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Native Plant Trust: Go Botany Discover thousands of New England plants

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
    Hi, I recently discovered this sapling growing at the edge of the woods behind my back yard, and I am wondering if it is Prunus persica? There is a compost pile nearby from which a seed could have plausibly traveled. This is in Tolland County, Connecticut. Thank you for your help!
    Answer
    Dear DavidJ, Good afternoon. The plant you have photographed certainly may be a species of Prunus. Identifying which one at this stage would be really difficult, especially from images. I'm sorry I can't help you more than this. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 11 May 2021)
  • Question
    Hello there I am a new orchid moth mom. I am very worried of my plant because the roots look a bit brown in some greenroots. I have not repotted as of yet and i'm not sure if the plant medium is the correct one. I don't overwater my orchid and the one time that i gave it water I made sure the pot drained and then one of the baby leaves turned yellow. The tip of the orchid is starting to dry out after having so many nice blooms wither away. My plant is also in indirect sunlight per instructions.
    Answer
    Dear orchidmum, good morning. The orchids are beautiful--thank you for sharing an image. Go Botany is a site dedicated to wild plants of New England. I am not knowledgeable with the cultivation of orchids. Hopefully you can find some good information here: https://www.hyanniscountrygarden.com/taking-care-of-moth-orchids/. Good luck. (Tuesday, 11 May 2021)
  • Question
    I believe this is a Hobblebush Viburnum. The leaves look more like an Arrowwood Viburnum to me, but the flowers look like a Hobblebush. The bush is 9-10 ft. tall.
    Answer
    Dear kplager, good morning. You have photographed a different species of Viburnum. It appears to be Viburnum plicatum (Japanese snowball), a species that sometimes has all of the flowers converted to enlarged, sterile flowers. If correct, this is an Asian species. Best wishes. (Monday, 10 May 2021)
  • Question
    Good evening! How is it possible this cactus has a pup that looks like its surrounding cacti ? Thank you for your time .
    Answer
    Good morning. It looks completely appropriate to me. The young new growth (i.e., cladodes) are often of a different shape and color from the supporting plant. Looks wonderful. (Monday, 10 May 2021)
  • Question
    Once again, no camera I travel this trail weekly dildn't expect a lesson. 4-5 inch flower stalks sometimes without visible leaves because they spring from an western facing rock face along the trail,,,the leaves are ?dentate? aboaut 4 at the base of the stem when visible,,,the flowers are 5-petalled off -white and perhaps pinkish towards the base ,sinble. . In bloom now. Multiple flower stalks, blooms perhaps 5 cm across if that much so you could go by them and not realize you see something.
    Answer
    Dear Sziabrowska, consider Micranthes virginiensis (synonym: Saxifraga virginiensis). This is a native saxifrage that flowers in the spring and is found on cliffs and rock faces. My email is ahaines@nativeplanttrust.org so we can discuss if this is not correct. Best wishes. (Monday, 10 May 2021)
  • Question
    Haven't seen this before. There's a small cluster in the yard (semi grassy mossy area,) towards an area partially shrub-shaded A type of fleabane? Harmless good? Or bad
    Answer
    Dear Rodman, good morning. The plant in the images looks like Erigeron pulchellus (Robin's plaintain fleabane), a native species in the composite family. While we can't be 100% certain until it flowers, the shape of the leaf blades, hairs on stem, and flower head number all support this hypothesis. Best wishes. (Monday, 10 May 2021)
  • Question
    We bought our house last fall (Woburn, MA) so didn't have a full picture of the plants in the beds. In the last two weeks the pictured plant has started popping up everywhere. My plant ID app says it's Creeping Bellflower. Bad news! First, is it? Second, I am digging and pulling as much as possible, but everything I've read said it's nearly impossible to eradicate fully: is there a thuggish, aggressive native perennial that might outcompete this? Asters? Goldenrod? Help!!
    Answer
    Dear alfiemp, good morning. The plant in your image is likely Campanula rapunculoides (creeping bellflower). We can't be 100% certain until flowers are produced. Yes, this species is difficult to eradicate, but the leaves, flowers, and rhizomes are all edible (once confirmed, you could potentially eat it away). Best wishes. (Friday, 7 May 2021)
  • Question
    DId not have a camera. Oaken slopes along wide brook areas, lot of trout lily, yellow violets, dwarf ginseng, wake robin and??? knee high , white blooms pendulous, at top of plant, 4-petalled, opposite triangle-shaped irregular leaves, a trio towards the base and another trio before the bloom, the flowers are off=white. ps could send seeds for the mixed clumps of white Blue Flag this fall.
    Answer
    Dear sziabrowska, you likely have seen Cardamine diphylla (two-leaved toothwort), a native member of the mustard family that inhabits rich, moist forests. It has compound leaves with three leaflets. If you examine some images of this species online you might be able to confirm your observation. If you have time, email me at ahaines@nativeplanttrust.org and let me know if you identified your plant. (Friday, 7 May 2021)
  • Question
    I have been trying to find out what type of plant this is. They are growing on a hill in the woods in Connecticut, I've seen several and they all seem to be growing at the base of a tree. It's just one leaf each plant. Thanks for any help!
    Answer
    Dear rhiannon1966, good morning. You've photographed the leaf of Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot), a native member of the poppy family. This species has a solitary white flower on a leafless stalk (when it flowers). The plant has an orange latex in the sap, so the sap appears +/- orange when any part of the plant is torn or bruised. Best wishes. (Thursday, 6 May 2021)
  • Question
    My question is actually about weather to plant the non-native plant- Siberian Scilla in my home garden in central Vermont. Apparently it is considered an invasive plant in Minnesota, but not in New England. I love the flowers and would like to plant it here, but not if I would be introducing something harmful to the native flora. What is your input on this?
    Answer
    Dear Jlbvermont, good afternoon. Othocallis sibirica (Siberian squill) can escape the garden setting, but I've never seen it enter forested areas. Typically, it spreads across lawns and other similar human-disturbed or human-manicured areas. It certainly is a beautiful plant, though if you are concerned, you could likely find somewhat similar native species to plant. In either case, I hope you find something that works nicely for your location. (Monday, 3 May 2021)

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