Checklist of Major Plant Species in Ashley County, Arkansas Noted by General Land Office Surveyors
The original General Land Office (GLO) survey notes for the Ashley County, Arkansas, area were examined to determine the plant taxa mentioned during the 1818 to 1855 surveys. While some challenges in identifying species were encountered, at least 39 families and approximately 100 species were identified with reasonable certainty. Most references were for trees used to witness corners or lines. Prominent arboreal genera recorded in these early survey records included Quercus, Pinus, Carya, Liquidambar, Nyssa, Ulmus, Acer, Fraxinus, and Taxodium. A number of shrubs, vines, graminoids, and herbaceous species were also reported, including notable genera like Vaccinium, Lindera, Crataegus, Myrica, Rubus, Smilax, Vitis, Arundinaria, and Bidens. Even though very few GLO surveyors had formal training in plant identification, their familiarity with local and regional floras (undoubtedly supplemented by their field crew's knowledge) contributed to the relative accuracy of the effort. Taxonomic discrepancies (e.g., shifting species names, delineation of new taxa since the survey was completed, obscure common names) have obscured a number of identifications in this study. Nevertheless, the GLO records are a valuable and systematic (statewide) source of information from a period of time that predates most formal botanical investigations.