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Ancarrow's List: Native Plants at the River's Edge


Inspired by Newton Ancarrow's compendium of wildflowers native to the James River, this exhibit features selected botanical illustrations from artists around the east coast.

The exhibit is free and open to all during normal library hours. Parking is available for a fee in the West Broad Street, West Main Street and West Cary Street parking decks. If special accommodations are needed, please contact the VCU Libraries Events Office at (804) 828-0593.

Download the Plants of the James River Project coloring book.

Opening Reception and Talk

An opening reception and talk will be held Nov. 10, 3–5 p.m., in the Cabell Library Lecture Hall (Room 303). The event is free and open to all.

About Ancarrow's List

Ancarrow's List is a compendium of native plants growing along the James River that were documented and photographed by Newton Ancarrow in the 1970s. Ancarrow, a Richmond native, owned a boat-building business on the James, at a place now called Ancarrow's Landing in the James River Park System. Pollution in the James River damaged his high-end wooden boats, so he went in search of the pollution sources. What he found appalled him. He began a new career of environmental activism and spurred the cleanup of the James River.

Along the way, Ancarrow noticed wildflowers. Teaching himself botany and photography, he took about 35,000 slides. These slides are archived at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and many were digitized by VCU Libraries. He used these slides in creating a "flower show" that he presented to garden clubs, wildlife federations and other environmental groups. This created awareness and motivation to protect these plants by protecting the river. Ancarrow's boat business was eventually lost to pollution and storms, but his legacy of a cleaner James River continues.

Explore VCU Libraries' digital collection that inspired the exhibit, the Ancarrow Wildflower Digital Archive.

About the Speakers at the Talk

Paula Blair, co-founder and treasurer of the Plants of the James River Project, is a former public school teacher from Richmond, Va. She received her certificate in botanical illustration from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has been a teacher for both adult and child education. She participated in several regional art exhibits and was awarded "Best Artwork in Show" at the Virginia Orchid Society's Annual Show.

Judy Thomas, Ph.D., is a retired assistant professor from the VCU School of Social Work. In 2004, she took her first art course at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, later receiving her botanical illustration certificate from that institution, where she also teaches botanical art. Her work has been seen widely in the juried, national traveling exhibit "Following in the Bartrams' Footsteps," as well as regional exhibits. She is co-founder and chair of the Plants of the James River Project and founder of the Chickahominy Colored Pencil Artists. She is currently a member of the board of directors of the American Society of Botanical Artists.


The exhibit is sponsored by Plants of the James River Project, VCU Libraries, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, the American Society of Botanical Artists, the Virginia Native Plant Society and Enrichmond.

Image: Plants of the James River Project logo