February 24, 2014 | By: Carol Lea Spence

What is a wildflower? A wildflower is food for wildlife. A wildflower can be important medicinally or ecologically. And at this time of year, when winter has stretched herself to an inexorable extent, an early wildflower is the promise of spring and better days ahead.

For those hungering for spring, University of Kentucky Forestry Extension in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment will host a wildflower webinar at 7 p.m. EDT March 13. Participants can attend the webinar at one of 11 county extension offices hosting the event or they may participate from home via the Internet.

UK Forestry Professor Tom Barnes, co-author with S. Wilson Francis of the book Wildflowers and Ferns of Kentucky, will lead the seminar. He will touch on topics that include the timing of blooming periods and the ecology behind their short-lived blooms, locales, soil types, slopes and other aspects. He will discuss plant families, information that can help in identification.

“Wildflowers are declining because of climate change, habitat destruction, and more importantly, invasive plant species, and that’s troubling. Our native wildflowers are more than just a pretty face,” Barnes said. “The white prairie lady slipper grows in hot, dry spots in Kentucky, and in northern environments, it is a wet prairie species. Its adaptability perhaps holds the key to successful continuation of species as a result of global climate change. Some wildflowers also serve important ecological roles, such as cattails, which gather pollutants from water or soil, or the Virginia spiderwort that indicates the amount of air pollution by the color of its flowers.”

County extension offices that are currently scheduled to host the event include Boyd, Boyle, Breathitt, Carter, Elliott, Hardin, Henry, Nelson, Ohio, Trimble and Woodford. For the latest list of host county extension offices, go to http://www2.ca.uky.edu/forestryextension/webinars.php, or call your local extension office to see if they are hosting, for more information or to make reservations. The webinar is free. No reservation is necessary to participate in the webinar from a personal computer; simply log in to http://connect.uky.edu/kentuckywildflowers/shortly before 7 p.m. March 13.


Tom Barnes, 859-257-8633

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