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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
    I found a patch of what I thought might be Toxicodendron rydbergii. Its form was shrubby and upright with no aerial roots. Drupes appeared glabrous and, although fruit in March can't give an accurate number of flowers, most clusters were significantly fewer than 25 (most fewer than 12-15). The drupes were pedicellate, which is inconsistent with T. rydbergii - but none of the images of T. rydbergii fruit I found online - including on Go Botany - appear to be sessile. Can you explain? Thanks.
    Answer
    Dear stephradner, good morning. The flowers/fruits of Toxicodendron rydbergii are usually pedicellate, just shortly so. Your images are consistent with this species. Beautiful photographs, the habit shot demonstrates this species' growth form very well. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 31 March 2020)
  • Question
    I came accross this growing in the middle of a river at Perdanales State Park in Central Texas about 45 miles West of Austin. I've been in Texas for 45 years and never recall seeing this. Not sure if it is native or not. The boanists around here are stuped. Any ideas?
    Answer
    Dear swtexan, try comparing images/specimens of Ricinus communis (a member of the Euphorbiaceae). The palmately lobed leaves with mesifixed petioles is a good marker for this plant. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 24 March 2020)
  • Question
    Good morning, Here is another picture of the flowers of my mistery plant. They have a yellow tint before they open. Let me know if this helps. Thank you for your assistance. Julian.
    Answer
    Dear Julianmoran, good morning. I'm sorry, but I do not recognize this plant. While it does look like a member of the Asteraceae, I can not yet make a match to any wild species in New England. (Monday, 23 March 2020)
  • Question
    Hello. I think this is Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's Honeysuckle). Do you agree or do you think it's something else? seen in a NY woods. quite a lot of it. thank you in advance.
    Answer
    Dear dcmmings, while it is hard to be super confident with the emerging leaves, the pubescence on the leaf blades and young branchlets, as well as the hollow pith, all suggest this is Lonicera morrowii. Best wishes to you. (Monday, 23 March 2020)
  • Question
    Good afternoon Dr. I am hoping that you can steer me in the right direction. Last year I observed rosette of leaves in a neighbor's yard and have not been able to identify the plant. The pubescence was impressive, but I have been unable to find a similar image on the web. Thank you in advance for you help :o)
    Answer
    Dear califyank, good morning. You have photographed a species of Pilosella (king-devil), a non-native member of the Asteraceae. These were included in the genus Hieracium in the Flora Novae Angliae manual, but have been shown to be a distinct lineage. You may have Pilosella caespitosa (synonym: Hieracium caespitosum), but without flowers I can't be certain. Best wishes. (Monday, 23 March 2020)
  • Question
    Posting a sighting. First time. Not sure where to indicate its location or how to put a pin on the map. How do I do this? Found in Chelsea, VT on 3-21-2020. Public land.
    Answer
    Dear mjcdodie, good morning. This is the section to ask questions about the identification, ecology, or geography of wild plants. You won't find a section to post the location here. You need to go the post a sighting section of Plant Share, which will allow you to post this beautiful Equisetum scirpoides plant that you have photographed. Best wishes. (Monday, 23 March 2020)
  • Question
    I am not quite sure from your response if you were unable to identify my plant. It is from New England. I live in Maine. It originated from my yard where I got the soil from. I was told that it was a Asteraceae...
    Answer
    Dear julianmoran, good morning. I am not able to identify your plant. If it flowers, I may have more success. Keep watching it and send me an image if it does. Best wishes. (Wednesday, 18 March 2020)
  • Question
    Hi, This small colony of aquatic plants was found in SE CT in a freshwater forested wetland. The plant had heavily dissected leaves. It appears that there are two types of leaves, very fine, hairlike and wider leaves with a single central vein. My opinion would be Ranunculus flabellaris. This was found in early March and there were no flowers present.
    Answer
    Dear eehrlich11, Good afternoon. I believe you are correct, that this plant is Ranunculus flabellaris (greater yellow water crowfoot). The alternate leaves with flattened blade segments are a good clue to its identification. (Monday, 16 March 2020)
  • Question
    Hi again, this herbaceous plant was observed in a freshwater forested wetland. Located among "mounds" of sphagnum. This plant was found in mid-March (SE CT). Based on the leaf shape and thick waxy leaf, i would assume this is an early season Caltha palustris. However the C. palustris seems to grow more in clumps than dispersed stems.
    Answer
    Dear eehrlich11, these look like the basal leaves of Cardamine pratensis (pink cuckoo bitter-cress), a member of the mustard family. If correct, it will produce pinnately compound leaves and four-petaled flowers that are white to pink. Best wishes. (Monday, 16 March 2020)
  • Question
    This may be too early in the season for proper ID, but the time of year, growth habit and habitat seemed unique. In late Feb. this grass was growing in a very shallow pool in a freshwater wetland. The leaves were 12" in length and less than a CM wide. The tips were rounded. Found in SE CT.
    Answer
    Dear eehrlich11, I'm not sure what you are looking at, the images are not very large, so it is hard to see details. They may be a species of Glyceria (manna grass) with floating leaves. You might want to see if the sheaths are closed (i.e., with fused margins most of their length) to confirm the genus. Good luck. (Monday, 16 March 2020)

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