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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
    I'm trying to find the type of ivy this is. It grows all along walls on our campus at the University of Minnesota. It has red stems and blue berries that grow on it. The bigger leaves have about 3 points (I don't know what the points are called). Please help me identify the type of ivy this is.
    Answer
    Dear lyon304, your plant is Parthenocissus triscupidata (Bosty-ivy), a member of the grape family. It is frequently planted on campuses and within cities, where it climbs the side of the buildings by means of adhesive disks at the apex of the tendrils. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 17 October 2017)
  • Question
    This popped up a few weeks ago. We've been told it's a hickory tree. We do have some shag bark hickories on the opposite side of our house. If it is a hickory, we are going to transplant it. Thanks for your help. It seems to be growing off a big tap root.
    Answer
    Lisabailey, yes, it does look like a species of Carya (hickory). Small plants, such as the one you have photographed, are difficult to confidently identify from images. It may well be shagbark hickory. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 17 October 2017)
  • Question
    Found this on the cliff side overlooking the Bay of Fundy at Cape Forchu...Yarmouth Co. Nova Scotia...Oct.4/17
    Answer
    Dear Ervin, you have photographed a species of Agalinis (agalinis), a native member of the Orobanchaceae. You likely have either Agalinis paupercula or A. neoscotica. I would not be able to assist further without careful measurements to distinguish these two species. Hopefully knowing it is one of those two species will allow you to finish the identification. (Tuesday, 17 October 2017)
  • Question
    Helianthus along the bank of a small stream in WIlliston VT 9/19/17
    Answer
    Dear joshl, I can't be confident from the image supplied, but based on the petiole, leaf vein, and capitulum morphology, along with the habitat, this is likely Helianthus decapetalus (thin-leaved sunflower). It is a common native species of that habitat. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 17 October 2017)
  • Question
    Hi! Is branching on Lysimachia quadrifolia due to genetic variability? The typical Lysimachia quadrifolia form (same place, same day) is posted in the right.
    Answer
    Fpolygala, it looks like the stem apex was damaged (perhaps by animal browsing or wind damage). The lateral branches taking over the role of upward growth is very typical in this situation. Thanks for sharing. (Tuesday, 17 October 2017)
  • Question
    I am sorry that I am not in the New England area but the Midwest. I just want to ask the Botanist what this structure is that my Magnolia tree has sprouted. In May this tree will flower white flowers, before the leaves. Then it may bloom a second time. This structure is red, and has a cover over it, like a bract. Then it exposes perhaps a pod. Are there seeds inside? Why do the seeds erupt without flowers?
    Answer
    Dear TcKoh, this structure (the entire thing) is the immature fruit (an aggregate of follicles). Each individual follicle does not develop synchronously with the others, so you get these odd, deformed looking fruits during the maturation phase. If you perform a web search using the search terms "magnolia soulangeana fruit" you'll find all kinds of these. Note, I'm not suggesting that is the identity of your Magnolia, only the images of this species shows the characteristic I'm trying to convey to you really well. (Tuesday, 17 October 2017)
  • Question
    This sensitive fern on the left has an interesting spoked form. It's neighbor has a typical form. Might this be the result an environmental mutation?
    Answer
    Dear Fpolygala, It appears that the central axis of the leaf blade was damaged (I can see a point where the axis is broken/eaten). This form is typical when such damage has occurred to the growing axis. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 17 October 2017)
  • Question
    Hey I am having difficulty identifying this plant! It was found along the College of the Atlantic parking lot and road. The habitar was very disturbed and fairly dry, trees were cut in the area. It ranged from a few inches across to almost a foot in diameter. Was not flowering.
    Answer
    Dear Mriewest, there is no image associated with your question. Without an image I will not be able to help you. If you are having trouble posting images, feel free to email them to ahaines[at]newenglandwild.org and I will try to assist you. (Tuesday, 17 October 2017)
  • Question
    This plant was found in between a parking lot and road near College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, ME. I have used the simple and full key and have had no luck. The area it was in was a cut forest that was fairly dry.
    Answer
    Dear Mriewest, you have photographed a species of Cirsium (thistle). These are the basal leaves of the plant (prior to sending up an aerial shoot that will flower). I can't tell you which species of thistle this is without stem leaves and flower heads. But hopefully knowing the genus will be useful. (Tuesday, 17 October 2017)
  • Question
    Hi, This small tree is growing along side white pine, oak and maple. The tree is appox. 15' tall and the crown spread appox. 10' wide. Hope you can identify it. Thank You
    Answer
    alwayslooking, your plant may be Salix cinerea (gray willow). The ridges on the stems suggest this identification. But to confirm this, we would need to peel the bark on the two-year-old branches and identify if there are fine, elongate ridges on the wood. Salix cinerea is a non-native species that looks much like the native Salix humilis and Salix bebbiana. I hope this helps. (Tuesday, 17 October 2017)

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