This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge created by Helen Hamilton. To download the original PowerPoint presentations, visit www.fws.gov/northeast/easternshore/PLANT%20BOOK%20FOR%20ESVNWR.html
PLANT BOOK FOR EASTERN SHORE OF VIRGINIA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE Plant Book created by Helen Hamilton, ESVNWR Volunteer (2010-2011)
Each plant sheet carries a label on the top right-hand corner. The background color of the label provides instant information as to the plant’s native or non-native status: green for the plants that are native to Virginia, red for those plants that are non-native and invasive, and yellow for those plants that are non-native but not invasive. All photographs were Helen Hamilton on the refuge, unless otherwise noted. Line drawings are public domain, most are from USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 511. Others are credited as required. Distribution maps are public domain from www.plants.usda.gov. States where the plant is native are colored blue; where the plant is introduced, states are colored gray-purple. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy; if errors are noted, please contact us and bring them to our attention. From http://www.fws.gov/northeast/easternshore/PLANT%20BOOK%20FOR%20ESVNWR.html
Quick Links within this Guide
Grasses Sedges and Rushes Shrubs Trees Vines Wildflowers
NATIVE BIG BLUESTEM Andropogon gerardii POACEAE Grass Family
Description. Big Bluestem is a warm season, perennial bunchgrass with blue-green stems 4-8 ft. tall. The seedhead is usually branched into three parts and resembles a turkey’s foot. Fall color is maroonish-tan. Habitat. Grows in moist or dry open places; is quite drought-tolerant when in deep prairie soils because of its deep roots. Found in scattered counties across the state of Virginia, ranges from Quebec to Saskatchewan, and south to Florida and Arizona. Photographed along the Wise Point Boat Ramp roadway and along the entrance road at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms August-November. Comments. Big Bluestem is the star component of the Big Four native grass species that characterize the tallgrass prairies of central North America. Overgrazing has greatly reduced its habitat. This grass cannot take concentrated grazing; the seasonal grazing of migratory bison is what it has evolved to cope with. Big Bluestem provides cover for at least 24 species of songbirds and nesting sites or seeds, and is a larval host and nectar source for two species of skipper butterflies.
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Hitchcock, A.S. (rev. A. Chase). 1950. Manual of the grasses of the United States. USDA Miscellaneous Publication No. 200. Washington, DC.
NATIVE BROOMSEDGE Andropogon glomeratus POACEAE Grass Family
Description. This perennial plant is well-named, as it looks like a small up-turned broom. It grows about 4 feet tall, usually in clumps; the stems are pale green and branch at the tips. The flowering head is distinguished by many soft silky hairs. Habitat. Frequent in low, moist areas in full sun, particularly grassland swales and roadside ditches. Photographed along the roadway to Wise Point Boat Ramp at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms August-October.
Comments. The seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals, and the sturdy stems provide nesting material for birds and good cover for small animals. Broomsedge is a larval host plant for skipper and satyr butterflies. The plant is highly deer resistant.
NATIVE BROOMSEDGE Andropogon virginicus POACEAE Grass Family
Description. Often growing in poor soils, Broomsedge forms a stiff clump of light green stems 3 feet tall. Closely spaced along the stems, the seed heads are fuzzy with slender, straight awns. Habitat. Broomsedge is found in dry open soil, thin woods, fields, roadsides in every county in the state of Virginia. This grass is found chiefly on the coastal plain from Massachusetts to southern Ontario, Ohio, Missouri and Kansas, and south to Florida and Texas, blooming August through October. Comments. This grass can be confused with Splitbeard Bluestem, Andropogon ternarius, where the seedheads are also paired, but held together at the base. The paired seedheads of Broomsedge are more obviously separate.
INTRODUCED SWEET VERNAL GRASS Anthoxanthum odoratum POACEAE Grass Family
Description. A perennial grass of early spring, first green, then tan, this species will disappear by midsummer. The dense, soft tufts are 6 inches long, with 12-18 inch flowering stems that spray out over the plant. Habitat. A native of Europe, now introduced over most of eastern and western U.S., and nearly every county in Virginia. Grows in fields, roadsides and waste places. Blooms May through August. Comments. When the leaves are crushed, Sweet Vernal Grass smells like fresh-cut clover; children and adults enjoy pulling a sweet-tasting flowering stem to nibble. The sweetness comes from the chemical coumarin, too bitter for cows to eat and of low nutritive value. Cut leaves can be twisted into small wreaths for indoors; they hold their scent a long time after cutting.
INTRODUCED CHEATGRASS Bromus tectorum POACEAE Grass Family
Description. A short grass with hairy stems and leaves, growing to 2 feet tall. The seedlings are bright green; at maturity the foliage and seedheads often become reddish. The nodding open panicles with moderately awned seeds are distinctive. Seeds readily penetrate clothing of passersby. The seeds can germinate in the fall or in the spring; fall germination is generally more common. Its fibrous root system is finely divided. Habitat. Cheatgrass grows in disturbed sites, such as overgrazed rangelands, fields, sand dunes, road verges, and waste places. It is listed as a noxious weed, highly invasive in some states. Cheatgrass has the potential to completely alter the ecosystems it invades. It can completely replace native vegetation and change fire regimes. It occurs throughout the United States and Canada, but is most problematic in areas of the western United States with lower precipitation levels. Cheatgrass is native to Europe and parts of Africa and Asia. It was first introduced into the United States accidentally in the mid 1800s. (see www.invasive.org.) Cheatgrass flowers from May-June, and most of the plants usually die and fall over by July. Comments. In the southwestern United States, Bromus tectorum is considered a good source of spring feed for cattle, at least until the awns mature.
INTRODUCED ORCHARD GRASS Dactylis glomerata POACEAE Grass Family
Description. A very common, medium-sized grass with short stiff side branches and flowers in irregular rounded clusters. Habitat. A native of Europe, Orchard Grass grows well in rich or poor soils, in meadows, lawns, and roadsides. It flowers naturally in the spring, but if mowed it will grow back vigorously and flower again. Found in every county in the state of Virginia, and throughout North America, this grass is scattered throughout the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms May through September. Comments. This species was brought from Europe to be cultivated as a forage grass. The genus name is from the Greek dactylos meaning "finger;“ glomerata means “clustered.”
CRABGRASS Digitaria spp. POACEAE Grass Family
Description. A weedy annual grass, with leaves much-branched from the base. The slender flowers are on erect, spike-like racemes which divide into well-separated, not overlapping spikelets. Habitat. Grows in fields and open ground, often becoming a troublesome weed. Some species are native to this country, others are introduced. Comments. The species name describes the finger-like appearance of the seedheads.
NATIVE SALTGRASS Distichlis spicata POACEAE Grass Family
Description. A short (to two feet tall) wiry perennial grass of salt marshes. The leaves are stiff, trough-shaped, and arranged in two planes along the stem. Although reproductive by seed, the plant forms dense colonies or lines as new stems arise from underground. The flower appears as a whitish-green, densely compacted head. Habitat. Saltgrass is common in salt and brackish marshes, pools and ponds, often with Spartina. This grass is native over most of North America, but grows only in the coastal counties of the state of Virginia. Photographed in the marsh at the Wise Point Boat Ramp parking area in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms August-October. Comments. Distichlis is from the Greek distichos meaning "two-ranked", and refers to the two rows of leaves. Spica is a Latin word meaning "ear of grain", referring to the flower. Several Native American tribes have used the plant for medicinal purposes, as a food and beverage, and as a cleaning tool.
Saltgrass Habitat at Wise Point Boat Ramp Parking Area
NATIVE VIRGINIA WILDRYE Elymus virginicus POACEAE Grass Family
Description. A perennial grass forming tufts with upright, stiff stems, growing to four feet tall. The single flower cluster has a harsh texture, with stiff, straight bristles, greenish at first, then turning yellow. Characteristics are highly variable. Habitat. Grows in moist woods, meadows, thickets, shores of freshwater marshes, and depressions in every county in Virginia. Scattered throughout the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Ranges from Newfoundland west to Alberta and south to Florida and Arizona. Blooms June-August. Comments. Name comes from the Greek elyo, "rolled up", referring to the coverings over the grain. A good forage grass. Native Americans have used species of Elymus for medicinal purposes, food, fiber and fodder.
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Vol. 3: 251.
NATIVE PURPLE LOVEGRASS Eragrostis spectabilis POACEAE Grass Family
Description. A tufted perennial, Purple Lovegrass usually is a low-growing plant, a foot or two tall. The stems are stiffly erect and spreading, with the flowering stem about 2/3 the height of the plant. In late summer the fine-textured, stiff flower heads appear like reddish-purple clouds at ground level. The seeds turn tan, and the whole flower cluster (panicle), eventually breaks away and tumbles before the wind. Habitat. Purple Lovegrass is common in loose sands, stable dunes areas, fencerows, fields, and dry pinelands. This plant grows best on moist, sandy soil in full sun, or on well drained open fields. Native to eastern and central United States, from Maine to North Dakota and south to Florida and Texas, Purple Lovegrass grows in nearly every county in Virginia. This interesting plant was photographed along the entrance to Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms JulyOctober. Comments. Growing by creeping underground stems (rhizomes), it can spread and will reseed if seeds are allowed to open.
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. Wetland flora: Field office illustrated guide to plant species. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
INTRODUCED RYEGRASS Lolium perenne POACEAE Grass Family
Description. A short-lived perennial with slender stems, the small flowers alternatively arranged. The dark green leaves are folded lengthwise when in bud form. Habitat. Native of Europe, cultivated in meadows and lawns and often escaped onto roadsides and in waste places. Found throughout the U.S. and Canada and in most counties of Virginia. At Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge, mowing has removed most of the seed heads of this plant. Flowers from May-November.
Comments. Perennial ryegrass is an important pasture and forage plant, and is used in many pasture seed mixes.
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Vol. 1: 281.JHU
NATIVE SWITCHGRASS Panicum virgatum POACEAE Grass Family
Description. This perennial grass is easily recognized by the 6 feet tall erect to arching stems with open seedheads. Leaves are long and tapered; some species have reddish leaves or stems, or bluish leaves and seedheads. Switchgrass grows in clumps which expand over several years. A very important forage grass of the tallgrass prairies, the roots are deep and wide. Habitat. In Virginia found mostly in the eastern counties, and widely distributed over most of U.S. and Canada. Grows along the edges of ponds and marshes, wet pinelands, swales, prairies, dunes, and shores. Photographed along the Wise Point Boat Ramp at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June to October. Comments. Garden centers offer a variety of cultivars of switchgrass, some with metallic blue foliage, red leaves, or pale blue seedheads. Switchgrass is often grown for erosion control and furnishes food for small birds.
INTRODUCED DALLIS GRASS Paspalum dilatatum POACEAE Grass Family
Description. P. dilatatum, Dallis Grass, grows in tufts, often sprawling, up to 3 feet tall. The linear leaves are often folded, and taper to an inrolled point. Flat, hemispheric flowers are lined along one side of the stem; the flowers are fringed with long silky hairs. Habitat. Dallis grass is very weedy and can be expected almost anywhere in the open, most frequently at roadsides, in lawns and fields, doing best in moist places. A native of South America, it has been cultivated and widely escaped in southern U.S., extending north to Kentucky, in the coastal states to New Jersey, and across southern U.S. to California. Found in eastern and central Virginia. Photographed near the Visitor Center in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms May-October. Comments. The name probably comes from the Greek paspale, "meal". This was a valuable pasture plant for native Americans.
NATIVE TALL PASPALUM Paspalum floridanum POACEAE Grass Family
Description. A coarse erect perennial to 6 feet tall with few branches and leafy stems, Tall Paspalum is distinctive for its large seeds (1/4 inch long). They are hard and roundish, somewhat resembling kernels of domestic corn, and occur in erect or drooping spikes, well above the leaves. Habitat. This grass is found in dry to wet places in thin woods or in the open – pinelands, edges of freshwater marshes and ponds, roadsides, old fields in moist, usually sandy soil on the coastal plain. Tall Paspalum is found in the southeastern states, from east Texas to Maryland, and is native to the eastern and central counties of Virginia. The plant flowers from August through October. Comments. The large, grain-like seeds are eaten by quail, dove and turkey. For livestock, the young leaves are palatable and nutritious.
INTRODUCED INVASIVE COMMON REED Phragmites australis POACEAE Grass Family
Description. Common Reed is a perennial grass with stout stems growing to 12 feet tall, forming extensive stands by rooting from underground stems (rhizomes). Leaf blades are broad (2 inches), long and flat with a bluish color. Tawny flowers are densely crowded on long spikes at the end of stems. Seed is seldom produced. Habitat. This grass is common in fresh marshes, swamps and wet shores of the Coastal Plain throughout northeastern United States. It is tolerant of salt, thrives in brackish soils and is found in eastern counties in the state of Virginia, as well as several counties in the central region. Common Reed was photographed at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge along the roadway to Wise Boat Ramp. Blooms August-October. See this factsheet on this invasive species: http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/documents/fsphau.pdf Comments. Common reed has become a destructive weed in Virginia, quickly displacing desirable plants species such as wild rice, cattails, and native wetland orchids. Invasive stands of common reed eliminate diverse wetland plant communities, and provide little food or shelter for wildlife. Certain communities of Wax Myrtle are especially susceptible to invasion by Common Reed. The genus name is derived from the Greek phragmites, "growing in hedges", apparently from its hedge-like growth along ditches.
INTRODUCED ANNUAL BLUEGRASS Poa annua POACEAE Grass Family
Description. A low, sprawling grass usually about 12 inches wide, often forming dense mats. Leaves are bright green and the flower is a pyramidal spike, not more than 4 inches long. Habitat. Common in lawns, swales, pathes, roadsides, waste places, parking lots, crevices of sidewalks, shrub and flower plantings. Photographed in a gravel pathway at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Native to Eurasia, now abundant throughout the U.S. and north to Labrador and Alaska and found in every county in the state of Virginia. Blooms March through May. Comments. These plants die in late spring, leaving light-colored mats, becoming unslightly and troublesome in lawns.
NATIVE LITTLE BLUESTEM Schizachyrium scoparium POACEAE Grass Family
Description. Little Bluestem is an important perennial grass, growing to 5 feet tall, the wiry branches intermingling with the leaves. The leaves are blue-green only when the shoots first come up in the early summer; as the flowering stalks appear, the plant is a rich mixture of tan, brown, and wine-red, and stays this way through the winter. Single fuzzy flower clusters line the branches. A distinguishing feature are the bent awns on the mature seed heads.
Habitat. Little Bluestem is common on the Coastal Plain, growing in dry soil, old fields, prairies and open woods. Native to every county in the state of Virginia, this grass is found from New Brunswick south to Florida and Mexico along roadsides, on dunes, open pine woods and brackish bayside meadows. Blooms August-October.
Comments. This widespread grass was once the most abundant species in the American tall and mixed-grass prairie region. Since the prairie has been destroyed, it is now more common as an old-field invader in the Northeast, and grows in prairie remnants. It is an excellent forage grass.
INTRODUCED JAPANESE BRISTLEGRASS Setaria faberi POACEAE Grass Family
Description. A tall (to six feet), annual grass, the stems branching from the base. The plant is easily recognized by the bristly flower head (to 8 inches) topping a long stalk. Long, slender leaves are an inch wide and rough on both sides. The flower heads are drooping, unlike other foxtail grasses with erect spikes. Habitat. Japanese Bristlegrass is native to east Asia, and is now widespread as a weed in eastern and central United States. This grass grows in fields and waste places in nearly every county in the state of Virginia. Photographed along the marsh pathway at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July through October. Comments. Giant bristlegrass was introduced into the United States from East Asia during the 1920's, probably in contaminated shipments of grain. This grass can reseed itself aggressively and become a pest where the ground is cultivated. The genus name Setaria is from seta for "bristle“ and the species name faberi is for Ernst Faber, who discovered and named the plant in 1910.
NATIVE GIANT BRISTLEGRASS Setaria magna POACEAE Grass Family
Description. This is the largest of the foxtail grasses, ascending to 12 feet tall, with inch-thick stems at the base. Leaves are up to nearly two feet long and 2 inches wide with rough surfaces and margins. The dense and bristly cylindrical flower head is up to 2 feet long and 1-2 inches wide. Habitat. Giant Bristlegrass grows in coastal brackish marshes from New Jersey to Florida and Texas. In Virginia, the grass is found only in the coastal counties. Photographed from the Wise Point Boat Ramp Roadway at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July-October. Comments. The genus name Setaria comes from the Latin seta, meaning “bristle.” Producing many seeds, these plants are a valuable food source for birds.
NATIVE KNOTROOT FOXTAIL GRASS Setaria parviflora (geniculata) POACEAE Grass Family
Description. A medium height, erect perennial grass with short, knotty rhizomes. Stems are round, hollow and sometimes lying flat on the ground at the base, then ascending. Leaves are up to 8 inches long, tapering and mostly flat. The flower head is dense and spikelike, 1-4 inches long and less than ½ inch wide with many spikelets and light brown bristles. Habitat. A common grass of brackish marshes and upper edges of salt marshes; found also in moist to dry ground and waste places. Found in counties scattered across Virginia and from Massachusetts south to Florida to Texas. Also grows inland in the North to Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, and California. Photographed at Wise Point Boat Ramp Parking Lot at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms May-October. Comments. Yellow-bristle foxtail (Setaria pumila) is similar, but the seedheads are yellowish and longer, and the plant is more erect.
INTRODUCED YELLOW FOXTAIL Setaria pumila (glauca) POACEAE Grass Family
Description. Yellow Foxtail is an annual grass growing to 3 feet tall, branching and often forming dense colonies. Spikelets are 2 inches long with yellowish bristles. Habitat. This grass is a native of Europe, now a cosmopolitan weed, abundant throughout the U.S. and Canada and in most counties in Virginia. It grows in dry to wet places in the open – roadsides, fields, around buildings, and shrub borders. Yellow Foxtail is found throughout Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July – frost. Comments. The fruits are an important source of food for wildlife
INDIAN GRASS Sorghastrum nutans POACEAE Grass Family
Description. One of the dominant species of the tallgrass prairie, Indian Grass grows 2-8 feet tall, with a large, plume-like, soft, golden-brown seedhead. Leaves are broad on stout stems topped with bristly, open flower clusters, golden-brown with silvery white hairs. Fall color of the stems and leaves is deep orange to purple.
Habitat. Indian Grass grows in limestone soils, moist or dry prairies, open woods, and fields. Photographed along the roadside to Wise Point Boat Ramp in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms August-September.
Comments. Seeds are relished by birds and small mammals; the plant provides nesting material and cover as well. Indian grass is a larval host plant for the pepper and salt skipper butterfly.
NATIVE SMOOTH CORDGRASS Spartina alterniflora POACEAE Grass Family
Description. A perennial, erect grass, growing to 8 feet tall in favorable habitats. The stems are stout, round and hollow, often soft and spongy at the base. Leaf blades are flat and smooth on the edges, up to 16 inches long and tapering to a long point with inwardly rolled tip. The flowers appear alternately on the ends of the stems, in narrow rows and are whitish-green when in bloom and tan in fruit. Salt crystals can often be seen on the leaves during the growing season. This plant and other saltmarsh species utilize certain mechanisms which permit growth in high saline conditions, one of which could be the excretion of salt taken up by the roots. Habitat. Saltmarsh cordgrass is the dominant plant species of salt marshes on the Atlantic Coast, comprising about 90 percent of these marshes. This is an extremely hardy plant, able to tolerate tidal saltwater inundation and the fury of storm-lashed waters. No other species of higher plants can successfully compete with Cordgrass in this harsh environment. Populations range from Quebec and Newfoundland to Florida and Texas, also on the Atlantic coast of South American and in northern Europe. At Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge, photographed at the edge of the marsh by the Wise Point Boat Ramp parking area. Blooms July-September.
Comments. The name is derived from the Greek spartine, a cord, such as was made from the bark of Spartium or broom. Because of its tenaciousness, Smooth cordgrass is valued for its ability to inhibit erosion. Waterfront property owners who plant S. alterniflora within the intertidal zone of their shorelines enjoy a fringing marsh that acts as a buffer to wave action.
NATIVE SALTMEADOW CORDGRASS, SALTHAY Spartina patens POACEAE Grass Family
Description. Saltmeadow Cordgrass is a fine, wiry, erect or spreading perennial grass, usually 1-3 feet tall. The base of the stem is weak and has a tendency to bend when stressed by winds or tides, producing the characteristic cowlicks or swirls occurring in large saltmarsh meadows. The leaves are very narrow, arranged in several planes around the stem, with the edges rolled inwardly so the blade appears round. The brown fruiting bodies, usually composed of three to six spikes, are alternately arranged at the ends of the stems.
Habitat. This grass is common in salt or brackish marshes, beaches and meadows, from Quebec to Florida and Texas and inland to eastern Michigan and is found only in eastern counties of Virginia with salt marshes. Saltmeadow Cordgrass was photographed in the marsh at the Wise Boat Ramp at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June-October.
