Floristic Inventory of the James River Park System, Richmond, Virginia


Eileen S. Nakahata

Additional Authors:

Douglas A. DeBerry Joseph A. Thompson


June – 2020


James River Park System, floristic inventory, urban ecology, conservation, invasive species management

We completed a floristic inventory of the James River Park System (JRPS), a ca. 223-hectare (550- acre) multi-unit park along the James River in Richmond, Virginia. The JRPS includes land within the riparian zone along a 13-kilometer (8-mile) stretch of the river that bisects the city, providing two million annual visitors with recreational access to the rapids along the “Falls of the James.” Although the vegetation within the park system is an important attraction for park-goers, information on the flora of the JRPS and this section of the James River corridor is limited. This study updates partial records of the JRPS flora from ca. 50 years ago with collections that were made over the span of three growing seasons from 2016–2018. A total of 566 species and sub-specific taxa were documented from 336 genera and 115 families, including 63 new botanical records for the locality. Native species comprise 69.4% of the overall species richness, with dominant families including Asteraceae, Poaceae, and Cyperaceae. Non-native invasive species are prevalent throughout the park: 51 species are listed on the Virginia Invasive Plant Species List, 21 of which carry a “high” invasiveness rank. Four state-listed rare species were documented within the park, and seven other state-rare “watchlist” species were found. The information presented here is being used to help guide management efforts of the JRPS Invasive Plant Task Force, an organization dedicated to the removal of non-native invasive species, restoration of natural habitats, and preservation of natural communities within the park system.