Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Our ongoing study of pollinators and ways to help protect them with creating habitat will lead us to the native Mason Bee this spring.  The March Program will feature Steve Beckelhimer with the West Virginia Master Naturalist Program; Kanawha Valley Chapter.   At least one of our club members has completed the Master Naturalist Program and built a hive/house last year.  We're really looking forward to this program!

First, some brief information about the native Mason Bee: Blue Orchard Mason Bee (Osmia lignaria).  "Honeybees are very important to commercial agriculture, but native bees like the blue orchard bees are better and more efficient pollinators of native crops. There are 140 species of Osmia in North America. They are all known for visiting fruit trees, such as apples, plums, pears, almonds, and peaches. The blue orchard bee or Osmia lignaria, is prized for its efficiency pollinating fruit trees and is one of the few native pollinators that is managed in agriculture." (From the USDA Forest Service Site on the Blue Orchard Bee). 

I first saw insect houses in Switzerland and Germany several years ago.  The houses were fantastic. Very decorative and creative.  I wanted one!!

Stein am Rhein insect houses

Ottoschwanden Kurhaus (community center)insect house
 in Freiamt, Germany (Black Forest)
Fast forward to this past fall and a visit to the Canaan Valley (WV) National Wildlife Refuge and a trip to the Visitor Center.  Behind the center is a wonderful native habitat garden called The Pollinator Magnet Bed.  The day we visited in September was a very active day.  Monarch caterpillars were on the milkweed and looking closely you could see many other insect.  But, what caught my eye was the Insect Hotel.  I picked up the brochure to bring home and was soon in touch with Candy Olson who is a member of the Canaan Valley Master Naturalist and the one who took all the photos for their brochure as well as photos of the construction of the Insect Hotel.  She then got in touch with Dan Walker who wrote the brochure.  Both have been generous in their permission to share photos and text.  They both belong to a group called The Friends of the 500th established in 1996 (the Canaan refuge is the Nation's 500th National Wildlife Refuge). They are part of a national network of over 250 Friends groups committed to supporting, protecting and improving National Wildlife Refuge resources.

Quoting from the brochure:
The Friends have now entered the accommodations business with an Insect Hotel, shown in the picture below - built entirely with donated or recycled materials and volunteer labor.
When finished the hotel is designed to attract insects native to Canaan Valley, especially those that pollinate the native plants.  The roof, high profile, and open sides give air and sunlight to keep brooding areas warm and dry. 

House under roof awaiting the "suites."
House foundation under construction.
Adding the roof.

Who is a pollinator?
When we think of pollinations, we think of bees, but many other animals can play a role: pill bugs, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps and amphibians, as well as bats and other small mammals - all can spread pollen.  Some birds are pollinators, too, such as the hummingbird, attracted for the sugary nectar.  Some visitors may come and go, but others such as bees and wasps may stay in t residence for an entire season going from the egg stage to the larval and ultimately to adulthood.  And contrary to what we might think, most pollination by bees and wasps is performed not by hived insects. 
Ready for occupancy.
Who lives where?  (Suites to the sweet?...)
Even if the Hotel is omplete and open for business when you see it, it may still look like a pile of miscellaneous junk.  But is is carefully designed so each insect-pollinator has an appropriate "suite."
Notice the following "suites":
Cones and bits of dry bark:  Some beetles and other boring insects like these.  They do not weigh much, so they can stay on the light wire screen under the roof. 
Bricks with small holes:  wasps and hornets like these long dry tunnels.
Cut logs:  These will have lots of little holes drilled in them. solitary wasps and bees, such as mason bees, will like those.

A year later.
Bundles of canes (in the clay pipes):  These also appeal to insects looking for places to hide and nest.

There are lots of great sites out there with photos and instructions on building a bee house.  Below are a few favorite links.
To follow in March - building our own Insect Hotel!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Seeds were planted for Kanawha Garden Club's Pollinator Project nearly three years ago.  Garden Club of America (GCA) has long been concerned with the decline of habit, pollinators, the use of pesticides and other related topics.  Pollinators in Peril: The Challenge was issued as a result. 

