Hairy Bracken Fern – 30 December 2016

This bracken fern is another species of fern that we found on our nature walk. This variety is called the Hairy Bracken Fern or Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn var. pubescens Underw. It differs from the Bracken Fern commonly found on the Patuxent Research Refuge with shorted terminal segments on the well-developed pinnules, The Hairy Bracken Fern is found in Western
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Western Sword Fern – 30 December 2016

Western Swordfern growing in Bellevue, Washington 30 December 2016. The Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum (Kaulf.) C. Presl) is an evergreen fern found on the west coast of North America from Southeastern Alaska to Southern California. There are isolated populations in the Black Hills in South Dakota and on Guadalupe Island off Baja California. Its favorite habitat is in the
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Nature Hike with Granddaughters in Bellevue – 30 December 2016

Today,my granddaughters in Seattle and I took a hike on the Boeing Trails in Bellevue Washington. We saw several types of native trees as well as the non-native American Holly. We also saw the Western Sword Fern and the ubiquitous blackberry patches, which are common in the urban areas in Western Washington.

Hyssop-leaf Thoroughwort and Torrey’s Thoroughwort

This time we will examine two similar species of Thoroughwort (sometimes called boneset) – Hyssop-leaf Thoroughwort (Eupatorium hyssopifolium L.) and Torrey’s Thoroughwort (Eupatorium torreyanum Short & Peter). The synonym Eupatorium hyssopifolium L. var. laciniatum A. Gray is sometimes applied to Torrey’s Thoroughwort. The difference between the two species is subtle, but distinct and is mainly seen on the leaves. The
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Bald Cypress – Taxodium distichum – 24 June 2016

Today, I forayed on the South Tract and spotted a bunch of Bald Cypress trees thriving in a swampy area next to Reddington Lake.  Bald Cypress is not native this far north, but can do all right when planted in the right place.  In this case, they were planted by Fran Uhler back in the 1960’s or 1970’s.  They are
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Wild Yam – Dioscorea villosa – 18 June 2016

Several vines of wild yam (Discorea villosa) were spotted in full bloom along the Knowles 1 Pond on the South Tract. Wild Yam is common in North America ranging from Ontario on the North, along the Eastern Seaboard to Florida and West to Texas and Nebraska. It purportedly has medicinal properties, including as an anti-cancer treatment. However, according to the
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Bottlebrush Buckeye – Aesculus parviflora – 24 May 2016

On the way home from work today, I took a bunch of pictures of two established colonies of Aesculus parviflora (Bottlebrush Buckeye) near our home. One of them was in the middle of someone’s lawn and the other one was in the woods.  I first spotted them six years ago, and they have spread since then. The latter one ran for
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Pecan! – 21 May 2016

Today in front of the old house in which the Refuge superintendent used to live, I spotted a pecan tree (Carya illinoinensis). The pecan is native to Mexico and southeastern USA, but not Maryland.  This specimen is handsome. I wonder if it will produce pecan nuts in the fall.

21 May 2016 – Temple Grass – Zoysia matrella

Today, I found an interesting exotic on the Central Tract. It is called Temple Grass and the scientific name is Zoysia matrella. This native to East Asia and northern Australia is sometimes planted in North America as a lawn grass. Its matting nature makes it a natural for planting on golf course greens. It is tolerant to high salinity and
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7 November 2015 – Plant Mounting Party

8 October 2015 – Rare plant – Pluchea camphorata (camphor pluchea or marsh fleabane)

It’s been a while since I blogged here. This time we will look at an obscure plant called Camphor Pluchea or Marsh Fleabane. Its scientific name is Pluchea camphorata. This member of Asteraceae is listed by the Maryland State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as a endangered species (S1 E). This species grows in clumps in a narrow stretch of
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1 August 2015 – Apparent Weevil Damage to Mile-a-Minute

Today I spotted several patches of Mile-a-Minute (Persicaria perfoliata) which has sustained some apparent severe insect damage in the “Savanna” restoration area. I understand that weevils have been released on the refuge. I wonder if this is not damage by weevils. There are weevils which are natural enemies to the Mile-a-Minute in Asia where it is native, but using it
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27 July 2015 – Milkweeds of Patuxent – Part 1 – Common Milkweed

Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) are important to the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) because its larva feeds exclusively on it. The recent decline of the Monarch butterfly population has sparked an interest saving it by planting milkweed. The Friends of Patuxent is sponsoring an effort to plant milkweed on the Patuxent Research Refuge. The Patuxent Research Refuge is home to six species
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25 July 2015 – Japanese Stilt Grass

Photo above: Close-up of inflorescence – 18 September 2010. Japanese stilt grass (Microstegium vimineum (Trin.) A. Camus) is a common invasive plant from Asia that has spread to 26 states. Infestations of it can alter native plant communities, change and suppress native insects, and slow plant succession. The good news is that the removal of it can lead to a
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3 July 2015 – The Quest to Find the Sundew on Schafer Farm

ABOVE PHOTO: A view of Schafer Lake with water lilies (Click on the thumbnails below for full views.) The objective today was to find the Sundew that had been reported as occurring on the Schafer Farm section of the Refuge’s Central Tract. I had heard that it was next to a pond that I had not been to before. The
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2 July 2015 – Mushroom Cornucopia!!!

(Photo above – the twelve different types of mushrooms collected today) Click on the thumbnails below for full views.) After all the rain we have received this past several days, the mushrooms on the Refuge were popping up all over, a real cornucopia. So, today I decided to look for as many different kinds as I could. I ended up
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27 June 2015 – Eastern Mud Turtle

Rain was the theme of the day at the Refuge today. I drove around a bit to see what was going on, and came across another turtle trying to cross the road. This time it was a male Eastern Mud Turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum.) Mud turtles prefer to spend their time in water or moist locations, but I assumed this little
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26 June 2015 – Welchs Bog

(Photo above: Close-up of an Indian Cucumber (Medeola virginiana) flower found in this bog.) (Click on the thumbnails below for full views.) Spent about 3.5 hours on the refuge today. My main task was to locate the boggy area just north of the “Savanna” off of Sweet Gum Lane. I did not know what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised.
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26 June 2015 – Plants are Wildlife Too

We are in print – The Friends of Patuxent Newsletter, Summer 2015, Page 3. Check it out. (Click on picture for full view.)

26 June 2015 – Indian Cucumber – Medeola virginiana

Today, I spotted some Indian cucumber (Medeola virginiana L.) at Chestnut Oak Bog growing on a sphagnum moss hummock. One of the plants (pictured here) was blooming and was setting seed. This interesting looking member of the family Liliaceae is found in Eastern North America from Ontario and Quebec in the North, and Minnesota to Louisiana on the West. It
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