Louisiana State University Herbaria

Louisiana State University Herbarium (LSU)
Louisiana State University Bernard Lowy Mycological Herbarium (LSUM)

 

LSU Herbaria Guide to Parks, Gardens, and Ecotourism

**Disclaimer**
These locations and organizations were selected as potentially interesting to botanists and those who enjoy plants and natural sites in Louisiana. We are not promoting or are otherwise afflitated with these organizations, nor do we necessarily support any of their causes or actions. Collection of plants is not allowed without permission/permits on any site. Please get outside and enjoy our beautiful state!
Acadiana Park Nature Station, Lafayette
The Nature Station is a 110 acre facility with a 3+ mile trail system with hiking operated by the Lafayette Consolidated Government. They also offer field trips, guided tours, workshops, and other educational activities for kids and adults. The park is at the juncture of two major ecological systems, the Gulf Tall Grass Prairie (remnants) and the Mississippi River Floodplain. Within the floodplain itself, the better drained escarpment has winged elm, water oak, pecan, easter red cedar, French mulberry, blackberry, and red buckeye. The more poorly drained floodplain below, typical of the lower gulf coast plain, include water hickory, baldcypress, sycamore, green ash, hackberry, American elm, sweetgum, honeylocust, live oak, dwarf palmetto, dewberry, deciduous holly, and water elm.
Afton Villa Gardens, St. Francisville
Afton Villa is a formal southern garden on the National Register of Historic Places and was founded in 1849. It is an example of antebellum landscape architecture and its 140 acres include parterre gardens, live oak alleys, a cemetary, sundial, obelisk, pond, and lake. They are also known for their azaleas, particularly their own strain called "Pride of Afton" or "Afton Villa Red".

Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, Lacombe
The refuge has unique botanical zones that contain diverse combinations of native plant communities, ranging from sandy beach, brackish marsh, to upland zones with pine and hardwoods. It also has a hiking and biking trail, a nature boardwalk, and a canoe launch into Cane Bayou.
Burden Center, LSU, Baton Rouge
The Burden Center of Louisiana State University has 420 acres with a focus on horticultural research projects relating to vegetables, fruits, ornamentals, and turfgrass. There are formal gardens and plant collections, the Ione Burden Conference Center, the Steele Burden Memorial Orangerie, and the All-America rose display garden. 150 acres of the land is preserved as bottomland hardwood forest.
Butler-Greenwood Plantation, St. Francisville
This 44 acre plantation complex has one of the few extant examples of antebellum garden design in West Feliciana Parish. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.The grounds include English and French stylistic features, a sundial, a summer house, a garden gate and urns, a geometric parterre, an ornamental garden, and sunken side gardens.

Cajun Prairie Preservation Society, Eunice
This non-profit conservation organization is dedicated to the restoration and preservation of prairie habitat throughout Louisiana. They are active in education, outreach, and research. The members of the society have regular tours, plant viewings, hosts speakers, and conducts restoration projects, land aquisitions, and social events.
Creole Nature Trail, All-American Road, Lake Charles south to Cameron Parish
The Creole Nature Trail (including LA 27 and LA 82) was designated the first National Scenic Byway in the Gulf South and the only one to be name solely based on its natural qualities. Highlights of this route includes four National Wildlife Refuges (Cameron Prairie, Lacassine, Sabine, and Rockefeller), fresh, brackish, and salt marshes, and beautiful beaches (Holly and Rutherford Beaches). A gradation of highly diverse and distinctive plant life follows the gradient from beach to inland marsh to prairie, which in turn supports an amazing amount of animal life. This trail is known to be one of the top ten birding areas in the U.S., with more than 250 species recorded. Recently, the Federal Highway Administration elevated its status to an "All-American Road", one of twenty in the United States. This area has also been called "Louisiana's Outback" for its wild and rugged terrain and unique biotic composition.
Fountainebleau State Park, Mandeville
This State Park, on the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain, has trails, camping, and picnic areas. The Tammany Trace cycling path also runs through the park. The park's nature trail has interpretive signs identifying common trees and shrubs. The park is also bordered by Bayou Cane and Bayou Castine and is characterized by a several diverse ecosystems including marsh, open fields, lake shore, and pine and mixed hardwood forests. Over 400 different species of birds and animals also inhabit the park.
Gallier House, French Quarter, New Orleans
The Gallier House is a National Historic Landmark in the French Quarter built in the mid-19th century. The elegent post-Civil War Victorian home has a detailed garden, carriageway, and restored slave quarters.

