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Register for Our Annual Meeting September 27–29 in Front Royal

Register for Our Annual Meeting September 27–29 in Front Royal

Register for Our Annual Meeting September 27–29 in Front Royal

SCBI Racetrack Hill Native Meadow by Charlotte Lorick

SCBI Racetrack Hill Native Meadow by Charlotte Lorick

SCBI Racetrack Hill Native Meadow by Charlotte Lorick

Ceanothus americanus - VNPS 2019 Wildflower of the Year - Photo by Betty Truax
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Check out upcoming Native Plant Sales!

Check out upcoming Native Plant Sales!

Check out upcoming Native Plant Sales!

Downy Rattlensnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens)

Downy Rattlensnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens)

Downy Rattlensnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens)

Ceanothus americanus - VNPS 2019 Wildflower of the Year - Photo by Betty Truax

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2019 Wildflower of the Year: New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)

2019 Wildflower of the Year: New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)

2019 Wildflower of the Year: New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)

Photo by Betty Truax

Photo by Betty Truax

Photo by Betty Truax

Ceanothus americanus - VNPS 2019 Wildflower of the Year - Photo by Betty Truax
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Mountains with Flame Azaleas

Mountains with Flame Azaleas

Mountains with Flame Azaleas

Photo by Nancy Vehrs

Photo by Nancy Vehrs

Photo by Nancy Vehrs

Ceanothus americanus - VNPS 2019 Wildflower of the Year - Photo by Betty Truax
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Eupatorium at Bull Run

Eupatorium at Bull Run

Eupatorium at Bull Run

Photo by Brigitte Hartke

Photo by Brigitte Hartke

Photo by Brigitte Hartke

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News & Updates

Register now for the 2019 Annual Meeting and Conference in Front Royal on the weekend September 27-29. new

Chris Ludwig was driven by the "Spirit of Inquiry".

Don't miss all the news and information in the Spring, 2019 Sempervirens newsletter.

VNPS Member Catherine Ledec was named the Fairfax County 2018 Citizen of the Year.

Latest Facebook Posts

Virginia Native Plant Society

Virginia Native Plant Society

Greetings, VNPS Members!
The latest Sempervirens is online at http://www.vnps.org! Read more about our upcoming Annual Meeting hosted by the Piedmont Chapter on September 27-29 in Front Royal. Learn about the Bayard's Adders-Mouth Orchid and nitrogen fixation in the roots of Ceanothus, our 2019 Wildflower of the Year. Travel to both Texas Hill Country and the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario as members recount two VNPS field trips. News about new VNPS leadership, native bumblebees slowing down the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a botanical art exhibit, and sumac galls round out other offerings. And my own president's message describes a visit to Capitol Hill on behalf of the "Botany Bill."

Nancy Vehrs, President

Virginia Native Plant Society

Virginia Native Plant Society

Rose-pinks, Sabatia angularis, a member of the Gentian family, are found in nearly all counties of Virginia. According to the Digital Atlas of Virginia Flora, its habitat is "dry, open forests, woodlands, and barrens; more numerous in old fields, clearings, dry to wet meadows, and other disturbed habitats. Tolerates a wide range of soil chemistries but often most abundant in base-rich soils. Frequent throughout." This specimen was found blooming near the side of a road in Western Prince William County.

Virginia Native Plant Society

Virginia Native Plant Society

Have you been seeing this on your walks lately? Found In diverse wetland habitats, including floodplain forests, as well as low mesic forests and various disturbed sites, it is common throughout Virginia. It is a native plant; known as False Nettle, (Boehmeria cylindrica). It’s called False because it lacks the stinging hairs of most members of the Nettle (Urticaceae) family. Generally from 2-3 feet high, with some branching. Flowers are wind pollinated, but leaves are fed on by a variety of butterfly caterpillars, including the Comma,(Polygonia comma), Question Mark, (Polygonia interrogationis ), Red Admiral, (Vanessa atalanta). You may see spindle-shaped galls from the fly larvae on the stems.

