Posts Tagged ‘native plants’

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Natural Christmas Tree Decorations

“What a horrifyingly garish sight,” I said to my friend as we surveyed my Christmas tree last year. We had just finished decorating it and my eyes were sending messages to my brain, like, “Hey, this is really tacky.”

Truth is, the décor I had accumulated after years of city dwelling in my sassy twenties looked awfully out of place in my humble Vermont cabin. What I once thought dazzling – glitter-coated icicles, a miniature disco ball, a purple-feathered bird with jeweled eyes, flocks of shiny gold and green balls – now looked as out of place as a pink flamingo at my bird feeder. Even the duck decoy my great uncle carved seemed to give the gaudy fiasco an alarmed stare. Such a tree no longer belonged in my world. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 2, 2019

Evergreen Ferns Can Be Enjoyed Year Round

Christmas Fern by Adelaide TyrolWalking through the woods on a crisp December day, I spotted a flash of green among the rocks, snaking up through the snow. Greenery in a forest full of gray and white is a treat, and so I stooped to study the fern frond that was firmly attached to a rock.

In the Northeast, there are four common evergreen ferns: rock polypody (Polypodium virginianum), Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), marginal wood fern (Dryopteris marginalis), and intermediate or evergreen wood fern (Dryopteris intermedia).

Clearly this was a fern, and there are only four common ones to choose from, but how to tell which fern was peeking up at me through the rocks? Some clear differences help identify these evergreen neighbors. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

American Witch Hazel: A New York Native

American witch-hazel plant by Judy GallagherAs one of the only native plants that blooms in late fall and early winter, American witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) can be found stealing the forest spotlight right now.

While most of our native bloomers turn in for a long winter’s nap, the streamer-like flowers of this plant are just starting to appear, following the annual loss of the shrub’s leaves. These highly-fragrant yellow blooms typically last into December. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 3, 2019

Growing Berries in the North Country

a new strawberry variety created by Cornell courtesy Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life SciencesThere are several types of cultivated berries grown in Northern New York. Among the most popular are strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, although several other minor fruits (e.g. currants, gooseberries) are grown, as well.

Starter plants are relatively inexpensive and, once established, the plantings are reasonably easy to maintain. They last for years and the fruit is incredibly flavorful when picked fresh. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, September 15, 2019

Pitcher Plants Turn Food Chain Upside Down

pitcher plant As a kid, I was fascinated and terrified by the idea of carnivorous plants. Growing up in suburban New Jersey, my only exposure to this particular subset of the plant kingdom was the ravenous, larger-than-life Venus fly trap in Little Shop of Horrors.

If I stumbled upon a carnivorous plant in real life, I wondered, would it have teeth? If I ventured too close, would it grab on to my finger and never let go? » Continue Reading.


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Ferns Talk And Walk At Mt. Independence

mount independenceForest ecologist Lynn Levine is set to lead a walk and talk, during which she will teach attendees how to identify ferns of the Northeast, on Saturday, September 14th, from 1 to 3:30 pm, at the Mount Independence State Historic Site in Orwell, Vermont. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 7, 2019

Wet, Wild and Wonderful Bogs and Fens

bog by adelaide tyrol“Squish, squash.” I was walking gingerly on a soft, spongy carpet of sphagnum moss in a northern Vermont bog. Magenta blossoms decorated the sheep laurel shrubs that lined the edge of the open wetland – beyond them the pointed spires of balsam fir and black spruce reached towards the sky. Ahead of me, the white tufts at the ends of cotton grass waved in the breeze. I took another step. There was a sucking sound, and a cold, wet feeling as my right foot suddenly sank a couple of feet into the bog. It was challenging to get it out without falling in entirely, but I finally extricated my muddy boot and vowed to buy some high rubber boots for future wetland exploration. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Give Guiltless Goldenrod A Break

common goldenrod and a pollinating Cerceris waspWhile most plants respond to the shorter days of late summer by starting to wind down their business for the season, goldenrod is a “short-day” plant, the kind that is stimulated to bloom by dwindling daylight. It’s a perennial in the aster family, and is widespread across North America. Continent-wide, we have something on the order of 130 species of goldenrod in the genus Solidago.