Comments. Saltmeadow cordgrass is an important component of the rich saltmarsh ecosystem. The detritus produced by this plant adds organic material to the marsh. It is not as dense as that of the larger saltmarsh cordgrass, and the young plants have no trouble growing up through it in the spring. It is the principal source of eastern salthay; in many marshes along the East Coast, it is grazed or harvested as a forage crop for cattle.
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Vol. 1: 223.
NATIVE SMUT GRASS Sporobolus indicus POACEAE Grass Family
Description. This is a tall, tufted perennial grass growing 2-3 feet tall. The leaves are mostly at the base of the plant, narrow, and quite tough, difficult to cut with mowers. Flowers and seeds are arranged in a long, very narrow spike; they are greenish when mature, turning light tan when dry. The seeds are often infected with smut, a fungus, which turns them black. Habitat. Smut Grass is a common weed in meadows, lawns, pathways, and roadsides from east Texas to Virginia. A native of tropical Asia, the plant is found in eastern counties in the state of Virginia. Blooms May-October. Comments. The genus name originates from the Greek sporos, “seed,” and ballein, “to cast forth,” referring to the rounded grains which fall easily, permitting self-seeding of the plant.
NATIVE PURPLETOP Tridens flavus POACEAE Grass Family
Description. An erect, slender perennial, to 4 feet tall. The upper stem, branches and spikelets are covered with a waxy, greasy substance. The purple flower cluster is loose and open, and has a distinctively weeping form. Habitat. Common in fields, roadsides, and edges of woods. Found from Massachusetts and southern Michigan and Nebraska south to Florida and Texas and in every county in Virginia. Seen along the road to Wise Point Boat Ramp at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms August-October. Comments. Name from the Greek triodous, "three-toothed", referring to a flower part with a 3-toothed tip. Birds eat the seeds, and wildlife use the plant for cover. It is also grazed by livestock.
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Hitchcock, A.S. (rev. A. Chase). 1950. Manual of the grasses of the United States. USDA Miscellaneous Publication No. 200. Washington, DC.
NATIVE PATH RUSH Juncus tenuis JUNCACEAE Rush Family
Description. Path Rush is a short, clumped plant, about one foot tall with flat leaves around the base which ascend or curve gently away from the stems. A cluster of flowers which have been wind-pollinated appear at the ends of the stems. Habitat. This weedy species prefers disturbed habitats, growing well in compacted soil. Path Rush is abundant along forest paths throughout North America, and every county in Virginia. Blooms June through September.
Comments. Because the tiny seeds become sticky when wet, they cling readily to the feathers of birds, fur of mammals, shoes of humans, and tires of motor vehicles; by this means, they are distributed to new locations. This is one reason why the Path Rush is often observed along paths and roadways.
NATIVE NEEDLERUSH Juncus roemerianus JUNCACEAE Rush Family
Description. Needlerush is a sharp-pointed, evergreen, grasslike plant, up to 6 feet tall with a reddish lower stem. The leaves are stiff and very sharp-pointed, round in cross-section, appearing as unbranched linear stems. The flowers are inconspicuous, green or light brown, borne in clusters appearing laterally above the middle of the stem. New growth is a deep, dull green, but from a distance a stand of needlerush, which also contains old growth, appears grayish-tan, making it readily distinguishable from a deep green stand of Smooth Cordgrass Spartina alterniflora.
Habitat. Growing in landward edges of salt marshes, brackish marshes and tidal creeks from southern New Jersey to Florida and Texas, Needlerush is found only in the far eastern counties of the state of Virginia. Blooms June-October.
Comments. Needlerush is one of the most important plants in salt and brackish marshes. In these habitats it is easily recognized by the flowers on the sides of stems and the hard, sharp point on the ends of leaves. These points easily puncture the skin, a common occurrence for persons walking among the plants.
NATIVE SWORDGRASS Schoenoplectus (Scirpus) americanus CYPERACEAE Sedge Family
Description. Swordgrass is an erect perennial with unbranched, sharply triangular stems and no apparent leaves, growing to four feet tall. Inconspicuous flowers are carried in several budlike spikelets covered by brown scales located near the top of the stem. Spikelets are one to many in terminal inflorescences, appearing lateral when there is only one leaflike bract, which appears as an extension of the stem. Habitat. Common in freshwater or brackish marshes, swales, shallow brackish water Swordgrass is found only in the coastal counties in the state of Virginia, and ranges from Nova Scotia to Washington, and south to South America. Blooms June-September. Comments. This plant is not a grass, but a member of the Sedge Family, characterized usually by its triangular stems. The stems of true grasses are round with joints (nodes) where the leaves are attached.
NATIVE DEVIL’S WALKING STICK Aralia spinosa ARALIACEAE Ginseng Family
Description. This is a large, mostly unbranched shrub with spines on the trunk and branches. Compound leaves are up to 3 feet long, egg-shaped and toothed with prickly stalks. Small white flowers are produced in branching clusters in summer, developing into red fruits (drupes) in the fall, much prized by many species of wild birds. Habitat. Scattered throughout eastern U.S. and most counties in Virginia, Devil’s Walking Stick grows in upland and low woods and woods edges. While this shrub prefers well-drained and fertile soils, it is often found on dry and stony slopes. Blooms June-July. Comments. Unmistakable with the very large compound leaves and very spiny branches, the common name “devil’s walking stick” refers to the single stem, heavy with spines. In spite of the formidable array of prickles, the twigs are often browsed by white-tailed deer.
NATIVE SEA-MYRTLE/GROUNDSEL TREE Baccharis halimifolia ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. This is a tall (more than 10 feet), robust shrub with thick, alternate leaves that are lost during the winter, however, the naked stems remain slightly green. Most leaves are two inches long, wedge-shaped with long, irregular teeth. The male and female flowers appear on separate plants. The male blossoms are smaller, beige-yellow, and begin to fade as the female flowers are in full bloom. The cottony bristles on the seeds give the female shrub a striking, satiny white appearance until early winter. Habitat. Sea-myrtle is common in salt, brackish, and tidal fresh marshes, and open woods and thickets along the coast, especially near the seashore. Found from Massachusetts to Florida and west to Texas. In Virginia, found only in the coastal counties. Photographed at the Wise Point Boat Ramp in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms August-September. Comments. This was the name of a shrub anciently dedicated to Bacchus, the Greek god of wine. Native Americans have used certain Baccharis species to reduce headaches and swellings.
Female flowers Male flowers
NATIVE SEA OXEYE Borrichia frutescens ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. Seaoxye grows to 3 feet tall, at the edges of salt and brackish marshes, often forming extensive stands. This small shrub is easy to identify with its fleshy, entire, graygreen leaves, opposite on the stem and large flowers with yellow rays and brownish-yellow disc flowers. Habitat. The plant grows in full sun, tolerating extended flooding, acid or alkaline soils, sandy or loamy. Found in along the seacoast from District of Columbia to Florida, Texas, Mexico and Bermuda. Photographed at the parking lot near Wise Boat Ramp in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July-October. Comments. Many butterfly species are attracted to the flowers, among them is the Salt Marsh Skipper butterfly. Named for Ole Borrich, a 17th century Danish botanist. Frutescens means "shrubby".
INTRODUCED INVASIVE BUTTERFLY BUSH Buddleja davidii BUDDLEJACEAE Butterfly-bush Family
Description. Butterfly Bush is a deciduous shrub growing to 12 feet tall, and often as wide. Leaves are lance-shaped with toothed edges, often hairy beneath. Purple, pink or white 4petaled flowers appear profusely over the shrub in long slender spikes. Habitat. Native to China, Butterfly Bush has escaped from cultivation and is now established throughout eastern United States. The shrub has been reported in the Virginia counties of James City, Norfolk and Wise. Photographed in the butterfly garden at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge where several varieties are planted. Blooms July-September. Comments. Also known as Summer-lilac, because of the close resemblance of the flowers to the lilac, this shrub supplies nectar to visiting butterflies, but is not a host plant for their caterpillars. Butterfly Bush can become invasive in natural habitats, replacing native plants. See www.invasive.org.
NATIVE BEAUTYBERRY Callicarpa americana VERBENACEAE Vervain Family
Description. A truly spectacular shrub of early fall. Also called French mulberry, Beautyberry is a multi-stemmed shrub six feet tall with unusual colored fruit. In late summer the fuzzy pink flowers attract pollinators. By September, glistening deep rose-pink berries encircle the nodes, where two leaves also emerge. Habitat. Beautyberry prefers sun and soil a little moist, and flowers on new growth. It can be pruned to about a foot tall in late winter just before the leaves appear. This will make it much fuller, reduce the shrub height, and produce more berries. The long-lasting fruits provide food for birds and animals well into the winter months when other food sources are unavailable. Grows in southeastern U.S. and southeastern counties of Virginia. Photographed near the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. Flowers June-August; fruits August-November. Comments. The roots, leaves and branches of the American Beautyberry were used by Native American tribes for various medicinal purposes. Parts of the plant were prepared for treatment of rheumatism, stomachaches, dysentery, and colic, among other ailments.
INTRODUCED CHINESE BEAUTYBERRY Callicarpa dichotoma LAMIACEAE Mint Family
Description. This small, rounded shrub produces arching, slender branches that dip downward often to touch the ground. Growing 2-4 feet tall, and almost as wide, the elliptical green leaves (1-3 inches long) turn yellow in the fall. Chinese Beautyberry is grown for the clusters of lilacviolet fruits which follow small, pink flowers that bloom in the leaf axils along the stems. Leaves drop first, and the fruits persist into early winter Habitat. Chinese Beautyberry is easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. A native of China, Korea, and Japan, the shrub has escaped cultivation in a few southern states. Photographed at the Visitor Center in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge, next to the native Beautyberry. Blooms in June, fruits in October. Comments. . This species differs from the native Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) with smaller fruits located on longer stalks slightly above the leaf axils, and smooth leaf undersides.
NATIVE SUMMERSWEET Clethra alnifolia CLETHRACEAE Clethra Family
Description. Summersweet is a tall, many-branched, leafy shrub with spike-like, upright clusters of fragrant white flowers. The shrub has erect, multiple stems, exfoliating bark, and simple, oval, toothed leaves which turn dull yellow to orange in fall. Fragrant , showy flowers are white and are followed by brown capsules which persist through winter. Habitat. A native shrub in swamps and moist woods, mostly near the coast, Summersweet ranges from Nova Scotia and Maine to Florida and Texas. Easily grown in wet to moist, acid soils, including sands and clays the shrub is found in the eastern counties in the state of Virginia. Summersweet is excellent for coastal gardens due to salt-spray tolerance. Photographed near the Visitor Center at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July and August. Comments. This shrub forms sizable patches and is remarkably free of any disease, insect, or physiological problems. Its dry fruiting capsules remain long after flowering and help identify this plant in winter. Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds use flowers. Many birds and mammals eat the fruit.
INTRODUCED INVASIVE THORNY OLIVE Elaeagnus pungens ELAEAGNACEAE Oleaster Family
Description. Unlike its common name, Thorny Olive does not produce true thorns – sharppointed shoots are produced, later covered with leaves, but when young they look like thorns. This evergreen shrub is densely bushy, up to 25 feet in height, with long limber projecting leafless shoots. The thick leaves, arranged alternately on the stem, are glossy green with silver-brown undersides. Both surfaces are punctuated with tiny holes. In late fall clusters of small, creamy white tubular flowers appear in the leaf axils. They are intensely fragrant, and attract migrating butterflies seeking nectar. Habitat. This shrub was introduced as an ornamental from China nad Japan in 1830, and frequently planted for hedgerows. It is found in forests and woodlands in suburban areas, in southeastern United States, and only a few counties in the state of Virginia. Thorny Olive produced flowers in October through November, and fruits March through April. Comments. Thorny Olive and its relatives Autumn Olive (E. umbellata) and Russian Olive (E. angustifolia) are listed as invasive species in many sites. See www.invasive.org.
INTRODUCED FORSYTHIA Forsythia sp. OLEACEAE Olive Family
Description. This deciduous, sprawling shrub grows 3-9 feet tall, with rough grey-brown bark. The leaves are opposite, with small teeth. Appearing in spring before the leaves, the bright yellow flowers are deeply four-lobed, with the petals joined only at the base. The flowers often droop during rainy weather, shielding the reproductive parts. Habitat. Forsythia plants grow best in full sun and a well-drained soil. Photographed near the bunker at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Comments. Several species and cultivars are commonly grown for garden and landscape ornaments, as the display of yellow is a welcome sign of spring. The genus is named after William Forsyth, a Scottish botanist, and founding member of the Royal Horticultural Society.
NATIVE MARSH-ELDER Iva frutescens ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. Marsh-elder is a bushy-branched shrub to 8 feet tall; the wood is soft and the branches are often killed back during severe winters. The deciduous leaves are opposite and thick with toothed margins, tapering towards both ends. The flowers are surrounded by tiny leaf-like appendages; they appear as green (later brown) spheres arranged on the ends of stems. Habitat. This shrub is common in brackish or saltwater habitats such as marsh margins and mud flats, and offten occurs with Baccharis halimifolia, the Groundsel-tree. Distributed from Nova Scotia to eastern Texas Marsh-elder is found only in the eastern counties of the state of Virginia. Photographed at the parking lot and along the road to Wise Boat Ramp in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms August-September. Comments. Iva is an old name for some medicinal plant; frutescens means "shrubby".
INTRODUCED CRAPE MYRTLE Lagerstroemia indica LYTHRACEAE Loosestrife Family
Description. Crape myrtle is a small tree, wider than high, with multiple trunks and 4-angled twigs. The smooth gray bark flakes off, showing varicolored underbark, especially attractive during winter. The nearly stalkless leaves are mostly opposite, without teeth on the edges, becoming yellow, orange or red in the fall. Flowers with crinkly petals in white, pink, red, lavender or purple bloom in clusters all summer, according to the variety. Habitat. Crape Myrtle is extremely heat tolerant, and is planted largely in the southeast U.S., used extensively in sunny horticultural plantings from Florida to Virginia. It does not grow wild in any county in the state of Virginia. In Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge, this ornamental tree is planted along the roadway to the Visitor Center, with flowers of white, pink, and lavender. Blooms July-September. Comments. A native of east Asia, Lagerstroemia is a genus of about 55 species of decorative shrubs and trees, mostly deciduous, all from warm regions of the Old World. Many cultivars are available with various flower colors, growth habits, and disease resistance.
INTRODUCED INVASIVE CHINESE PRIVET Ligustrum sinense OLEACEAE Olive Family
Description. Chinese Privet is a much-branched shrub which can grow to 15 feet tall, with spreading branches. The dark-green, glossy leaves are oval with smooth margins, and short stalks (petioles). They remain on the branches until fall, and eventually drop over the winter. White flowers are small in cone-shaped clusters at the ends of twigs. The stamens are longer than the petals, a distinguishing feature from Common Privet (L. vulgare) where the stamens do not exceed the petals. Fruits are small black berries. Habitat. Native to Europe, Chinese Privet is now commonly cultivated and escaped in wooded areas. The shrub is found in every county in the state of Virginia, and throughout Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June-July, fruits September-October. Comments. An invasive shrub, very persistent, and difficult to control. Chinese privet can dominate the shrub layer of an invaded habitat, thus altering species composition and natural community structure by choking out native plant species. It shades out all herbaceous plants. See factsheet: http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/documents/fslisi.pdf
INTRODUCED COMMON PRIVET
Ligustrum vulgare OLEACEAE Olive Family
Description. Common Privet is a much-branched shrub which can grow to 15 feet tall, with spreading branches. The twigs are slender, barely fine-hairy or hairless. The 2-inch darkgreen, glossy leaves are oval with smooth margins, and short stalks (petioles). They remain on the branches until fall, and eventually drop over the winter. White flowers are small in cone-shaped clusters at the ends of twigs, the stamens are no longer than the petals. Fruits are small black berries.
Habitat. Common Privet is a shrub of wooded areas, native to Europe, and commonly cultivated and escaped. Grows in only a few eastern counties of Virginia. The shrub is found throughout Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June-July, fruits SeptemberOctober.
Comments. This shrub is planted frequently as a hedge. While the fruits are eaten by some song and game birds, Common Privet can be invasive in some states. See www.invasive.org.
MATRIMONY-VINE Lycium barbarum SOLANACEAE Nightshade Family
Description. This small shrub has long, weak, generally sparsely thorny, arched or climbing branches. The paired leaves have short stalks, without teeth, and are ovate-lanceolate in shape. Lavender flowers have 4-5 spreading lobes; the stamens and pistil extend beyond the flower petals. In the fall, oval red berries are produced. Habitat. Native to Eurasia, Matrimony-vine occasionally escapes from cultivation. Photographed growing along the marsh pathway at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Flowers in June, fruits in August. Comments. There has been some marketing of this plant for its nutrient and antioxidant properties. The berries of the this plant, known as goji berries, have been used for centuries in Chinese traditional medicine. Although parts of the plant are poisonous, the berries are sold for nutrient and antioxidant properties.
NATIVE WAX-MYRTLE Morella (Myrica) cerifera MYRICACEAE Bayberry Family
Description. An evergreen shrub, Wax-myrtle usually grows to 6 feet, and the twigs are heavily coated with resinous dots. Leaves are linear with a pointed tip, and with numerous resinous dots on both surfaces. When crushed, they are highly aromatic with the familiar bayberry scent. Young fruits are round, 1/16 to 1/8 inch in diameter, with a waxy coating. Habitat. Growing in moist or wet sandy soil on the coastal plain, Wax-myrtle ranges from New Jersey to Florida, Texas, Arkansas and Mexico. The shrubs is found in the eastern counties in the state of Virginia. The male flowers (catkins) bloom in the axils of old leaves in April or May while the female flowers (catkins) are linear and loose. The grayish fruits are small with a thick, waxy coating. Comments. In pioneer days, wax boiled from the berries of these plants was used in making candles, scenting soap, and as an air deodorant in colonial homes. These leaves are not used for seasoning. The Myrtle Warbler is often found feeding on Wax-myrtle on its wintering grounds.
Twigs with male catkins
Female tree with fruits
NATIVE NORTHERN BAYBERRY Morella (Myrica) pensylvanica MYRICACEAE Bayberry Family
Description. Northern Bayberry is a nonevergreen shrub growing to 3 feet tall. The leaves are thin with pointed tips, growing on gray-hairy twigs. Resembling Common Waxmyrtle (M. cerifera), since the leaves of both are fragrant, the leaves of Northern Bayberry are leathery, wedge-shaped with resin dots on both surfaces, and the fruits are larger. Flowers of both male and female shrubs are catkins, followed by round fruits covered with a thick layer of white wax. Habitat. Growing wild in only a few eastern counties in the state of Virginia, this shrub is found in dry hills and shores, especially near the coast, from Newfoundland to North Carolina. Flowers appear in May or June, and fruits are produced June-April. Comments. Many songbirds, notably the myrtle warbler and game birds eat the fruits.
NATIVE RED CHOKEBERRY Photinia pyrifolia (Aronia arbutifolia) ROSACEAE Rose Family
Description. Red Chokeberry is a multi-stemmed shrub , 6-12 feet tall. In spring, flat-topped clusters of white, five-petaled flowers with red anthers cover the branches. The glossy, dark green leaves turn orange-red in the fall, after the glossy red fruit appears, which persists into winter. The reddish-brown, exfoliating bark adds color to the winter landscape. Habitat. Growing in bogs, swamps and wet woods in eastern United States, especially on the coastal plain this shrub is found in almost every county in Virginia. Photographed in the Butterfly Garden at the Visitor Center in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms April-July; fruits September-November. Comments. Fruits are eaten by ruffed grouse, pheasant, and songbirds.
INTRODUCED SCARLET FIRETHORN Pyracantha coccinea ROSACEAE Rose Family
Description. Pyracantha is an evergreen to semi-evergreen shrub. It produces showy, small, white flowers in the spring, but the clusters of bright-orange berries produced in the fall, hanging on the plant until mid-winter, are its main attraction. It normally grows 6 to 7 feet tall, and can spread to twice as wide. Habitat. Grown as an ornamental plant in zones 5-9, the shrub is found in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge at the start of the road to Wise Point Boat Ramp. Blooms May-June, fruits in September and persists through the winter. Comments. This ornamental shrub is native to southwest Europe east to Southeast Asia.
