The region's ecosystem, however, has suffered from overgrazing by cattle and sheep, poorly planned mining, and other development pressures. As a result, more than 500 species of plants in Utah are considered at risk of extinction, as are more than 460 in Nevada. Only in California, Hawaii, and Arizona are larger numbers of species at risk, an indicator of the critical ecological condition of the Intermountain region and the importance of the "Intermountain Flora" project in documenting its plant diversity.
"The problem of invasives is pretty bad," said Dr. Noel Holmgren, noting the spread of cheatgrass, a weed that is displacing the region's characteristic sagebrush and other native shrubs and grasses. "Overgrazing has been a big factor in the spread of invasives, but also the popularity of all-terrain vehicles, which tear up the ground."
As in previous volumes, the final installment of "Intermountain Flora" contains an almost unbelievable amount of plant information. Each species receives a detailed botanical description, including common names and varieties, with information about where a species is found, relevant specimens in U.S. and foreign plant research collections, and keys for identifying every species. Entries also provide information about how the plants are used, potential dangers from poisonous plants, and whether a species is of conservation concern.
The volume's botanical illustrations include not only a drawing of each plant but also, in most cases, drawings of certain features such as petals or a seed to help identify a species. Although many artists have contributed to the series, award-winning botanical illustrator Bobbi Angell receives special recognition in the acknowledgments for illustrations that "give vivid life to
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The New York Botanical Garden