Garden Clubs and Individuals CAN and DO make a difference.  GCA provided a list of five things that can be done in your own backyard.
1. Eliminate or reduce the use of pesticides in your garden.   Do No Harm!  Use pesticides only if needed, read labels, apply carefully if needed and avoid neonicotinoids. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension).  You can also ask at your local nursery where their plants are from and buy only from reputable sources that have not been pretreated with neonicotinoids.
2.  Plant for bees and butterflies.  Check with your local & state DNR and native plants societies for plants specific to your area. Lots of sites exist - a few other sites that include lists are The Pollinator Partnership, The Xerces Society and Gardens with Wings (enter your zipcode to find a list of butterflies for your area and the plants that will attract them.
3.  Become involved in your community. Visit your local parks, public gardens and median strips.  Work with your city or park department to avoid pesticides (Charleston Public Grounds is very good!)  Becoming involved ties in with #4 &#5.
4.  Encourage your club to have a pollinator project.  See the description below for our Pollinator Projects.
5.  Plan a program for a garden club about Pollinators.

As GCA challenges us, we also challenge you to make a difference - beginning in your own backyard.  Collectively we can all help.

Kanawha Garden Club first took up the Pollinator Challenge by planting milkweed seeds through our Horticulture Committee.  In March, 2015 our group planted seeds of several different varieties of milkweed native to our area (see Marvelous Milkweeds to Help Save our Monarchs on our blog Sprouts).  By June, 2015 we had several dozen pots of milkweeds to distribute to our membership.  You can follow the progress of these plants on that blog.

August of 2015 our Conservation Committee decided to approach our club and The Carriage Trail to create a milkweed/monarch specific garden The Carriage Trail.  The trail is described below and is a tremendously popular walking trail.  It is listed as a National Recreational Trail. (This site is a great reference site for trails you may want to visit while on vacation)  This project is also described on our blog, Sprouts. and copied below is part of that post. 
"The Sunrise Carriage Trail gently zigzags 0.65 mile and descends 180 feet from the Sunrise Mansion located at 746 Myrtle Road to Justice Row, which is adjacent to the south end of the Southside Bridge. The Trail property is a peaceful and varied landscape of towering trees, wildflowers, ornamental plantings, and historic masonry remains. The Carriage Trail was originally constructed in approximately 1905 by former Governor William A. MacCorkle for the use of oxen-drawn wagons carrying massive stone building materials for the Mansion. Later, Governor MacCorkle used the Trail for his horse-drawn carriage"
An add-on to the trail was the acquisition of Justice Row made possible by a gift from the Hess brothers.  Justice Row was formerly a short spur road with several very small buildings that served originally as offices for local Justices of the Peace.  These were demolished many years ago and the property was acquired and added on to the trail.

At the end of the property there is a small parking area and just beyond that an area approximately 15x15 that receives enough daily sun to host a monarch garden.  In the fall of 2015, our Conservation Committee proposed the establishment of a Monarch Garden.  Accepted by both our board and The Carriage Trail, trays of plants of three varieties of milkweeds were reserved through Prairie Moon.

Monarch Waystation sign.
Your garden can be certified through
We ordered Asclepias sullivantii, Asclepias incarnata and Asclepias tuberosa.  Plants were received in May, 2016 and on June 1 members of our Conservation Committee as well as members of The Carriage Trail installed the plants.  National Park quality signage was installed in September and October we received recognition as an official Monarch Waystation.  The milkweeds loved the site and showed tremendous growth.  No monarch eggs and caterpillars were sighted - a major disappointment but we are hopeful that they will find our garden next year!

The proposed site.  To the left is a rock cliff, on the right behind the
 fence are train tracks. A parking lot for The Carriage Trail is in front of
the large rock.  The area is approx. 15x15. The City of Charleston helped
clear and prepare the site and partnered with us throughout the summer.

The photo above on the left shows our June planting party; the one on the right growth by late August.
Above is our 'Monarch Nursery Garden signage that will educate the public about the importance of milkweed in monarch habitat and migration.
Waiting now for late spring 2017 emergence of the milkweeds!

Our milkweed garden came back this year and was considered a tremendous success.  Most all of the plants survived and grew quite a bit.  The area was filled with the different varieties that were planted.  Here's a photo from May!  Monarchs were seen in August, including caterpillars - so we know that our Waystation is a success. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017


Reprinted with permission.  Written by Fraser Gibson Davis - Tuckahoe Garden Club of Westhampton, Richmond, VA

A pristine green carpet of one type of turf grass has become the expected standard for our lawns.  This uniform carpet of green, the Industrial Lawn, may appear healthy, but it is just the opposite. A monthly regime of toxic pesticides and herbicides is necessary to keep a monoculture of grass green all year. 

