Month: November 2017


In the “Old Days” this would be classified as a Cut-and-Save article. I think that it is a good idea to have a glossary of plant-related classification terms, so I would like to post a list of definitions from the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (Connecticut):

Native, Invasive, and Other Plant-Related Definitions

Native Plant

A plant that is a part of the balance of nature that has developed over hundreds or thousands of years in a particular region or ecosystem. Note: The word native should always be used with a geographic qualifier (that is, native to New England [for example]). Only plants found in this country before European settlement are considered to be native to the United States.

Invasive Plant

A plant that is both non-native and able to establish on many sites, grow quickly, and spread to the point of disrupting plant communities or ecosystems. Note: From the Presidential Executive Order 13112 (February 1999): ‘An invasive species is defined as a species that is 1) non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and 2) whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.’ In contrast to item 2) of the Executive Order, which includes plants invasive in agricultural settings, the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group lists non-native plants as invasive only if they invade minimally managed (natural) areas.

Non-Native Plant

A plant introduced with human help (intentionally or accidentally) to a new place or new type of habitat where it was not previously found. Note: Not all non-native plants are invasive. In fact, when many non-native plants are introduced to new places, they cannot reproduce or spread readily without continued human help (for example, many ornamental plants).

Naturalized Plant

A non-native plant that does not need human help to reproduce and maintain itself over time in an area where it is not native. Notes: Even though their offspring reproduce and spread naturally (without human help), naturalized plants do not, over time, become native members of the local plant community. Many naturalized plants are found primarily near human-dominated areas; and, sometimes, naturalized is used (confusingly) to refer specifically to naturally reproducing, non-native plants that do not invade areas dominated by native vegetation. However, since invasive plants also reproduce and spread without human help, they also are naturalized. Invasives are a small, but troublesome, sub-category of naturalized plants.

Exotic Plant

A plant not native to the continent on which it is now found. (Plants from Europe are exotic in North America; plants from North America are exotic in Japan.)

Translocated Plant

A plant not native to the portion of the continent where it is now found. (California Poppies in New England are an example of a translocated species.)

Opportunistic Native Plant

A native plant that is able to take advantage of disturbance to the soil or existing vegetation to spread quickly and out-compete the other plants on the disturbed site.


Common Usage – A weed is a plant (native or non-native) that is not valued in the place where it is growing (USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)). Definition – Any plant that poses a major threat to agriculture and/or natural ecosystems within the United States.

Noxious Weed

Common Usage – A plant that is particularly troublesome. Legal Context (Federal Plant Protection Act) – Any plant or plant product that can directly or indirectly injure or cause damage to crops (including nursery stock or plant products), livestock, poultry or other interests of agriculture, irrigation, navigation, the natural resources of the United States, the public health, or the environment. Note: USDA APHIS maintains a list of federally-recognized noxious weeds. It is illegal to import Federally listed noxious weeds or transport them across state lines. Some states or counties maintain lists and have passed laws regarding responsibilities for their control.

Constant Flux

A third peculiarity about the forest is that it exhibits a dynamic beauty. A Beethoven symphony or a poem of Shelley, a landscape by Corot or a Gothic cathedral, once it is finished becomes virtually static. But the wilderness is in constant flux. A seed germinates, and a stunted seedling battles for decades against the dense shade of the virgin forest. Then some ancient tree blows down and the long-suppressed plant suddenly enters into the full vigor of delayed youth, grows rapidly from sapling to maturity, declines into the conky senility of many centuries, dropping millions of seeds to start a new forest upon the rotting debris of its own ancestors, and eventually topples over to admit the sunlight which ripens another woodland generation.

Bob Marshall (Founder of The Wilderness Society)


All knowledge is related. When we know more about the corner of the world where we live, we know more about the green and fragile planet which is home to all humans. Our own little spark of curiosity is part of the immense mystery which surrounds all life. I learned that no corner of the world was without wonder, that every living creature or plant or drop of water holds miracles if we would look, listen, think, relate.

Wilma Dykeman–Explorations


In the wild a plant and its pests are continually coevolving, in a dance of resistance and conquest that can have no ultimate victor. But coevolution ceases in an orchard of grafted trees, since they are genetically identical from generation to generation. The problem very simply is that the apple trees no longer reproduce sexually, as they do when they’re grown from seed, and sex is nature’s way of creating fresh genetic combinations. At the same time the viruses, bacteria, fungi, and insects keep very much at it, reproducing sexually and continuing to evolve until eventually they hit on the precise genetic combination that allows them to overcome whatever resistance the apples may have once possessed. Suddenly total victory is in the pests’ sight—unless, that is, people come to the tree’s rescue, wielding the tools of modern chemistry.