Grand Isle State Park, Grand Isle
Grand Isle State Park is located at the tip Grand Isle and is the most popular barrier island off the coast of Louisiana. The beach ridge created by the wave action of the Gulf of Mexico harbors distinctive beach dune plant species. Grand Isle serves as a breakwater between the Gulf of Mexico and the network of inland channels that connect to the bayou tributaries of the Mississippi River. The state park offers camping and fishing.
Hilltop Arboretum, LSU, Baton Rouge
Louisiana State University's Hilltop Arboretum provides an extensive collection of cultivated Louisiana trees and shrubs on 14 acres with winding paths. Hilltop is primarily used as a teaching tool and a model for natural landscape for landscape architecture students, providing for beautiful surroundings that are ecologically sound. The intent is that the students efforts at Hilltop through education, research, and outreach will have a lasting impact on the community.
Honey Island Swamp, Slidell
Honey Island Swamp is about 250 square miles (70,000 acres) of permanently protected wildlife area and the Nature Conservancy's first Louisiana nature preserve. It is a tract of bottomland lying between the East Pearl and West Pearl Rivers with unique plant and animal life. Honey Island Swamp Tours offers guided tours from tour boats. Wetlands and cypress swamp can be found in the area, which is close to the Louisiana-Mississippi state line.

Kisatchie National Forest, Regional Office, Pineville
The only National Forest in Louisiana, its 600,000 acres are divided into 5 distinct units across 7 parishes: Caney, Calcasieu, Winn, Catahoula, and Kisatchie Districts. The KNF harbor many different ecosystem types and consequently have a rich plant biodiversity. Some more interesting features that harbor many rare plant species include hillside seeps, pitcher plant bogs, longleaf pine savanna, calcareous prairie openings, mixed hardwood forests, bottomland swamps, deep sandy sites, rock outcrops, and many others. Camping, trails, and other outdoor activities are found in abundance in KNF.
Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site, St. Martinville
See also City of St. Martinville website and the Acadian Memorial website for information on Acadian ("cajun") and creole history and attractions
This is very important historical site for the memorial of the exiles of Acadiana or "cajuns" for short, who fled from Canada to Louisiana in the 1750's. This site also has high botanical and literary significance. In 1847, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow released the epic poem "Evangeline" that features the Acadian couple Evangeline and Gabriel who are separated on their wedding day when forced into exile out of their homeland. They separate and flee to Louisiana, and in what is believed to be present-day St. Martinville Evangeline finds Gabriel's father and searches for Gabriel but never finds him. After many years of searching she enters a convent. Much later in life, in Philadelphia, she finds Gabriel on his deathbed, thankful that she saw him one last time. This very tragic poem became the stuff of literary legend by the end of the 19th century and St. Martinville established a small park, Evangeline Oak Park, and designated one of the trees as the "Evangeline Oak". The large oak is on the bank of Bayou Teche and is known as a "sacred relic" of Longfellow's poem and Acadian exile.
Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo, Monroe
A large traditional zoo with gardens covering over 80 acres, for kids and adults. Tours, group tours, and educational opportunities are available.
Louisiana State Arboretum, Ville Platte
Our state arboretum is more than 300 acres of mature beech-magnolia forest with additional plantings of species indigenous to the state. Many of the plants are labeled and easily accessible, making this and educational tool and a living museum. Almost every vegetation type in the state, except coastal marsh and prairie, is represented. Several miles of trails and bridges traverse the site, which is a network of hills, ravines, and creeks. Tours are offered on weekends and by prior arrangement.
Louisiana State Parks, Office of State Parks, Baton Rouge
This is the home page for all 18 Louisiana State Parks, many of which are featured individually on this page.
Longue Vue House and Gardens, New Orleans
This formal garden features beautifully manicured lawns with planted live oaks, magnolias, camellias, azaleas, roses, sweet olives, crape myrtles, and oleanders as permanent plantings. Planned events, such as teas and childrens events, are offered.
Nature Conservancy, Louisiana Chapter
TNC's is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote conservation and to preserve the imperiled plants, animals and natural communities. TNC picks properties that represent the high levels of rarity and endemism and purchase those properties. Properties are maintained by stewardship and volunteerism. Currently, TNC owns 18 properties across the state that are open for sightseeing, all of which are amazing and breathtaking. TNC actively fosters education and volunteering opportunities.
Northlake Nature Center, Mandeville
Also known as "St. Tammany's Secret Garden", this non-profit organization leases land that features 800 acres of hardwood forest, pine-hardwood forest, and cypress swamp that is bounded on the west by Bayou Castine. Boardwalks, hiking trails, and interpretive signs make this site into an excellent educational experience. An outdoor classroom and an open-air pavilion are available.
Oak Alley Plantation, Vacherie
This 25 acre plantation is a National Historic Landmark on River Road between New Orleans and Baton Rogue. It has a 1/4 mile canopy or "alley" of giant live oak trees believe to be nearly 300 years old. The trees lead to a Greek-revival style antebellum mansion built in 1839. Guided tours, a restaurant, and bed and breakfast accommodations are available.

