When Greek scholar turned cattle rancher Claude A. Barr died in 1982, he left behind a lifetime of discoveries and observations about South Dakota flora. He was "a self-taught wizard of Great Plains native plants," says Cindy Reed, a South Dakota native and protege of Barr's. To preserve Barr's legacy, Reed founded the Great Plains Native Plant Society in 1984.


Public awareness about native plants is needed because invasive species and modern ranching and farming practices are pushing out native plants, says Reed.


As part of its outreach efforts, the Society hosts wildflower field trips, holds an annual seed exchange in which members share Great Plains seeds with plant enthusiasts around the world, and publishes a quarterly newsletter.


The Society is also developing the Great Plains Botanic Garden on 350 acres outside of Hermosa, S.D., in honor of Barr, whose own botanic garden attracted researchers from around the world. Eventually the garden will have pathways for self-guided tours, trails for longer walks, and a visitors' center. It will also offer educational programs, and provide opportunities for scientific research. The main attraction, though, will be plants from every corner of the Great Plains, including the pasqueflowers, the golden pincushion cactus and, of course, the Claude Barr penstemon.


For more information, contact Cindy Reed at 605/745-3397 or cascade@gwtc.net.