A healthy lawn, on the other hand, is one that is healthy for you, your children, pets, birds, bees, and butterflies.  It is a lawn that does not contribute toxins to our storm water thereby polluting our rivers and our drinking water.  Its upkeep does not kill beneficial insects that feed our birds, nor does its maintenance kill beneficial microbes that keep our soil fertile.  A healthy lawn is a green lawn comprised predominantly of turf grasses with a smattering of clover, violets and other broadleaves.

The Industrial Lawn is a post World War 2 introduction.  The companies that produced chemicals during the war to eradicate malaria-infected mosquitoes and to increase crop production to feed troops here and abroad began marketed their new herbicide and fertilizer products to homeowners after the war.  So began the quest for the perfect, weed-free lawn in every American suburb. If you visit Europe, notice their lawns.  They are not single stands of turf grass; they are a visually appealing, healthy mix of turf grasses and broadleaves. 
By changing our expectation of what a lawn should look like and tempering our use of toxic herbicides and pesticides, we can greatly contribute to human health and to the health of our environment.

Fall is the best time to transition to a healthy lawn.  You can try it yourself or call an environmentally responsible lawn care company.  The trick is to figure out what companies are committed to the environment.   A good place to start is to contact one of Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s certified lawn care companies.  DCR’s  ‘Green and Clean’ program annually certifies lawn companies who adhere to their Nitrogen application regulations and recommended lawn care practices. This means that these companies are not putting an excessive amount of fertilizer on lawns and so are not contributing to the algae blooms in our waterways.  Richmond’s 2016 ‘Green and Clean’ lawn companies are Project Green, Natural Lawn of America, Organicare Inc., Mikes’ Lawn and Landscape LLC, LG Scott Solutions and James River Grounds Management.  The certification does not however require these companies to use organic products nor does it regulate their chemical herbicide and pesticide use.  For the most part, these companies are dedicated to the health of the environment and so are careful with the use of chemicals. However, this is a topic the homeowner needs to discuss with the provider to decide how little if any synthetic herbicides and pesticides the homeowner wants to use. 
The strategy behind a healthy lawn is to improve the health of the soil. With fertile soil, turf grasses suited to our climate will succeed without the use of toxic chemicals.  Since most weeds thrive in barren, compacted soil, we need to increase the soil’s organic content and biological diversity.  The use of petroleum based chemicals kills the beneficial organisms that make the soil fertile. Therefore, chemically treated lawns can never sustain themselves and require constant chemical applications. The following lawn care practices will help you to transition to a healthy lawn and break the pesticide/herbicide addiction.  An environmentally responsible lawn care company should adhere to similar practices.
SEPTEMBER:   Test Soil to determine whether or not your soil needs fertilizer and/or lime.  Fill a couple of sandwich bags with soil samples from your lawn and take it to Southern States, and they will send it away for soil analysis.  You will get the test results in about 2 weeks.
Core Aerate to alleviate compaction and to allow oxygen to enter the soil, thereby allowing the beneficial microbes to thrive.
Compost to improve the population of microorganisms in the soil. Spread 1/4” layer of very finely textured compost on the lawn.  This is available at Yard Works on Patterson Avenue (804) 360-0311.  They will blow it on your lawn or you can rake it over the lawn yourself.  Compost teas are available on line.
Over-seed with a mix of Tall fescues for a sunny lawn and a mix of Tall, Chewning’s and Creeping Red fescue for shady areas. These are the turf grasses that are suited to our climate in Richmond, VA.   Southern States sells Blue and Gold label seed that has 0% weed content.  Project Green (804) 299-5322 will sell you the turf grass blend that they have custom-mixed for our area.
OCTOBER: Fertilize your lawn with an organic source of Nitrogen in mid-October.  An average lawn requires between 3 and 4 lbs. of Nitrogen per 1,000 square feet annually. Do not apply more than .9 lb. per 1,000 sf per season.  Any more will not be absorbed by the soil and will end up in our ground water, streams and rivers and will cause environmental damage and pollute our drinking water.  Apply .9 lb. per 1,000 sf in the fall, .9 lb. per 1,000 sf in the spring (March/April) and .9 lb. per 1,000 sf in early June.  Use an organic Nitrogen fertilizer like Safer Brand’s Ringer Lawn Restore (available at Home Depot and online). It also includes potassium to help with root growth. If your lawn is composed of 5% white clover (which fixes Nitrogen from the atmosphere), the clover will provide your lawn with 2 lbs. of Nitrogen per year.  Keeping the clippings on the lawn after mowing will also deliver 2 lbs of Nitrogen annually in addition to delivering phosphorous and potassium.  If you have both clover and grass clippings, you will not need to fertilize.
Lime in late October at least two weeks after applying Nitrogen.  Lawns require a pH between 5.5 and 7.0.  Our soils tend to be more acidic, and so an annual application of lime is usually required. 
Weed control is the most difficult obstacle when going organic.  Corn gluten has been used as a pre-emergent weed killer with mixed reviews.  Hand-weeding and spot-spraying with a vinegar/citrus oil mix are two other options.  If a large weed infestation occurs, you may need to resort to an emergency chemical application.  I would recommend calling Project Green in the event of a weed infestation as they will take care of it in the most environmentally responsible way possible.
Transitioning to a healthy lawn is not simple. Take it from someone who tried going cold turkey and abandoned all chemicals at once.  I do not recommend this approach.  Instead, gradually taper your lawn’s reliance on chemicals while improving the health of your soil.  It may take a year or two to get your soil healthy enough to support your healthy lawn. Project Green or one of the other DCR’s ‘Green and Clean’ certified lawn companies can help you with this transition.  If you want to try it on your own, a great on-line resource for information about organic lawn and garden care is the website Beyond Pesticides.
If you would like to learn more about the dangers of pesticides, check out
I am hoping we can help change our lawn care habits. Let’s join the Queen of England and bring the European lawn back into fashion!  It truly is beautiful, and our children, pets, birds, bugs, rivers, streams and drinking water will be safe.       


