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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 believe this plant is a wild geranium. Both pink and white specimens looking just like this one pop up randomly in this area of Salem Sound, Massachusetts. Having perused your sight I am unable to match the species. The flower petal margins are somewhat notched. I would appreciate your thoughts on identification. Thank you, SueLB
    Answer
    Dear SueLB, this beautiful picture you have taken is not of a species of Geranium, but of a member of the mallow family (Malvaceae), as evidenced by the stamens fused into a single column. It is likely you have photographed two or the more common, larger species, such as Malva moschata or Malva alcea (which I cannot confirm without more images). Best wishes. (Tuesday, 19 November 2019)
  • Question
    I'd like to report finding Rhodotypos scandens (Black Jet-bead) in Highland Park, Greenfield, MA. It does not show up on your map of its occurrence as being present in Franklin County, MA. Also, I'd like to confirm with you that GoBotany's keys will key out invasive plants. Although this plant is in GoBotany's database, I could not get it to key out and had to resort to other methods. Sorry photo is mediocre. Eventually, I could go back and take a photo of the patch of plants in Highland Park.
    Answer
    Dear kidoine, thank you for posing this. Please email me at ahaines[at]nativeplanttrust.org so we can get this occurrence vouchered. Rhodotypos scandens does key out in Go Botany if the questions are interpreted and answered correctly. If you go to the taxon page, you can view its characteristics so you are able to see what should be added to the questions for identification. Feel free to email me any questions or discussion you have. (Tuesday, 19 November 2019)
  • Question
    This low growing plant resides on a swamp edge alongside moss. After photographing it I was unable to find it again, despite it being right under my nose. Is it possible for you to ID it? Thank you very much! Salem Sound, Massachusetts SueLB
    Answer
    Dear SueLB, you've photographed a species of moss. It may be in the Plagiomnium or a related genus (I am not a moss taxonomist, so I am not confident in the determination). Hopefully this will get you started on your study. (Tuesday, 19 November 2019)
  • Question
    I was wondering if it is possible to ID this plant. I always believed this low growing, sprawling, prickly plant with few berries was a Bramble. Go Botony does not confirm that. Thanks for your thoughts! It grows in Salem Sound, Massachusetts. SueLB
    Answer
    Dear SueLB, you've photographed a species of blackberry, likely Rubus hispidus (bristly blackberry), or a hybrid with that species. The three, firm-textured and glossy leaflets that are widest beyond the middle and not prolonged into an acumination, with trailing stems that lack broad-based prickles are good field identifiers. (Tuesday, 19 November 2019)
  • Question
    Hello Go Botony, Here I have a shrub that randomly grows here in Salem Sound, Massachusetts. I would greatly appreciate an ID. I have not been able to sort it out myself. Please forgive that some photos are not properly oriented and that the sequence is not in order. I am working with a new photo program. Thank you very much, SueLB
    Answer
    Dear SueLB, you have photographed Frangula alnus (glossy-buckthorn), a non-native species that can be very invasive. It is quite prevalent in many locations within the state of MA. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 19 November 2019)
  • Question
    Hello Arthur. Can you confirm if this is Elliot's Goldenrod? ( In front of Joppa Flats Education Center, Newburyport - taken 9/26/18) If I'm wrong, I'll crop out the name. If right, you are welcome to use any of them. Thanks.
    Answer
    Dear chaffeemonell, great images. This plant, which I'm not entirely sure because I can't see the basal leaves, can't be Solidago latissimifolia. That species has +/- glabrous stems and leaves, but notice this species has minutely hairy stems and leaves. It could be a very large Solidago nemoralis, but I would need to see the basal leaves and their relative size to the mid-stem leaves to be confident. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 19 November 2019)
  • Question
    Hello there, I was told that this is a Wild Onion. It was growing in thickets, in Salem Sound, Massachusetts. Can this be determined to be true or not. Might I also ask "why." I would appreciate an ID on the species as well. Thank you so much for your help! SueLB
    Answer
    Dear SueLB, your plant may be crow garlic (Allium vineale). If you had a measurement of the bulb (its diameter), we could be more certain of its identification. Best wishes. (Thursday, 14 November 2019)
  • Question
    I think this is Allegheny Monkey Flower (Mimulus ringens). Is that correct? Found in wet field Kennebunk Maine 07-29-2019. Thanks
    Answer
    Dear docj77, yes, that looks very much like that species. To be 100% certain, I would need to see leaves, etc., but the flower is a good match and this species is common in certain wetlands in the state of ME. Best wishes. (Thursday, 14 November 2019)
  • Question
    Do you know what this growth on Poison Ivy is? I've tried Googling Poison Ivy galls and Poison ivy parasitic plants and haven't gotten anything. (Deer Island, Amesbury)
    Answer
    Chaffeemonell, I have seen an image of this growth on Toxicodendron before, but I don't know who or what causes it. I'm sorry I can't help out in this situation. Good luck finding out (if you do, please let me know). (Wednesday, 13 November 2019)
  • Question
    Hello again, Here is a shrub that I would like help with identification please. It is located in Salem Sound, Massachusetts. Thank you very much! SueLB
    Answer
    Dear SueLB, it appears you have photographed Spiraea chamaedryfolia (germander meadowsweet). This shrub is native to Asia. Great photographs, what a beautiful plant. (Wednesday, 13 November 2019)

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