LSU Herbaria Guide to Parks, Gardens, and Ecotourism
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!
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
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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 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.
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.