Reprinted with permission.  Written by Fraser Gibson Davis - Tuckahoe Garden Club of Westhampton, Richmond, VA


Why Pollinators?

Dr. Doug Tallamy, author of 'Bringing Nature Home', says it best.  Reprinted with permission from his website, he states:  "Gardening for Life:  Chances are, you have never thought of your garden - indeed, of all of the space on your property - as a wildlife preserve that represents the last chance we have for sustaining plants and animals that were once common throughout the U.S.  but that is exactly the role our suburban landscapes are now playing and will play even more in the near future."

Our page focuses on providing resource links to pollinators and the fight for biodiversity.  Many of these links provide plant lists to help you with plants specific to your growing zone.  Also highlighted is our club's Pollinator Project, co-sponsored with The Carriage Trail and the City of Charleston.

Kanawha Garden Club sponsored  a free/open-to-the-public lecture by Dr. Tallamy in April, 2015.  His message is one we should all hear and follow.  Dr. Tallamy is a Garden Club of America Honorary Member.  He is professor and chair of the entomology and wildlife ecology department at the University of Delaware.  "He has written more than 70 research articles during his 32 year career studying insect-plant interactions and the loss of biodiversity in suburban landscapes.  His research focuses on better understanding the interaction of insects with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities.  Bringing Nature Home explores how gardening in this crowded world carries both moral and ecological responsibilities that can no longer be ignored.  Dr. Tallamy argues that native plants play a key role in the restoration of our landscapes because only natives provide the coevolved relationships required by most animals.  By supporting a diversity of insect herbivore, native plants provide food for a large and healthy community of natural enemies that keep herbivores in balance and our gardens aesthetically pleasing  With as many as 33,000 species imperiled in the United States, it is clear that we must change our approach to gardening and landscaping if we hope to share the spaces in which we live and work with other things."

News paper articles by or about Dr.Tallamy include some of the following:
To Feed the Birds, First Feed the Bugs:  NY Times Anne Raver, March 6, 2008
The Chickadees Garden:  NY Times Op-Ed March 11, 2015
Why Native Plants Matter:  Audubon with a video by Dr. Tallamy

National Reference Sites:

US Fish & Wildlife Service: Pollinators
Pollinator Partners: Protect their lives, Preserve ours
USDA Forest Service: Wildflowers: Pollinators
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services New Hampshire
The Xerces Society:  a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat.  For over 40 years, the Society has been at the forefront of the invertebrate protection worldwide, harnessing the knowledge of scientists and the enthusiasm of citizens to implement conservation programs.
Pollinators Keep the World Green: Dr. Scott Shalaway Charleston (WV) Sunday Gazette-Mail June 22, 2014

