Cemetery Botanizing | 1
Small skullcap, Scutellaria parvula
Possibly bare-bottom sunburst lichen, Xanthomendoza weberi
Carolina anemone, Anemone caroliniana
Common blue violet, Viola sororia
Southern bluet, Houstonia micrantha
I’m not sure why I haven’t though to do this before but I got the idea from several botanists and naturalists who do this on social media: they go to old cemeteries to look for plants! A lot of times the cemeteries are somewhat neglected or at least frequently mown short which in turn promotes the growth of species that like that type of attention. Sometimes they are rare plants that can’t be found many places due to habitat loss. I typically frequent a city park and a county park during my lunch hours a few times a month but I thought it would be nice to branch out a bit and hit up some of the cemeteries around me. I went to a larger cemetery in the middle of the city near my office a few weeks ago and it turned out to be pretty great—I’ll have to share those findings soon. But it didn’t take long for me to find some old family and church cemeteries off in neighborhoods that I could also easily access. I used a combo of Google Maps and Find a Grave to look up cemeteries and a couple were mentioned in the local history society’s write up and I had to dig around to find those. Also, yay for Google Streetview! It helps immensely to know what you are dealing with beforehand for access!
I went to my first off-the-beaten-path cemetery yesterday and while it didn’t have anything too exciting, I was happy to see the Carolina anemones. I had not found them down here before, though I have seen them in NE Texas. I’m thinking I’ll end up on a seasonal rotation or maybe early and late season rotation to see what may be blooming at different times of the year. Because I was using Find a Grave for information I also combined this trip in with a request by a member for a photo of a headstone but unfortunately I did not locate that person. As with many older cemeteries they can fall into disuse and there were more unmarked graves or headstones sinking than I expected. I have had people take photos of headstones for me before so I thought I would pay it back, but sadly that didn’t work out. Something to keep in mind if you decide to go tromping around a cemetery—see if someone needs a photo and some genealogical help!
Always fun to explore and I find some interesting lichens, mushrooms, insects and even rare plants, as you mentioned. It surprises me to see so many plants that excel from the constant mowing.
I look forward to more cemetery photos here.
Patrice La Vigne
Walking through cemeteries during my travels is a favorite pasttime!
I’ve been visiting cemeteries for years. Some are a little too tidy, especially family cemeteries with perpetual care, but there are a lot out there to explore. There are some civic cemeteries that specialize in spring wildflowers, too — like Rockport. I was late last year, but there still were some beauties there. My sense of things is that if there’s a sign along that road that says something like “Williamsport Cemetery, 2 miles), it’s not going to be as rich in plant life as the ones that just have the green state sign that says “Cemetery.” And of course there’s always the Broadway cemeteries in Galveston!