing: Endangered, Federal Endangered Species Act

The Plant’s Story

Quillworts are considered to be descendents of very ancient plants. They are aquatic plants that reproduce by spores located at the base of the leaves. Louisiana quillwort’s habitat is sand and gravel bars along backwater stream banks in woodlands in a few sites in Louisiana and Mississippi. Threats to their survival are many, but they all result in altered stream quality and dynamics. Feral hogs, beaver dams, timber harvests, sand and gravel mining, off road vehicles, roads, and stream dredging and channeling are the culprits. The plant was federally listed as endangered in 1996.

The Artist’s Story: Lee McCaffree

I became a volunteer at Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens in Houston and worked with native plants. Meanwhile I had started to create a series of threatened and endangered plant paintings for an exhibit at the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK. I went to several sites in the wild to photograph and sketch. I painted at Mercer during the time they were establishing the Endangered Species Garden, which has become an important showplace for many endangered and threatened plants. Mercer is the primary custodian of this plant for the Center for Plant Conservation. Mercer’s conservation program cultivated 70 quillworts rescued by the Louisiana Natural Heritage Office in 2002. They have been successfully propagated and now number over 600. When the series was complete, my “Plants in Peril” paintings helped promote the Endangered Species Garden.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.