Finding wildflowers at two state parks made easier by work of alumna, professor

Dr. Cynthia Nunnally Wood ’68 finds, photographs, documents and maps wildflowers.

Dr. Cynthia Nunnally Wood ’68 finds, photographs, documents and maps wildflowers.

Visitors to two state parks can easily access detailed information on wildflowers—what is in bloom, when and where—thanks to a collaboration between two people with Longwood ties.

A database of about 500 wildflowers at Holliday Lake and Bear Creek Lake state parks and a map of the trails for each park were developed by Dr. Cynthia Nunnally Wood ’68, a former Longwood faculty member and administrator, and Dr. Walter Witschey, research professor of anthropology and geography. The project uses flora mapping, a technique for identifying the location and distribution of wildflowers.

The database, available on the project’s website, includes downloadable maps of the walking trails at both parks and related resources for wildflower enthusiasts. Visitors to the website can search by location or flower.

This gives you a starting point,” said Wood, a Master Gardener who writes columns on gardening for Virginia Gardener magazine and the Farmville Herald.

Thanks to the project, Bear Creek Lake publishes for its visitors a wildflower brochure with a map, as well as separate flyers specific to the seven “zones” within the park. They will be combined this year into one publication, which park ranger Tom Kneipp thinks will provide a “more user-friendly wildflower inventory.”

The project evolved from a Master Gardener project and subsequent volunteer work in which detailed information, including Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates, was recorded for each wildflower that Wood found and photographed at Bear Creek Lake, in Cumberland County, and Holliday Lake, mostly in Appomattox County. Witschey entered the GPS coordinates into the database.

“I needed Walter’s technical expertise to know what data to collect and how to store it so that he could use it,” said Wood, adding that the initial work on the project is complete. We’re now just updating and adding new plants and working more on the social media angle.”

A Facebook page has more than 350 likes, and there is also a blog.

“This enables park visitors to look for wildflowers in a manageable way,” said Witschey, who has expertise in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and taught an Introduction to GIS course at Longwood through fall 2014.

Wood, who lives in Crewe, taught international marketing in Longwood’s College of Business and Economics during the 1990s, became assistant to the CBE dean and eventually was assistant vice president for academic affairs. She is a now a consultant who specializes in international mergers and acquisitions.
Witschey was a full-time faculty member at Longwood until last semester, when he switched to part-time status as he “eases into retirement.”

By: Kent Booty