As one of the most abundant blooms of late summer and autumn, this native wildflower is for many pollinators, including numerous bee species, a vital source of nectar as well as of nutritious pollen. Unfortunately, this latter item has given goldenrod a black eye among many allergy sufferers. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 5, 2019

Ferns and Mosses Hike Planned Near Split Rock

Naturalist Audrey HysonChamplain Area Trails (CATS) is set to host a hike led by Audrey Hyson, Saturday, August 17, on the Flying Squirrel Trail, between Westport and Essex.

Hyson writes the “Everyday Naturalist” column for Adirondac magazine and is an experienced naturalist. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Native Lupine, Pollinators and the Karner Blue

lupine by adelaide tyrolLupine is one of the most spectacular flowers of early summer, painting long stretches of roadside with shades of purple and blue. Thanks to this tall, showy plant, even a stop-and-go drive to Boston’s Logan Airport has its moments of beauty (as I recently had occasion to observe). Full sun and dry, sandy soil are just right for lupine.

Although many people don’t know it, the lupine we typically see in the Northeast is “not from around here.” It’s a non-native plant that was imported to eastern gardens from parts of the western U.S. and escaped cultivation. Our native lupine is similar, but it is seen far less often and is, unfortunately, in regional decline. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Pollinator Garden Plant Sale Underway

If your community was recently treated to a bit of Adirondack snow, planning your summer garden is just the thing to get the focus back on spring. It’s interesting to hear the “ole timers” refer to late seasonal snow as “poor man’s fertilizer.”

Even if that spring snow helps add nutrients to my garden soil,  I want all my seasons to have an end. So while I wait, I plan my garden. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Conservation Minute: The Backyard Conservationist

lplc conservation minuteWhether you own acres of land or have a small flower garden, you have an important role to play in creating spaces that support wildlife. As our forests become more fragmented, its critical to start looking toward our front and back yards, and even our patios, to consider managing these spaces for biodiversity. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Indian Pipe: Ghost Flowers of the Forest

indian pipe On a walk in the woods in early fall, you may see a cluster of waxy, white stems with tiny, scale-like leaves rising out of the leaf litter or pine needles. At the end of each translucent stem is an odd, bell-shaped flower. This is Indian pipe, named for its resemblance to the clay pipes once smoked by Native Americans and early settlers.

Indian pipe, also known as corpse plant and ghost flower, has an unusual strategy for survival. It lacks the green pigment chlorophyll, and therefore cannot make its own food through photosynthesis as most plants do. Indian pipe and its relatives were formerly believed to live off decaying organic matter and were called saprophytes. However, more recent research has revealed that the plant is a parasite, sucking up nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi in the soil. Trees and mycorrhizal fungi have a symbiotic relationship: the fungi absorb nutrients from the trees; the trees benefit by increasing the surface area of their root systems, allowing them to drink in more water and minerals. Indian pipe interjects itself into this relationship, absorbing nutrients from the mycorrhizal fungi but giving nothing back. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Fifty Shades of Nightshade: From Delicious to Deadly

Deadly Nightshade courtesy Köhler's Medicinal Plants 1887Many nightshades are safe and delicious, and go well in sandwiches and sauces. A few are deadly, dished up mainly by criminals, but most occupy a gray area between these two extremes. Worldwide, there are around 2,700 shades of nightshade, a family known to Latin geeks as Solanaceae. The family comprises tasty crops like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, and tomatillos. It is also composed in part by jimsonweed and other shady characters which have wrought mayhem and death, both accidental and intentional, throughout history.

Nightshades are present on every continent except Antarctica, though Australia and South America have the greatest diversity, and overall numbers, of species. Tobacco is one of the most economically important nightshades, while other family members, for example petunias and Chinese lanterns, spice up our yards. The majority of nightshades are wild species, some of which have been used as sources of medicine for millennia. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Thank A (Native) Thistle

thistleThere will always be thistle, said the late U.S. Poet Laureate Maxine Kumin in one of her poems, because “Sheep will not eat it / nor horses nor cattle / unless they are starving.” She described it “choking the sweet grass / defeating the clover,” and pricking the hands with its spines.

Okay, I guess thistles are not everyone’s favorite wildflower, but I’ve always liked them. I’m not a farmer, so it’s easy for me to say. I like them because they’re pretty, they remind me of Scotland, and they’re like grocery stores for goldfinches. » Continue Reading.



Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.

Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.