NATIVE SHINING/WINGED SUMAC Rhus copallinum ANACARDIACEAE Cashew Family
Description. Shining Sumac is a large, deciduous shrub or small tree growing 4-10 feet tall. The compound leaves are large, and divided into 11-23 narrow, smooth-edged shiny leaflets, with the midrib bordered by thin “wings.” The leaves turn a brilliant scarlet in the fall. Twigs and leafstalks are velvety, round, and marked with obviously raised dots. Buds are hairy, surrounded by U-shaped leaf scars. Trunk is dark and smooth, with numerous raised cross streaks (lenticels). Yellowish-green flowers are succeeded by drooping, pyramidal fruit clusters which turn dull red and persist through winter. The shrub is fast growing, often forming thickets, and generally pest and disease-free. Habitat. Common along woods borders, open, dry places, Shining Sumac is easy to grow and drought-tolerant. Ranging from southern Maine to Florida, west to Indiana, southern Illinois, southeast Nebraska and Texas, the shrub is found in most counties in Virginia. Photographed along the entrance road to the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June, July. Comments. Shining sumac is a very ornamental sumac. Because of its large, spreading habit, is not suited to small areas. Native sumacs are important wildlife plants, providing winter food for many upland game birds, songbirds, and large and small mammals.
INTRODUCED INVASIVE MULTIFLORA ROSE Rosa multiflora ROSACEAE Rose Family
Description. Multiflora Rose is a multi-stemmed, thorny, perennial shrub growing up to 15 feet tall. In the spring, small white 5-petaled flowers occur abundantly in clusters; fruits are small, red rose hips that remain on the plant throughout the winter. The leaves are feather-compound with 7-9 toothed leaflets. The fringes where the leaves attached to the stem usually distinguish Multiflora Rose from other rose species, as well as the white flowers. Habitat. Native to eastern Asia, now often escaped from cultivation, Multiflora Rose is found throughout eastern and central United States, and the west coast. Growing in nearly every county in the state of Virginia, Multiflora rose forms impenetrable thickets in pastures, fields and forest edges. Photographed along the marsh trail at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms May-June. Comments. Now highly invasive, multiflora rose restricts human, livestock, and wildlife movement and displaces native vegetation. It was first introduced to North America in 1866 as rootstock for ornamental roses, and during the mid-1900s was widely planted as a “living fence” for livestock control. See http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/romu1.htm
NATIVE SWAMP ROSE Rosa palustris ROSACEAE Rose Family
Description. This many-branched shrub, growing to 6 feet tall, has gracefully arching branches with curved prickles. Leaves are feather-compound, usually with 7 leaflets, softly pubescent on the main axis. The single 2-inch pink flowers are quite pretty and fragrant, with a yellow center. In the fall the flowers give way to smooth red hips (fruit) which are eaten by birds and other wildlife. Habitat. Swamp Rose prefers moist, acidic habitats in full sun and can be found in swamps, marshes and stream banks, and other poorly drained soils. The shrub is salt-tolerant, common in the northeast and south to the Gulf of Mexico, and every county in the state of Virginia. Photographed near the Visitor Center in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms JuneJuly. Comments. The fruit of all roses, the rose hips, is rich in vitamin C and can be eaten, made into jams, or steeped to make rose hip tea. Swamp Rose will spread slowly by suckers, providing nesting spots for birds and cover or other wildlife.
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. Wetland flora: Field office illustrated guide to plant species. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
NATIVE BLACKBERRY Rubus spp. ROSACEAE Rose Family
Description. Blackberry stems are erect and arching, growing to six feet long with hooked prickles. Alternate, compound leaves of the flowering branches the first year have 5 leaflets, coarsely toothed on the edges. The second year, fertile canes have only 3 leaflets. White or pink 5-petaled flowers with numerous stamens are clustered on the ends of branches, the red fruits ripening to black. Members of this genus hybridize readily, and hundreds of species have been named, making identification very difficult. Habitat. Blackberry grows in thin pinelands, fencerows, moist habitats, margins of woodlands and disturbed sands from Maryland to Florida and Texas, occasionally north to Massachusetts. Blooms May-June. Comments. In the genus Rubus, roots are perennial and new stems grow from the base each spring which do not flower the first summer, becoming woody by autumn. These woody stems live through the winter and produce short, leafy, lateral, flowering branches. After the fruits have matured, the entire cane dies to the base, being succeeded by the new woody canes that are growing as the flowers and fruits are produced. Various species of Blackberry are cultivated for jams and wine; deer browse the plants and fruits are eaten by birds and small mammals. Bees get nectar from the flowers.
NATIVE HIGHBUSH BLUEBERRY Vaccinium corymbosum ERICACEAE Heath Family
Description. A tall shrub to 12 feet, Highbush Blueberry has oval leaves, which are usually hairless and without teeth. White bell-like flowers hang in clusters from the branches after the leaves expand, followed by sweet blue fruits covered with a whitish powder. Habitat. This species grows in open swamps and bogs, sometimes in upland woods or old fields, from the coastal plain to the mountain-tops, from Maine to Florida and west to central U.S. Highbush blueberry is native to nearly every county in Virginia; it is planted along the fence in the Butterfly Garden by the Visitor Center. Blooms April-June; fruits JuneSeptember. Comments. Fruits are eaten by mourning dove, ruffed grouse, pheasant, and many songbirds. They are delicious in jellies, fresh, cooked, or dried, an excellent source of antioxidants.
NATIVE ARROWWOOD Viburnum dentatum CAPRIFOLIACEAE Honeysuckle Family
Description. A multi-stemmed shrub 6-8 feet tall with erect-arching stems in a loose, round habit. White, flat-topped flower clusters are followed by dark blue berries. Lustrous, darkgreen foliage turns yellow to wine-red in fall. Distinctive for the wide, pointed leaves, coarsely toothed and downy twigs. Habitat. Arrowwood prefers acid, rich soil, moist to wet, sun or shade. Scattered throughout Virginia, and ranging from Maine south to Florida and Texas, mainly on the coastal plain. Photographed in the Butterfly Garden at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms MayJuly with fruits appearing mid-summer. Comments. Arrowwood is a nectar and larval food source for the spring azure butterfly. Fruits are eaten by many songbirds.
NATIVE RED MAPLE Acer rubrum ACERACEAE Maple Family
Description. Red Maple is a medium-sized broad-leaved deciduous tree with smooth bark when young, becoming broken and darken with age. The leaves are opposite, with palmate veins and lobes, the margins toothed. The flowers are red to yellow, appearing before the leaves in clusters at the leaf axils. In the fall, leaves turn a range of colors from yellow to red. The fruit is also red to yellow, 2-winged, ripening in the spring. Habitat. This tree grows under a wide variety of conditions, from dry mountain tops to moist woods and swamps, and is common throughout the east coast, from Newfoundland south to Florida and Texas. Red Maple grows in every county in the state of Virginia. Flowers March-May; fruits ripen and fall May-July. Comments. The name “red maple” is derived from the reddish flowers in the spring, the redwinged seeds, and shiny red twigs noticeable in the winter. Native Americans have used this plant for many purposes – medicinal, food (maple sugar, bread from bark), basketry and building materials, bowls and spoons, beadwork designs, arrowheads, and ox yokes.
PAPER MULBERRY Broussonetia papyrifera MORACEAE Mulberry Family
Description. A small ornamental tree with an irregular trunk and a broad, spreading, rounded crown of gray-green foliage. The light gray bark is smooth and ridged; twigs are rough and hairy. Leaves are usually alternately arranged on the branches, on long stalks, fine-toothed, and often lobed. They are rough and sandpapery above and hairy beneath. No other plant has such rough leaves and twigs. Flowers are tiny and greenish; fruit is a large, round red mulberry, barely edible. Habitat. Grows in full sun, thrives in any soil, tolerates heat and drought. Used as a street tree in Colonial Williamsburg; the bark is irregular and on old specimens can assume the appearance of kneaded bread. A native of China and Japan, cultivated and occasionally naturalized from New York to Florida and Missouri. Photographed near the cemetery in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Flowers April-May. Comments. The common and Latin species names both refer to the manufacture in the Orient of paper from the fibrous inner bark. The inner bark, especially of roots, can be twisted into improvised ropes. Cloth was made from the bark in the South Pacific and Hawaii. Paper-mulberry spreads from root sprouts, often forming thickets along roadsides.
Flowers in April
NATIVE SUGARBERRY Celtis laevigata ULMACEAE Elm Family
Description. A small to large tree with rounded crown of spreading or slightly drooping branches. Bark is gray to light brown; smooth with corky warts or ridges, becoming scaly. The leaves are arranged alternately along the stem; they are long-pointed and coarsetoothed with rounded bases and few teeth. Flowers are 1/8 inch wide, yellowish-green in small clusters. The small, orange-red fruit forms on stalks at the leaf bases. Habitat. Grows in moist soils, usually along streams. Ranges from Canada south to Virginia and west to Oklahoma and in most counties in Virginia. Flowers April-May; fruits OctoberNovember. Comments. The common name apparently was derived from “hagberry,” meaning “marsh berry,” a name used in Scotland for a cherry, referring to the fruit. The wood is similar to ash and of commercial value. Branches of this and other hackberries may become deformed bushy growths called witches’-brooms, produced by mites and fungi. The leaves often bear rounded galls caused by tiny jumping plant lice. Fruits (“sugarberries”) are eaten by many birds, including bobwhite quail, pheasant, woodpeckers, and wild turkey
Flowers in April
NATIVE HACKBERRY Celtis occidentalis ULMACEAE Elm Family
Description. The bark of this small to large tree is distinctive – it is gray to light brown, smooth with corky warts or ridges. The crown is rounded and the branches spreading or slightly drooping. Alternate on the twigs, the leaves are long-pointed and coarse-toothed with mostly uneven bases. They are rough on the surface, over four inches long, and have teeth on most of the margin. In early fall, the leaves are often covered with large, pimple-like galls caused by tiny jumping plant lice. In early spring, very small, yellowish-green flowers appear in small clusters, followed by small, orange to purple fruit on stalks at the leaf bases. Habitat. Common Hackberry grows in moist soils, usually along streams, and ranges from Canada south to Virginia and west to Oklahoma. The tree grows in most counties in Virginia. Flowers April-May; fruits October-November. Comments. The common name apparently was derived from “hagberry,” meaning “marsh berry,” a name used in Scotland for a cherry. The wood is similar to ash and is used for fencing and cheap furniture. Branches of this and other hackberries may become deformed by bushy growths called witches’-brooms, produced by mites and fungi. Fruits (“sugarberries”) are eaten by many birds, including bobwhite quail, pheasant, woodpeckers, and wild turkey. Common Hackberry is a larval host for five species of butterflies, including Mourning Cloak.
NATIVE FLOWERING DOGWOOD Cornus florida CORNACEAE Dogwood Family
Description. A small flowering tree with short trunk and crown of spreading or nearly horizontal branches which are upturned at the tips. The trunk is dark and deeply checkered. Twigs and branchlets are sometimes green, mostly dark purple, and often swollen from insect attacks. Leaves are opposite each other on the twig, and egg-shaped, with 5-6 pairs of veins, running from base to tip. The actual flowers are tiny, and crowded into a ¼-inch head, surrounded by 4 large white petal-like bracts 2 inches long; they appear in early spring before the leaves. Fruit is shiny red and berrylike.
Habitat. Grows in understory of hardwood forests, also in old fields and along roadsides. Ranges throughout eastern U.S. Flowers March-June; fruits August-November.
Comments. Flowering dogwood is one of the most beautiful eastern North American trees with showy early spring flowers, red fruit, and scarlet autumn foliage. It is both the state flower and the state tree of Virginia. The hard wood is extremely shock-resistant and useful for making weaving-shuttles, as well as spools, small pulleys, mallet and golf club heads. Indians used the aromatic bark and roots as a remedy for malaria and extracted a red dye from the roots. Powdered bark is reported to have been made into a toothpaste, a black ink and a quinine substitute. Humans find the bitter red fruits inedible, but with twigs they are important foods of numerous song and game birds, skunks, deer, rabbits, and squirrels.
NATIVE PERSIMMON Diospyros virginiana EBEANCEAE Ebony Family
Description. A broad-leaved deciduous tree, up to 70 feet tall. The dark brown to black bark is divided into small, squarish, scaly plates. The alternate leaves are egg-shaped, somewhat leathery, long-pointed, shiny dark green above; they are whitish beneath and usually have black spots on their upper surfaces. Fragrant four-lobed, bell-shaped greenish yellow flowers are usually in clusters. The fruit is round, orange and fleshy; it is noted for its mouth-puckering astringency which usually disappears after the first frosts. Habitat. Growing in well-drained soils, mostly in dry woods, Persimmon ranges from southeast Connecticut south to Florida, and west to Kansas and Texas. This species is common on the Coastal Plain, less frequent in the Midland areas and absent in the high mountain areas. Photographed at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge from the marsh trail and outside the Visitor Center. Blooms May-June; fruits ripening in late autumn. Comments. Persimmon has been called "fruit of the Gods", from the Greek Dios, "Jove" and pyros, "grain". The wood is extremely heavy and hard, dark colored, prominently grained, and used for shuttles, golf clubs, billiard cues, brushes. Our species is a relative of the ebony tree which is used for piano keys. Deer eat twigs, leaves and fruit; the fruit is important in the diet of foxes, opossum, raccoon, robins, catbirds and cedar waxwings. The fruits are also used for wine making and for persimmon butter.
INTRODUCED INVASIVE AUTUMN OLIVE Elaeagnus umbellata ELAEAGNACEAE Oleaster Family
Description. A deciduous, shrubby tree that can grow to 15 feet tall, and almost as wide. The alternate leaves are one inch wide, pale green and smooth with silvery undersides. White trumpet-shaped flowers are found in clusters along the twigs. Fruit is red and juicy. Habitat. Autumn olive is drought tolerant and thrives in a variety of soil and moisture conditions, allowing the shrub to invade grasslands, fields, open woodlands and disturbed areas. Autumn olive is native to China and Japan and was introduced into North America in 1830. Since then, it has been widely planted as an ornamental, for wildlife habitat, and as windbreak. This plant is found from Maine to Virginia and west to Wisconsin. Blooms May and June; fruits September-November. Comments. Autumn Olive can grow in infertile habitats and on bare mineral substrate, because it fixes airborne nitrogen in its roots. It threatens native ecosystems by forming a dense shrub layer which displaces native species and interferes with natural plant succession and nutrient cycling. See www.invasive.org.
NATIVE BLACK WALNUT Juglans nigra JUGLANDACEAE Walnut Family
Description. A large tree with straight trunk and broadly ascending branches. Bark is dark brown and deeply furrowed into scaly ridges. The leaves are alternate along the stem, and compound with 9-21 long, pointed leaflets which are covered with soft hairs beneath. They are dark green, turning yellow in autumn, and when crushed, have a spicy scent. Flowers are small greenish catkins which cluster and are usually drooping and fuzzy. Fruits are large and spherical with green or brown husks; the thick-shelled inner layer covers one sweet edible seed. Habitat. Black walnut is native to nearly every county in Virginia, growing in moist, welldrained soils from Vermont to Minnesota and south to George and Texas. Photographed along the entrance road to Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Flowers April-June; fruits October-November. Comments. One of the most valuable and beautiful native trees. Heavy, strong, durable heartwood is easily worked and in great demand for veneers, cabinetmaking, interior finishing, and gunstocks. Large trees have been almost exterminated in some regions. Since colonial days and before, black walnut has provided edible nuts and a blackish dye made from the husks. The delicious nuts must be gathered early, before squirrels and mice can consume them. Tomatoes, apples, and other species may not survive near large walnut trees.
NATIVE EASTERN RED CEDAR Juniperus virginiana CUPRESSACEAE Cypress Family
Description. A medium-sized tree with a distinctive pyramidal shape. Trunk is fluted and bark thin, separating in long, narrow scales. Immature leaves are awl-shaped; once a twig becomes mature, all future leaves will be scale-like. Shaded twigs on younger trees never reach the mature state, and always produce awl-shaped leaves. Twigs in the sun are more like to become mature and show scale-like leaves. Mature fruits are dark blue under a light blue, waxy covering. Habitat. Grows in a variety of soils, especially in dry, calcareous sites. Found from southern Maine south to Florida, to North Dakota and west to Texas and in every county in Virginia. Blooms March-April. Comments. The most widely distributed conifer, native in 37 states. Wood is reddish and extremely durable in the soil. Highly aromatic and thought to be moth repellant, it is used for making cedar chests and lining clothes closets. Cedar oil for medicine and perfumes is obtained from the wood and leaves. Much used as an ornamental around homes and often in rural cemeteries. The fruits are eaten by quail, wild turkey, and a variety of songbirds. First observed at Roanoke Island, Virginia, in 1564, it was prized by the colonists for building furniture, rail fences, and log cabins. Native Americans used this plant for various medicines and a wide variety of other purposes. Among other uses, the berries were eaten; the wood was made into fence posts, mats, wigwams; the bark boiled for dye, and the twigs burned as incense.
RED MULBERRY Morus rubra MORACEAE Mulberry Family
Description. A large native tree with broad, fine-toothed leaves somewhat sandpapery above and hairy beneath, often with lobes. The sap of the twigs and leafstalks is milky. Tree bark is red-brown with smooth ridges. Flowering April-May with dangling catkins, the taste fruits are red-black, appearing June-July. Habitat. Found over eastern U.S. and Canada, in rich woods and floodplains. Photographed along the Marsh Trail at Eastern Shore Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June and July. Comments. Powhatans liked the fruits so well they sometimes built their houses near the trees. When the berries ripened, the Indians ate corn, beans and mulberries boiled together. Red mulberry is similar to the non-native white mulberry (Morus alba) which has lighter fruit and yellow-brown bark.
NATIVE SWAMP BAY Persea palustris LAURACEAE Laurel Family
Description. A broad-leaved evergreen small tree. The leaves are alternate and shiny green above, while below, the midvein is rusty-hairy. The leaf stalks, young twigs and flower stalks are also densely hairy. Small flowers are in clusters on stalks and develop into dark blue to black roundish berries. Habitat. Grows in swamps and wet woods on the Coastal Plain from Maryland to Florida, Texas, and the Bahama Islands. On Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge, photographed along the Wise Point Boat Trail. Blooms May-June. Comments. The leaves are strongly aromatic, used in cooking as a spice, chiefly to flavor soups. The Seminole used this plant for a wide variety of medicinal purposes from an abortifacient to vertigo. An infusion of leaves was taken to abort a fetus up to 4 months old, and for "thunder sickness" -- dizziness, headache and diarrhea. They also used the leaves in funeral ceremonies -- the leaves were burned to keep the soul of the recently deceased from returning home.
NATIVE LOBLOLLY PINE Pinus taeda PINACEAE Pine Family
Description. Loblolly pine grows rapidly, achieving heights of 115 feet. The bark is reddish brown to blackish gray, furrowed to form broad, elongate, flat-topped plates. The needles are long (up to 10 inches), and yellowish green in bundles of three needles per cluster. Young female cones are yellow and near the growing point of the twig; mature cones are slender and oblong when closed. Cones persist about a year after shedding seeds. Habitat. Grows in swamp margins and well-drained slopes of rolling, hilly uplands. Forms pure stands, often on old fields. Loblolly pine is native in 15 southeastern states, and is found in eastern and piedmont counties of Virginia. Male and female flowers are formed in April-May. Comments. One of the meanings of the word “loblolly” is “mud puddle,” where these pines often grow. Among the fastest-growing southern pines, it is extensively cultivated in forest plantations for pulpwood and lumber. The wood is light brown and coarse-grained, widely used for home and general construction, especially for framing. Cherokee used the wood for lumber, canoes and carvings.
Two-year female cones
NATIVE BLACKCHERRY Prunus serotina ROSACEAE Rose Family
Description. Large tree with tall trunk and oblong crown. Bark is dark grey, scaly and aromatic; the reddish-brown young twigs show prominent pale dots (lenticels). Leaves are lance-shaped, the tips pointed, and finely toothed. Spikes of small (1/2 inch) white flowers appear at the ends of new twigs, opening after the leaves emerge. The dark red or black fruit is round, 1/4 inch in diameter; and edible when ripe, but often bitter. Habitat. A forest tree, now commonly found along fencerows, in thickets and woodlands. Ranges from Nova Scotia to North Dakota and southwest Ontario, south to Florida, Arizona and Guatemala. Flowers May-June; fruits June-October. Comments. The wood is hard, close-grained and red-tinted, and is highly valued for furniture making, paneling, and professional instruments. Wild cherry syrup is obtained from the bark and jelly and wine are prepared from the fruit. The Chippewa Indians used powdered bark to heal cuts and ulcerated flesh. One of the first New World trees introduced into English gardens, it was recorded as early as 1629. Leaves, especially if wilted, are extremely poisonous if eaten by farm animals, due to cyanide type of poison released. The seeds of pits are a favorite food for small rodents; the fruits are eaten by many species of songbirds.
