The Curious Pawpaw

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter The Pawpaw, Asimina triloba, is a handsome small tree that is as fascinating as it is curious. Pawpaw is a member of the Custard-Apple Family, the Annonaceae, a large family of tropical and subtropical species. Ranging from Florida and Texas north to New York and Southern Ontario, Pawpaw is…

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Magical Mexican Dogwoods: What Should We Call Them?

By W. John Hayden, Botany Chair Who knew? Cornus florida, the 2018 VNPS Wildflower of the Year and State Tree of Virginia, has a cousin living in the mountains of eastern Mexico! Mexican Dogwoods have been found in the states of Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz. They are, manifestly, close relatives of the familiar Flowering…

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Partridge-berry Is Bright All Year

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter Partridge-berry (Mitchella repens) is a handsome evergreen vine that creeps along the ground reaching only 2” high. Its long trailing stems can reach 12” long but it develops roots at nodes along the stem wherever it touches the ground, creating large dense colonies. Widespread across eastern North America, it…

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Baldcypress: Towering Virginia Icon

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter Baldcypress, Taxodium distichum, our November Plant of the Month, is an unforgettable sight all year. But in late fall when its soft foliage turns vibrant shades of copper-orange, it lights up the entire landscape. These trees are called “bald” because, unlike most other conifers, they are deciduous and lose…

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Narrow-leaf Mountain Mint: Pollinator Magnet

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter All of the species of Mountain-mints are virtual pollinator and butterfly magnets! They are always “humming” with butterflies and pollinators and their handsome foliage and long-lasting flowers make them summer garden stars. Of the twelve species in Virginia, Narrow-leaf Mountain-Mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium) is certainly one of the most attractive…

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Showy Swamp Rose

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter June is always an exciting month in the many freshwater wetlands in the Northern Neck and beyond as many plants come into bloom. And one of the showiest blooms belongs to our beautiful Swamp Rose, Rosa palustris, an upright, deciduous shrub typically reaching 3 – 6’ high and wide,…

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Blue-Eyed Grass Blooms for Bees and Butterflies

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter Narrow-leaved Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) is a lovely small perennial typically reaching only 6 – 12” high and wide but in late spring it lights up the landscape wherever it grows. This is a “grass” only in name as it is a member of the Iris family, with linear,…

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Marsh Marigold: A Spring Tonic

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter Today, the first day of April, has dawned cold with rain and winds after a week of mild weather, and I seek solace in the first harbingers of spring. A hike to Cabin Swamp in Hickory Hollow Natural Area Preserve is just the spring tonic needed. Sure enough, the…

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Redbud is Ready for Spring

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter As signs of spring fill the air, I find myself eagerly anticipating the vibrant magenta pink blooms of one of our most beautiful flowering trees, the Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis). This small tree is a common sight along roadsides, woodland edges, and old fields in Virginia in late March…

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Skunk Cabbage Secrets

By Nancy Sorrells On this winter weather Valentine’s Day I decided to journey back into the forest behind our property to the secret place I know where the globally rare Swamp Pink (Helonias bullata) grows. Today’s visit was not to see Swamp Pink, which is still sleeping and will not send up its amazing pink…

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