Sassafras – May 2018 Wildflower of the Month

April 22, 2018

SASSAFRAS (Sassafras albidum) By Helen Hamilton This tree is unique for its three distinctive leaf shapes: entire, mitten-shaped, and three-lobed, all on the same tree. In mid-April little bunches of yellow-green flower clusters are scattered profusely over the tree, drooping as the leaves emerge.  The green twigs, bark and leaves carry aromatic oils – spicy-fragrant…

Gingers – May 2018 Wildflower of the Month

April 22, 2018

By Helen Hamilton, John Clayton Chapter, VNPS The gingers growing in the woods in our area are not related to the ginger root sold in stores. Garden ginger (Zingiber officinale) is native to Southeast Asia, China, India and New Guinea and is grown worldwide for uses as food and medicine. Information is available online about…

Smooth Alder – March 2018 Wildflower of the Month

February 28, 2018

Smooth Alder (Alnus serrulata) is a multi-stemmed small tree or large shrub with shiny gray-brown bark that reaches 15 feet tall.  Both male and female flowering structures persist through the winter.  In winter, smooth alder can be recognized instantly by two reproductive structures.  The small cone-like female catkins are from the female flower of the…

Catbrier – February 2018 Wildflower of the Month

January 14, 2018

 Greenbrier, Catbrier, Sawbrier, Bullbrier, Carrion-flower – members of this genus have many common names, none of them conveying that of a friendly plant. Rather, the leaves of many species have strong prickles, and the stems have thorns to hook onto branches of other plants. New homeowners of old farms and less-than-new houses often find part…

Persimmon – November 2017 Wildflower of the Month

January 14, 2018

Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is a beautiful native tree that produces luscious fruit and yellow, red or purple leaves in the fall. With its dark-colored bark, cut into little blocks, Persimmon is easy to recognize while walking woodland trails. Flowering Dogwood also has blocky bark, but the branches form twigs that are opposite each other –…

Sourwood – December 2017 Wildflower of the Month

January 14, 2018

Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) is a rewarding tree in all seasons; in spring the tree is covered with lacy white fronds of flowers, suggesting its other name, “lily of the valley tree”.  Fall turns the leaves deep red and the fingers of white flowers become clusters of creamy fruits. Many members of the heath family have…

Black Walnut – January 2018 Wildflower of the Month

January 14, 2018

Black walnut (Juglans nigra) is one of our most valuable and beautiful native trees.  Before extensive colonization Black Walnut was a dominant canopy species, reaching 150 feet or more in height. But clearing for agriculture, harvesting for export to Britain, and making railroad ties, log cabins and cabinets greatly reduced the species. This tree is native…

Nature Camp Recipients

December 6, 2017

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Woolgrass – October 2017 Wildflower of the Month

October 9, 2017

Not usually a first choice for gardens, Woolgrass (Scirpus cyperinus) grows next to ponds, streambeds, and roadside ditches, where it forms colonies that hold soil and prevent erosion. In naturalized areas this plant looks great with late-blooming fall asters, goldenrods and native shrubs – it’s a nice choice for rain gardens and low moist spots.…

2018 Nature Camp Scholarships!

September 27, 2017

Five local organizations are now accepting applications for scholarships for the Summer 2018 sessions of Nature Camp at Vesuvius, Virginia, in the George Washington National Forest. Applicants need only submit one application to be considered by these five organizations. Nature Camp is a two-week, co-educational, academic camp that emphasizes education in natural history and environmental…