INTRODUCED COMMON PEAR Pyrus communis ROSACEAE Rose Family
Description. A pyramidal-shaped tree with upright branching, Common Pear grows to 25-30 feet. The oval to elliptic leaves are glossy dark green, to 4 inches long, with wavy or toothed margins. The foliage turns shades of red and yellow in the fall. In early spring creamy white flowers, aromatic and 5-petaled, appear on spur-like branchlets. The pear-shaped fruits ripen from midsummer to fall. Habitat. Widely planted in North America, the plant has escaped cultivation and is naturalized throughout much of the eastern U.S. in abandoned fields, along fencerows and in open woodland areas. Common Pear is native to southern Europe and southwestern Asia. Blooms March-April. Comments. Common Pear is a parent of the pear cultivars grown for fruit production. Most of the pears sold in supermarkets today come from varieties of this species. Pyrus communis is sometimes used as a collective name for all pear cultivars grown for their fruit.
INTRODUCED SAWTOOTH OAK Quercus acutissima FABACEAE Oak Family
Description. A deciduous, medium tree to 40 feet tall, usually broad-spreading. The narrow leaves are long and pointed with sharp teeth. The bark resembles native Chestnut Oak, the leaves look like Chestnut trees (genus Castanea) and the buds are similar to the Eastern Black Oak. But the acorns are distinctive -- one inch across, nearly round, with a thick cap of long curved scales looking hairy covering most of the nut. Habitat. Planted as an ornamental, now found scattered in southeast states. Photographed in parking lot at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge where a group of Sawtooth Oaks are planted in the median. Blooms in May. Comments. Native to eastern Asia and Japan, now widely cultivated and locally naturalized. The acorns are very bitter, but are eaten by bluejays and pigeons; squirrels usually only eat them when other food sources have run out.
NATIVE WILLOW OAK Quercus phellos FAGACEAE Oak Family NATIVE
Description. A tall tree with conical crown of many slender branches ending in very slender, pinlike twigs with willowlike foliage. Bark is blackish and ridged. Leaves are linear, up to 5 inches long and bristle-tipped; the light green leaves turn yellow in the fall. Inconspicuous flowers are borne on catkins (male) and singly or in clusters (female). Acorns are small (1/2 inch long), nearly spherical; the cup is shallow and saucer-shaped. While superficially the foliage resembles that of willows, it is recognized as an oak by the acorns and the tiny bristle-tip. Habitat. Grows in swamps and moist soil. Native from southern New York south to Florida and Texas; found in eastern and piedmont counties of Virginia. Both trees were photographed at the Visitor Center at Eastern Shore National Widlife Refuge. Blooms April-May. Comments. A popular street and shade tree with fine-textured foliage, widely planted in Washington, D.C., and south, becomes too large to be grown around houses. City squirrels as well as wildlife consume and spread the acorns. Willow oak is a larval host and/or nectar source for the white M hairstreak butterfly.
NATIVE BLACK OAK Quercus velutina FAGACEAE Beech Family
Description. A large tree, distinguished from Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra) and other oaks by coarser-looking foliage, created by large, dark leaves with broad lobes. The leaves droop gracefully from long stalks, are glossy above and slightly orange-tinged below. Bark is blocky, and orange inside. Typically, the tree is stout, big-limbed with long horizontal branches, broadspreading. The buds are large and pale, and the acorns have a relatively deep cup and a slight fringe. Habitat. Black Oak is common in well-drained moist soils or relatively dry, sandy upland sites, usually growing with other oaks. Found in every county in Virginia, this tree ranges from southern Maine to Michigan and southeast Minnesota, and south to Florida and Texas. Blooms in April, fruits in September. Comments. The leaf shape of oaks is highly variable, and on an individual oak tree, the differences in leaf shape can be greater than the differences that distinguish species. Generally, leaves that grow in the sun are smaller and more deeply lobed, while leaves on shaded twigs are broader with shallower lobes and more surface. The whole tree must be checked to find the “average” leaf, rather than attempting to identify an oak form a single leaf or leaf cluster.
NATIVE BLACK LOCUST Robinia pseudoacacia FABACEAE Pea Family
Description. A medium-sized tree with compound leaves – each leaf is divided into 6-20 egg-shaped leaflets. The bark on old trunks is dark and deeply ridged; paired thorns are found on stout twigs. Flowers are fragrant, white and clustered. The fruits are 2-6” long, flat pods. A similar species, honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) has large, branched unpaired thorns; flowers are small and greenish and the pods are longer and twisted. Habitat. Black locust is native from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma and south to Georgia and Alabama, and found in every county in Virginia. Blooms May-June; fruits Sept-April. Comments. The wood is strong, hard and durable in the soil and often planted for fence posts. American Indians chewed root bark to induce vomiting and held the bark in the mouth to relieve toothaches. Warning: all parts are toxic to humans; while young shoots and bark are sometimes poisonous to livestock the seeds are eaten by birds, rabbit and deer.
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Vol. 2: 375.
NATIVE SASSAFRAS Sassafras albidum LAURACEAE Laurel Family
Description. A small tree, the bark soon rough, furrowed and ridged, with green twigs. The plant is easily recognized by its spicy aromatic odor and its variable leaf form. Often called "mitten tree" because some leaves have a single "thumb" on the left side, some on the right, and others on both sides. A few plants have only unlobed leaves. This tree puts on a dramatic display in the fall, with its bright orange-red foliage. The flowers are usually unnoticed; the male and female are on different plants. The fruit sits on a short stalk shaped somewhat like a golf tee and is dark blue, fleshy, with a single seed. Habitat. Disturbed woods, thickets, roadsides and old fields; common in well-drained places--behind stable dunes, maritime forests, margins of woods. Ranges from southern Maine to Missouri; south to Florida and east Texas. Widespread in woodland areas. Blooms April-June. Comments. This tree grows quickly in open areas, providing shade. Sassafras seedlings then die out because they are not shade-tolerant and thus the seedlings of other species, oaks for example, flourish. Upland gamebirds, squirrels, and numerous songbirds eat the fruits; rabbits eat the bark in winter and deer browse the twigs and leaves. In the past, aromatic oil was extracted from the bark and roots and used for flavoring root beer and soaps. The bark of the root continues to be used for the brewing of sassafras tea. Native Americans found many medicinal uses for this plant.
Flowers in April
NATIVE HEDGE BINDWEED Calystegia sepium CONVOLVULACEAE Morning-glory Family
Description. This smooth, twining vine has funnel-shaped flowers, pinkish with white stripes. The 5 petals are fused together, and the pale green bracts at the base of the funnel are distinctive. Leaves are triangular in outline, and blunt at the base. A related species, Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) has smaller flowers, and the leaves are arrow-shaped at the base. This vine resembles the morning glories (Convolvulus species) and used to be placed in that genus, but differs in having two rounded stigmas rather than one. Habitat. Hedge Bindweed grows in thickets, shores, and disturbed sites in temperate regions of North America and Eurasia, and every county in the state of Virginia. Both native and introduced forms are present in this country. Photographed along the Marsh Trail at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms May-September. Comments. The species name “sepium” means growing in hedges or used for hedges. This plant has been used historically as a purgative, and other traditional uses.
NATIVE TRUMPET CREEPER Campsis radicans BIGNONIACEAE Trumpet Creeper Family
Description. Trumpet Creeper is a climbing, perennial vine with woody stems 30 feet or more. Leaves are opposite, compound, and semi-evergreen, with 7-22 coarsely toothed leaflets. Swollen, 3-inch, trumpet-like flowers are red-orange. Fruit is flattened capsule, 6 inches long. Habitat. Growing in moist woods, roadsides, edges of shrubland, and disturbed sands, this vine ranges from New Jersey to Iowa, south to Florida and Texas, and often escaped from cultivation farther. Trumpet Creeper is native to nearly every county in Virginia. Blooms June-August. Comments. Trumpet Creeper forms a very attractive flower, but the vine can become a nuisance in many places. The genus name comes from the Greek campsis, meaning “curvature”, referring to the curved stamens.
ORIENTAL BITTERSWEET Celastrus orbiculatus CELASTRACEAE Staff-tree Family
Description. Oriental Bittersweet climbs to several feet with nearly round, bluntly toothed leaves. Small, greenish flowers occur in clusters along the stems. In the fall the leathery capsule surrounding the seed ripens to a bright orange, splitting open to reveal the red seeds. Habitat. Native to eastern Asia, this vine is now established as an escape in open woods and thickets from Connecticut south, and scattered across Virginia. Photographed along the path to the marsh at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms May-June.
Comments. Oriental Bittersweet can overrun natural vegetation, strangle shrubs and tree limbs, and weaken a tree by girdling the trunk and weighting the crown. See: website: http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/documents/fsceor.pdf
SWEET AUTUMN VIRGINSBOWER Clematis terniflora RANUNCULACEAE Buttercup Family
Description. Sweet Autumn Virginsbower is a climbing, semi-evergreen, ornamental vine. The leaves are opposite, compound (with 3-5 leaflets), and the margins are entire. Leaflets are each 2-3 in. (5-7.6 cm) long. White, fragrant, four-petaled flowers appear in the late summer through the fall. This is a vigorous, deciduous, twining vine with an extremely rampant growth habit. If given support, it will climb rapidly with the aid of tendrilous leaf petioles to 20-25' in length. Without support, it will sprawl along the ground as a dense, tangled ground cover (to 6-12" tall and 10' wide) which typically chokes out most weeds. Habitat. This vine grows along roadsides, thickets and edges of woods near creeks, in nearly every county in Virginia, and ranges from Ontario south to Alabama, west to Nebraska and Oklahoma. Sweet Autumn Virginsbower prefers sun to partial shade and is found invading forest edges, rights of ways and urban green space especially near creeks. Photographed near the Wise Point Boat Ramp roadway in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms JulySeptember. Comments. A native of Japan, imported and widely cultivated as an ornamental, it is considered an invasive exotic in natural areas and national parks. See www.invasive.org. This species can be distinguished from the native Virgin’s Bower (Clematis virginiana) smooth margins on the leaves; the native species has coarsely toothed leaves. The flowers and seed heads are very similar
ENGLISH IVY Hedera helix ARALIACEAE Ginseng Family
Description. This evergreen climbing vine attaches to the bark of trees and other surfaces by way of numerous, small, root-like structures, which exude a glue-like substance. The leaves are dark-green, waxy, somewhat leathery, arranged alternately along the stem. In early fall round, umbrella-like clusters of greenish-white flowers are followed by blue-black berries.
Habitat. Native to Europe, English ivy was brought to the U. S. by settlers in colonial days. It has been and continues to be widely sold in the U. S. as an ornamental plant. It has escaped gardens and naturalized in a large number of states. English Ivy infests woodlands, forest edges, fields, hedgerows, coastal areas, salt marsh edges and other upland areas, especially where soil moisture is present. The plant is primarily dispersed vegetatively by humans, either as an ornamental or through movement of soil. It becomes a problem in fence rows, forest, disturbed areas, waste places, and open woodlands, forming a dense groundcover, replacing the surrounding native vegetation. Photographed at the marsh overlook on Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms in September. See www.invasive.org. Comments. Birds feed on the berries, disseminating the seeds.
JAPANESE HONEYSUCKLE Lonicera japonica CAPRIFOLIACEAE Honeysuckle Family
Description. Japanese Honeysuckle is a trailing or climbing evergreen vine, to over 80 feet. Young stems are hairy, leaves are oval and opposite, without stalks. Showy and highly fragrant tubular flowers, white and aging to yellow, develop in the axils of the leaves. Early spring foliage can have wavy margins. In the fall the fruits are shiny black berries. Habitat. Growing in a variety of habitats – forest floors, roadsides, wetlands, disturbed areas, this vine is found in all counties of Virginia and most states in the U.S. The vine covers many shrubs throughout Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms AprilJuly. Comments. A highly aggressive native of eastern Asia, Japanese honeysuckle can girdle small saplings, and can form dense mats in trees, shading everything below. Planted widely throughout the U.S. as an ornamental, for erosion control, and for wildlife habitat, this alien vine is outcompeting native species, and is on all lists as highly invasive. See www.invasive.org.
NATIVE CREEPING CUCUMBER Melothria pendula CUCURBITACEAE Gourd Family
Description. This is a slender vine growing to 6 feet with round, 5-lobed leaves, heart-shaped at the base. Yellow flowers are few in number, producing green, ovoid fruit, striped like the domestic cucumber. Habitat. Creeping Cucumber grows in woods in eastern Virginia and southern Indiana, southern Missouri to Florida and northern Mexico. Photographed along the marsh trail at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June-August. Comments. Pendula refers to the little fruits which hang off the vine. It is reported as a laxative, with mild toxicity, probably when the fruit is old.
NATIVE CLIMBING HEMPWEED Mikania scandens ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. A twining vine with tiny white to pink flowers in dense clusters, Climbing Hempweed has opposite leaves that are triangular or heart-shaped and slightly toothed. The plant often forms masses over other low vegetation. Habitat. Growing in moist soils, along fence rows, in wet thickets, pond margins and freshwater marshes, Climbing Hempweed is common throughout the mid-Atlantic coastal region, and ranges from Maine to Florida, Missouri, Texas, and south to the tropics. In Virginia, the plant is native to mostly the coastal and piedmont counties, and is very common in tropical South America. Photographed in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge from the Wise Point Boat roadway. Blooms July-October Comments. Named for J. G. Mikan, 1743-1814, a professor in the University of Prague.
NATIVE VIRGINIA CREEPER Parthenocissus quinquefolia VITACEAE Grape Family
Description. Virginia Creeper, with five leaflets arranged like the palm of a hand, is often confused with Poison Ivy which has three leaflets. The flowers, which appear in late spring, are tiny and inconspicuous. But all spring and summer the vine is covered with bright green leaves, which do NOT cause an allergic reaction. In late summer the leaves turn brilliantly red, and the blue-black “berries” (drupes) are fed upon by a wide variety of songbirds during fall and winter. A vigorous climber, the stems’ aerial rootlets have disks that fasten onto wood or masonry.
Habitat. This native perennial woody vine is found in mature forests in nearly every county of Virginia and ranges from Maine to Ontario, Iowa and Nebraska, and south to Florida and Texas. It grows well in any soil, including slightly salty, moist to dry, and prefers part shade. The photographs were taken in early June, as the fruits are developing, near the gun bunker at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms in June.
Comments. The species name quinquefolia refers to its five palmately compound leaflets.
NATIVE PASSIONFLOWER VINE Passiflora incarnata PASSIFLORACEAE Passion-flower Family
Description. This unusual flower grows on an herbaceous vine, up to 25 feet long, climbing with tendrils, or sprawling along the ground. Intricate, three-inch lavender flowers have short stalks arising from the leaf axils. A fringe of wavy or crimped, hair-like segments give the blossom a tropical appearance. Dark-green leaves are 3-lobed, with whitish undersides. Another common name, Maypop, comes from the hollow, yellow fruits that pop loudly when crushed. Habitat. Passionflower Vine grows in fields, pine woods and fencerows in southeastern U.S. and Bermuda and west to Oklahoma and Texas. Any soil will do, rich is preferred. Full sun produces more flowers, drainage can be moist to dry. The plant has deep roots and will colonize to form groundcover. Photographed in fields and along the Butterfly Trail in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms April-September. Comments. The plants were given the name Passionflower or Passion Vine because the floral parts were once said to represent aspects of the Christian crucifixion story, sometimes referred to as the Passion. The 10 petal-like parts represent Jesus’ disciples, excluding Peter and Judas; the 5 stamens the wounds Jesus received; the knob-like stigmas the nails; the fringe the crown of thorns. However, American Indians used the plant in folk medicine and as an aphrodisiac, attaching a different meaning to the plant’s name. The Cherokee used a poultice of the root on inflammations, and extracts of the dried plant are used in Europe to promote sleep and lower blood pressure. Chemists have found drugs in passionflower that have been used to combat insomnia and anxiety. Passionflower-Vine furnishes food for the larval forms of Fritillary and Hairstreak butterflies.
NATIVE YELLOW PASSION-FLOWER Passiflora lutea PASSIFLORACEAE Passion-flower Family
Description. Yellow Passion-flower is a climbing or trailing vine growing to nine feet, with dark green leaves deeply lobed. Flowers are small, one inch wide, greenish-yellow, producing a yellow, edible, elliptical berry. Habitat. Grows in moist soil, and blooming all summer, this vine is native to most counties in Virginia, ranging from Pennsylvania and West Virginia to Florida, Tennessee, and Alabama. Photographed near the cemetery at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms in May. Comments. This is a major food plant for several species of butterfly larvae.
NATIVE FRINGED GREENBRIER Smilax bona-nox SMILACACEAE Smilax Family
Description. This Greenbrier is a slender, woody vine, usually with 4-angled stems, covered with large, stout, flattened prickles. Shiny green leaves are often splotched with white, and wider at the base than at the end of the leaf. The margin is conspicuously thickened and spiny. Small, inconspicuous flowers appear in clusters from the leaf axils, male and females on different plants. Spherical ¼-inch fruits are black. Habitat. Fringed Greenbrier grows in dry woods, thickets, abandoned fields and roadsides from southern Maryland to Missouri and southern Kansas and south to Florida and Texas. Blooming May through July, this vine is found in eastern and central counties in the state of Virginia. Fruits September through November. Comments. The fruits are eaten by game birds, songbirds and small animals, and the tangled thickets provide cover for birds and small animals. The seeds are animal dispersed and can be carried long distances by birds.
NATIVE TRAILING WILD BEAN Strophostyles helvula FABACEAE Pea Family
Description. This low vining plant has slender stems, branching and trailing. Leaflets are egg-shaped or pear-shaped, often with 3 blunt lobes. Small pink flowers, turning greenish with age, appear at the ends of short stalks. Can be distinguished from Wild Bean (S. umbellata) by lobed leaves, and shorter flower stalks. Habitat. Growing in damp thickets, shores and dry sandy soil in eastern and piedmont counties of Virginia, this plant ranges from Quebec to Minnesota and South Dakota, south to Florida and Texas. Photographed at the Wise Point Boat Ramp Parking Area in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June-October. Comments. Native Americans have used the boiled, mashed roots of this plant for food and as a treatment for poison ivy and warts..
WILD BEAN Strophostyles umbellata FABACEAE Pea Family
Description. This is a low vining plant with slender stems, branching and trailing, with oblong, smooth leaflets in 3’s. Several pink (fading to yellow) flowers appear at the ends of stalks which extend beyond the leaves. Bean-shaped seedpods are 3 inches long. Wild Bean can be distinguished from Trailing Wild Bean (S. helvula) by much longer flower stalks, and leaves without lobes. Habitat. Wild Bean grows in fields, thin woods, sandy soils, and dunes from Quebec to Minnesota and south to Florida and Texas. In the state of Virginia, this plant is found in eastern and piedmont counties. Photographed from nature trails at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July-October. Comments. The genus name is derived from the Greek strophe, "a turning", and stylos, "a style", referring to the curved keel of the flower.
NATIVE SUMMER GRAPE Vitis aestivalis VITACEAE Grape Family
Description. Summer Grape is a high-climbing vine with smooth, round stems, and few tendrils. The broad leaves are somewhat heart-shaped, usually with 3-5 lobes, and loosely red-woolly underneath. Fruits are dark purple, up to ½ inch in diameter. Habitat. This vine grows in moist or dry soil, open forests, roadsides, and thickets from Massachusetts to Ontario and southern Minnesota, and south to Alabama, and is native to nearly every county in Virginia. At Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge, it was photographed along the Marsh Trail. Flowers May-July, Fruits September-October. Comments. The fruit of most wild grapes is edible, but will require more sweetening than cultivated grapes. Young leaves can be boiled and served with butter or used to wrap rice or meat for baking. It has been claimed that a variety of this plant was cultivated by the Cherokees and used in some of their sacred rituals.
NATIVE MUSCADINE GRAPE Vitis rotundifolia VITACEAE Grape Family
Description. A vigorous, high-climbing deciduous vine, Muscadine Grape produces shiny purplish berries in the fall. Large leaves are round and shiny on both sides with broad, blunt teeth. Unlike most grapes, Muscadine usually has smooth dark bark marked with small dots, and the tendrils are not forked. The round fruits are few in a cluster and thick-skinned. Habitat. This vine grows in moist soil in thickets and woods edges in eastern counties in Virginia, and ranges from Florida to Texas, north to south Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, southern Indiana, southeast Missouri and Oklahoma. Photographed along the Marsh Trail in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Flowers bloom in June, and the fruits ripen in September and October, falling promptly. Comments. According to Peterson Field Guide Edible Wild Plants, the young leaves can be boiled and served with butter, or used to wrap rice or meat for baking, if collected in early summer. The young fruits are an excellent source of pectin, and when ripe can be made into jellies and jams.
