The Vascular Flora and Vegetational Communities of Coffman Woods Nature Preserve, Wayne County, Indiana


  • Donald G. Ruch Ball State University
  • Kemuel S. Badger Ball State University
  • John E. Taylor Ball State University
  • Megan E. Smith Ball State University
  • Paul E. Rothrock Indiana University Herbarium


Coffman Woods Nature Preserve (CWNP), owned by the Whitewater Valley Land Trust, Inc., was acquired in two steps. The first 18.2 ha (45 acres) was funded by from the Rocky Express Gas Pipeline (REX) grant program. The additional 27.9 ha (69 acres) was funded principally by the Indiana Bicentennial Nature Trust and partly by the Indiana Heritage Trust. The preserve is located along the east fork of the Whitewater River in south-central Wayne County, Indiana, in Abington Township. CWNP harbors significant regional plant diversity with 378 taxa representing 250 genera and 87 families. The twelve families containing ~59% of the documented species were the Asteraceae (49 spp.), Poaceae (39), Cyperaceae (19), Brassicaceae (18), Apiaceae (15), Fabaceae (14), Liliaceae (14), Lamiaceae (12), Polygonaceae (12), Ranunculaceae (11), Scrophulariaceae (10), and the Rosaceae (8). Of the 378 species documented, 282 [~75%], are native and 96 [~25%] are exotics, and 20 represented Wayne County Records. Although none of the plants documented at the site have state or federal status, two species are on the Indiana Watch List, i.e., Prenanthes crepidinea and Veratrum woodii. A detailed physiognomic analysis revealed that the native species consisted of 55 woody species, 183 herbaceous vines or forbs, 39 graminoids, and five ferns or fern allies. Of the 96 exotics, 11 were woody, 66 were herbaceous vines or forbs, and 19 were grasses. The major habitats occurring at CWNP are roadside and a roadside field, an old-field, steep-sloping mesic woods (the majority of the site), a small floodplain woods, a flat upland woods, a circumneutral hardwood forest seep, a small man- made pond, and the Whitewater River corridor including the riverbank, a sandy shoreline, and several sand- gravel shorelines and islands. Plants characteristics of each habitat are listed. Floristic Quality Index (FQI) for native species was 58.4 and a mean Coefficient of Conservatism (mean C) was 3.5. For all species FQI = 50.5 and the mean C = 2.6. These numbers indicate that CWNP is a site with high natural quality that is being compromised by exotics. The most invasive exotics were Alliaria petiolata and Lonicera maackii in the sloping woodland, Poa trivialis and Ranunculus ficaria var. bulbifera in the floodplain woods, and Artemisia annua, Brassica nigra, Humulus japonicus and Phalaris arundinacea along the Whitewater River corridor.






Plant Systematics and Biodiversity