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Ask the Botanist

Ace Acer

Our ace botanists are here to help you identify wild New England plants and to answer questions about their ecology and conservation. When posting a question, please provide the location, habitat (e.g. river, mountain, woodland), and photographs of the plant.

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All Questions and Answers

Recently Answered Questions

  • Question
    Thank you for your reply! A friend is fortunate to have a small patch under her old growth trees. I thought I saw a few tiny bits in another part of her yard. In Susan's post about lycopodium could those be the small shiny leaves at the base of the main plant?
    Answer
    Dear rgallica, good morning. The leaves in the picture your reference belong to Mitchella repens (partridgeberry). This member of the Rubiaceae has opposite leaves distributed along a trailing stem and a light-colored midvein only. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 28 January 2020)
  • Question
    Can you identify this tree with red berries. I am in southern Vermont and saw it today while on a walk. I tried to get a photo of the bark but it came out too blurry to use, so I'm hoping the photo of the berries themselves is sufficient. The second photo shows some of the berries above what I believe is an epiphyte. Can you tell me more about that as well? Thank you so much.
    Answer
    Dear lmc825, good afternoon. It looks as though you have photographed a species of Ilex (winterberry). These shrubs have persistent +/- red fruits with sepals that remain on the proximal part of the fruit (where they attach to the pedicel). If you examine the sepals with magnification, you can determine if the margin is ciliate (Ilex verticillata) or if it is without cilia (Ilex laevigata). Best wishees. (Monday, 27 January 2020)
  • Question
    Do Pyrola spread by seeds? Can they be successfully transplanted? TY in advance
    Answer
    rgallica, Yes, Pyrola species produce viable seeds, so they do spread via this method. I have not ever attempted transplanting them, but given their perennial nature and the fact they do have underground storage organs, I suspect transplanting may be successful. That written, please be careful and steward your wild populations to prevent loss and keep in mind these species require specific mycorrhizal fungi for growth. Best wishes. (Monday, 27 January 2020)
  • Question
    A Woody twining vine or climbing shrub. Young leaves are coated with red hairs, mature leaves are dark green and hairless.
    Answer
    Solowise11, good morning. I don't recognize this plant--but also don't know where to begin because I do not know where this species was photographed. Could you let me know where it was growing in the world? With that information, it might be possible to identify the plant. Thank you. (Wednesday, 22 January 2020)
  • Question
    I often come across Dendrolycopodium plants like the one in the photos below, which have trophophylls near the base of the stem that come off the stem at close to a 90 degree angle, but the stem does not feel prickly at all. Is this just a form of D. hickeyi that I'm seeing? (the trophophylls on different ranks of lateral stems are all the same length). Does the lower stem need to have both widely spreading trophophylls AND feel prickly to be D. dendroideum? Photos taken in Andover, MA. Thanks.
    Answer
    Dear Susan, Dendrolycopodium dendroideum does not have to feel prickly. It is primarily the orientation of the trophophylls near the stem base that matters, not how rigid they are (which can confer a prickly feel). The orientation of the trophophylls usually means someone feels them more acutely than in the other species, hence the name prickly. Your images looks to be Dendrolycopodium dendroideum. Best wishes. (Wednesday, 22 January 2020)
  • Question
    Hello. Can you tell me if this is a slime mold? if not, what do you think it is? it's growing on the seed pod of a laurel. in Westchester, NY. thanks in advance.
    Answer
    Dear dcmmings, good morning. Unfortunately, I cannot help you with your question. Mycology is outside of my realm of expertise. I suggest you relay your question to a fungal-related group (perhaps one on social media) so that you might find someone to answer your question. Good luck! (Wednesday, 22 January 2020)
  • Question
    What plant is this? Washington state.
    Answer
    Dear redlind, good afternoon. I'm sorry I cannot help you. Go Botany is a website dedicated to wild plants of New England. Your question hails from a long way from my region of expertise. You are welcome to ask questions about Washington plants, but there are many that I will not recognize. You would do better seeking an herbarium close to you and sending images there. Good luck. (Tuesday, 14 January 2020)
  • Question
    I found this beautiful leaf "flower" growing on a bush along the sidewalk in April of 2018 on Long Island, NY. It was mostly barren and just beginning to bloom at the tips of its branches, which makes identifying this plant even trickier. I'm an amateur photographer and love to learn about the subjects I shoot, so any help would be very much appreciated!
    Answer
    Dear PastelPetals, good afternoon. You have photographed a woody plant that is emerging from bud. Those are the expanding leaves. But, to identify the plant, I would need more images (e.g., the winter buds, the bark, the habit). If you are able to post more images of different parts of this plant, I may be able to assist. Great photograph. (Tuesday, 14 January 2020)
  • Question
    I went to the market today and find for the upper part of the coconut tree specifically its growing bud wherein the heart of palm can be harvested. I just want to know if it is truly from the coconut trees. These are the pictures that I have taken. The seller said that they are actually from coconut tree but I need to verified it for my research process needs. I am hoping for your response and help. Thank You and God Bless!
    Answer
    Dear navea_henson, good morning. I'm sorry I cannot help you with your question. Go Botany is a website dedicated to wild plants of northeastern North America. Unfortunately, the plants you are asking about originate a long way from my region of expertise. Sorry, again, I cannot assist you with your question. I hope everything works out, I have enjoyed the heart of palm from tropical forests in Peru and it was spectacular. (Friday, 10 January 2020)
  • Question
    Please help me identify this plant. Found in Cameroon in the grass land and grows upland. Is a creeping plant. Hope this information help. Thanks
    Answer
    Dear Solowise11, I'm sorry I can't help you with your question. Go Botany is a website dedicated to wild plants of northeastern North America. Your question details plants that are a long way from my region of expertise. That all written, the leaf outline and presence of stipules suggests this may be a member of the Urticaceae (stinging nettle family). Hopefully that might help you initiate your study of these plants. (Friday, 10 January 2020)

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