Annual Native Plant Conference coming up on campus July 17-20

Western Carolina University will host its 36th annual Cullowhee Native Plant Conference beginning Wednesday, July 17, and continuing through Saturday, July 20, on the campus in Cullowhee.

The event is designed to increase interest in and knowledge of propagating and preserving native Southeastern plant species in the landscape. “The conference features small group field trips, hands-on workshops and plenary and concurrent sessions,” said Bobby Hensley, WCU’s associate director of continuing education. “There is something for everyone interested in native plants to enjoy.”

Participants typically include landscape architects, commercial nursery operators, garden club members, botanists and horticulturalists in addition to representatives from universities, native plant societies, botanical gardens and arboretums. Both professionals and nonprofessionals will gain valuable knowledge from the informative field trips, lectures and workshops, Hensley said.

Optional July 17 field trips include excursions to Black Balsam Knob, Whiteside Mountain, Southern Highlands Reserve, Panthertown Valley, Highlands Botanical Garden, Sam’s Knob Valley, Cullowhee Falls, Buck Creek Perpentine Barrens and Clingman’s Dome.

A special panel set for Thursday, July 18, will focus on land trusts, with a diverse mix of land trust professionals shining a light on the current status of that aspect of conservation. Discussions will center on the various ways properties are protected by different types of land trusts, the role of a trust in conservation, public vs. private properties, landowner benefits, how participants can get involved and other topics. Panelists will include Chris Miller, Lisa Lord, Gary Wein, Meredith Clebsch and Stephen Greenburg.

Several speaker sessions will be offered during the conference, including a talk on the “Botanical Adventures of Charles Darwin” by Jim Costa, executive director of the Highlands Biological Station and professor of biology at WCU.

The registration fee for the conference is $140 until July 1. Housing and meal packages are available on campus for an additional fee.

For more information and to register, visit nativeplants.wcu.edu or call 828-227-7397.