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New Book Helps Wildflower Lovers Identify What They See In The Jemez

on April 4, 2016 - 2:48pm

Book cover. Courtesy photo

BOOK News:

If you have ever wondered about the name of a plant you see on one of the trails around Los Alamos, there’s a new way to help you find out.

Local naturalists Terry Foxx and Craig Martin have published a book, Plants of the Jemez Mountains Volume 1, that offers up drawings and color photos of the trees, shrubs, and vines found in the Los Alamos area and beyond.

“The book is a revision and expansion of the plant guide I did with Dorothy Hoard in 1984 and last revised in 1995,” Foxx explained.

Long out of print, the Foxx and Hoard guide was a popular and important book that taught many locals the identity of the wildflowers on the Pajarito Plateau. One of those locals was Craig Martin.

“Terry and Dorothy’s book was the best resource for my budding fascination with our local flora,” Martin said. “With Dorothy’s drawings and Terry’s words, I started to recognize our plants and to learn about the natural rhythms of a year on the plateau.”

A revision of the book was overdue, and Foxx and Hoard spent years creating new illustrations and taking photographs. Their plan was to create a full-color, electronic identification guide.

When Hoard suddenly became ill in 2014, she asked Foxx to make certain the book was completed. Hoard died in March of that year.

“I had worked with Craig on several projects and knew of his expanding knowledge of plants, and he graciously accepted the challenge to help me finish the book,” Foxx said.

Martin was just discovering the unique flora of not only the Los Alamos area but the entire mountain range. He casually suggested expanding the coverage of the book to include all the Jemez Mountains and surrounding lowlands.

“Terry agreed, but neither of us really understood where that decision would take us,” Martin said. “There are more than 1,200 species of plants around here.”

After almost two years assembling text, drawings, and photos, Foxx and Martin decided the content was too much for one book.

“We have three volumes planned and splitting it up made it possible to make it a print book instead of an ebook,” Martin said.

To assist readers in identifying a plant, the book devotes a full page to most species with a written description, drawings by Hoard and Foxx, and color photos showing not only flowers but leaves, bark, and fruit.

The first volume covers trees and shrubs, along with ferns and horsetails. Volumes 2 and 3 will feature more than 500 wildflowers found in the area. Foxx and Martin need another season to track down and photograph plants and expect the next books to be completed in late 2016.

Both authors agree it is a labor of love. For Martin, it is a journey of discovery.

“I’ve always identified a plant by what I call the “Gestalt” method,” Martin explained. “I get a feel for what it is by recognizing patterns of flower, leaf, and plant shape, noting the place where a plant grows. But under Dorothy’s mentoring and in working with Terry for two years, I’ve learned to observe all parts of a plant and have discovered the true beauty of plants lies in the small details.”

Plants of the Jemez Mountains Volume 1 was published by All Seasons Publishing. The cost is $25 and the book is available through the Pajarito Environmental Education Center at the Los Alamos Nature Center.

Sample page from 'Plants of the Jemez Mountains Volume 1.' Courtesy photo