With spring and the return of lovely greenery, so returns the plant collecting season! Expert plant collector and Miller lab friend, Mary Merello, and I are on the road completing what I have termed "the southern loop." This phrase refers to the 10 day trek we will make to visit populations of Vitis rupestris, the rock grape, that grow in south central United States, in the absence of V. riparia. Our mission is to make representative collections of populations of V. rupestris and any co-occurring Vitis from the areas of Ouachita National Forest (Arkansas), natural areas near Del Rio (Texas), Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma), and Pole Cat Creek drainage (Oklahoma).
The first stop on our itinerary was Ouachita National Forest. Unfortunately, heavy rains prior to our visit flooded the normally dry creek beds that Vitis rupestris prefers to inhabit. Thankfully, though, we were able to find some V. rupestris and some of its relatives among the beautiful natural areas of this part of Arkansas.
Today we left Arkansas for the Lone Star State. First on our list (after some delicious bbq lunch) was a trip to the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT). There, we were amazed by a beautiful, ecologically friendly facility. Staff members treated us to a tour of the facility, allowed us access to their impressive collections, and provided us with valuable collection information and connections. After our fruitful visit, BRIT staff ethnobotanist/outreach specialist Karen C. Hall invited us to survey the impressive Vitis diversity surrounding her home.
Next we had further south, down to Del Rio in search of Texas rock grapes! And with any luck, we'll find some delicious Tex-Mex cuisine, too.
Miller Lab members