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Last year we published Garrett Crow’s article updating and revising Emma J. Cole’s 1901 Grand Rapids Flora. That was the initial entry in a comprehensive project by Crow and sev- eral others to re-examine the flora of the Grand Rapids area in western Michigan and its his- tory. The second installment in this project, a biography of Emma J. Cole by Julie Stivers and Garrett Crow, forms the first article in this issue. Concentrating on Cole’s career as a school teacher and her life’s work in preparing the Grand Rapids Flora, the authors also dis- cuss her connections within the Grand Rapids community and her collaborations with for- mer students and other botanists. All of this is illuminated in four extensive appendices that reproduce the texts of many letters between Cole and her many correspondents.

In the second article, Anna Bowen, formerly a student at Albion College in Albion, Michigan, and Dan Skean present a flora of the Ott Biological Preserve in Calhoun County, Michigan, which updates an original floristic list for the Preserve made by William Gilbert between 1946 and 1954. In addition to an annotated listing of the flora, Bowen and Skean provide a detailed human history of the Preserve, including the several years during which it served as the nature center for Albion College, describe the natural communities of the preserve and their recent ecological history, including the increasing prevalence of non-na- tive and invasive plant species, and perform floristic quality assessments.

There is an aura of mystery surrounding one of the iconic plants of the Great Lakes area, Thismia americana, that derives from its great rarity, its history of having been dis- covered by a botany student in the early years of the twentieth century, its disappearance within a few years, never to be seen again, its largely subterranean habit with only the sur- face of its flower emerging at ground level, and the lack of near relatives anywhere else in North America. These factors have combined to suggest to some that the purported dis- covery of Thismia americana in the Chicago area was actually a hoax. Gerould Wilhelm and Laura Rericha, authors of the recently published magnificent Flora of the Chicago Region, examine this history, describe the history and circumstances of the discovery of this species and the numerous attempts to relocate it in suitable habitat, and present co- gent reasons why its discovery cannot be a hoax but rather that Thismia americana is a genuine, though likely extinct, element of the Great Lakes flora.

The discovery and recording of “big trees” has long been an interest of the Michigan Botanical Club. In this context, a “big tree” is the largest known individual of a species, either in a state or other jurisdiction, or worldwide (the terms “state champion” or “na- tional champion” have also been used). This journal has published a complete list of Michigan big trees and shrubs (42: 3–46. 2003) as well as numerous shorter articles de- scribing individual big trees of Michigan. In this issue, Susan Fawcett and Anton A. Reznicek describe a rather unusual find: the largest known individual, a tree, of a species—Taxus canadensis— that normally grows as a much smaller shrub.

It is well known that numerous species occur in the southern Great Lakes area, espe- cially in southwestern Michigan and northwestern Indiana, that are disjunct from their main distribution in the southeastern coastal plain. Scott Namestnik describes the discov- ery of a new station of one of these disjuncts, Rhexia mariana var. mariana, in Porter County, Indiana, near the southern shore of Lake Michigan, its first record for northern Indiana, though it had previously been known from a few stations in western Michigan. In addition to detailing the discovery itself, Scott provides assistance in distinguishing this rare species from the other species of Rhexia known in the Great Lakes area, R. virginica, as well as from numerous other species of Rhexia in the southeastern United States.

—Michael Huft