Wildflower is published quarterly by the Wildflower Center. Its content is national in scope with articles about the conservation and use of native plants as well as news from the Wildflower Center. A subscription is provided to Wildflower Center members as a benefit of membership.
Ms. Thetford questions the identification of the species in the photograph which appeared on the cover of the Fall 2004 issue of Native Plants. Although we labeled the plant as Helianthus annuus, in her letter our reader fairly questions if it is not in fact a hybrid of H. annuus because of its similar appearance to the hybrid of the plant that is prolific throughout her region.
Our response was carefully composed by one of our horticulture editors, Joe Marcus, who explains our decision to publish the identification of this plant given us by the nature photographer because we could not verify for certain from the photograph alone that this was not H. annuus nor say with certainty that it was a hybrid.
We are grateful for Ms. Thetford's mail and value this opportunity to shed some insight into the rigorous fact-checking process that is behind what is published on each and every page of Native Plants magazine.
From the time we select an article topic, we consider our own botanists' knowledge of it and the Center's relationship with outside experts who can verify the accuracy of material when it is outside of our own staff's purview. We then select an author based on their unique experience writing about horticulture and ecology for a consumer audience so that we can assure that great consideration is given to the technical nature of our publication's original content.
Later, we gather photographs for their aesthetic beauty and for the confidence we place in the carefully selected photographers who share our commitment to accuracy. Many are native plant enthusiasts and some are affiliated with specialty nature photography clubs, like some of the photographers whose work appears within our article on urban forestry ("Urban Legend," page 24) from the New York City Sierra Club Photography Committee. Any botanist will tell you it can be difficult to distinguish with complete accuracy a species of plant by just looking at a photograph and not seeing it in the field, so we are grateful for the partnership we have with so many of these astute professional photographers.
During the production process, each article, word, and pixel is reviewed two to three times by no fewer than two and most times as many as 10 Wildflower Center professionals who have advanced education in botany, ecology, and horticulture. In the case of the article on Rhododendron ("Brilliant Blooms," page 18) Joe Marcus and other horticulture editors triple-checked all of the material, and for the challenging article on native savanna ("The Great Savanna," page 12) the article was reviewed for accuracy multiple times by the Center's restoration ecologists Drs. Steve Windhager and Mark Simmons and with the input of the article's sources themselves.
In this and every issue of Native Plants, we are committed to bringing you the freshest, most accurate and inspiring information about native plants and wildflowers across the country. From behind our computer screens, we attempt to employ a zero-tolerance policy for errors and do the best we can to make that happen.