CHINESE WISTERIA Wisteria sinensis FABACEAE Pea Family
Description. Chinese Wisteria is a woody, deciduous, perennial climbing vine, with stems over 100 feet long that twine counter-clockwise around supporting trees. The shiny leaves are compound like a feather, with 7-13 leaflets, up to 10 inches long. Fragrant, blue-white flowers open all at once in mid-May, in long clusters. The fruit is a flattened, brown, velvety bean-like seedpod, which cracks open to release seeds. Habitat. Chinese Wisteria prefers moist soils and is considered shade tolerant, but will flower only if exposed to partial or full sun. Introduced to Europe and North America from China in 1816, this vine is prized for its highly ornamental blossoms. However, it has become an invasive species in eastern states where the climate matches that of China. The vine is very aggressive, reproducing principally by suckering and layering, and is very difficult to control, once established. Photographed along the marsh path at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms in May. Comments. All parts of the plant are toxic, producing nausea, vomiting, and stomach pains if ingested. Wisterias have caused poisoning in children in many countries. See www.invasive.org.
Acalypha rhomboidea EUPHORBIACEAE Spurge Family
Description. Also known as Copperleaf, this annual herbaceous plant is recognizable from the many-lobed bracts that surround the flowers in the leaf axils. Growing erect to 2 feet, the stems are covered with incurved hairs. Ovate green leaves, somewhat rhomboid in shape, with shallow, wavy borders are borne on long stalks, those of the large leaves more than half as long as the blades. Habitat. Three-seed Mercury is found in dry or moist soil of open woods, roadsides and gardens, from Quebec to North Dakota, and south to Florida and Texas. The plant grows in every county in the state of Virginia, blooming from July through October. Comments. The genus name comes from the Greek acklephes for "nettle,“ an ancient name for a kind of nettle, referring to the nettle-like appearance of the leaves. The Mourning Dove, Swamp Sparrow, and possibly other birds eat the seeds, while WhiteTailed Deer browse on the foliage, primarily during the summer and fall. Virginia Mercury lacks the toxic white latex that is a typical characteristic of other species in the Spurge family.
YARROW Achillea millefolium ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. The small, whitish flowers of Yarrow grow in flat-topped clusters at the top of a gray-green, leafy, usually hairy stem. Each flower head is ¼ inch across with 4-6 “petals” (ray flowers) surrounding tiny central disk flowers. This disk and ray pattern is characteristic of many members of the aster family; however, some asters have only disk flowers, while others have only ray flowers. The stem leaves are about 6 inches long, very finely cut, fern-like and aromatic; the leaves at the base are longer. Habitat. Growing in various habitats, but especially in disturbed sites throughout northeastern United States and adjacent Canada, Yarrow is found in all counties of Virginia. A highly variable plant, Yarrow has been treated both as a single species with varieties and as multiple distinct species. In North America, A. millefolium is a complex of both native and introduced plants and their hybrids. Blooms June-November. Comments. The genus name honors Achilles, who cured the wounds of his warriors with yarrow. Millefolium, “thousand-leaved”, refers to the finely cut leaves. Herbal teas were used widely by native cultures throughout the Northern Hemisphere. The crushed plant was applied to battle wounds in the American Civil War; American Indians used it to treat bruises, sprains and swollen tissues and to heal wounds and relieve rashes and itching. Warning: May cause dermititis.
INTRODUCED FIELD GARLIC Alium vineale LILIACEAE Lily Family
Description. Wild garlic is a grass-like, bulb-forming perennial with slender, erect stems and leaves, and a globe-like flower head produced at the top of each stem, composed mostly of tiny aerial bulblets rather than flowers. Reproduction is by underground and aerial bulblets. When crushed, all parts of the plant give off a strong garlic odor. The rounded underground bulb produces fibrous roots from the bottom surface. Leaves at the base can be 2 feet long, slender, smooth, and nearly round. Flowers are purplish to greenish (sometimes white), with 6 small petals, on short stalks above the bulblets. Aerial bulblets are commonly produced in place of some or all the flowers, and are oval or teardrop-shaped and very small (1/8 to 1/5 inch long). They are smooth, shiny, and often develop miniature, tail-like green leaves. Habitat. This plant is a serious pest of lawns, pastures and meadows. A native of Europe, it occurs in nearly every county in Virginia, and across the United States. Blooms in June. Comments. In Europe, wild garlic was used for flavoring food. The plant arrived in America mixed in soil used for ballast on European ships. The weedy stowaway was dumped ashore to make room for the return cargo.
NATIVE COMMON RAGWEED Ambrosia artemisiifolia ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. Small leaves are divided into narrow segments with irregular lobes. Male flower heads are green, in spikes 1-6 inches long , carrying the yellow pollen that causes hay fever; the female flowers are in small clusters. This very common weed grows 1-6 feet tall. Habitat. Common Ragweed grows in cultivated ground, roadsides, fields, and waste places. The plant is native to every county in Virginia, and is found throughout the U.S. Blooms AugustOctober.
Comments. Also known as Bitterweed – when the seeds are thrashed out with rye or barley, it gives bread a “bitter and disagreeable taste” (Manasseh Cutler)
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. Wetland flora: Field office illustrated guide to plant species. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
NATIVE DOGBANE, INDIAN HEMP Apocynum cannabinum APOCYNACEAE Dogbane Family
Description. Dogbane is a shrublike perennial plant with a strong, erect purplish stem rising to 3 feet tall, and branching near the top. Long, drooping leaves on short stalks (petioles) can be four inches long. White , bell-like flowers appear in clusters at the ends of branches. Habitat. Growing in open places, edges of woods, Dogbane prefers moist soil and part shade. This plant is found in all counties of Virginia, and all states of U.S. and Canada. Photographed near the Gun Emplacement and in the front of the Visitor Center at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms May-September. Comments. Dogbane is a larval host and/or nectar source for the monarch butterfly. Native Americans found various medicinal uses for the plant, chewed the sap, and used the stems for fiber and cordage. All parts of the plant are highly toxic, and if eaten may be fatal, due to cardiac arrest.
INTRODUCED MOUSE-EAR CRESS Arabidopsis thaliana BRASSICACEAE Mustard Family
Description. Mouse-ear Cress is an annual plant, superficially resembling Hairy Bittercress with a slender stem and erect seed pods. Growing 4-16 inches tall with branched stems, the tiny white flowers are in a stalked cluster at the tips of branches. Most of the leaves occur at the base where they are long and somewhat hairy. Habitat. Mouse-ear Cress is native to Europe, Asia and northwestern Africa. The plant grows in sandy soil in disturbed areas over much of United States and Canada, nearly every county in the state of Virginia, and flowers April through June. Comments. The genus name comes from arabis, a Greek word used for “mustard” or “cress,” and thaliana bears the name of the plant’s discoverer, Johannes Thal (1542-1583). Considered a weed in most areas, this little plant has been widely used in molecular biology, and is ideal for the study of plant development. Most tissues are translucent, allowing for investigations into cellular activity. Mouse-ear Cress grows quickly, going from seed germination to seed production in only six weeks, releasing a large number of seeds. The complete genome of five chromosomes with only 115 million base-pairs,, among the smallest in the plant kingdom, was sequenced in 2000.
INTRODUCED GARDEN ASPARAGUS Asparagus officinalis LILIACEAE Lily Family
Description. Garden Asparagus is a perennial, fernlike plant, growing to 6 feet. The leaves, which are actually clusters of short branches, are very short and narrow, giving the plant a feathery appearance. The true leaves are tiny scales. Flowers are small, ¼” long, which appear as yellow-green bells hanging here and there along the branches. Fruit is a scarlet berry. Habitat. A native of Europe, now escaped from cultivation into waste places or along salt marshes, the plant is found in nearly every county in the state of Virginia and throughout North America. Photographed at the Wise Point Boat Ramp Parking Lot at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms May-June and again in autumn, fruits July-October. Comments. The spring shoots are a popular vegetable. The plant has been suggested as food to treat gout, as asparagus contains at least 109 anti-inflammatory minerals or compounds. The use of root is approved in Germany as a diuretic for irrigation therapy in the treatment of urinary tract inflammation, and also to prevent kidney stones. The seeds possess antibiotic activity.
NATIVE BUTTERFLY WEED Asclepias tuberosa ASCLEPIACEAE Milkweed Family
Description. Definitely not a weed, this 2-foot tall, sturdy plant bears wide, flat-topped clusters of vibrant orange all summer. The leaves are mostly alternate, stiff and lanceshaped, providing an attractive background of dark green foliage for the showy flower heads. In autumn, the seedpods break open to release ranks of seeds, each with a powder-puff of silky threads which the wind carries to new locations. Habitat. Butterfly Weed is easily grown in moist or dry soil, sun or part shade, and is drought tolerant. While a member of the milkweed family, the sap is not milky. This attractive perennial plant grows native in eastern, central, and southwestern states and every county in Virginia. Photographed in the Butterfly Garden in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June through August. Comments. Butterfly weed is a favorite food source for both the adult and larva forms of the monarch butterfly. Other butterflies such as tiger, spicebush, eastern black and pipevine swallowtails and the giant sulphur also love the nectar. Bees use the plant for a food source and are important pollinators.
NATIVE SEABEACH ORACH Atriplex spp. CHENOPODIACEAE Goosefoot Family
Description. Seabeach Orach is recognized by the alternate fleshy leaves, lance-shaped and tapering to the base. This annual plant grows erect or prostrate to 3 feet long, widely branched. Habitat. Growing on sandy coastal beaches and borders of salt marshes from New Hampshire south to West Indies, Florida, and Texas, Seabeach Orach is found only in the coastal counties in Virginia. Two species are found in Virginia: A. cristata (arenaria) and A. patula, distinguished by their reproductive feature. Photographed at the Wise Point Boat Ramp Parking Area at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July-October. Comments. Species of Atriplex, the Four Winged Salt Bush, were used by Native Americans for sore muscles, insect bites and as a cathartic. An infusion of any Atriplex in which the stems or leaves have a red color was used for blood medicine. The leaves were boiled as greens and the seeds dried, ground and eaten as pinole.
INTRODUCED EARLY WINTER CRESS Barbarea verna BRASSICACEAE Mustard Family
Description. In early spring, fields are often covered with this 1-2 feet tall perennial plant with bright yellow flowers. A member of the Mustard Family, it is distinctive with four petals, and leaves at the base with 8-20 lobes. The upper leaves are feather-lobed or divided. Long, erect seedpods hug the stem. Habitat. Native to Eurasia, and now naturalized in damp soil, fields, and roadsides, Early Winter Cress is found in nearly every county in the state of Virginia, ranges from Newfoundland to Washington, and south to Florida and California. Blooms April-June Comments. Considered a satisfactory substitute for watercress, Early Winter cress (or ‘land cress”) has been cultivated as a leaf vegetable in England since the 17 th century. It can be used in sandwiches, or salads, or cooked like spinach.
NATIVE SPANISH NEEDLES Bidens bipinnata ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. These are weedy plants with barbed fruits (achenes) that cling to clothing. Leaves are fern-like, divided several times. Growing 1-3 feet high, the stems are square. Flower heads are long and slender, with a few small yellow rays. Habitat. Spanish Needles can be found in dry or rocky situations, roadsides, waste places or as a weed in cultivated fields. The plant is native to southeastern United States and grows in every county in the state of Virginia. Blooms August-October. Comments. The genus name Bidens means “two teeth,” referring to the sticky points on the fruits, allowing the seeds wide dispersion, as they will stick to anything passing by.
NATIVE DUNE SANDSPUR Cenchrus tribuloides POACEAE Grass Family
Description. This is a stout, much-branched trailing annual plant, with spikelets enclosed in prickly burs. Leaf blades are long and narrow, less than ½ across, and folding inward, leathery and rough to the touch. Habitat. Grows on dunes, sandy fields, woods and coastal sands and is restricted to the eastern United States, Dune Sandspur ranges from southern New York to Florida and Texas. Flowers appear from August through October. Comments. This is the most common species that visitors encounter when visiting coastal areas.
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Hitchcock, A.S. (rev. A. Chase). 1950. Manual of the grasses of the United States. USDA Miscellaneous Publication No. 200. Washington, DC.
INTRODUCED MOUSE-EAR CHICKWEED Cerastium fontanum ssp. vulgare (Cerastium vulgatum) CARYOPHYLLACEAE Pink Family
Description. This tufted perennial plant has ascending or sprawling hairy stems, about 12 inches long. Soft-hairy leaves are opposite and oval, resembling mouse ears, hence the common name. Each tiny white flower, up to ¼ inch across, consists of 5 green sepals, 5 white petals with notched tips, and 10 stamens with pale yellow anthers. Each flower is replaced by a cylindrical seed capsule with 10 small teeth along its upper rim. While the plant reproduces primarily by reseeding itself, it can also form vegetative offsets when the lower stems develop rootlets while lying on moist ground. Habitat. Native to Eurasia, Mouse-ear Chickweed is now established as a weed over most of North America, often in lawns and other disturbed areas. Mouse-ear Chickweed grows in full sun to light shade and moist to slightly dry conditions, tolerating a broad range of soils, including those that contain clay-loam and pebbly or gravelly material. This common weed is found all over North America and in every county of the state of Virginia, blooming April through October. Comments. The flowers attract various bees and flies and the caterpillars of several moth species feed on the leaves. Sparrows and other small songbirds eat the seeds, and the cottontail rabbit occasionally nibbles on the foliage.
NATIVE PARTRIDGE PEA Chamaecrista fasciculata (Cassia fasciculata) FABACEAE Pea Family
Description. This straggly annual plant grows 6-30 inches tall, with large yellow flowers tucked in the leaf axils. The five petals are broad and unequal, the dark anthers drooping, with a red spot in the middle of the flower. Dark green oval leaflets are finely cut into 6-15 pairs, each tipped with a tiny bristle, and are sometimes sensitive to the touch. Habitat. Found in nearly every county in Virginia, growing in a wide variety of open, often disturbed habitats, Partridge Pea ranges from Massachusetts to southern Minnesota and south to Florida and Mexico. Photographed along the Wise Point Boat Ramp roadway in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July-September. Comments. Partridge pea attracts bees and butterflies and is a nectar source and larval host for several species of butterflies. Seed pods are eaten by game birds and songbirds, and the plant provides excellent cover for game birds . Like other members of the pea family, Partridge-pea requires the presence of microorganisms that inhabit nodules on the plan’ts root system and produce nitrogen compounds necessary for the plant’s survival.
NATIVE SPOTTED SANDMAT Chamaesyce (Euphorbia) maculata EUPHORBIACEAE Spurge Family
Description. Spotted Sandmat is a familiar, creeping annual plant with spreading stems to 20 inches long. The reddish stems, often covered with long hairs, are filled with a sticky, milky sap. Distinctive oval-shaped leaves grow opposite from each other along the stem and may also be hairy. They are green to dark green with a single purple or maroon spot in the center, and have toothed edges. The plant produces both male and female flowers, growing from the leaf axils. Habitat. This is a common weed of sunny locations, in variable soils, and is found in lawns, gardens, fields, meadows, and open woods. Found in every county in the state of Virginia, Spotted Sandmat is native over the continental United States. Blooms May-October. Comments. The milky sap can cause skin irritation and blistering, and is toxic if ingested.
NATIVE TURTLEHEAD Chelone glabra SCROPHULARIACEAE Figwort Family
Description. The swollen, two-lipped flowers, set in a tight cluster at the tip of the stem, suggest the name. The upper lip arches over the lower, sometimes tinged with pink. Leaves are narrow, toothed, and paired. This perennial plant grows 1-3 feet tall. Habitat. Turtlehead grows in wet ground, stream banks, swamps, in nearly every county of Virginia, and ranges from Newfoundland to Minnesota, south to Georgia and Alabama. Photographed at the Butterfly Garden in front of the Visitor Center at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July-September. Comments. The distinctive shape of this flower is reflected in the genus name, derived from the Greek chelone, “a tortoise”.
NATIVE FIELD THISTLE Cirsium discolor ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. A biennial (blooms the second year of its life, then dies), Field Thistle forms a rosette of prickly leaves that overwinter the first year. Growing 3-7 feet tall, the leaves are deeply cut, and their undersides are covered with a white felt. The upper leaves embrace the flower head which is usually purple. Habitat. Field Thistle grows in roadsides, fields, thin woods, meadows, waste places, ranging from Quebec west to Manitoba, south to North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana and Kansas. This common plant is found in nearly every county in Virginia. Photographed along the road to Wise Boat Ramp in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms August-November. Comments. Goldfinches are found of this seed. Field Thistle is the larval host for the Painted Lady butterfly, very common in our area.
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Vol. 3: 549.
INTRODUCED ASIATIC DAYFLOWER Commelina communis COMMELINACEAE Family
Description. Asiatic Dayflower is a sprawling annual, 1-3 feet tall, with oval leaves and clasping stem. The flowers have two prominent, earlike blue petals and a smaller whitish petal beneath. Each Dayflower blooms for only one day, hence the common name. This imported weed differs from the Virginia Dayflower by its small white (not blue) lower petal, with leaves more narrow. Habitat. Growing in roadsides, waste places, moist or shaded ground across eastern and central U.S. and Canada, Asiatic Dayflower is found in nearly every county in Virginia. Photographed near the cemetery in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June-October. Comments. In China, leaf tea was used for sore throats, urinary infections, dysentery. The young leaves and stems can be added fresh to salads or boiled and served with butter.
NATIVE BLUE MISTFLOWER Conoclinium coelestinum ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. Blue Mistflower, or Hardy Ageratum, is a native perennial with flat-topped clusters of soft, fluffy violet-blue flowers on 3- to 4-foot stalks. These flowers are very similar to the annual Dwarf Ageratum sold in garden centers for bedding plants. The native form is taller and will return each year. The leaves are paired and arrow-shaped. Habitat. This plan grows wild in thickets, woods edges, stream banks, meadows, and fields, ranging from New York to Illinois and Kansas, and south to Florida and Texas, and in nearly every county in Virginia. Photographed in front of the Visitor Center at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July-October. Comments. Blue Mistflower attracts bees and butterflies, and is good as a border plant or as a colonizing groundcover. However, this wildflower spreads quickly and can become a pest.
NATIVE HORSEWEED Conyza canadensis ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. A bristly annual weed with numerous small, lance-shaped leaves. Growing to 1-3 feet tall, tiny greenish white flowers are formed on many branches from the leaf axils. The disk flowers are yellow with very short white rays. Habitat. Thriving on bare soil, Horseweed grows in roadsides, old fields, and dry or moist disturbed ground. Originally a North American plant, it has spread to Europe where it colonizes open disturbed sites. It is found all over the North American continent and every county in the state of Virginia, blooming July through September. Comments. Indians and early settlers used a preparation of its leaves to treat dysentery and sore throat.
INTRODUCED QUEEN ANNE’S LACE Daucus carota ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. Extremely flat flower clusters form a lace-like pattern with often a single tiny deep purple floret in the center. Stems are covered with bristly hairs and leaves are divided and subdivided. Stiff 3-forked bracts form below the main flower cluster. Old flower clusters curl to form a cuplike “bird’s nest.” Habitat. Growing in dry fields and waste places, Queen Anne’s Lace is a native of Eurasia, now a weed throughout most of North America, and every county in the state of Virginia. Photographed along the entrance roadway into Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms May-October. Comments. This plant is the wild ancestor of our cultivated carrot. When young, the flower folds up, trapping seeds inside, until an animal brushes against it, and becomes covered with seeds.
NATIVE JIMSON WEED Datura stramonium SOLANACEAE Nightshade Family
Description. Jimson Weed is a coarse annual plant growing to 4 feet tall with an unpleasant, heavy scent. Stems are smooth; leaves are large, to 8 inches long, with shallow lobes and a few teeth. The white, tubular flower has 5 teeth around the rim. The fruit is oval and covered with short spines. Habitat. Growing in disturbed sands, dry soil and waste places, especially around barnyards, Jimson Weed is found in nearly every county in Virginia, and widespread in temperate and warm regions. Photographed near Park Headquarters in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge Blooms July-October. Comments. This is an infamous plant, once used as an intoxicant by the early Jamestown settlers, and called "Jamestown Weed", now shortened to "Jimson Weed". Rarely eaten by livestock, Native Americans used the leaves on boils, wounds, hemorrhoids. A dangerous narcotic plant that can be fatal in overdose due to high concentrations of toxic alkaloids in the seeds and leaves.
NATIVE PALE PURPLE CONEFLOWER Echinacea pallida ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. This species of Coneflower is distinguished by drooping, pink-lavender ray petals which grow singly on top of strong, 2-4 foot tall stems. The leaves are lance-shaped and parallelveined, generally without teeth, with the lower leaves on short stalks. Habitat. A native to eastern and central United States, Pale Purple Coneflower grows mainly in prairies from Nebraska to Michigan and south; it has been found only in 3 western counties in the state of Virginia. Photographed in the Butterfly Garden in front of the Visitor Center at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June-July. Comments. The genus name is from the Greek ekhinos, meaning “a hedgehog or sea urchin”, and refers to the spiny bristles among the disk flowers.
