The Southern Appalachians – the nonglaciated mountainous areas of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and southwestern New York – form an evolutionary center for native plant diversity for the northern temperate regions of the world. In 1935 The Southern Appalachian Botanical Club was formed at West Virginia University for "all persons interested in the botany of the Southern Appalachian Mountains" and in January 1936 the first issue of their journal was issues as The Journal of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Club. Today, the name and purpose has changed slightly to the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society (SABS) with its focus on the botany of the eastern states. The membership includes professional and amateur botanists from across the country who are interested in eastern botany, in the journal, and in the activities of the society. Membership in the society includes about 600 professional and amateur botanists and members may be found in many of the eastern states as well as a number of the central and western states.
Publications and Activities
SABS publishes Castanea, a quarterly journal of botanical research with emphasis on plants in their natural environment. Although much is known about plants, much still remains to be discovered about the habitat requirements and the actual geographic ranges of the many native species of eastern North America. Castanea permits public communication of current scientific information about plants. Articles cover such diverse topics as documentation of rare and endangered plants, flora of specific regions, changes in species distributions, and the ecological analysis of vegetation types such as grasslands, cedar glades, or deciduous forests. The immediate beneficiaries are the individual members of SABS, but the approximately 200 institutional members make the journal and the new botanical knowledge it contains widely available through libraries. In the long run, SABS benefits as this information helps conserve native plants and natural areas, provides a source of information about plants that may have pharmaceutical or horticultural value, and helps us understand the needs and requirements of the beauties of nature we all enjoy.
The newsletter Chinquapin was instituted in 1993 to provide news of our society, botanical gardens, and other organizations, to answer questions on botanical problems, present informative articles, and act as an outlet for member questions or observations.
Each year SABS has an April business meeting in conjunction with the Association of Southeastern Biologists (ASB). The meeting is held in a different southeastern state each year, so at some time a meeting will be close to most members. The meetings combine the presentation of diverse papers on botanical subjects with field trips led by local experts.
Through SABS's outreach program, members volunteer to help interpret botanical wonders. The major outreach thrust is the Wildflower Pilgrimage in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where about half of the leaders are SABS members.
Special Awards to Assist Botanists
The Richard and Minnie Windler Award has been established to reward outstanding research in the area of systematic botany. This award is given annually for the best article published in the pages of Castanea. Since 1997 the society has been helping fund student research projects through the Earl Core Student Research Award. Students may submit a research proposal that is then reviewed by a panel of professional botanists. Both of these awards are announced at the annual meeting in April.
Opportunities for Special Support
SABS recognizes the need for financial support beyond that provided by membership dues and subscriptions and so provides two categories of giving. The SABS Endowment Fund was established to provide long-term support for the publishing of Castanea. The principle of the endowment cannot be invaded and interest will be used only to aid in the production and distribution of the journal. The Earl Core Student Award Fund, named after the society's founder, was established to aid the society and currently is being transformed into an endowment fund to support student research projects.