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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Recently Answered Questions

  • Question
    These photos were taken SW of Albany NY near a waterfall. I think there are two species of fern here. I'm not sure, since the sori do not look identical. Thank You,
    Answer
    Dear Auntie, you've photographed two species of Dryoperis (wood fern). One of them is Dryopteris marginalis (marginal wood fern), which has sori on the margins of the leaf segments. The other I can't tell you which one because there isn't an image of the key characteristics I need (lowest leaflets). If you can get one of those images, I can help you further. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 27 June 2017)
  • Question
    This small pink flower was found amidst some low blueberry bushes in the woodlands of Putnam County, NY. Thank you for your help with id.
    Answer
    Dear Roxi, these appear to be discolored leaves of some species of Vaccinium (blueberry). I don't know what pathogen is causing the leaves to turn that color, but they are leaves that have been modified by some agent. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 27 June 2017)
  • Question
    I have tried several times to ID this plant with no success. All the leaves grow out of a single node but I wouldn't think they were compound. They all are on the same side of the stem...whorled? The stems and flower stalks are hairy. The plant is about 4 inches tall. I'd love to know where I'm going wrong during the ID process.
    Answer
    Dear Janda, your plant is Spergularia rubra (red sand-spurry). It is a non-native member of the Caryophyllaceae that is introduced to New England here and there in open, sandy habitats. It has opposite leaves, but also has fascicles of leaves in the leaf axils, making determining the leaf arrangement difficult (but it only shows two stipules on the stem, demonstrating the actual leaf number per node). Best wishes. (Tuesday, 27 June 2017)
  • Question
    This Rose was found in the Helderberg Escarpment NY. I was thinking it was Rosa rubiginosa, but I have no experience with this genus. Thank you,
    Answer
    Auntie, I can't see the necessary details to make a confident determination. The pedicels and the hypanthium are not visible to me. From what I can see, the rose may be Rosa canina (dog rose), but additional images of the features I mentioned and careful examination of the leaf surface to check for the presence of glands would help me considerably. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 27 June 2017)
  • Question
    This Rosa was also found in the Helderberg Escarpment NY. Can you tell me which species it is? Thank You,
    Answer
    Dear Auntie, your rose appears to be Rosa multiflora (rambler rose), a non-native species that is quite widespread in the northeastern United States. The exserted styles and fimbriate stipules are good field markers for this species. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 27 June 2017)
  • Question
    Good morning! Morgan, Vermont (extreme northeast, Canadian border) Forest floor, lots of conifers but not found specifically under conifer June 8, 2017 Thank you for help!
    Answer
    Dear meeyauw@gmail.com, your plant is Eurybia macrophylla (large-leaved wood-aster), a native member of the Asteraceae. It forms extensive colonies of heart-shaped basal leaves and will produce an aerial stem with showy flower heads later in the growing season. (Tuesday, 27 June 2017)
  • Question
    Discovered this plant under a mature hemlock very near the water on Lake Winnipesaukee in Alton, NH, this weekend. Tried Newcomb and the GB database but can't seem to nail it. Any ideas?
    Answer
    Dear Coniferboy, your plant is Diervilla lonicera (bush-honeysuckle). It is a native member of the Caprifoliaceae that is found in a wide variety of habitats and even asides high into the mountains in some areas of New England. (Tuesday, 27 June 2017)
  • Question
    Saponaria officinalis? The leaves are paired, opposite, simple margins.
    Answer
    Dear DavidBlair, your plant is not Saponaria officinalis, that species has a very different inflorescence (in terms of congestion, pedicel lengths, etc.). It is a member of the Caryophyllaceae, but without seeing the leaves and a habit shot of the plant, I can't confidently identify it. If you can supply some additional images (and the location of the plant), I would enjoy helping you. (Tuesday, 27 June 2017)
  • Question
    This plant is on Prudence Island, RI in the sandy shore area. It is blooming now (June) and is about 3' diameter and 2' in height. Can you identify it please? Thank you.
    Answer
    Dear mgirard4, your plant is Glacium flavum (yellow horn-poppy), a non-native member of the Papaveraceae that is found here and there along the coastal plain in southern New England. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 27 June 2017)
  • Question
    I found this plant on the upper beach by the mouth of the Merrimack River on Plum Island. It has the look of a nightshade, indeed very like a plant which was a nightshade on the beach near St. Augustine, FL.
    Answer
    Dear chaffeemonell, I can't be 100% certain, but it looks like a seedling of Xanthium (cocklebur), a member of the Asteraceae. If you look in the upper right portion of the image, you can see one of the capitula (burrs) of this species. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 27 June 2017)

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