Oakley House, Audubon State Memorial Park, St. Francisville
Oakley House is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a 17 room, three-story plantation where John James Audubon stayed and painted in the early 1820's. There he tutored the children and when not occupied roamed the woods and worked on his naturalistic ornithological paintings, several of which hang in the home. Many of his observations, painting, etc. would later be tranformed into his famous "Birds of America". The home has been restored to the Federal period style (1790-1830), as it was when Audubon stayed there. The plantation has extensive and beautiful landscaped grounds that are shaded by live oak and crepe myrtle trees. Hiking trails traverse the grounds. A "must see" for its artistic, historic, and scientific importance.
Rosedown Plantation and Gardens, St. Francisville
Rosedown Plantation, a State Historic Site, began as a cotton plantation in the 1820's and at its largest was 3,455 acres. The main house and formal gardens began construction in 1834. Records showing the purchase of camelias, azaleas, and other plants from New York date back to 1836. The gardens cover about 28 acres. Even though the gardens suffered after the Civil War and subsequent hard times, they were fully restored in the 1950's from the original owner's extensive diaries, and when possible the same species were replanted or repropagated from the garden itself. The gardens, as well as the house, were returned to their pre-1860 state. Guided tours are available.
St. Tammany Trace Bike Trail, Covington to Slidell, St. Tammany Parish
The Tammany Trace is the first of hopefully many "Rails-to-Trails" conversions in Louisiana. It is a scenic 31-mile recreation corridor for bicycles, equestrians, pedestrians, joggers, and rollerbladers and links the cities of Covington, Abita Springs, Mandeville, Lacombe, and Slidell. It also serves as a wildlife conservation corridor, links isolated nature parks, creates greenways, and helps to preserve historic landmarks and wetlands. You can observe the natural habitat, bayous, streams and rivers from the vantage point of 31 bridges built on the original railroad trestles.
Tickfaw State Park, Springfield
Tickfaw S.P. contains over a mile of boardwalks and extensive hiking trails through richly diverse cypress/tupelo swamp, bottomland hardwood forest, mixed pine/hardwood forest, and the backwater swamps and sloughs of the Tickfaw River. There are schedules guided hikes on the boardwalks, nature program presentation at education pavilions, and an outdoor amphitheater at the nature center. Additionally, there is a nighttime program and night hiking. Bicycles and skates are allowed on park roadways. Canoe and cabin rentals are available.
Wildlife Gardens, Gibson
The Wildlife Gardens offers swamp tours, a 1 1/2 hour walking tour, an alligator farm, and bed and breakfast accomodations. There is also a twilight swamp tour by boat when you cruise into natural cypress swamps and tidal marshes. You can view an abundance of local wildlife and plants in a natural swamp setting and walk 30 acres of nature trails.