Science in the Park: Plants

The plants that grow in the James River Park System present year-round opportunities for you to observe and study.

The Park’s diverse terrestrial and aquatic habitats host a variety of plants – from towering sycamore trees and small woodland orchids to the world’s smallest flowering plant.

Keep your eyes peeled and cameras ready as you explore different habitats in search of these fascinating species.

Ancarrows Wildflower Digital Archive

Presented by VCU Libraries in conjunction with the VCU Rice Rivers Center and Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

Watch Ancarrow's film, The Raging James

Newton Ancarrow (1920-1991) was a boat builder who located his business on the south bank of the James River in Richmond in 1962. In 1965, he opened a large boat ramp for his business and public use, and quickly discovered the river’s poor water quality. Ancarrow was enraged when oily, polluted water and sewage coated his ramp and the bottom of his boats after a heavy rain. He began a crusade to force city, state, and federal authorities to clean up the James, the legacy of which still resonates with us today. Ancarrow’s Landing is his original boat dock in the James River Park System and was named in his honor.

As Ancarrow prowled the banks of the James looking for raw sewage outlets, he discovered wild flowers and began learning photography and botany. He knew he could persuade people to his conservation cause with beautiful images of flowers. He photographed all parts of the plants, and photographed them in all seasons. Ancarrow was a popular speaker on the topics of restoration and conservation of the James River. He developed Flower Show #2, with over 300 images, lengthy narrative to describe each flower, and a sound recording of his talk. The digital archive is a presentation of Flower Show #2, along with other content from the Ancarrow archive.

Plants of the Rock Pools

Plants that thrive in and around rock pools are uniquely adapted for their unusual and challenging setting. Explore these fascinating specimens with our Plants of the Rock Pools guide.

Lots more to see. The plants and animals that live in and visit the James River Park System present year-round opportunities for your observation and study. A wide variety of terrestrial and aquatic habitats are woven throughout the park, and it still delivers surprises – such as Richmond City’s first documentation of a vernal pool crustacean, and sightings of an ancient species of fish, thought to be long-extirpated from the James River!

Keep your eyes open and cameras ready as you roam the park in search of its flora and fauna.

Report an Issue Form

To report an emergency please call 911 immediately. Please use this form to report an issue in the Park such as maintenance or trail issues. Thank you.

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