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
    This was spotted in the woods of Vermont, what kind of plant is it?
    Answer
    Dear Nanablue. your plant is Galeopsis tetrahit (brittle-stemmed hemp-nettle), a non-native member of the mint family that is common in disturbed settings and occasionally can be found in forests. Best wishes. (Monday, 21 August 2017)
  • Question
    I was told this plant was sea lavender years ago, but evidently sea lavender doesn't grow here in Vermont. Can you identify it for me? It has a lot of similarities to sea lavender. It will be blooming in the fall - the bloom is purple. The photo of it flowering includes asters in the background. Thanks!
    Answer
    Dear pepperbox, while Limonium carolinianum (Carolina sea-lavender) isn't known to grow wild in VT, it can be cultivated. Your plant certainly looks like this species. Feel free to email me at ahaines[at]newenglandwild.org if you want to discuss this plant further. (Monday, 21 August 2017)
  • Question
    Can you tell me which fern I have photographed? I took the pictures in a mixed hemlock forest beside a lake in the Adirondacks. Thank You
    Answer
    Dear Auntie, you've collected Parathelypteris novaboracensis (New York fern), a native perennial fern of (primarily) forested areas. The leallets that gradually become smaller and smaller toward the base is a good diagnostic character. (Monday, 21 August 2017)
  • Question
    Please help me identify this plant from South of Barcelona, Spain.
    Answer
    Dear Maxb, I'm sorry that I cannot help you with your plant identification question. Go Botany is a website dedicated to wild plants of northeastern North America. That written, I'm happy to always try to examine any pictures you send and see if I recognize them. Best wishes. (Monday, 21 August 2017)
  • Question
    This shrub appeared after I cleared trees for my garden about three years ago. On a rocky hill Mount Desert Island, Maine. Mature leaves are about 4" long and 2" wide.
    Answer
    Dear kwconch47, there are no images associated with your question. Without those, I won't be able to assist you. If you are having trouble uploading images, feel free to attach them to an email and send them to ahaines[at]newenglandwild.org and I will try to assist you. Best wishes. (Monday, 21 August 2017)
  • Question
    I found this plant in a newly formed wetland at the mouth of 2 streams, 5 years after a storm washed the soil off the hillside to form the area. It is on a lake in NW CT. Our lake was studied by the state DEEP a few years back and found to have the most diverse collection of aquatic plants of any lake they studied.
    Answer
    Dear DRMoore, you appear to have photographed a species of Eutrochium (Joe-pye weed), native members of the Asteraceae. I can't tell which species without better images of the leaves (which are necessary for identification in this group, along with the morphology and coloration of the stem). If you can post additional images of these structures, I can try to assist you further. (Monday, 21 August 2017)
  • Question
    This shrub was photographed in a theoretical 'native plant' garden near Albany NY. Thank You,
    Answer
    Dear Auntie, this shrub appears to be in the genus Caryopteris (bluebeard), a member of the mint family that is native to Asia. It is not native to North America. Best wishes. (Monday, 21 August 2017)
  • Question
    Found in a roadside thicket in Jackson, NH along with feral apples. sandy loam near beavered habitat. https://goo.gl/photos/a86dCLmU2avnvuiYA
    Answer
    Dear vanwen, you have photographed Viburnum lentago (nannyberry), a native shrub/small tree of wetlands, shorelines, and (occasionally) moist uplands. It produces a dark, edible fruit later in the season that tastes similar to dates. Great images--thank you for sharing your discovery. (Monday, 21 August 2017)
  • Question
    I'm trying to id this plant. I used the simple plant identifier and found that it looks similar to Veratrum Viride, but not quite like the pictures. It seems to grow alone, not in bunches, and seems to grow best in sandy, rocky soil. I've also seen it by the road at my camp growing in the gravel at the side of the road. Flowers appear only at the top of the single, main stem and form little seed pods. The plant produces only this one stem with alternating leaves.
    Answer
    Dear deborahp4, the plant you have photographed is Epipactis helleborine (helleborine orchid), a non-native orchid that grows here and there in New England. While frequent in some places, it is not invasive. Best wishes. (Monday, 21 August 2017)
  • Question
    Here are some pictures I've found of a purple stemmed and hairy goldenrod-seeming plant. I would love to get all the way to species. Any ideas? Thanks!
    Answer
    SunnyMona, it appears you've collected Solidago rugose (wrinkle-leaved goldenrod), a native, colonial, perennial species of open areas, wetlands, shorelines, etc. Best wishes. (Tuesday, 15 August 2017)

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