Bee Specific Articles

Rare Bumblebee Rebounding:  Sightings create hopeful buzz about future:  Sandi Doughon, The Seattle Times  June 27, 2014
Bees of singular Tastes & The Plants They Love:  Arlington Regional Master Naturalists; May 29, 2015
UN Science Report Warns of Few Bees:  Feb. 2016
Gardeners Flock to Bee's Defense:  Josephine Marcotty: The Star Tribune: May 8, 2016

Monarch Watch
Monarch Lab @ The University of Minnesota
Protecting Monarchs NAPPC
Monarch Butterfly Migration Numbers Down by 27% in Mexico

A fight for Urban Trees:  Lynda V. Mapes; The Seattle Times; August 2014
WV Native Plantings - WVDNR

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Hedgerows & Other Corners of Natural Diversity In Our Countryside and Gardens
An Article Prepared in 1999 by KGC's Conservation Committee

How You Can Create Hedgerows and Preserve Habitat

  • Identify Possibilities.  Look for fence lines, woodland edges, the corners of a field or garden, wet bottom land, a pond edge or hard-to-mow hillside.
  • Think Corridors.  How does wildlife move from one place to another?  Hedgerows can be vital highways as well as a place for wild creatures to live and find food.
  • Mow less.  This saves energy and your time, and helps reduce air and noise pollution. Mow regularly close to houses but cut lawns farther away from dwellings only every four to six weeks.  Mow meadows annually or every two years.  Keep road edges cut so that unwary wildlife can see cars in time.
  • Control Your Weedeater.  Clean ragged edges selectively and leave native plants whenever possible.  The livelihood of natural communities is in your hands.
  • Help Nature Along.  Preserve and plant key native species: these shrubs, vines, trees and wildflowers are ideally suited to our climate and will thrive through the years with much less care from you.
  • Talk to Your Neighbors.  Spread the word (and this pamphlet, if possible).  Cooperate on common borders to allow a hedgerow to thrive.  Look for adjoining corners that together will create an oasis for wild plants and animals. Explain the many advantages of “managed untidiness.”
Whether you manage a small back yard, a 10-acre homestead or a 500-acre farm, it’s possible to walk more lightly on the land by allowing natural communities of wild plants and wildlife to thrive here and there.

Patches, corners and strips of natural diversity - a meadow let go, a wet field bottom, a part of a yard - can achieve a wonderfully rich succession of habitat.  As native plants grow up, or are encouraged by deliberate planting, the native songbirds, insects and mammals will return to enjoy the food, shelter and nesting places amid the natural tangle.

Hedgerows and unmowed edges are wildlife’s highways as well as its homes and supermarkets.  Natural areas provide vital travel corridors for birds, insects, toads and others amid the expanses of empty green lawn that act as barriers to animal movement and native plant dispersal.

These natural places, spared the obliterating force of mowers, and weed-eaters, can create islands of wild beauty on your land.  Plant these “let-go” places with the same care that you give your more manicured areas and you’ll find them as rewarding as your mowed lawn and weeded garden.  Perhaps more so, as an uncut strip of a lawn or field can offer a natural succession of bloom from spring dogwoods to fall asters.

As the 21st century dawns, mankind cannot rely solely on public lands to safeguard the planet’s natural diversity of life.  Private landowners who recognize the responsibility and opportunity that their ownership gives them can help ensure the survival of the world’s wild plants and wildlife.  Together, many individual private stewards of the planet can achieve much more than any public agency or government policy.

So look out on your personal landscape.  What do you see?  A perfect expanse of green grass, achieved though hours of labor with weedeater and gas guzzling lawn mower?  A manicured landscape that depends entirely on heavy application of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and water during our hot dry summers?  Or a more casual combination of lawn, taller growth and hedgerow, home to briar and black-eyed susan, butterflies and goldfinch, rabbits and turtles, frogs and fireflies? 

Just a little less tidiness can help restore the natural beauty and ecological heath of our countryside.  The choice is yours.

Additional Sources of Information

For field identification of non-woody plants, Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide (by Lawrence Newcomb; Little, Brown & Co.) is excellent, as is Petesons’ Field Guide to Wildflowers.  For trees, Trees and Shrubs: Northern and Central North America in the Peterson Field Guide series serves well.  Trees:  A Guide to Field Identification (by c. Frank Brockman: Golden Press) is available in most bookstores.

For advice on natural landscaping and meadows, consult The Wildflower Meadow Book (Laura C. Martin: The Globe Pequot Press) and American Wildlife and Plants: A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits by Martin, Zim and Nelson; Dover Press reprint).

