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In 2020, LSU Libraries Special Collections presented the exhibition “Louisiana’s Natural Treasure: Margaret Stones, Botanical Artist” at Hill Memorial Library, featuring selected original watercolor paintings and archival materials related to the Native Flora of Louisiana project.

A native of Australia, Margaret Stones (1920-2018) achieved an acclaimed international career that spanned three continents. Commissioned by LSU and funded by private donations, more than 200 watercolor drawings of Louisiana plants produced by Stones during the 1970s and 1980s are among the most treasured holdings of LSU Libraries Special Collections.

The Native Flora of Louisiana project was grounded in a long historical tradition of botanical illustration. Stones only worked from live specimens, requiring the collection of the plant through all of its stages and seasons to include flower, fruit, and seed. Many intrepid collectors navigated swamp and forest to secure representative species, their endeavors documented by the artist on the finished drawings.

All of the works have been made available online in the Louisiana Digital Library. In the centennial year of her birth, we celebrate the story of Margaret Stones and the Flora of Louisiana both in tribute to her legacy, and with the hope of introducing her work to new audiences.