A Visit to The Cedars Natural Area Preserve Appreciation Days

Cedars Appreciation Group at River

I’m back from far southwest Virginia, and I have to share.  The Virginia Native Plant Society contributed to purchasing land to join together some of the disparate tracts of The Cedars Natural Area. In appreciation, Rob Evans, Natural Areas Protection Manager, Virginia Natural Heritage Program in the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), organized a… [Read More]

New Book: Climate-Wise Landscaping, Practical Actions for a Sustainable Future

A new book with practical advice on eco-friendly gardening.

Perfect! A book on climate-wise landscaping written by two authors who understand the vital role native plants must play in any future we can both envision and want to live in. What could be more important right now? We don’t want to sit around wringing our hands, say the authors; we want to DO something… [Read More]

A Path Into Natives

The front yard meadow garden in fall:  Aromatic asters (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) put on a show while other perennials go to seed. More habitat, less lawn.

My interest in native plants probably arose like it did for many of the VNPS readers. I fell in love with what I found out in the wild places; state parks and national forests and the scraps of nature on the edges of farms and developments. I was fascinated by the presence of those native… [Read More]

There Really is a Pyxie-moss!

Pyxie moss in Isle of Wight County with a few sprigs of October flower - Polygonella polygama)
um. Photo: Zach Bradford

Pyxie-moss (Pyxidanthera barbulata) is a diminutive coastal plain endemic found only in the eastern portions of the Carolinas, southeastern Virginia, and the pine barrens of New Jersey and adjacent Long Island. It is adapted to frequent fire and minimizes heat damage by forming dense mats that hug the relatively cool ground. It prefers open, sandy… [Read More]

When the “Good Guys” Go Bad: The Role of Native Fauna in the Spread of Invasive Plants

White-tailed deer are spreading invasive species throughout the United States.  Photo taken by Betty Truax.

Humans play a leading role in the spread of invasive species. From accidental introductions, like Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum), to intentional planting, like tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) and mimosa (Albizia julibrissin), we have done an exceptional job of transporting invaders all over the world. Our cars carry seeds and propagules along highways, our boats… [Read More]

The Root of the Problem: Garlic Mustard

In the  second year, Garlic Mustard will produce flowers and seeds - thousands of seeds! Photo credit: Richard Stromberg

It’s a classic tale of being careful what you wish for. As a high school student in Germany I went hiking with my classmates in the early spring woods. As I unpacked lunch, friends gathered knoblauchskraut at the forest edge, and we then added the native herb to our sandwiches.  “Ah,” I thought. “If only… [Read More]

Return of the Natives

Say it ain't so!

  My daughter, Chrissy, and I had been watching the 200-acre woodlands for months. First the “Land For Sale” sign went up; later the sign was marked “Sold,” then, most ominously, fluorescent orange flagging-tape marked the trees. The lovely wooded site was about to become a shopping center. The year was 2005, and a year… [Read More]

The Awkward Relationship Between Homo sapiens And Planet Earth

Scott's Run , a VNPS Registry site.  Photo: Laura Beaty

I, as do so many of you, present lectures and workshops to a wide range of people in which we are encouraging them to become familiar with the local flora, to plant native plants that require less water, to plant and conserve those species that are important to insects, birds and other animal species, a… [Read More]

Kates Mountain Clover: Trifolium virginicum

Flower of Kate's Mountain Clover. Photo credit: Jim Stasz, Maryland Biodiversity Project

Kates Mountain Clover, (Trifolium virginicum) is one of only three clovers that are native to Virginia. First discovered on Kate’s Mountain in West Virginia in 1892 by botanist, John Kukel Small, this plant is known to exist only in four states and in a very specific habitat. In all four states it is listed as… [Read More]