Virginia Native Plant Society

Virginia Native Plant Society

And just what kind of orchids may be blooming now, you ask? Well, Southern Slender Ladies'-tresses, (Spiranthes lacera var. gracilis), is a native orchid that has a wide distribution throughout Virginia. Commonly found in moist to dry fields, clearings, roadsides, and occasionally in mown lawns. It produces 2-4 basal leaves which usually wither before or at the time of flowering in summer or fall. It bears an inflorescence of up to 40 small white flowers arranged in a tight spiral. Distinguish it from other species of Spiranthes by the distinctive green spot on its labellum - the central petal at the base of an orchid flower.

Virginia Native Plant Society

Virginia Native Plant Society

Have you registered for our annual meeting yet? Some field trips are beginning to fill up. September 27-29 in Front Royal!

Our field trip to Jeremy's Run still has space and is described as follows: Enjoy the special beauty of Shenandoah National park with an active woodland hike. The trail starts at Skyline Drive and crisscrosses Jeremy’s Run, a tributary of the Shenandoah River, multiple times. The trail provides a particularly lovely setting and a nice selection of forest flora. This is an easy hike with only moderate elevation change, but hiking poles are advised for fording the creek on stepping stones. (Photo by Karen Hendershot)

For more information, and to register, see https://vnps.org/annual-meeting-2019-welcome/ .

Virginia Native Plant Society

Virginia Native Plant Society

"What are those beautiful berries?" some people ask. It may exhibit some lovely colored berries, but this vine is evil in our environment! Porcelain-berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata) is an Asian species that was brought to North America in 1870 for use as an ornamental vine. It rapidly escaped cultivation into natural areas. According to the Blue Ridge Partnership for Invasive Species Management (PRISM), "[T]his escape artist operates by growing faster than almost anything else around it, except for kudzu, and perhaps Japanese honeysuckle, with which it likes to pal around. Porcelain-berry may grow 15 to 20 feet in a single growing season. It runs right over and shades out most desirable plants while competing with them for moisture and nutrients. It has a deep taproot and also sends out shallow roots far and wide. These spreading roots sprout suckers that then create a massive thicket."

Porcelain-berry prefers full to part sun in moist soil and can be found primarily in edge habitats and disturbed areas. For more information about this invasive vine and ways to combat it, check out this fact sheet from the Blue Ridge PRISM: http://blueridgeprism.org/wpcontent/uploads/2017/06/Porcelain-berry-Factsheet-5-27-17-VDOF-w-Box-FINAL.pdf.

Virginia Native Plant Society

Virginia Native Plant Society

Often maligned for its DISobedience, lovely Obedient Plant, Physostegia virginiana, attracts many pollinators, including the state insect tiger swallowtail shown here. Called obedient because its individual flowers remain in place when bent, it can be disobedient in its tendency to spread rapidly in rich, moist garden soil. If you garden, keep this flower in check with benign neglect.

This member of the mint family is also known as False Dragonhead because of its snapdragon-like flowers. According to the Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora, "two varieties [of Physostegia virginiana] are present in Virginia: var. praemorsa (Shinners) Cantino, clump-forming with short rhizomes and bracts usually present below the lowest flowers; and var. virginiana, colonial from long rhizomes and without floral bracts. Virginia herbarium specimens have generally not been sorted out as to variety, and individual distribution maps will not be available until a systematic study of herbarium material is completed. Some naturally occurring plants in Virginia may be intermediate between the vars., and escaped cultivars may represent inter-varietal hybrids.

Var. virginiana inhabits stream banks, seeps, riverside prairies and outcrops, disturbed alluvial soils, damp clearings, and ditches. It is Infrequent throughout but most frequent in the western part of the state. Var. praemorsa is known from dry, rocky woodlands and barrens over limestone and dolomite in the sw. mountains (Ridge and Valley province), where it is infrequent and local; its status is poorly known and it could occur elsewhere. In addition, this species is frequently cultivated, and a few of the records from weedier habitats (especially in the eastern part of the state) may represent escapes."

