Abstract

The majority of botanical biodiversity in temperate forest ecosystems, including Appalachian forests, is found in the herbaceous layer. Farming and clearcutting have been shown to have long-lasting impacts on the biodiversity of the herbaceous layer. This vegetation is a useful indicator of both anthropogenic and natural forest disturbance due to its slow reproductive rates and the environmental sensitivity of many herbs. Ethnobotany provides insight into the ways in which past and present populations value native plants and can inform future management practices and conservation efforts. Botanical research was conducted at Christmount Christian Assembly (CCA) in Black Mountain, North Carolina, to provide insight into the species composition and biodiversity of the extant herbaceous layer. In addition, archival research revealed previous land use history at CCA. Botanical field sampling was conducted in the vicinity of an abandoned mid-nineteenth-century homestead, located in a rich cove forest. The most abundant herbaceous plants documented were wood nettle (Laportea canadensis), violet (Viola spp.), and sedum (Sedum ternatum), all typical of rich cove forests. Five herbaceous species found at CCA were selected for representation in an illustrated interpretive guide created for CCA visitors. This mixed methods approach combining artistic representation, scientific data, land use history, and ethnobotany has implications for widespread use in the fields of environmental science communication, education, and conservation.

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