NATIVE PURPLE CONEFLOWER Echinacea purpurea ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. This is a tall (to 3 feet), sturdy plant, each stem topped with a stunning flower with pale purple rays and a large golden disk. Elliptic and lance-shaped leaves to 5 inches long are opposite each other on the coarse stem. Edges of the leaves are usually smooth, or with small irregular teeth, and both sides are somewhat hairy. Habitat. Purple Coneflower grows in woods and prairies in moist sites, in midwestern states, and irregularly to some eastern states. This flowering perennial is native in Virginia only in a few mountainous counties, but is often planted in home gardens for the striking flowers. Photographed in front of the Visitor Garden in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June-October. Comments. Goldfinches love the thistle seed in the central disk.
NATIVE FIREWEED Erechtites hieracifolia var. hieracifolia ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. The small, pale tubular flowers barely peep from the swollen-based envelope of green bracts. In the fall, the flowers are replaced by cottony masses covering the seeds. The stems are grooved, and strong-smelling. Grows 1-9 feet tall, with alternate, toothed leaves 2-8 inches long, very variable. Habitat. Fireweed is found in various disturbed habitats including openings in dry woods and waste places. Ranging from Newfoundland to Florida and tropical America, and west to Saskatchewan and Texas this plant is found in nearly every county in Virginia. Photographed from the Marsh Trail at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms August-September. Comments. Used medicinally for various dysfunctions; a tea of the whole plant was used as an astringent and tonic in ailments of lungs, bowels, and stomach.
NATIVE DAISY FLEABANE Erigeron annuus ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. This asterlike flower starts blooming in the spring, unlike the fall-blooming asters. The white rays are smaller and more numerous (40-70), and surround a dense yellow disk. The stem leaves are toothed, not clasping, and the hairs on the stem stand out. Rough Fleabane (Erigeron strigosus) is similar, but the stem hairs lie closer to the stem, and the stem leaves are almost entire. The plant grows 1-3 feet high. Habitat. Daisy Fleabane grows in fields, roadsides, waste land, and as a weed in disturbed sites over most of the United States and Canada and in every county in Virginia. Blooms MayOctober. Comments. The descriptive common name originated from a belief that dried flowers could rid a dwelling of fleas. (Niering)
NATIVE ROUGH FLEABANE Erigeron strigosus ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. These plants usually annual, growing to 3 feet tall, on coarse and hairy stems. Leaves on the stem are linear, few in number, firm and usually smooth-edged. Flower heads are white (sometimes bluish or pinkish), few to many; each flower has 50-100 very narrow ray flowers around a yellow center. Habitat. A very common weed in open fields, especially meadows and pastures and disturbed sites over most of U.S. and southern Canada and every county in Virginia. Blooms May-September. Comments. Various plants of the Aster Family are supposed to drive away fleas, hence the common name "fleabane". The Catawba used an infusion of the roots for heart medicine, and the Ojibwa used the plant for sick headache.
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. Wetland flora: Field office illustrated guide to plant species. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
DOG FENNEL Eupatorium capillifolium ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. This is a tall, coarse, perennial plant, with several erect stems emerging from a crown. The lower leaves are opposite on the stem, the others alternate. The numerous leaves are narrow, and very finely divided. Flower heads are very small and creamy-white. Habitat. This is an aggressive and weedy plant, growing in open fields, old fields and pastures on the coastal plain from New Jersey to Florida, Texas and Arkansas, and in eastern Virginia counties. Dog Fennel is distributed throughout Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge, seen frequently along roadsides. Blooms September-October. Comments. The genus name comes from Mithridates Eupator, king of Parthia, 120-63 B.C., who was supposed to have discovered the medicinal virtues of the Eupatoriums. Native Americans used the plants as medicinal aids.
NATIVE JOE PYE WEED Eupatorium dubium ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. These tall, majestic plants are real butterfly magnets. Blooming in late summer until frost, they range from 3 to 10 feet tall with dense heads of fluffy pinkish flowers, usually covered with butterflies, bees, beetles and wasps, all feeding and pollinating. Habitat. Joe-pye Weeds are meadow plants; most require full sun, acid, rich soil and moist drainage, although some can tolerate shade, less moisture, coastal conditions and clay soil. Clump-forming, they will not form extensive drifts. Grows near the coast, from Nova Scotia and southern New Hampshire to South Carolina, and in eastern counties of the state of Virginia. Photographed in the Butterfly Garden in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July-September. Description. The genus Eupatorium was name for Eupator, king of Parthia, 120-63 B.C. who was supposed to have discovered the medicinal virtues of these plants. “Joe-pye Weed” comes from a tale about a North American Indian called Joe Pye, who walked the streets of Boston, selling a cure for typhus, using an elixir of this plant to induce profuse sweating, thus breaking the fever (although this story is in some doubt among authors).
NATIVE HYSSOP-LEAF BONESET Eupatorium hyssopifolium ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. A fall blooming member of the Aster Family, this plant is distinguished by extremely narrow leaves, mostly in whorls of 3 or 4, with clusters of smaller leaves growing in the axils (where the leaf meets the stem). The white tubular flowers appear at the top of 1-3 feet tall stems, in a flattish-topped cluster. Habitat. This perennial plant grows in dry sandy fields and open woods in most counties in Virginia, and in coastal states from Massachusetts to northern Florida, west to Louisiana, and sometimes inland to Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Blooms August-October. Comments. The plant can be used medicinally (applied externally for insect and reptile bites). It can also be planted near crops to attract beneficial insects. Many species of butterflies visit the flowers.
NATIVE LATE-FLOWERING BONESET Eupatorium serotinum ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. An erect, perennial herb, up to 6 feet high, often forming clumps with hairy stems. The leaves are opposite on the stem, lance-shaped and toothed with 3 prominent veins. Most leaves have stalks as they attach to the stem. Flowers are white, in clusters and somewhat flat-topped. Habitat. Late-flowering Boneset grows in brackish and tidal fresh marshes, upland fields, and waste places. The plant is found in eastern and central regions of North America and mostly in the eastern counties in the state of Virgina. Photographed along roadsides at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms August-October. Comments. These plants are called "thoroughworts" because the stem of the most renowned species, E. perfoliatum, appears to grow thorough (through) the leaves. The genus name comes from Mithridates Eupator, king of Parthia, 120-63 B.C., who was supposed to have discovered the medicinal virtues of the Eupatoriums. Native Americans used the plants as medicinal aids.
NATIVE FLAT-TOPPED GOLDENROD Euthamia caroliniana (tenuifolia) ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. Flat-topped Goldenrod is an erect perennial, growing 1-4 feet tall. The stems divide many times at the top where the tiny golden flowers grow on the tips of the branches, forming a flat-topped floral spray. The leaves are alternate, very narrow, and smooth on the margins. Habitat. Growing in damp to dry, sandy soil, this plant is found in brackish and freshwater marshes, roadsides, thin woods, and over wash areas. Ranging along the coast from Nova Scotia to Florida and Louisiana the plant is found in the eastern counties of Virginia. Photographed along the roadway of the Wise Point Boat Ramp at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms August-September. Comments. This species is placed with the goldenrods by many authors. However, Euthamia is distinguished by the flat-topped flower groups and fine glands dotting the narrow leaves.
INTRODUCED INVASIVE SWEET FENNEL Foeniculum vulgare APIACEAE Carrot Family
Description. This is a tall, to 6 feet, short-lived perennial plant with smooth gray-green stems and feathery leaves. Tiny yellow flowers are carried at the ends of stems in flat heads. The fruit is a dry seed, up to ½ inch long, and grooved. Habitat. Sweet fennel has become naturalized along roadsides, in pastures, and in other open sites in many regions. A native of the Mediterranean region, the plant is now found throughout much of the United States, especially southward and elsewhere in warm regions. In Virginia it grows in scattered eastern and central counties. Distributed throughout the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge where the staff is attempting eradication of this species. Blooms JuneSeptember. Comments. Sweet fennel is strong anise- or licorice-scented. Several different types are grown in gardens for food, flavoring, and ornamental and medicinal use. The seed is the best source of the chemical used commercially as licorice or anise flavor.
INTRODUCED FUMITORY Fumaria officinalis FUMARIACEAE Fumitory Family
Description. Fumitory is a delicate, climbing, gray-green plant, growing to 3 feet, with a smoky look from a distance. The finely cut leaflets are 3-5-pronged. Flowers are in spikes, pinkishpurple and tipped with maroon. Habitat. Growing in waste places and cultivated ground, this perennial plant is a native of Europe, introduced in waste ground in most states of U.S. In Virginia, it is found in a few eastern counties. Blooms May-August. Comments. Originally thought to be useful medicinally, newer herbalists are cautioning against its poisonous nature.
NATIVE CLEAVERS Galium aparine RUBIACEAE Madder Family
Description. This sprawling, prickly plant, most commonly reclines on bushes in thickets. Narrow, 1-3 inch long leaves are in whorls of 6-8. Small, greenish-white flowers appear stalked in a cluster, growing from the axils, producing bristly fruits.
Habitat. Growing in damp ground, usually shady, in woods, thickets, shores, Cleavers is native to continental United States, and non-native in Canada. The plant is found in every county in the state of Virginia. Photographed along the marsh trail at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June-September. Comments. All parts of this plant are raspy – the flower buds, fruits, stem and leaves, warranting the common name of “cleavers.” The plants in this genus are also known as “bedstraws” since the pleasant smelling foliage of a yellow-flowered species (G. verum), was used to stuff mattresses in medieval times. Herbal tea of Cleavers has been traditionally used as a folk cancer remedy, as a diuretic, and for bladder and kidney inflammation and kidney stones. The juice contains citric acid and asperuloside, an anti-inflammatory agent. (Foster/Duke)
NATIVE PURPLE CUDWEED Gamochaeta (Gnaphalium) purpureum ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. This erect annual or biennial plant grows to 3 feet with thin woolly stems and leaves. Alternate on the stem, with entire margins, the lowest leaves are spoon-shaped, rounded at the tip, often forming a basal rosette. Flower heads are crowded at the tip of the stem. Habitat. Growing in open, usually disturbed, commonly sandy habitats, roadsides, fields, woodland clearings and edges, Purple Cudweed is common in eastern United States and nearly every county in Virginia. Blooms April-June. Comments. This species apparently occurs widely through the world as a weed; it is fairly clearly native to eastern North America, where it is the least weedy of the Gamochaetas.
INTRODUCED DOVE’S-FOOT CRANE’S-BILL Geranium molle GERANIACEAE Geranium Family
Description. Of the several geraniums in this area, this species has a more rounded leaf, with short blunt lobes. Flowers are deep red-purple, about ½ inch across with notched petals. The seedpod stalks are deeply bent. Habitat. Common in fields, roadsides, and waste places. Dove’s-foot is a native of Europe and east Asia and now widespread as a weed in eastern and western U.S., and scattered in many counties across Virginia. Dove’s-foot blooms April-May Comments. The species name is an old Greek name, derived from geranos, "a crane"; the fruit has a long beak thought to resemble the bill of a crane.
NATIVE NARROW-LEAVED SUNFLOWER Helianthus angustifolius ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. This tall perennial plant (2-6 feet high), has stiff, narrow, dark green leaves. Yellow flower heads are 2-3 inches wide, with purplish-black disks, similar to those of Black-eyed Susans. Habitat. Growing in swamps and moist places, bogs, pine barrens, Narrow-leaved Sunflower is found chiefly near the coast, in southeastern counties of Virginia. Its range extends from Long Island to Florida and Texas, and inland to southern Ohio, southern Indiana and southern Missouri. It was planted in the Butterfly Garden at the front of the Visitor Center at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms August-October. Comments. The Sunflower Family is large worldwide, and includes Cosmos, Zinnia, Dahlia, and many others grown as ornamentals. Lettuce and artichokes provide food, and safflower oil is is obtained from this family.
NATIVE TALL SUNFLOWER Helianthus giganteus ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. This giant sunflower grows 5-10 feet tall, with flower heads over 2 inches wide. Dark green leaves are lance-shaped, with shallow teeth, rough, and are attached to the stem with short stalks, and sometimes without stalks. Leaves are arranged mostly alternate on the stems, which are rough, dull and reddish. Despite this plant’s name, its flower heads are comparatively small; the common and species names actually refer to the plants overall height. Habitat. Growing in swamps and damp thickets, Tall Sunflower is found in counties scattered across Virginia, and ranges from Maine and New Brunswick to northern South Carolina and northern Georgia, and west to southern Alberta and Nebraska. Photographed near the cemetery at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms August-October. Comments. The seed heads of this perennial plant attract birds. The stems and leaves can cause skin irritation in humans and can be fatal to animals if ingested.
NATIVE FALSE SUNFLOWER/OXEYE Heliopsis helianthoides ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. This attractive native perennial plant grows 3-5 feet tall on stiff, branched stems. The large, coarsely-toothed leaves are opposite with short stalks. False Sunflower closely resembles sunflowers (Helianthus spp.), but the yellow rays remain on the flower, and the center disk is cone-shaped. Further, each ray is fertile, with a small, forked pistil (the female reproductive structure) at the base,– not present in true sunflowers. Habitat. Growing in open woods, rich to dry, and thickets, in many counties of Virginia, mostly in the mountain and piedmont regions, False Sunflower occurs from New York to Michigan and Illinois, and south to Georgia and Mississippi. Photographed along the marsh trail in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July-October. Comments. False Sunflower attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
Fertile ray flower
INTRODUCED DAYLILY Hemerocallis fulva LILACEAE Lily Family
Description. Daylily is a tall perennial plant growing to 3 feet tall, with smooth stems carrying numerous long, linear leaves at the base. Tawny-orange flowers bloom for only a day at the tips of the stems, with buds opening in succession. The large flowers, 5 inches wide, have no fragrance. Habitat. This familiar roadside plant is native to Eurasia, and has long been cultivated. Daylily has freely escaped throughout eastern United States and nearly every county in Virginia. Blooms July-August. Comments. The attractive flowers are heavily browsed by deer. Many cultivars appear each year in the nursery trade. Fulva means “orange-yellow “ in Latin.
ROSE-MALLOW Hibiscus moscheutos MALVACEAE Mallow Family
Description. Rose-mallow is a perennial shrub-like herbaceous plant about 3 feet tall. The flowers are large and white with a red center. There exists in nature numerous forms and petal colors range from pure white to deep rose, and most have an eye of deep maroon. Habitat. Found in marshes along the coast and inland, Rose-mallow ranges from Massachusetts south to Florida and Alabama, and grows in most counties of Virginia. Photographed in front of the Visitor Center at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge, where two forms are found with flowers of white and deep pink. Blooms July-September. Comments. Hibiscus is an old Greek and Latin name for marshmallow; moscheuto, because its odor suggests musk-rose. Cotton is the most important economical member of this family. Other members of the mallow family produce a sap that, when whipped with sugar, was the origin of our marshmallow candy.
NATIVE SUMMER BLUET Houstonia longifolia RUBIACEAE Madder Family
Description. Summer Bluet is a fibrous-root perennial growing to one foot high, in clumps of narrow leaves. The dainty, tubular flowers are pale, pinkish-white, with four petals, on long stalks. Habitat. Growing in dry, gravely or sterile soil in sun, part shade or shade this little plant is scattered across Virginia in several counties. Summer Bluet extends from Maine to Ontario and Saskatchewan, and south to South Carolina, Mississippi and Arkansas. Photographed along the marsh trail at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June-August. Comments. This species will adapt to rock gardens and it is not difficult to cultivate. The flowers are pollinated primarily by small bees. These insects suck nectar and collect pollen from the flowers. The foliage is not known to be toxic, therefore it may be eaten occasionally by the Cottontail Rabbit.
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Vol. 3: 254.
INTRODUCED CAT’S EAR Hypochaeris radicata ASTERACEAE AsterFamily
Description. This perennial has branching, forked stems growing 8-18 inches high, with a dandelion-like flower head at the end. There are no stem leaves, but a few scale-like bracts are along the stems, which produce milky sap. Golden-yellow flowers are about one inch across, and the ends of each ray flower are notched. There are no disk flowers, but the center is a deeper yellow. The fuzzy fruits have plume-like bristles which act as parachutes, carrying windborne seeds. The toothed and lobed basal leaves are covered with short, stiff hairs on both sides.
Habitat. Cat’s ear is native to Eurasia, now widely established in the United States and southern Canada, growing in roadsides, in fields and waste places. It is found in most eastern counties and a few western counties in the state of Virginia. Blooms May-August.
Comments. The common name refers to the hairs on the leaves, resembling the hair on the ears of cats. The plant is also known as “False Dandelion,” as it is commonly mistaken for the true Dandelions (Taraxacum spp.). Both plants carry similar flowers which form windborne seeds. However, the flowering stems of Cat’s Ear are forked and solid, whereas Dandelions possess unforked stems that are hollow. Both plants have a rosette of leaves and a central taproot. The leaves of Dandelions are jagged in appearance, whereas those of Cat’s Ear are more lobe-shaped and hairy. Both plants have similar uses.
NATIVE SEASHORE MALLOW Kosteletzkya virginica MALVACEAE Mallow Family
Description. This plant resembles Hibiscus, but the flowers are much smaller (2 inches), and a deep pink. The gray-green leaves are egg-shaped, pointed, and usually 3-lobed. The stems are 1-3 feet tall. Habitat. Growing in brackish marshes and shores, Seashore Mallow is common near the coast, from southern Virginia, where it grows only in the eastern counties, to Florida. Photographed in the Butterfly Garden in front of the Visitor Center at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July-September. Comments. Seashore mallow attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. The genus was named for Vincenz Kostelezky, 1801-1887, a Bohemian botanist.
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 523.
INTRODUCED KOREAN CLOVER Kummerowia (Lespedeza) stipulacea FABACEAE Pea Family
Description. An annual plant, usually growing 4-12 inches tall, Korean Clover is branched and spreads over the ground. The leaves are alternate, and divided into 3 sections (palmately trifoliate). Hairs can be seen fringing the edges of the leaves which are usually tipped with a small point. The leaves point forward at maturity, coming together to resemble a cone. Small, lobed flowers, white to pink, appear in the leaf axils. Habitat. A common weed of roadsides, fields, pastures, and open woods, especially in sandy soils, Korean Clover is found in nearly every county of Virginia, and eastern and central United States. A native of Korea, the plant was introduced into the United States in 1919 as a hay and pasture plant. It often appears in disturbed areas, rapidly covering bare soil. Blooms JulyNovember. Comments. Bob-white quail and wild turkeys eat the seeds.
INTRODUCED HENBIT Lamium amplexicaule LAMIACEAE Mint Family
Description. This slender, much-branched annual plant grows 1-2 feet tall. Reddish two-lipped flowers circle the stem with a pair of clasping leaves. Round leaves are hairy above and toothed; only the lower leaves have stalks (petioles). Habitat. Henbit is native to Eurasia and Africa, and is now well established over most of North America. Growing in waste ground, cultivated fields, pastures, lawns, railroads and roadsides, this plant is found in every county in the state of Virginia, and all over North America. Blooms MarchNovember. Comments. All members of the mint family show square stems, opposite leaves and two-lipped flowers.
INTRODUCED PURPLE DEAD NETTLE Lamium purpureum LAMIACEAE Mint Family
Description. Purple Dead Nettle is a low-growing annual with hollow stems, to two feet tall. The two-lipped flowers are red-purple, and the leaves around the flowers are often purplish. The leaves are heart-shaped and opposite each other on the stem. This plant is easily mistaken for Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) since they both have similar looking leaves and similar bright purple flowers, and often grow in the same habitat. They can be distinguished by the attachment of the leaves to the stem. The leaves are attached directly to the stem in henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) whereas Purple Dead Nettle has stalked leaves (petioles) . Habitat. These plants are found in waste places, roadsides, fields and woods in nearly every county in the state of Virginia. A native of Eurasia, it is now established as an occasional weed throughout much of northeastern United States and elsewhere in America. Blooms April-October. Comments. The matted growth habit will color pastures and fields in early spring with bright purple. Young plants have edible tops and leaves, good in salads or in stir fry as a spring vegetable. Though superficially similar to a nettle in appearance, it is not related and does not sting, hence the name "deadnettle".
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Vol. 3: 286.
INTRODUCED LANTANA Lantana camara VERBENACEAE Verbena Family
Description. Also called shrub verbena, Lantana is an upright frost-tender shrub-like herbaceous plant that grows 3-6’ tall, and almost as wide. Dark green leaves to 4 inches long are ovate, toothed, and rough-wrinkled above; the leaves are aromatic when bruised. Tiny 5-lobed flowers in dense round clusters bloom summer to fall. Flower colors include white, yellow, orange, red and purple, often mixed in the same cluster. Many cultivars and hybrids are available, including dwarf and trailing plants. Habitat. Lantana is easily grown as bedding plants in average, medium moisture, welldrained soils in full sun; the plant tolerates poor soils. Native to the Central and South America, it has escaped gardens throughout the world and is considered to be a noxious weed in many frost-free/tropical areas where it can rapidly spread to form dense thickets. It has naturalized in parts of the southern U.S. including southern Florida, the Gulf Coast and southern California. Photographed in the Butterfly Garden in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July to frost. Comments. Very attractive to butterflies, who sip nectar from dawn to dusk.