Virginia Native Plant Society

Virginia Native Plant Society

At our March workshop in Charlottesville, Rebecca Wilson, Regional Supervisor/Longleaf Pine Restoration Specialist/Eastern Fire Manager for the Natural Heritage Division of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, regaled us with information about restoration efforts for longleaf pines. She even introduced us to Pipa (short for Pinus palustris), a tall costumed mascot for the program. Read more about these important trees in this news article.

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The Importance of Preserving Our Natural Areas

By SUZANNE DINGWELL | August 3, 2015

This year members of the Virginia Native Plant Society will continue their support of natural area preservation throughout the state. These efforts take place at the local and regional level, and VNPS as a whole will focus on raising funds to support land acquisition to expand the Cedars Area Natural Area Preserve. The importance of… [Read More]

Trees Bring People Together

By SUZANNE DINGWELL | July 22, 2015

Last Saturday five concerned groups joined forces to show their appreciation for a small park in the city of Alexandria, a park where the biggest shade trees are in danger of disappearing. VNPS members were joined by Tree Stewards, Master Naturalists, members of the local Gladiators basketball team, the West Alexandria Rotary Club, and the… [Read More]

Can Invasive Plants Be Valuable?

By SUZANNE DINGWELL | July 5, 2015

Our Capital Naturalist, Alonso Abugattas, recently took action in response to a misinformed  article that ran last week in a Virginia paper touting the benefits of invasive, non-native plants. We thought his comments deserving of a wider audience and he has kindly given us permission to print his letter to the editor of that paper,… [Read More]

Native Moths, Native Plants, Natural Connections

By SUZANNE DINGWELL | July 1, 2015

My interest in natural history started with birds – their form, color, shapes, and diversity fascinated me! But then in 1981 I got my Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide and that was all she wrote! Plants were my new love –  like birds, there was form, color, shape, and diversity; unlike birds, they kept still! I could… [Read More]

How To Start A Native Plant Garden

By SUZANNE DINGWELL | June 27, 2015

How do I start? Many people wrestle with this question after deciding they want to transform their existing yard into a native plant garden. When Susan and Jim Graham first made that decision they described their existing yard as “ mostly turf grass with an azalea mustache;”  a look  typical of many of the landscapes… [Read More]

Plant Profile: Horseweed, Conyza canadensis

By SUZANNE DINGWELL | June 25, 2015

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]

The Right Kind of Pollinator Garden

By SUZANNE DINGWELL | June 14, 2015

A couple of reminders, if folks will, regarding pollinator gardens, especially those to attract and host Monarch butterflies: The overarching principle for all ecological restoration plantings (i.e., those involving the correct use of native plants in parks, waterways, and natural areas) is to “Do No Harm” to the native flora, communities, wildlife, and natural landscape… [Read More]

Specialist Bees Need Special Plants

By SUZANNE DINGWELL | May 30, 2015

Sam Droege, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Biologist, and a bee expert who has studied native bees all around the world, gave a presentation on specialist bees and the plants that support them at the Arlington Library on May 11, 2015. The talk was sponsored jointly by the VNPS Potowmack Chapter, and the Arlington Regional… [Read More]

Atlantic Coast Pipeline Update, May 2015

By SUZANNE DINGWELL | May 24, 2015

In an attempt to keep our members informed about the process and progress of the construction of the new pipeline through Virginia, we have recently added four documents to the website under the Pipeline tab, (which is listed under ‘Conservation’ in the navigation bar). Our Conservation Chairperson, Marcia Mabee Bell, has been tireless in keeping… [Read More]

Hiwassee: A Floral Delight!

By SUZANNE DINGWELL | May 9, 2015

The New River Trail provided a welcome dose of colorful spring flowers for the members of our New River Chapter and their friends last month. This trail is is actually a 57-mile linear park that follows an abandoned railroad right-of-way paralleling the scenic and historic New River. Old rail beds make gentle hiking and the… [Read More]