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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.

Everyone can read the answers, but only logged-in users can ask questions. Log in to ask a question.

All Questions and Answers

Recently Answered Questions

  • Question
    I have this plant growing in my garden. I have tried different sites and I am stumped! Your help would be appreciated! Thank you in advance! This garden is in mid Maine. Near the woods. Maine Mimi
    Answer
    Dear MaineMimi, good afternoon. I'm sorry I cannot assist you with your question. The plant could be a species in the Crassulaceae (stonecrop family) with flat, toothed leaves (like the genera Phedimus, etc.). I have not seen it before. Good luck figuring out who this is. (Friday, 12 August 2022)
  • Question
    This is growing in a sunny spot near my house in Massachusetts. There is a cluster of flowers developing at the top of the stem, only one of them open, 1 cm wide. Leaves are alternate, about 12 cm, without teeth or lobes. Height approaches 1 meter. The original stem was bitten off by deer. It survived future attack because mountain mint grew around it.
    Answer
    Dear jfc, good morning again. You appear to have photographed Lactuca canadensis (tall lettuce). This species is very variable with regard to its leaf blade outline. Some are entire, others are lobed with long segments. If you bruise a leaf you will see a tan latex (look closely, it will not be bright white like other members of the genus). Best wishes. (Friday, 12 August 2022)
  • Question
    Growing in wet ground next to a stream in the woods in Lincoln, Massachusetts. A computer program suggests Ribes. If it is, I can't go further because the key wants flowers or fruits.
    Answer
    Dear jfc, it is definitely a species of Ribes (currant, gooseberry). However, I can't tell you who it is from the images. I would need flowers/fruits or a specimen in hand to examine. Hopefully knowing the genus will be useful to you. Best wishes. (Friday, 12 August 2022)
  • Question
    Hello, Wondering if this could be Spiraea alba? Found along the edge of a defunct road in a meadow area in Neutaconkanut Hill Conservancy. That area doesn't seem particularly moist, however. So perhaps it's something else? Thanks.
    Answer
    Dear sldz22, good morning to you. Spiraea alba is not an obligate wetland plant and can be found in mesic (moist) settings, such as fields and edges of clearings. While it is most often associated with wetlands and shorelines, it isn't found in those settings all the time. Best wishes. (Friday, 12 August 2022)
  • Question
    Hello, I believe this is a Ranunculus, but am not sure who it is. Possibly hooked crowfoot? The leaves are lobed, but not compound; stem is somewhat hairy. Found in Moshassuck Nature Preserve in Lincoln, RI. There are 2 specimens here; the one with leaves in the background was growing along a (wet) upland trail (lots of jacks in the area); the one with moss was found along the brook. Thanks.
    Answer
    Dear sldz22, good morning. Yes, these plants look like Ranunculus recurvatus (hooked crowfoot). This native species is often found along stream shores and damp, mossy locations (along with rich, upland forests). (Friday, 12 August 2022)
  • Question
    Hello, I hope it's OK to ask more than one question a day. Could this possibly be narrow-leaved fireweed? Sorry for the poor photos; I have an inpatient dog with me most times... It's growing in the middle of a path toward the entrance of the park, so it's probably been stepped on repeatedly, stunting growth, maybe? Leaves have teeth. Thanks for any suggestions you may have. (Moshassuck Nature Preserve, Lincoln, RI)
    Answer
    Dear sldz22, good morning. It does not look like narrow-leaved fireweed to me. While I'm not certain who you have photographed, it looks most like a species of American-aster with narrow leaf blades. Best wishes. (Friday, 12 August 2022)
  • Question
    Alliance, ohio
    Answer
    Dear marla, good morning. I'm sorry I cannot help you. You are some distance outside of my region of expertise. However, if I had more images, such as side-view of the flower and images of the leaves and stem, I might still be able to help. Best wishes. (Friday, 12 August 2022)
  • Question
    Hi there. I found a plant on the edge of my driveway that seems to be either Russian olive or autumn olive. I am in Rockport, ME - Knox county. The known distribution of either doesn't cover my county in Maine. Thanks for your help.
    Answer
    Dear kcoluzzi, you have photographed Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn-olive). This species is found throughout much of Maine at this point--thank you for sending in an observation. Best wishes. (Friday, 12 August 2022)
  • Question
    Hi! I just moved to Northwestern Connecticut, Litchfield county, and there’s a mess of this in the front garden. Curious what it is. Thanks in advance!
    Answer
    Dear bluenova, good morning. I would love to help you but the images are not in focus, so I can't see clearly the plant you are requesting information about. It may be a species in the Amaranthaceae (such as goosefoot), but I simply can't see the plants well enough. If you can take in-focus images I should be able to help. Best wishes. (Friday, 12 August 2022)
  • Question
    Hello, Found this on the margin of land between the trail and a brook in Lincoln, RI. Looks remarkably like a plant we drove 40 miles to the Ben Utter Trail in Exeter, RI to see earlier this spring. Is this Indian cucumber-root (Medeola virginiana)? Thanks.
    Answer
    Dear sldz22, good morning. Yes, you have photographed Indian cucumber-root (Medeola virginiana), a native member of the Lily Family. The reproductive plants will produce a second tier of reduced leaves that are associated with the flowers/fruits. (Thursday, 11 August 2022)

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