For an in-depth discussion of many issues raised in this pamphlet, read Noah’s Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Back Yards (by Sara Stein; Houghton Mifflin Company)

The Virginia Native Plant Society’s Piedmont Chapter offers for sale a select list of outstanding books.  The Chapter also makes available reprints of articles on wildflower gardening, lists of commercial sources of nursery-propagated native plants, and other material.  Send  a SASE for a list of books and additional information.

The Virginia Native Plant Society  Founded in 1982, the VNPS is a not-for-profit organization of individuals who share an interest in Virginia’s wild plants and habitats and a concern for their protection.  Its work is carried out by volunteers and is supported by membership dues and contributions. For more information, write to the VNPS Membership Chairman, Post Office Box 844, Annandale, Virginia 22003

Reprinted with permission from Piedmont Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society

Some Plants of the Hedgerow and Other Natural Areas

Many of these species will appear on their own if the habitat is right.  You can also plant seeds or buy propagated plants from commercial growers.  The VNPS has a list of native plant nurseries.  Write for more information.

All of the plants listed below grow naturally in Virginia and much of the eastern United States.  With one or two exceptions they are all natives.  The chart is keyed as follows:  Location - H-Hedgerow, Woodland Edge or Thicket, P - Pond Edge, O- Open Meadow, G-Garden, Special merits for the hedgerow community - c- Cover and Nesting Sites, f- Special Food Value, w - important Winter Food and Nesting Sties, f - Special Food Value, w - Important Winter Food Source, b - Attracts Butterflies, h - Attracts Hummingbirds.   *Non-native plant,  Spp. - Multiples species are of merit.

Leave dead trees standing wherever you can.  They provide natural nesting cavities, as well as grubs and insects for birds, especially woodpeckers.  Snags provide lookout perches.

Beech (Fagus grandifolia ) G,c,f
Black Walnut (Juglans nigra ) H, f , w
Box Elder (Acer negundo)  H, P, C, F
Cherry     (Prunus spp.) H, G, f, b
Crabapple  (Malue spp.) H, G, c, f
Dogwood (Cornus spp) H, G, c, f, w
Hackberry (Celtis spp.) H, G, F, w, b
Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) H, G, c, f,
Hazelnut  (Corylus americana) H, c, f
Holly  (Ilex opaca) H, G, c, f, w
Maple  (Acer spp.) H, G, c, f
Mulberry (Morus rubra) H, c, f
Oak (Quercus spp) H, G, c, f, w
Paw-Paw (Asimina triloba) H, f, b
Persimmon  (Diospyros virginiana)  H, G, c, f
Pine, Scrub  (Pinus virginiana) H, P, c, f, w
Red Cedar  (Juniperus virginiana) H, c, f, w
Sassafras   (Sassafras albidum) H, G, c, f, b
Serviceberry  (Amelanchier arborea)

Alder (Alnus serrulata) P, c
Black Haw (Viburnum prunifolium) H, G, c, f
Blackberry, Raspberry (Rubus spp.) H, O, c
Blueberry,  Deerberry  ((Vaccinium spp.) H, f
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) P, c, f, b, h
Elderberry  (Sambucuc canadensis) H, G, f
Huckleberry, Blueberry  (Gaylusaccia spp.) H, f
Spicebush  (Lindera benzoin) H, P, G, f, b
Sumac (Rhus spp.) H, O, f, w
Winterberry  (Ilex verticillata) H, P, G, c, w,

Grape (Vitis spp.) H, f,
Poison Ivy (Rhus radicans) H, f, w
Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans) H, G, c, h
Virginia Creeper  (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) H, f

Herbaceous Plants
Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) P, f
Aster (Asteraceae spp.) H, O, P, G, f, b
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) H, O, G, b
Broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus) O, c, w
Bulrush (Scirpus spp.) P, c, f
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) H, O, G, b
Cattails  (Typha latifolia) P, c
Chickweed (Stellaria media) H, O, f
Foxtail Grasses* (Setaria spp.) O, w
Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) P, H
Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) H, O, c, w
Milkweed (Asclepias spp.) H, I, P, b
Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) H, F, w
Pondweed (Potamogeton spp.) P, f,
Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) H, O, f
Rice Cutgrass (Leersia oryzoides) P, f
Sheepsorrel *(Rumex acetosella) O, f
Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) P, f, w
Violet (Viola spp.) H, G, f, b
Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) H, O, G, b


Why use Latin names?  Many different English names have been assigned to the same plant.  (Bluebells may be Hyacinthoides non-scripta or Mertensia virginica.)  It is also almost impossible to ascertain which English name may have been used first.  Common names provide no use for ID.   English names may also indicate no close affinities.  Common name proliferation occurs when there is no ordered system. Binomial nomenclature, the use of scientific names is an international language and brings order throughout the plant world. 
Untangling the maze of strange names: a very general guide for Horticulture Division entry cards.  Please refer to resource books or web sites for more specific information.