NATIVE WILD PEPPERGRASS Lepidium virginicum BRASSICACEAE Mustard Family
Description. A summer annual, sometimes biennial, Wild Peppergrass grows 4-20 inches on erect, highly branched stems, which are covered with tiny hairs. The basal leaves are deeply lobed, while the leaves on the stems are toothed and lance-shaped. Tiny white 4-petaled flowers with only 2 stamens are arranged in elongated clusters at the ends of the stems. The distinctive seed capsules are flat, roundish, and slightly notched. Habitat. Growing in dry soil with full sun in fields, roadsides, gardens and waste areas, Wild Peppergrass is found in all counties of Virginia and across the United States. Photographed in the lawn behind the Visitor Center at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms JuneNovember. Comments. This prolific weed is one of the most common pepperweeds. Its seeds have a peppery taste and can be used to season soups and stews; the young leaves are used in salads or cooked as greens.
INTRODUCED BUSH (CHINESE) LESPEDEZA Lespedeza cuneata FABACEAE Pea Family
Description. This perennial plant has erect stems, somewhat woody, growing to 4 feet tall; the numerous branches are long, wand-like and very leafy. Leaves are compound with 3 very small leaflets, narrowly wedge-shaped with blunt tips. Flowers are tiny, 1/4 inch long, whitish or purple-veined, in clusters of 1-4 between the stems and leaves. Habitat. A weed of roadsides, grasslands, pastures, fencerows and fields, Bush Clover is native to eastern Asia, and is also known as Sericea or Chinese Lespedeza. The plant has been cultivated in southeastern United States and planted and established along roadsides and in disturbed sites in the southern part of the range, north to New Jersey and Michigan. It is found throughout the state of Virginia, mostly in the eastern and central counties. Blooms July-October. Comments. The genus name honors a Spanish governor of East Florida late in the 18 th century; cuneata means wedge-shaped and refers to the shape of the leaf. All members of the genus Lespedeza are characterized by compound leaves with 3 leaflets. Bush Clover is recently introduced and planted for erosion control, and has now escaped to roadsides and fields in numerous places. Its use as a forage plant is limited as cattle refuse to eat it.
INTRODUCED OX-EYE DAISY Leucanthemum vulgare ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. This showy, perennial plant has alternate, toothed leaves on stems that can reach 3 feet tall. Each stem usually bears a single flower, 1-2" wide with 15-20 white petals (rays) and a yellow center. Habitat. Ox-eye Daisy is very common in fields and meadows. Native to Eurasia, this common plant is now naturalized throughout most of temperate North America and grows in every county in the state of Virginia. Photographed in the Butterfly Garden. Blooms May-June. Comments. The species name leucanthemum means "white flower". This common weed, an Old World plant, escaped from colonial gardens, and is now abundant in pastures and meadows. It grows unmolested by grazing cattle who seem to prefer other forage. Daisy chains were once used at school commencements, and the petals were picked by young girls, reciting "He loves me, he loves me not.“ Wild English daisy, Bellis perennis, opens at dawn and closes at dusk, a pattern which gave the plant its original name, "day's eye". Ox-eye daisy, being a close relative of chamomile, has been brewed to make a calming tea. The leaves may repel fleas.
NATIVE SEA LAVENDER Limonium carolinianum (L. nashii) PLUMBAGINACEAE Leadwort Family
Description. This plant is easy to recognize, forming a "sea" of tiny lavender flowers waving across the salt marshes in late summer and early fall. A tap-rooted perennial, the large, lanceshaped leaves grow only around the base of the plant. The stem branches many times and the flowers mature from the bottom upwards. While the petals are purple to lavender, the outside base of the flower (sepals) is white, an unusual combination. Habitat. Common in salt or brackish marshes along the coast, the range of Sea Lavender extends from Labrador to northeast Mexico, and is found only in a few coastal counties in the state of Virginia. Photographed at the parking lot of the Wise Point Boat Ramp, Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July-October. Comments. "Leimonion", the ancient Greek name, is presumably derived from leimon, a marsh. The flowers are prized for bouquets and dried arrangements. Our ancestors' druggists sold large quantities for use as an astringent.
INTRODUCED BLACK MEDICK Medicago lupulina FABACEAE Pea Family
Description. Black Medick is a sprawling plant, growing to 3 feet, with downy stems. Yellow flowers are in small heads, resembling hop clovers. The flowers are followed by distinctive black, coiled seedpods. The 3-parted leaflets are often minutely spine-tipped, and the middle leaflet is distinctly stalked. Habitat. Native to Eurasia, this plant is now common as a weed along roadsides and in waste places. It is found all over the United States, much of Canada and in every county of Virginia. Photographed in the gravel roadway near the Marsh Trail at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms March-December. Comments. The flowers can be used to make honey.
INTRODUCED WHITE SWEET CLOVER Melilotus alba FABACEAE Pea Family
Description. White Sweet Clover is an erect, branched annual to biennial, growing to 3 feet tall. The leaves are on stalks (petioles) with 3 narrow, toothed leaflets. White flowers appear in long, one-sided spikes. The Seed is oval, leathery and wrinkled. Habitat. Native to Eurasia, this plant is now established as a weed along roadsides, waste places, around buildings and back beaches, especially in soils with lime. Ranging from Nova Scotia south the Mexico and West Indies White Sweet Clover is found in every county in Virginia. It is seen throughout Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms May-June. Comments. The genus name Melilotus is derived from the Greek meli, “honey” and Latin alba, “white”. The plant is fragrant when dry, and used as hay, but when moldy it can cause internal hemorrhaging and even death. The Havasupai dried the leaves and tied them to women's clothing as a perfume.
NATIVE WILD BERGAMOT/BEE BALM Monarda fistulosa; M. didyma LAMIACEAE Mint Family
Description. Wild Bergamot is easily recognized by the clusters of dense heads of pink to lavender flowers, which look like ragged pompons. Growing in groups, 2-3 feet tall, butterflies and hummingbirds feed constantly on the tubular flowers. The square stems and paired leaves place this plant in the Mint Family. The close relative Beebalm (Monarda didyma) produces stunning true red flowers, but is native only to Virginia counties in the mountain region. Habitat. Wild Bergamot thrives in a wide range of soils, from acid to lime to rich to poor to sand to clay. Found in upland woods, thickets and prairies from British Columbia south to Georgia and Arizona, it grows in scattered counties across Virginia, mostly in mountainous areas. Photographed in the Butterfly Garden at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June-September. Comments. The aromatic leaves have been used to make mint tea, and oil from the leaves was formerly used to treat respiratory ailments. Linnaeus named the genus Monarda in honor of a 16th century Spanish physician and botanist, Nicolas Bautista Monardes. The species name fistulosa refers to the tubular flowers.
Wild Bergamot Monarda fistulosa Bee Balm Monarda didyma Spicebush Butterfly
INTRODUCED CATNIP Nepeta cataria LAMIACEAE Mint Family
Description. This is a taprooted perennial, growing to 3 feet tall with a pale grey color due to tiny, fine, whitish hairs. The stalked leaves are triangular, coarsely toothed, sometimes heart-shaped at the base, and opposite on the stem. Small, purple-white flowers are crowded at the ends of stems. Habitat. Catnip is native to Eurasia, now established in disturbed sites throughout the United States and Canada and western counties in Virginia. Photographed in the Butterfly Garden in back of the Visitor Center at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June-September. Comments. Teas made from the leaves and flowering tops is a folk remedy for many ailments. A mild sedative compound in Catnip possesses herbicidal and insect-repellent properties. Catnip is best known as a feline euphoric, the result of an inherited gene which is absent in about one-third of cats. Similar effects are not experienced by humans.
NATIVE BLUE TOADFLAX Nuttallanthus (Linaria) canadensis SCROPHULARIACEAE Figwort Family
Description. Small, light blue-violet, 2-lipped, spurred flowers are scattered in an elongated cluster on a slender stem. The flowers are 1/4-1/2" long; upper lip is 2-lobed, lower lip 3-lobed with 2 small white ridges. A long, thread-like spur at the base projects backward and curves downward. Leaves are long, alternate, linear, smooth and shiny. The plant grows 6-24" tall. Habitat. Blue Toadflax grows in open, dry sites and abandoned fields, which are usually sandy. The plant is found in eastern and central counties of Virginia, and eastern and central states. Blooms April-June. Comments. The flowers are pollinated by bumblebees and other long-tongued bees. Butterflies and skippers also may visit the flowers for nectar.
NATIVE YELLOW WOOD SORREL Oxalis stricta OXALIDACEAE Wood Sorrel Family
Description. The 3 clover-like leaflets is a distinctive feature of this low-growing plant, as well as the 5-petaled yellow flowers. Habitat. Growing in dry, open soil, Yellow Wood Sorrel is found throughout North America and every county in the state of Virginia. It is usually found in the mowed lawns near the Visitor Center at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms May-October. Comments. The genus name is derived from the Greek name for sorrel, oxys, “sour”. Stricta means “erect”. The leaves are sour and acidic and have been used traditionally to treat a wide variety of illness, among which are sore throats, cancers, ulcers, fevers and scurvy.
NATIVE AMERICAN POKEWEED Phytolacca americana PHYTOLACACEAE Pokeweed Family
Description. American Pokewood is a stout, branching perennial, over 3 feet tall, and somewhat sprawling, with reddish stems. Loose columns (racemes) of small white or pinkish flowers develop into drooping clusters of glossy, purple-black berries. Habitat. Growing in roadsides, cultivated fields, waste places, this plant is found over much of United States, with the exception of some north-central states, and in every county in Virginia. Photographed in early June along the road to Wise Boat Ramp in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July-September. Comments. The berry juice was used as a dye by the early colonists and to improve cheap . wine, and eaten in spring as cooked greens, with two changes of water. American Indians found many medicinal uses for the plant and many folk remedies make use of parts of the plant. Warning: All parts are poisonous. Especially the roots, seeds and mature stems and leaves. Plant juice can cause dermatitis, even damage chromosomes. The plant contains a highly toxic chemical being investigated for anticancer and anti-HIV potential.
NATIVE MARSH FLEABANE Pluchea odorata ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. Marsh Fleabane is a salt-marsh plant to 1-2 feet tall with oblong, toothed leaves, growing close to the stem, without stalks. When bruised, the leaves emit a strong odor. Purplepink flowers are arranged in small heads that grow in a flattish cluster at the ends of stems and the main branches. Habitat. This plant requires wet soil, and is often found in meadows or swampy woods. The plant grows from southern New Jersey to Florida and Texas, chiefly near the coast. In Virginia, Marsh Fleabane is found in the coastal counties only. Blooms August-September. Comments. The genus was dedicated to the Abbe Pluche, a French naturalist of the 18 th century.
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. Wetland flora: Field office illustrated guide to plant species. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
NATIVE SOLOMON’S SEAL Polygonatum biflorum Liliaceae Lily Family
Description. The stems of Solomon’s Seal are slender, 1-3 feet high and unbranched . Beneath the stem hangs a row of elongated white-green bell-shaped flowers. Leaves are broadly lanceshaped or egg-shaped and smooth on both sides. Fruit is a dark-blue or blackish berry. Habitat. Growing in moist woods, thickets, and roadsides, Solomon’s Seal is found in every county in Virginia, and ranges from Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire to Minnesota, Manitoba and North Dakota, and south to Florida and northern Mexico. Blooms April-June. Comments. The common name is derived from the round scars found on the rootstock.
INTRODUCED WATER PEPPER Polygonum hydropiper POLYGONACEAE Smartweed Family
Description. Small greenish-white flowers are in slender spikes, often loose and interrupted, and drooping at the tip. Stems are jointed, often reddish, with short fringes on the sheaths where the leaves attach to the stem. Lance-shaped leaves have wavy margins.
Habitat. Native to Eurasia, these are plants of shorelines and pond margins, forested wetlands and pastures. The plant is found several counties in the state of Virginia, and ranges from Quebec to British Columbia, and south to Alabama and California. Photographed near the Visitor Center in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge, Water Pepper flowers May-November.
Comments. The leaves have a peppery taste, and have been used as spices. The plants have a long history of medicinal use in Europe, and by some Native American tribes to treat a variety of ailments. An oily substance produced by glands in the plant can cause skin irritation, hence the common name “Smartweed.”
NATIVE LARGE-FLOWERED LEAFCUP Polymnia uvedalia (Smallanthus uvedalius) ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. This is a coarse, large-leaved plant with a hairy stem, growing 3-10 feet high. Leaves are somewhat maple-shaped, flowing into winged stalks. Flower heads and 1-3 inches wide, with 8-11 yellow rays. Habitat. Large-flowered Leafcup grows in rich woods, thickets, and meadows in nearly every county in Virginia, and ranges from New York to Illinois and Missouri, and south to Florida and Texas. Photographed along the marsh pathway at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June-October. Comments. The plant is reported to have medicinal uses -- an extract from the root is said to promote the growth of hair. Polymnia was introduced to the medical profession, in 1870, by Dr. J. W. Pruitt, although it had several years previously been highly lauded, under the name of “Bear's Foot,” as a remedy in rheumatism. Dr. Pruitt recommended it in the form of ointment, as a local application.
NATIVE HOARY MOUNTAIN MINT Pycnanthemum incanum LAMIACAE Mint Family
Description. This stiff, erect, clump-forming mint has whitened leaves under the flower clusters. The minty-smelling plants are 3-6 ft. tall; white or pale-lilac flowers with purple spots, 1/3 inch long, in heads or whorls cluster at the ends of stems. Habitat. Hoary Mountain Mint grows in dry woods and hillsides, in scattered counties across Virginia, and from southern New England to southern Illinois and south. This plant does not require much water, and does well in sun or shade. Photographed in the Butterfly Garden at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July-September. Comments. The genus name derives from the Greek word for “dense” and “flower” and aptly describes the crowded flower clusters. Butterflies are attracted to the blossoms.
NATIVE NARROW-LEAVED MOUNTAIN MINT Pycnanthemum tenuifolium LAMIACEAE Mint Family
Description. With very narrow leaves, Mountain Mint has a delicate, somewhat airy appearance. This native perennial plant grows 1-3 feet tall, branching frequently to create a bushy effect. The leaves are up to 3 inches long and ¼ inch across. Each leaf is hairless, with a prominent central vein and smooth margins. Small white flowers are grouped at the ends of slender, hairless stems. There is no floral scent, although the foliage has a mild mint scent and somewhat stronger minty taste. Habitat. This Mountain Mint is found on streambanks, floodplains, and moist fields and thickets in all regions of Virginia, and from Maine south to Florida and west to Oklahoma and Texas. Photographed in the Butterfly Garden in the front of the Visitor Center at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July-September. Comment. The species name tenuifolium is derived from the Latin tenuis, meaning “thin”, a reference to the narrow leaves. The flowers are very attractive to many kinds of insects, including bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, skippers, beetles, and plant bugs. These insects usually seek nectar. The seeds are too small to be of much interest to birds. Mammalian herbivores usually don't browse on this plant because of the minty taste; the foliage may contain anti-bacterial substances that disrupt the digestive process of herbivores.
NATIVE LITTLE-LEAF BUTTERCUP Ranunculus abortivus RANUNCULACEAE Buttercup Family
Description. Growing 1-2 feet tall in early spring, this little Buttercup is easily overlooked, since the flowers are small and inconspicuous. While the basal leaves are round, toothed, and heart-shaped, the stem leaves towards the flowers are narrow and divided. Habitat. Little-leaf Buttercup grows in shade and moist soil in every county in Virginia, occurring chiefly from New York and New England to Newfoundland and Quebec. Blooms April-June. Comments. Buttercups contain varying amounts of an acrid poison that can cause intestinal irritation if eaten or skin blisters if handled.
INTRODUCED BULBOUS BUTTERCUP Ranunculus bulbosus RANUNCULACEAE Buttercup Family
Description. This is a weedy, perennial plant with yellow flowers, bulbous roots, and hairy, purplish stems. Single/multiple stems grow erect from 8-24 in. tall. Flowers have 5 greenishyellow sepals pointing downward, and 5 shiny, smooth, yellow petals. Basal leaves (2.5-3 in. long) are divided into 3 lobes with the central lobe is stalked; stem leaves are smaller, less distinctively lobed and alternate along the stem. Habitat. Found in every county of Virginia, and most states and Canada except for the central plains, Bulbous Buttercup is a native of Europe, now naturalized in fields, meadows, and lawns. Flowers April-June. Comments. The specific name bulbosus refers to the bulb-like swelling at the base of the stem, roundish and white, flattened a little both at the top and bottom, somewhat resembling a small turnip - hence one of the popular names for this plant is “St. Anthony's Turnip.” It is however, not a true bulb, only 'bulb-like.'
NATIVE MEADOW-BEAUTY Rhexia mariana MELASTOMACEAE Meadow Beauty Family
Description. Meadow-beauty is a pink flowering plant to 3 feet tall, often forming colonies. Easily recognized by the flower formed of four petals, pale to deep pink, there are 8 curved, yellow anthers in the center. The leaves on the midstem are opposite and lance-shaped, widest below the middle. Habitat. This plant is common in sandy bogs, marsh edges, and roadside ditches of the Coastal Plain, from Massachusetts to Florida and Texas, and grows in eastern and central counties in the state of Virginia. At Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge, it was photographed in a roadside ditch on Hallett Circle. Blooms June-September. Comments. Rhexia is a name used by the Roman scholar Pliny for an unknown plant. The family name is derived from the Greek melas, meaning "black" and stoma, for "mouth", referring to the fact that the berries of the tropical shrub Melastoma stain the mouth black.
NATIVE CAROLINA WILD PETUNIA Ruellia caroliniensis ACANTHACEAE Acanthus Family .
Description Resembling the annual garden petunias, Wild Petunia produces a single 5petaled flower, 1-2 inches long and wide, emerging where each leaf joins the stem. The trumpet-shaped flowers vary in color from pale lavender to medium bluish-purple. On some plants the stems and the paired, egg-shaped leaves are hairy. Grows 1-2 feet tall, a little scraggly. Habitat. Wild Petunia can be seen along roadsides, in moist or dry woods across most of Virginia. Although the species name refers to its habitat in the Carolinas, the plant is found in the United States from New Jersey to Iowa and south to South Carolina, Alabama and Texas, and in nearly every county in Virginia. Photographed in the front garden at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooming June through September, the blossoms last only a day or two, but new flowers form in succession. Comments. This plant was named for an early French herbalist Jean Ruella (1474-1537); strepens means “rustling”, from the explosive capsules.
CURLY DOCK Rumex crispus POLYGONACEAE Buckwheat Family
Description. Curly Dock is an erect perennial to 3 feet tall, its long, lance-shaped leaves with wavy margins, mostly around the base of the plant. Flowers are in large groups at the top of the plant, and are small and greenish. Flower stalks are jointed near the base. The small, brown seeds are formed in reddish brown, winged fruits arranged in tight clusters on the flower stalks.
Habitat. A native of Europe, this plant is a weed in roadsides, fields and waste ground throughout the U.S. and southern Canada and nearly every county in Virginia. Photographed along the marsh trail in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms May-June.
Comments. Young leaves are sometimes used as a potherb in early spring.
INTRODUCED BITTER/BROAD DOCK Rumex obtusifolius POLYGONACEAE Smartweed Family
Description. This coarse, sturdy plant grows to 3 feet high, from a large tap or branched root. The lower leaves are broad and rounded, usually heart-shaped at the base with red veins. Upper leaves are much smaller. Tiny flowers are stalked and grow in a series of whorls. Fruits have 3 flat wings with one or more seed like growths at the center Habitat. The habitats of Bitter Dock include moist woodland edges, seeps, semi-shaded areas along streams, gardens and edges of yards, areas along buildings, vacant lots, roadside ditches, and waste areas. Bitter Dock is native to Eurasia and prefers disturbed areas. The plant grows in most counties of Virginia and over most of North America. Blooms June-September. Comments. Rumex is the ancient Latin name for the docks or sorrels; obtusifolius is from the Latin obtus meaning "dull or blunt," and folium meaning "leaf.” Because the flowers are windpollinated, they attract few pollinating insects; however, the foliage is eaten by the caterpillars of copper butterflies.
