What is a Botany Blitz?
A Botany Blitz is a plant-focused community celebration of biodiversity. Sometimes these events are called BioBlitzes and may also focus on insects, fungi, salamanders, and the like, but this year’s event is focused on springtime wildflowers and other newly emerging plants. Using the iNaturalist app, citizen scientists from across the state of Kentucky can record observations about the natural world around them. This family friendly exercise helps teach plant identification, appreciation for nature, and awareness of the intricacies of the early spring forest ecosystem. This is also a great way to learn and acknowledge the many years of work OPC’s volunteers and Team for Healthy Parks have spent rehabilitating the woodlands in our parks – transforming the landscapes from harmful monocultures of bush honeysuckle to much greater tree variety, ephemeral wildflower populations, and better animal habitat. We are partnering with the Kentucky Native Plant Society to appreciate this amazing time of year in the woods!
Why Biodiversity Matters
Generally the more biodiverse an area is, the healthier that ecosystem is. As different organisms co-evolve over vast periods of time, amazing things can happen. Lots of symbiotic relationships form with host plants and pollinating insects. Biodiversity boosts the productivity of an ecosystem. Think stormwater management, leaves decomposing into soil, or canopy trees cooling the summer temps. Even the smallest species can have an important role to play. Increased species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms. Today, many urban forests like the ones in our Olmsted Parks are under many pressures (think invasive plants, climate change, human development), and recognizing these imperiled plant communities and habitats is a critical first step in protecting them. Plus, it’s a lot of fun!
How do I use iNaturalist?
- Download the iNaturalist App (both iPhone and Android)
- Create/Sign In to your account.
- Click “More” (three dots)
- Click “Projects”
- Search “KNPS Wildflower Week 2021 BotanyBlitz”
- Join the KNPS group
Where should I look for plants?
Any natural areas within the state of Kentucky, but we are partial to our Olmsted Parks with large forested acreage – Cherokee, Iroquois, Shawnee, Chickasaw and Seneca. Please stay on the trails so as not to disturb fragile plant communities or to accidentally spread invasive plant seed. Be sure to stay aware of runners and bikers.
What are some Dos and Don’ts?
- Do charge your cellphone and download the iNaturalist app in advance.
- Do bring a friend or family member.
- Do walk very gently to protect fragile plant communities and ecosystems.
- Don’t harvest or harm native plants and animals.
- Don’t create rogue trails, stomp heavily through woodlands or spread invasive seeds in your boot treads.
- Don’t be intimidated if you don’t know many plants yet – that’s what the app is for!
For more information, visit Kentucky Native Plant Society.