Using Rhododendron maximum or the native Rosebay Rhododendron as an example:

  (underlining shows example)


Rule 1: The botanical name should have two words - the genus and the species.

                        The botanical name MUST always have the GENUS first: 

                                                Rhododendron maximum                            



Rule 2:  Those two words may include: 1.  Species only (Rhododendron maximum)

2.  Subdivision of the Species:

A.  Species & Variety

Rhododendron maximum var. roseum
B. Species & Cultivar

  Rhododendron maximum ‘Midsummer’

C. Cultivar only:

       Rhododendron ‘Pride’s Pink’




GENUS (pl. genera) - Always a noun.  A group of plants closely related and including one or more species.  The first word in a plant’s botanical name, in Latin and always capitalized.


SPECIES - (s & pl) - The particular member of the genus, the second half of a botanical name, in Latin and in lower case.  When the species is not known, sp. may be written after the genus, i.e.  Rhododendron sp.





VARIETIES:  Varieties are found in nature; the word is Latin-like and you should use reliable references to determine varieties.


CULTIVAR:   Plants cultivated by man for a particular set of desirable characteristics, coming from a hybrid or a variant.  The cultivar name uses not more than 3 modern words, is always capitalized and set in single quotes.

                        When a cultivar name is unknown, ‘cv’ may be written in place of the cultivar name, i.e.  Rhododendron ‘cv’.



            Common names are desirable, but not necessary.  Capitalization if optional.


            Botanical name:  Rhododendron maximum

            Common name:   Rosebay Rhododendron



            One or more genera which are more or less alike, especially in flower, fruit or a combination of these and other characteristics.

            Rhododendron belongs to the family Ericacaea



            A plant resulting from a cross between two different species or two genera. 

            The use of an “x” preceding a word is a flag saying that plant is a hybrid.  A hybrid may be between two genera or  between two species and given a species name with an “x” before the species name.




Growth Habit:

            Herbaceous    - fleshy, soft tissue, dies to the ground in winter

            Woody            - maintains above-ground woody parts

                        Vine - with twining, clasping or self-clinging growth habit

                        Tree - with single central axis, 6 feet or more from the ground

                        Shrub - with several stems branched from the ground

Deciduous      - leafless part of the year

Evergreen      - having leaves all year


Hardy             - able to withstand low winter temperatures

Tender            - mostly annuals, harmed by low winter temperatures


Annual           - takes one year to complete it’s life cycle (seed to seed) and then dies

Biennial          - takes two years to complete it’s life cycle before dying

Perennial        - grows indefinitely year to year

** Plants may change with the environment.  A hardy plant may be tender in another zone or may only be an annual in other zones.