NATIVE GLASSWORT/ SALTWORT Salicornia spp. CHENOPODIACEAE Glasswort Family
Description. Glassworts are annual plants, 1/2-2 feet tall with thick green stems. Leaves are essentially absent, reduced to scales, while the flowers are sunken in pits on spikes at the branch tips. Salicornia europaea turns bright red in autumn, forming masses of color in the salt marshes. Salicornia virginica, (Sarcornia perennis) is a perennial, woody plant, becoming gray to pale brown in the fall. Habitat. These plants are found only in salt or brackish marshes. Their succulent stems have the ability to store a large volume of water, which helps the plant maintain a critical water balance, necessary because of the salty soil in which it grows. The physiology of the plant is such that it cannot survive in freshwater areas. Glassworts are common in salt marshes from Quebec to Florida and in salty soil inland to Michigan; also Alaska to California and widespread in the Old World. In Virginia, these plants are found only in a few coastal counties and on the eastern shore. Photographed along the Wise Boat Ramp roadway in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms August-November. Comments. The name is composted of sal, salt, and cornu, a horn – saline plants with horn-like branches. Wort is an old word for plant, hence “salt plant.” the stem is translucent, and resembles green glass; however, the common name comes from the fact that his plant was reduced to ashes to provide alkali (carbonate of soda) needed in glassmaking. The salty stems are eaten raw or cooked and pickled.
NATIVE HYSSOP SKULLCAP Scutellaria integrifolia LAMIACEAE Mint Family
Description. Skullcaps have purple flowers about one inch long, with arched upper lip and flaring lower lip. The narrow, mostly toothless leaves are distinctive for this species. Lower leaves are broader and slightly toothed. Stems are square, and finely hairy, growing 1-2 feet tall, and somewhat sprawling. Habitat. Hyssop Skullcap grows best in full sun and wet soil. The plant is found in fields and borders of woods and clearings throughout southeastern U.S. and Virginia. Photographed in the Butterfly Garden at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms May-July. Comments. The many different Skullcaps are recognized by the tiny projection, or hump, on the top of the calyx surrounding the base of the flower.
INTRODUCED WHITE CAMPION Silene latifolia CARYOPHYLLACEAE Pink Family
Description. White Campion is a short-lived perennial plant growing 1-4 feet tall, with hairy stems. The paired leaves are also hairy, lance- or elliptical-shaped. White odorous flowers with five notched petals are much branched, opening in the evening. A bulb-like flower part just below the petals is distinctive for this species. Habitat. This plant grows in most open habitats, wasteland and fields, on neutral to alkaline soils, preferring sunny areas that have rich and well-drained soil. A native of Europe, now established as a common weed throughout much of North America and every county in Virginia, the plant is thought to have arrived in North America as a component of ship ballast. Seen in the Butterfly Garden at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms MaySeptember. Comments. The genus name Silene may be derived from the Greek sialon (saliva), referring to the sticky secretion of some members of this group. It is also named “Grave Flower” in parts of England as the plants are seen often growing on gravesites and around tombstones.
NATIVE CUP PLANT Silphium perfoliatum ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. Cup Plant is distinctive with an upper pair of egg-shaped leaves united at the base to form a cup. The bright yellow flower heads are 2-3 inches wide, with numerous narrow rays, somewhat resembling small sunflowers. Growing 2-4 feet high, the stem is square and smooth. Habitat. This perennial plant is found in open woods, meadows, prairies from southern Ontario to North Dakota, south to North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana and Oklahoma. In Virginia, Cup Plant is native only in the extreme southwestern counties. At Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge, this plant is installed in the Butterfly Garden in front of the Visitor Center. Blooms July-September. Comments. Historically, root tea has been used for several ailments, and American Indians inhaled smoke for head colds and rheumatism. However, the plant is of unknown toxicity.
NATIVE CAROLINA HORSENETTLE Solanum carolinense SOLANACEAE Nightshade Family
Description. The branched, erect stems have sharp, yellow to white prickles and starshaped hairs. This erect perennial grows from 12 to 40 inches tall and spreads by rhizomes, adventitious shoots, and seeds. The egg-shaped leaves are alternate and 2.5 to 5 inches long and half as wide. The margins have 2 to 5 shallow lobes with prominent prickles on the veins, midrib, and petioles. White to violet flowers bloom in June in clusters, on prickly stalks, with bright yellow stamens. The fruit is smooth, round (1 to 1.5 cm around), yellow when mature (green when immature), and becomes wrinkled late in the season. Habitat. Horsenettle is a weed found in open fields, pastures, nursery crops, and many vegetable crops. It grows in a wide range of soil types but thrives on sandy or gravelly soils. Found throughout the southeastern United States, and every county in the state of Virginia, the plant has spread north to eastern and central states and into southern Canada and west to Texas. Blooms May-October. Comments. All parts of plant are toxic, especially to livestock.
NATIVE GOLDENROD Solidago spp. ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. Blooming profusely in late autumn, Goldenrods are unmistakable with long, feathery plumes of golden-yellow. Habitat. There are nearly 100 species of goldenrods, mostly native to North America. Photographed near the cemetery at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge in October, when the plants were covered with butterflies – monarchs, buckeyes, sulphurs. Blooms in late summer. Comments. Distinguishing species characteristics are troublesome, the plants are quite variable, and hybrids are involved. Species of goldenrod were used by Native Americans for toothaches, colds, heart disease, sore throats, fevers, cramps, and internal hemorrhage. When the Omaha were on the summer buffalo hunt, the sight of the goldenrod indicated to them that their corn was beginning to ripen at home. The name comes from the Latin solidus, and ago, "to make whole", because this group of plants supposedly heals wounds.
INTRODUCED SOW-THISTLE Sonchus asper ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. Sow-thistle is an annual plant with spiny alternate leaves and yellow flowers resembling those of the dandelion. The leaves are bluish-green, simple, lance-shaped, with wavy and sometimes lobed margins, covered in spines on both the margins and beneath. The base of the leaf surrounds the stem, which can reach 6 feet in height. The leaves and stems emit a milky sap when cut. The flowers grow in clusters and the end of the stems, blooming only in the morning. Seedheads carry fuzzy bristles, allowing dissemination by wind. Habitat. A cosmopolitan weed, native to Europe, Sow-thistle is found in roadsides throughout U.S. and most counties of Virginia. Blooms July-October. Comments. Handling the spines of the plant can cause skin irritations, similar to poison ivy.
NATIVE SALT SANDSPURRY Spergularia salina CARYOPHYLLACEAE Pink Family
Description. Salt Sandspurry is a simple or branched annual with erect or prostrate stems, 2-6 inches long. Short, linear leaves, somewhat fleshy, are in whorls along the stem. Tiny pink flowers tinged with purple have short petals and a yellow center. Habitat. Salt Sandspurry grows in salt marshes, on seabeaches along the coast and in saline soil inland. This plant can be found in mud flats, sandy river bottoms and alkaline fields. It is native over most of North America and the coastal counties in the state of Virginia. Photographed at the Wise Point Boat Ramp parking area at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms MaySeptember. Comments. This little beach plant is easily overlooked, but a close look reveals lovely little flowers.
INTRODUCED COMMON CHICKWEED Stellaria media CARYOPHYLLACEAE Pink Family
Description. Common chickweed is a weedy, annual plant with weak trailing stems. The opposite leaves are broadly elliptic, the upper ones lying close to the stem, the lower leaves on stalks (petioles). White flowers are very small, in leafy clusters at the ends of stems. The 5 petals are deeply notched, appearing as 10. Small hairs are found all over the plant. Common Chickweed flowers and sets seed at the same time. Habitat. A weed of waste places, cultivated areas, meadows and woodlands, Common Chickweed was introduced from the Old World. It is found all over North America and in every county in the state of Virginia. Photographed outside the Visitor Center at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms all year. Comments. Also known as Chickenwort, because chickens will eat the plant
NATIVE TRAILING WILD BEAN Strophostyles helvula FABACEAE Pea Family
Description. This is a low vining plant with slender stems, branching and trailing. Leaflets are egg-shaped or pear-shaped, often with 3 blunt lobes. Small pink flowers, turning greenish with age, appear at the ends of short stalks. This species can be distinguished from S. umbellata by lobed leaves, and shorter flower stalks. Habitat. Trailing Wild Bean grows in damp thickets, shores and dry sandy soil in eastern and piedmont counties of Virginia. The range extends from Quebec to Minnesota and South Dakota, and south to Florida and Texas. Photographed at the Wise Point Boat Ramp Parking Area in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June-October. Comments. Native Americans have used the boiled, mashed roots of this plant for food and as a treatment for poison ivy and warts..
NATIVE WILD BEAN Strophostyles umbellata FABACEAE Pea Family
Description. This low vining plant has slender stems, branching and trailing. Leaflets are in 3's, oblong and smooth. Several pink (fading to yellow) flowers appear at the ends of stalks which extend beyond the stalked leaves. Bean-shaped seedpods are 3 inches long. This species can be distinguished from S. helvula by much longer flower stalks, and leaves without lobes.
Habitat. Growing in fields, thin woods, sandy soils, and dunes from Quebec to Minnesota and south to Florida and Texas, Wild Bean is found in the eastern and piedmont counties of Virginia. Photographed from nature trails at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms July-October.
Comments. The genus name is derived from the Greek strophe, "a turning", and stylos, "a style", referring to the curved keel of the flower.
NATIVE FROST ASTER Symphyotrichum (Aster) pilosum ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. Frost Aster is a bushy, broadly branched perennial plant growing 1-3 feet tall. Flowering stems are long with conspicuous needle-like leaves, held erect or horizontal to the ground. Mature plants often send up multiple stems that create a shrubby appearance. The stemms are initially green with small white hairs, but they often turn brown and become lose their leaves with age. The alternate, linear leaves, with smooth stems, are up to 4 inches long and ½ inch wide near the base of the plant, but become much smaller ascending the stems. Daisylike flowers have 16-35 white rays, and centers that are yellow when young, later becoming reddish. The stems and leaves can be covered with tiny white hairs, giving a frost-like appearance. Habitat. This aster is easy to grow, preferring full sun and moist to dry conditions, it can thrive in any soil. It can spread aggressively by self-seeding, since the seeds have small tufts of white or brownish hairs, which are distributed by the wind. Frost Aster is widely distributed over eastern and central United States and Canada, grows in every county in the state of Virginia, and is found throughout Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms August-October. Comments. Since Frost Aster is one of the last plants to remain in flower before a heavy frost, it is an important source of pre-winter nourishment for many insects. The genus Aster is now generally restricted to the Old World species, and the New World species have been reclassified into ten genera. The genus Symphyotrichum is now used for 90 species, still commonly referred to as “asters,” in the horticultural trade.
NATIVE NEW YORK ASTER Symphyotrichum novi-belgii ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. This is a showy wild aster, with deep violet rays and a large yellow center. The stems are smooth, growing 1-4 feet tall. Toothed, alternate leaves are narrowly lance-shaped, and not deeply clasping the stem. The bracts around the base of the flower are bent backward. Habitat. New York Aster grows in meadows, shores, wet spots from Newfoundland to South Carolina, chiefly near the coast. It is native to the eastern counties in the state of Virginia, blooming July through October. Photographed in the Butterfly Garden in the front of the Visitor Center at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Comments. The species name is Latin for “of New Belgium or New Netherland,” early names for New York.
NATIVE SALT-MARSH ASTER Symphyotrichum (Aster) tenuifolius ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. Salt-march Aster is a weak, straggly plant with widely spreading branches, few and far apart leaves and occasional flower heads. The white flower heads appear at the tips of branches in the flower cluster. Although this perennial aster has few flowers, it forms conspicuous masses in the brackish tidal marshes where all other large-flowered species are absent. The ray flowers of Asters are wider and fewer in number (less than 50) than those of Fleabanes. Habitat. This plant grows in salt marshes and shores from Massachusetts to Florida and Louisiana, and is found only in the eastern counties of Virginia. Photographed at Wise Point Boat Ramp in Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge and near the Visitor Center. Blooms AugustOctober. Comments. Aster is derived from the Greek word meaning "star", referring to the radiate heads of the flowers. The species name tenuifolius means "slender-leaved". Aster species were used by Blackfoot tribes for pain and various disorders. The Navajo used asters, with other plants, for the Bead Chant tobacco.
INTRODUCED COMMON DANDELION Taraxacum officinale ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. This is a perennial weed with a long taproot and milky juice. The leaves are in a ring around the base; they are long and deeply divided or lobed, sometimes hairy. The large yellow flower heads are all ray-type -- there are no center disk flowers. Flowers are carried at the tip of a single hollow stem, arising from the base. The seeds are brownish and have a long thin neck at the top of which is a "parachute" of numerous cottony bristles, facilitating extensive distribution by wind. Habitat. Common Dandelion grows in roadsides, fields, lawns, and disturbed sites. A native of Eurasia, the plant is now a cosmopolitan weed of temperate climates, found in every county in the state of Virginia. Blooms April-May most abundantly, but may be found any month, in cool places in summer, or in protected spots in winter. Comments. Young leaves are edible, often collected in early spring for use in salads.
INTRODUCED WHITE CLOVER Trifolium repens FABACEAE Pea Family
Description. These clovers have compound leaves with 3 leaflets which are usually finely toothed. Roundish flowers are in clusters at the tips of many-branched stems. This species is a perennial, the stems are on the ground and root at the joints. Flower heads are white, and over an inch long. Habitat. White Clover grows in open fields, lawns, and roadsides. Naturalized from Europe, this species is now established as a weed along roadsides and in waste places throughout much of North America and in every county in the state of Virginia. Photographed in the lawn outside the Visitor Center at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms May-June. Comments. White clover is widely grown as a pasture plant; it is an excellent honey plant.
NATIVE VENUS’S LOOKING-GLASS Triodanis perfoliata CAMPANULACEAE Bellflower Family
Description. This annual plant has a wand-like stem bearing violet-blue flowers at the tip. Heartshaped leaves clasp the stem; the flowers in these lower leaf axils do not open, but do produce seeds. Habitat. Venus’s Looking-glass grows in various habitats in poor soil such as abandoned fields, and areas along railroads and roadsides, especially where it is gravelly or sandy. The plant is found all over the United States and in every county in Virginia, and throughout Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms May-August. Comments. Triodanis means “three teeth," referring to the seed, and perfoliata comes from the Latin for "through the leaf,” referring to the cup-shaped leaves which almost surround the stem. A charming folk tale tells of a drop of water that can collect in the cup-shaped leaf axils, acting as a mirror for Venus.
INTRODUCED CORN SALAD Valerianella locusta VALERIANACEAE Valerian Family
Description. Corn Salad is a low, forked plant with tiny pale blue flowers in small flat heads with leafy bracts beneath. The leaves are oblong, without stalks, and opposite on the stem. Grows 4-12 inches tall. Habitat. This plant grows in moist, open places, often in disturbed soil. A native of Europe, now widely established in the United States, Corn Salad can be found in most counties in the state of Virginia. It is common throughout Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms April-July. Comments. Originally foraged by European peasants, Corn Salad has many nutrients, including three times as much Vitamin C as lettuce. The leaves grow in a basal rosette, and should be gathered for eating before the blooms appear. The common name probably arose because this little weedy salad plant often appeared in corn fields.
INTRODUCED MOTH MULLEIN Verbascum blattaria SCROPHULARIACEAE Figwort Family
Description. Moth Mullein is a weedy plant growing to 4 feet with large, coarse, alternate leaves closely spaced on the lower part of the stem. Leaves develop initially as a basal rosette during the first year of growth. They are hairless, oblong, tapering to a point, with distinctly toothed edges. Flowers are at the end of the stems, an inch wide, yellow or white, often with purple centers, and sparsely spaced . Habitat. This is primarily a weed of pastures, hay fields, roadsides, rights-of-ways, and abandoned areas. Native to Europe and Asia, this plant is now distributed throughout the United States and in every county in Virginia. Blooms June through October. Comments. Moth Mullein gets its name from the fuzzy purple stamens, reminiscent of a moth's antennae. Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is closely related to Moth Mullein but is generally much larger with woolly foliage and stems. Additionally, Common Mullein has a terminal cluster of yellow flowers that do not occur on peduncles (flower stalks), whereas Moth Mullein has yellow to white flowers with purple tinges that do occur on peduncles.
NATIVE BLUE VERVAIN Verbena hastata VERBENACEAE Vervain Family
Description. Blue Vervain grows 2-6 feet tall, with clusters of many pencil-like spikes of small 5-petaled flowers at the ends of the branches. The flowers bloom a few at a time, advancing toward the pointed tip. The stem is grooved and 4-sided. Habitat. This species can be found in moist thickets, meadows and roadsides, growing best in well-drained soil, from Nova Scotia to British Columbia and south to Florida and Arizona. Blue Vervain occurs broadly in piedmont and mountain areas of Virginia and in a few counties in the coastal plain. Seen in the Butterfly Garden at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms June-October. Comments. Native Americans and 19th century physicians brewed a leaf tea from this species as a “female tonic”; Cotton Mather recommended a decoction with honey as a remedy for consumption.
TALL IRONWEED Vernonia gigantea ASTERACEAE Aster Family
Description. These are handsome plants of imposing stature and marvelous floral color. The tall stems grow three to ten feet tall, and maintain an upright posture throughout the fall. Leaves are lance-shaped and finely toothed. Small flower heads occur in loosely branched, terminal clusters. Unlike most members of the Aster Family, Tall Ironweed has no ray flowers – they are all disk flowers and reddish-purple . The flowers are powerful butterfly magnets, especially attracting the tiger swallowtail. Habitat. Ironweeds are usually found in moist or wet areas of fields and stream banks. Ranging from western New York to southern Michigan and eastern Nebraska and south to South Carolina, Florida and Texas, Tall Ironweed is found in only a few counties in western Virginia. These plants were photographed in the Butterfly Garden at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms August-October. Comments. Some explanations of the common name: one refers to the difficulty of pulling the plant up by the roots – battling a plant with a will of iron; another refers to the plant doing well in areas of old fires, especially with rusted metal nearby; or the “iron” could describe the tall and sturdy stems. The genus was named for William Vernon, an English botanist who collected in Maryland in the late 1600s.
INTRODUCED SPEEDWELL Veronica arvensis SCROPHULARIACEAE Figwort Family
Description. Speedwell is a small, creeping annual with firm, finely hairy stems 10 inches long. Lower leaves are oval, coarsely toothed and mostly attach directly to the stem (sessile). While the lower leaves are opposite each other, the flowering leaves are alternate, each leaf bearing a tiny (1/4 inch wide) dark violet-blue four-petaled flower, often striped with purple.
Habitat. This common weed grows in waste places, lawns, and disturbed sands, and in poor or dry soils. Native to Eurasia, Speedwell is now established as an inconspicuous weed in gardens, lawns, and fields in much of North America, and in every county in the state of Virginia. The plant was photographed in lawns around the Visitor Center at Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Blooms March-May.
Comments. Named for St. Veronica, the name is popularly thought to be from the Latin vera, "true" and the Greek eicon, "image“. An early Christian legend pictures St. Veronica, pitying Christ on the way to Calvary, wiping his face with her handkerchief which received a miraculous "true image" of his features.
SPRING VETCH Vicia sativa FABACEAE Pea Family
Description. Spring Vetch is a sprawling legume with bicolor (purple and pink) pea-like flowers on short stalks, which appear singly or in pairs in the leaf axils. Leaflets are narrow, long and rounded or with a shallow notch, and with a needle-like tip. Habitat. Growing in fields and roadsides, Spring Vetch is common throughout North America and nearly every county in the state of Virginia. Blooms May-July.
Comments. This plant is native to southern Europe, widely cultivated and often escaped.
INTRODUCED HAIRY VETCH Vicia villosa FABACEAE Pea Family
Description. A sprawling or climbing legume with hairy stems and alternate leaves with over 10 pairs of leaflets, this vetch can be an aggressive weed. Blue-purple flowers cluster in long cylinders at the ends of stems. Habitat. Hairy Vetch is a native of Europe, and introduced in fields, roadsides and waste places throughout most of the U.S. and southern Canada. The plant grows in nearly every county in the state of Virginia. Blooms June through August. Comments. Valuable for its ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, Hairy Vetch is widely used by organic growers in the United States as a winter cover crop, as it is winter hardy. It is often planted as a companion plant to tomatoes, as an alternative to rotating crops in small growing areas. When it is time to plant tomatoes in the spring, the Hairy Vetch is cut to the ground and the tomato seedlings are planted in holes dug through the matted residue and stubble. The vetch vegetation provides both nitrogen and an instant mulch that preserves moisture and keeps weeds from sprouting.
NATIVE SPANISH BAYONET Yucca filamentosa AGAVACEAE Century-plant Family
Description. A 6 ft. flowering stalk rises above 2-3 ft. high clumps of stiff, dagger-like, blue-green leaves, with loose threads on the edges. The stem is woody and evergreen. Cream-colored flowers in large terminal clusters are followed by an oblong, pickle-like fruit. Habitat. This is a plant of dry, sandy soils and sand dunes, especially near the coats. Spanish Bayonet is native to eastern and central United States and nearly every county in Virginia. Blooms June-September. Comments. Yucca fruit can be cooked and eaten after the seeds are removed; the large petals are used in salads. Yuccas depend on the Yucca Moth as their agent of pollination, and these moths depend on yuccas for food.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?