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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
    Hello, this grass was found in a dry rocky understory of a deciduous forest in SE Connecticut. The grass was in a small colony with individuals up to 2 feet in height. The loose inflorescence was approximately 6 in. The widest leaf blade was apprx 1-inch in diameter. Based on the description, the closest I could come was Piptatherum racemosum...unfortunately I didn’t have a ruler to measure the lemma awn or the spikelet. Thanks!
    Answer
    Good morning eehrlich11, you have photographed Patis racemosa (black-seeded-rice grass). This species has been known by the name Piptatherum racemosum in recent literature. The broad leaves that are well developed on the upper part of the stem and long awns on the lemmas are good characteristics to distinguish this from other closely related species. (Tuesday, 7 July 2020)
  • Question
    Hi! Found this plant in SE CT. There was no flower but the leaves were lobed and the stem was heavily pubescent. The plant was in upland forest growing next to a rock. Thanks
    Answer
    Dear eehrlich11, good morning. You have photographed, most likely, the basal leaves of Ranunculus recurvatus (hooked crowfoot). This native species has lobed leaves with an outline much like you have captured here in your images. If you examine other pictures online, I think you will note the similarity. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 7 July 2020)
  • Question
    I understand this site is geared towards ID rather than forest pathology but wanted to see if you had any insight: this is a heavily damaged witch hazel. This disease has impacted many naturally occurring H. Virginana in the area and the plants have 60-90% of their leaves affected. The leaves turn brown. It’s unconfirmed but may be a fungus Phyllosticta hamamelidis based research. Is there a possibly fatal disease that heavily impacts this species and is it known to be a bad year?
    Answer
    Dear eehrlich11, I do wish I could help with your question, but I'm not a plant pathologist. The leaves you have photographed don't seem to be experiencing the exact same symptoms as other images I have viewed of this pathogen. I don't know for certain who it is, but I hope you are able to find out. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 7 July 2020)
  • Question
    Hi, we saw this ground-cover with small waxy leaves at the the Garden in the Woods this weekend and were curious what it was. Would appreciate any help.
    Answer
    Dear Nncinj0Qk7, good morning. I don't know which plant you have photographed. The plantings at Garden in the Woods include some species which are native to other regions of North America. My expertise is wild plants of New England. If you direct this question to someone at Garden in the Woods, they should be able to provide you with an answer. Good luck. (Tuesday, 7 July 2020)
  • Question
    I found this plant last spring growing along a trail
    Answer
    Dear Thehikerrn, good morning. You have photographed Leucojum aestivum (summer snowflake), a member of the Amaryllidaceae. This species is native to Europe and is planted in this part of the world. Very beautiful image. (Tuesday, 7 July 2020)
  • Question
    Hi, I noticed this in bloom next to our compost pile this morning (July 2, Tolland County, CT), growing in semi-shade beneath sumac at the edge of where our sunny back yard meets a wooded area. Is it Circaea canadensis? It would be somewhat atypical of the old-field type vegetation that I usually see in this spot, but I suppose it's plausible that seeds were transported here on the body of an animal that may have come to forage in the compost. Your opinion would be appreciated, thank you!
    Answer
    Dear DavidJ, the plant you have photographed is Circaea canadensis (broad-leaved enchanter's-nightshade), a native member of the evening-primrose family. This species is typically found growing in the shade of deciduous trees. Best wishes. (Monday, 6 July 2020)
  • Question
    I have this growing as a weed where I spread fresh soil last year. My ID is Solanum dulcamara.
    Answer
    Dear jfc, you identification looks correct to me. Best wishes. (Monday, 6 July 2020)
  • Question
    Dear Ace Botanist, I have been searching online for what this black seed pod could be. The closest thing I've found is that it could be the seed pod of a large yellow vetch. This site claims that sightings have only been reported in MA. I found this today in Cumberland, RI. Thank you.
    Answer
    Dear JuHow, good afternoon. You may have photographed Vicia sativa (common vetch), a species that is naturalized to open, often disturbed, habitats in New England. I can't see all the details that I need to in order to be confident, but this is a good starting point based on what I can see. Best wishes. (Monday, 6 July 2020)
  • Question
    Im growing medical cannabis for my niece who is undergoing chemo. My question is about selective defoliation. Does removing leaves to allow light to "budsites" do any good ? Basically I want to know if budsites use light or just leaves ? ty
    Answer
    Dear bobB, I'm sorry I cannot answer your question. Go Botany is a website dedicated to wild plants of New England. I'm not super familiar with Cannabis cultivation. I suggest contacting one of the many medicinal marijuana shops and finding someone who can answer your question. Good luck. (Monday, 6 July 2020)
  • Question
    My daughter-in-law gave me this transplant last year from her lake cabin in mid Maine. She has a patch in her part shade garden in Newport, ME. We live on the Midcoast in Maine. I needed something for my shade garden beside astilbe and hosta and we put this in. It was planted last August, died back this winter, came up this Spring doubling in size.We have looked at wildflower, weed, and floral ids but can’t seem to ID it. Can you help?
    Answer
    Dear MaineMimi, it looks like you have photographed Lysimachia punctata (large yellow-loosestrife), a species that is often cultivated and sometimes escapes. The species is native to Europe, and we find it sometimes around old home sites that are today located deep in the forest. (Monday, 6 July 2020)

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