New UA Press Book Combines Lifelong Work of Botanist, Naturalist

l-r:  Edwin B Smith, An Arkansas Florilegium, Kent Bonar

l-r: Edwin B Smith, An Arkansas Florilegium, Kent Bonar

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – An Arkansas Florilegium: The Atlas of Botanist Edwin Smith Illustrated by Naturalist Kent Bonar, has been released by the University of Arkansas Press.

This latest publication from the UA Press brings together the expertise of two legends in the Arkansas nature community for a unique mix of art, science and Arkansas spirit suited for both coffee-table display and field-guide reference. The basis of the book is the Atlas and Annotated List of the Vascular Plants of Arkansas by University of Arkansas botanist Edwin B. Smith, the seminal survey of the state’s flora, published in 1978.

Added to Smith’s book are illustrations made by Kent Bonar over three decades. Bonar is a Missouri-born Thoreau acolyte employed as a naturalist by the Arkansas Park Service. He carried a copy of Smith’s book along on hikes in various parks and rambles through the woods surrounding his Newton County home, entering hundreds upon hundreds of meticulous illustrations into Smith’s work.

An Arkansas Florilegium is a reproduction of Bonar’s weathered and battered copy of the atlas, including some 3,500 of Bonar’s illustrations.


University of Arkansas English professor Robert Cochran wrote the introduction to the book, which is being published as part of The Arkansas Character series, jointly sponsored by the Center for Arkansas and Regional Studies and the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History.

“It’s a thrill to see this book come out in print,” Cochran said. “It is such a special undertaking, and I’m certain there is nothing else like it out there.”

An Arkansas Florilegium will be available for sale, signed by Kent Bonar, at two events:

  • 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, Arkansas House, 215 East Court Street (two blocks north of square on Arkansas Highway 7), Jasper
  • 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14, Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, 4703 N. Crossover Road, Fayetteville

Both events are free and open to the public. In addition, the folk duo Still on the Hill will perform at the events, including a song they wrote specifically about the singular life of Kent Bonar.

Edwin Smith, who passed away last January, was a professor of botany and curator of the Arkansas Herbarium at the University of Arkansas for 32 years. He is also the author of Keys to the Flora of Arkansas.

Kent Bonar is a lifelong Missouri and Arkansas naturalist. He worked previously at Arkansas State Parks and the Arkansas Ecology Center and now lives in Newton County, where he continues to observe, document and protect the Ozark National Forest.

About the University of Arkansas Press: The University of Arkansas Press was founded in 1980 as the book publishing division of the University of Arkansas. A member of the Association of American University Presses, it has as its central and continuing mission the publication of books that serve both the broader academic community and Arkansas and the region.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Melissa King, Director of Sales and Marketing
University of Arkansas Press


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