aculeatus:  prickly
adenopodus: glandular footed
aggregatus:  clustered
alatus:  winged
albus:  white
alpinus:  alpine, mountain
amabilis:  lovely
angustus:  narrow
arachnoides:  spider like, cobwebby
arborescens:  becoming tree like
arboreus:  tree like
argenteus:  silvery
atlanticus:  Atlantic regions
atropurpureus:  dark purple
atrosanguineus:  dark blood red
aurantiacus:  orange red
aureus:  golden
auritus:  eared
autumnalis:  autumnal
baccatus:  berried
barbatus:  barbed, bearded
bicolor:  two colored
bracteatus:  bearing bracts
brevifolius:  short leaved
caeruleus:  dark blue
caesius: bluish gray
campanulatus:  bell shaped
candicans:  white, hoary
candissima:  very white
cardinalis:  cardinal
carneus:  flesh colored
cereus:  waxy
cernuus:  drooping
chinensis:  belonging to China
chrysanthus:  golden flowered
cinereus:  ash colored
coccigera:  berry bearing
coccineus:  scarlet
compactus:  compact, dense
coniferus:  cone-bearing
cristatus:  crested
cupreatus:  coppery
densiflorus:  densely flowered
densifolius:  densely leaved
dentatus:  toothed
dissectus:  dissected, deeply cut
divergens:  wide spreading
diversifolius:  variable leaved
echniatus:  prickly
elegans:  elegant
erectus:  erect, upright
fastigiatus: close, erect branches
filifera:  thread bearing
flavus:  yellow
floribundus:  free flowering
floridus:  full of flowers
foliatus:  with leaves
fruticosus:  shrubby, bushy
fulvus:  tawny yellow
fuscata:  brown, dusky
geniculatus:  jointed, kneed
glaucus:  bluish green
globosus:  globular
gracilis:  graceful
grandiflorus:  large flowered
griseus:  gray
guttatus: spotted, speckled
hirsutus: hairy
hispidus:  bristly
horizontalis:  horizontal
hybridus:  mixed
incanus:  hoary
involucratus:  with a whorl of small leaves
ionanthus:  violet flowered
japonicus:  of Japan
junceus:  rush like
laciniatus:  cut or slashed into narrow lobes
lactea:  milk white
lactiflorus:  milk colored flowers
laevis:  smooth
lanatus:  woolly
lanuginosus:  woolly, downy
laricifolius:  larch leaved
latifolius:  broad leaved
leucanthus:  white flowered
linifolius:  flax leaved
lucidus:  bright, shining, clear
luteolus:  yellowish
luteus: yellow
macranthus:  large flowered
macrocephalus:  large headed
macrophyllus:  large leaved
maculatus:  spotted
magnificus: distinguished
major:  greater, larger
marginatus:  margined
masculus:  male
maxiums:  largest
microphyllus:  small leaved
minimus:  least, smallest
minor:  smaller
mitis:  mild, gentle
mollis:  soft, soft hairy
multiflorus:  many flowered
nanus: dwarf
neglectus:  overlooked
niger:  black
nitidus:  shining
nobilis:  famous, renowned
nudicaulis:  naked stemmed
nudiflorus:  naked flowered
nutans: nodding
obtuse:  blunt, rounded
occidentalis:  western
odoratus:  fragrant
odorus:  fragrant
officinalis:  medicinal
orientalis:  oriental, eastern
ovalifolius:  oval leaved
ovatus:  ovate
palmatus:  divided or lobed
palustris:  marsh loving
paniculatus:  borne in panicles
pannosus:  ragged, tattered
parvus:  small
patulus:  sreading
pendulus:  hanging
pinnatus:  feathered
pentaphyllus:  five leaved
persicaefolius:  peach leaved
pictus:  painted
plumarius:  plumed
plumosus:  feathery
polyphyllus:  many leaved
pratensis:  of meadows
procumbens:  lying on ground
prostratus: lying flat
prunifolius:  plum leaved
pumilus:  dwarf
pungens:  sharp pointed
purpureus:  purple
quinquefolius:  five leaved
racemiflorus:  raceme flowered
radians:  radiating
radicans:  rooting
repandus:  with wavy margin
repens:  creeping
reptans:  creeping
reticulatus:  netted
roseus:  rosy
rubella:  reddish
ruber:  red, ruddy
rugosus:  wrinkled
salicifollius:  willow leaved
sanguineus:  bloody, blood red
sarmentosus:  bearing runners
saxatilis:  found among rocks
scaber: rough
scandens:  climbing
semperflorens:  ever flowering
sempervirens:  evergreen
serpentinus:  of snakes, runners
setaceus:  bristle like
spathulatus:  spoon shaped
speciosus:  showy, good looking
spectablilis:  remarkable, showy
spicatus:  with spikes
spiralis:  spiral
splendens:  splendid
sterilis: infertile
stolonifera:  bearing runners that take root
strictus:  strict, upright
stylosus:  with style
subulatus:  awl shaped
superbus:  proud
sylvestris:  of woods or forests
tenuis:  slender, thin
terminalis:  at the end of a stem or branch
ternatus:  in threes
tinctorius:  belong to dyers
triacanthus:  three spined
trichosanthus:  hairy flowered
tricuspidatus:  three pointed
trilobus:  three lobed
tuberosus:  shortened underground stem
tubiflora:  trumpet flowered
umbellatus:  flowers in a cluster
umbrosus:  shaded, shade loving
vagans:  wandering
variegatus:  variegated
vernus:  of spring
versicolor:  variously colored
viridis:  green
viridissimus:  greenest
viscosus:  sticky, viscid
vulgaris: vulgar, common
zonatus: banded