PULLMAN, Wash. — A variety of flowering plants indigenous to the Palouse is being included in a Native Plant Exhibit now being established at Johnson Hall on the Pullman campus of Washington State University.

Created by students, staff, and faculty as a campus and community educational project for the 2004 Cougar Pride Days celebration, the exhibit includes many plants that would have been encountered by members of the Lewis and Clark expedition and other early visitors to the prairies of southeastern Washington.

Rodney Sayler, associate professor of natural resource sciences at WSU, said the exhibit features camas and other flowering plant varieties native to what has become recognized widely as one of the most endangered grassland ecosystems in North America.

“The beautiful blue flowers of Camas once bloomed so profusely in meadows in the Palouse region that they looked like lakes to early explorers in the Lewis and Clark Expedition,” Sayler said.

The Native Plant Exhibit was established on the south side of Johnson Hall by the entrance to the Fischer Agricultural Sciences Library because of the location’s visibility and the large amount of pedestrian traffic there, he said.

Many of the native flowers for the project were grown on the WSU campus in greenhouses and facilities of the newly-established WSU Native Plant & Landscape Restoration Nursery, Sayler said. Nearly 70 students from WSU’s spring class in restoration ecology are growing and using native plants in campus and community habitat restoration and educational projects.

The exhibit contains about 600 bulbs of several varieties of camas, mariposa lilies, and other local native flowering plants characteristic to the Palouse and other similar regions of the Pacific Northwest, he said.  Plants for the exhibit were provided also by the new WSU Native Plant & Landscape Restoration Nursery on campus, the USDA Plant Materials Center on campus, and the Palouse Prairie Foundation.

Sayler said a small interpretive display and plant labels will be added to the exhibit so that students, staff, faculty, and campus visitors can learn how to conserve native plants and even enjoy some of them in their own gardens. 

Additional information and photos of the exhibit can be found Online at www.campusecology.wsu.edu.