Morella on the Barrier Islands

Young Wax Myrtle close-up showing clear spiral pattern of leaf growth and leaf glands (not on Hog Island).

The barrier islands are one of Virginia’s last great wilderness areas, virtually uninhabited by humans. They have one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the eastern seaboard, and the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier islands in the global temperate zone. The roughly 23 islands that make up this group are owned by The Nature… [Read More]

Lovin’ the Lichens!

Top left: Common Greenshield. Top right: Powdered Ruffle.  Bottom left: Hammered Metal. Bottom right: Sinewed Ramalina

The 2016 VNPS Annual Meeting was a lot of fun; full of laughter and mingling with old friends as well as making many new ones. The highlight of the weekend for me was a Lichen Walk at Wildwood Park. To our delight only four of us joined Gary Cote for the walk, and we were… [Read More]

A Suburban Mushroom

morel

Just a few weeks after learning about mushrooms at the VNPS Workshop, Plants and Their Friends: Exploring Partnerships Above and Below Ground, I got out of my car, wandered across to see what was blooming in the front yard. There, in bloom, was a wood poppy that a friend had given us a few years… [Read More]

Imperiled Purple Milkweed at Huntley Meadows Park

HMP purple milkweed 2015

Huntley Meadows probably has the largest population of purple milkweed in the state according to Gary Fleming, Vegetation Ecologist for Virginia’s Natural Heritage Program. For a number of years, through efforts begun by its Past President, Marianne Mooney, the Potowmack Chapter has been providing support to Huntley. When recent water control efforts caused major disruption… [Read More]

Trout Lillies and Trouts Signal Spring!

Erythronium americanum, Trout lily

I am a gardener and an angler.  In the spring, these two passions vie for my attention simultaneously because gardens and trout streams wake up from winter at around the same moment.  Just as warming ground stimulates seeds to germinate, bulbs to flower and trees to leaf out and bloom, warming activity on a trout… [Read More]

Red-berried Greenbrier: A New Record

Alsonso, main

Made a nice if small discovery. While accompanying a field trip, I noticed some unusual Greenbrier, (Smilax),  plants. It wasn’t just that they were growing in the water, but the color of the berries was not your typical purple/black of ones I’m used to. I snapped a couple of pics and, after downloading a couple… [Read More]

Salt-Tolerant Native Shrubs

Groundsel Tree Female Painted Lady HLH

In our area of southern tidewater Virginia, three salt-tolerant shrubs (or small trees) grow on pond shores and marsh edges. The most striking is Baccharis halimifolia, covered with white fuzz; the white blooms indicate the female plant. The fruits are covered with tufts of white silk that carry them to new destinations. It is known… [Read More]

Native Wildflowers: A Feast in the Fall

Symphyotrichum dumosum var dumosum,  Bushy aster

Our native wildflowers are still putting on a show, in addition to provisioning late season pollinators and butterflies searching for fuel to carry them through the winter. Some of those creatures hibernate right here, others are taking wing and heading south, but they are all adapted to count on the late season boost from those… [Read More]

Plant Profile: Horseweed, Conyza canadensis

Horseweed, (Conyza canadensis). Photo credit: Phillip Merritt

The common name may refer to the size of this plant, a robust, coarse summer annual in the Aster Family.  Horseweed grows 1 to 6 feet tall on a stout stem often covered with long white hairs.  There are a lot of narrow leaves crowded on the stem, which becomes branched near the top.  … [Read More]

Second Annual Poison Ivy Day

Poison ivy is a beautiful red color in fall.

You didn’t know? Well, it’s true.  April 1, 2015 is officially the Second Annual Poison Ivy Day. You missed the first Annual PI Day? For goodness sake, you need to pay closer attention! Virginia is the pioneer state on this one, but we are pretty sure others will be following our lead by next year. California… [Read More]