Michael Pollan–The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World

Without Nature

Even in purely economic terms, the opportunity costs of extinction are going to prove enormous. Research on just small numbers of wild species has yielded major advances in the quality of human life — an abundance of pharmaceuticals, new biotechnology, and advances in agriculture. If there were no fungi of the right kind, there would be no antibiotics. Without wild plants with edible stems, fruit and seeds available for selective breeding, there would be no cities, and no civilization. No wolves, no dogs. No wild fowl, no chickens. No horses and camelids, no overland journeys except by hand-pulled vehicles and backpacks. No forests to purify water and pay it out gradually, no agriculture except with less productive dryland crops. No wild vegetation and phytoplankton, not enough air to breathe. Without nature, finally, no people.

Edward O. Wilson


The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour. Then there is least somnolence in us; and for an hour, at least, some part of us awakes which slumbers all the rest of the day and night… All memorable events, I should say, transpire in morning time and in a morning atmosphere. The Vedas say, “All intelligences awake with the morning.

Henry David Thoreau–Walden; or, Life in the Woods

Beauty of Creation

A Prayer of Gratitude for Creation

God of the universe,

We thank You for Your many good gifts –

For the beauty of Creation and its rich and varied fruits,

For clean water and fresh air, for food and shelter, animals and plants.

Forgive us for the times we have taken the earth’s resources

for granted

And wasted what You have given us.

Transform our hearts and minds

So that we would learn to care and share,

To touch the earth with gentleness and with love,

Respecting all living things.

We pray for all those who suffer as a result of our waste,

greed and indifference,

And we pray that the day would come when everyone has enough

food and clean water.

Help us to respect the rights of all people and all species 

And help us to willingly share your gifts

Today and always. Amen.

Fiona Murdoch–Eco-congregation Ireland

Thanksgiving II

Yesterday I posted a list, as compiled by Doug Tallamy (Bringing Nature Home, 2007), of the best native trees and shrubs in the Mid-Atlantic area for supporting butterflies and moths . Today I would like to post his list of the best native herbaceous perennials and flowers. Both of these lists are comprised of species that provide nectar for the butterfly and moth adult as well as food for the caterpillars. I am thankful that I have specimens from 17 of these 21 genera represented on my little piece of land. There is more work to do . . .

Common Name Genus Number of
Goldenrod Solidago 115
Asters Aster 112
Sunflower Helianthus 73
Joe Pye (Boneset) Eupatorium 42
Morning Glory Ipomoea 39
Sedges Carex 36
Honeysuckle Lonicera 36
Lupine Lupinus 33
Violets Viola 29
Geraniums Geranium 23
Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia 17
Iris Iris 17
Evening Primrose Oenothera 16
Milkweed Asclepias 12
Verbena Verbena 11
Beardtongue Penstemon 8
Phlox Phlox 8
Bee Balm Monarda 7
Veronica Veronica 6
Little Blue Stem Schizachyrium 6
Cardinal Flower Lobelia 4

Thanksgiving I

During this week of Thanksgiving, I would like to share a list compiled by Doug Tallamy of the best native trees and shrubs in the Mid-Atlantic area for supporting butterflies and moths (Bringing Nature Home, 2007). I am thankful that I have 11 of these species on my little piece of land.

Common Name Genus Number of
Oak Quercus 534
Black Cherry Prunus 456
Willow Salix 455
Birch Betula 413
Poplar Populus 368
Crabapple Malus 311
Blueberry Vaccinium 288
Maple Acer 285
Elm Ulmus 213
Pine Pinus 203
Hickory Carya 200
Hawthorn Crataegus 159
Spruce Picea 156
Alder Alnus 156
Basswood Tilia 150
Ash Fraxinus 150
Rose Rosa 139
Filbert Corylus 131
Walnut Juglans 130
Beech Fagus 126
Chestnut Castanea 125



It was a black and white day of frost, which crawled along the dark trees and outlined twig and branch. The air was misty, and distant objects assumed a mysterious importance. Slight sounds, too, suggested infinite activities to the mind.

Robert S. Hitchens–A Tribute Of Souls