Osage Orange tree represents Big Thicket National Preserve in art exhibit.

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Date: February 23, 2016
Contact: Jason A. Ginder, 409-951-6721

A new Washington, DC exhibit of artworks depicting familiar, rare and iconic plants and trees of America’s national parks includes a colored pencil drawing of the Osage Orange, a beautifully flowering plant that is plentiful in the northern units of Big Thicket National Preserve.

“Flora of the National Parks” opened Thursday, Feb. 18, in the United States Botanic Garden (USBG) on the National Mall. Free of charge and open to the public every day through Oct. 2, 2016, the exhibition features more than 75 illustrations, paintings, photographs, and other art forms — from intimate 12-inch pieces to large-scale, 7-foot dramatic panoramas — that showcase key plant life in national parks across the country. The garden is staging the show to mark this year’s centennial of the National Park Service (NPS) and to highlight the diversity of the nation’s flora protected within national parks. 

The artwork of Big Thicket National Preserve’s Osage Orange is a colored pencil drawing created by Betsy Barry. 

Osage orange trees are a common sight on the Great Plains, including the Big Thicket region. These hardwood trees were often used by Native Americans and early pioneers. They were often planted as living fences, or hedges, along the boundaries of farms and provided superior wood for boat making. Osage orange trees are easily recognized by their glossy, lance-shaped leaves and short stout thorns. The large dense green wrinkled fruit, measuring up to six inches in diameter, is inedible to humans. 

“We are thrilled to present this exhibit showcasing the biodiversity of plants and landscapes in our national parks,” said Ari Novy, United States Botanic Garden executive director. “Our mission is to connect people with plants. There is no substitution for actually experiencing plants alive in their native ecosystems. We hope this exhibit will inspire people to explore and value plants in their native habitats, especially at our amazing national parks.” 

The show includes vegetation both rare and familiar in parks from Florida to Alaska and from Maine to Hawaii. The artworks represent NPS locations such as Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Manassas National Battlefield Park, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Homestead National Monument of America, and Acadia National Park. 

The artworks were selected from among submissions by hundreds of artists last fall for the eight-month show, which is installed in the USBG Conservatory near the foot of the U.S. Capitol on the National Mall, 100 Maryland Ave. S.W., Washington, DC. The USBG is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America, with more than one million visitors annually. More information about the exhibit, programs, and visiting the USBG is available at www.USBG.gov/FloraoftheNationalParks.

Last updated: February 23, 2016

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