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Friday - July 30, 2010

From: Porter, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Best of Smarty
Title: Grave plants in Indiana in 1914
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I'm doing research on the landscape surrounding an elaborate family cemetery constructed in NW Indiana in 1914. Previous research noted that "grave plants" were planted along the short retaining walls surrounding the cemetery, but they did not specify what type of plants. What plants were known as "grave plants" during that time period? Thank you


Mr. Smarty Plants found an interesting article on the web page of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association - ICCFA (formerly known as Association of American Cemetery Superintendents – AACS).  The article, Trees, Shrubs and Plants for the Adornment of the Cemetery by William Crosbie, was first published in 1906 in the AACS – Proceedings of the 20th Annual Convention held in Detroit, Michigan on August 21, 22 and 23, 1906.  There are other articles listed under links at the bottom of the article's page (e.g., Evergreens and Ornamental Grasses for Cemetery Planting and Floral Decoration of Cemeteries) and all are from the period of 1900-1919.  Here are a few of the Indiana native plants that are mentioned in the various articles:

Mahonia repens (creeping barberry)

Juniperus communis (common juniper)

Quercus alba (white oak)

Quercus rubra (northern red oak)

Pinus strobus (eastern white pine)

Many plants listed in the articles are not Indiana and/or North American natives.  You can determine their nativity by either looking in the USDA Plants Database (use the botanical name if it is given in the article) where they indicate if it's Introduced (I) or Native (N).  The distribution map will tell you if it is found in Indiana. You can also search in our Native Plant Database (again, use the botanical name if it is given in the article) and if you find the plant there, it is a North American native.  You can then look under DISTRIBUTION to see if it occurs in Indiana.  No doubt many of the plants around the family cemetery you are researching were not native either, but you will be able to tell by using these two websites.


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