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
    The last two pictures of ferns on the Simple Key page have invaded my yard and nothing I do has helped. I even tried to burn out the last picture. I have been told they are both called horse tail. The feathery ones in the first picture have now spread to my strawberry patch. Please help me eradicate them, preferably without chemicals. I live in SE Michigan. Thank you
    Answer
    Dear nwhite, I'm sorry but there are no pictures associated with your question. Without images I won't be able to assist. If you are having trouble posting images, feel free to attach them to an email and send them to ahaines[at]newenglandwild.org and I will try to assist you. (Monday, 11 December 2017)
  • Question
    Could you please identify the plant? I bought it from a nursery and they could not name it. All it says is "Home foliage" Would like to know what kind of a plant this is and type of care needed. Thanks, SK
    Answer
    Dear SK, hello and good morning. I'm sorry I cannot assist with your question. Go Botany is a website dedicated to wild plants of New England. There are too many cultivated species coming from all over the world for me to be abreast of them all. I wish I was able to assist. (Monday, 11 December 2017)
  • Question
    Hello! new here! I have a Norwegian Red cone spruce that I have put into a bonsai pot late fall/early winter here in Montana, though it has been indoors to prevent temperature shock (It was shipped to me from California) I recently noticed a very dark brown color creeping through the needles from the tips of most of the branches and wanted to see if you thought it was repotting shock... or something more worrisome. Thanks for your time!
    Answer
    Dear Zero, good morning. I'm sorry that I cannot help you. I am not versed in plant pathology. You might want to contact the horticulture department at the New England Wild Flower Society or another organization to find someone who might recognize the symptoms your plant is displaying. Good luck. (Monday, 11 December 2017)
  • Question
    Identity of this plant
    Answer
    Dear Evilb71, the plant you have photographed is Portulaca oleracea (common purslane), a common, succulent plant of open and/or disturbed habitats that is really frequent in garden and planted settings. (Monday, 11 December 2017)
  • Question
    Hi I have this plant infesting my lawn can you advise what it is and how to eliminate it please
    Answer
    Dear villagirl, good morning. Because I don't know where this plant was growing, I won't be able to give you a confident answer on its identification. What I can tell you is that it is a species of Cyperus (flatsedge), a member of the Cyperaceae (sedge family). There are native and non-native species, depending on where you live. I have this is helpful. (Monday, 11 December 2017)
  • Question
    What type of plants have a naturally high nitrogen/phosphorus nutrient intake? Plants that absorb nitrogen and phosphorus rapidly, either in the form of ammonia, phosphates, etc. I'm looking for plant species capable of rapidly absorbing nutrients for a research project. Thanks!
    Answer
    Dear Twopiaresquared, good morning. This particular question I can't answer satisfactorily. While it is known that many legume plants (species in the Fabaceae) are high in protein (and thus must take up nitrogen because this element is a building block of amino acids), I'm not sure if this actually gets to the question you are asking. This is a physiological question and is outside of the realm of expertise being shared on the Go Botany website. I'm sorry I can't give you more information. (Monday, 4 December 2017)
  • Question
    Hi I am doing a project in my Environmental Science class on creating a Wetland Field Guide. This is one of many plants I am having trouble identifying. I found it in Danvers, Massachusetts. We took photographs of these plants around a month ago if not a couple weeks ago. I would greatly appreciate it if this plant could be identified, along with if any botanist could help me identify more of them for this project due soon. All of my plants were found near or at a wetland. Sincerely, Dustin
    Answer
    Dustin, good morning. Your plant is Smilax rotundifolia (common greenbrier), a native, armed liana in the Greenbier Family. Best wishes. (Monday, 4 December 2017)
  • Question
    Found in northeast Nebraska on a prairie
    Answer
    Dear Shellbi, sorry, I can't help with this one. I'm not familiar with the flora of Nebraska. Best wishes. (Monday, 27 November 2017)
  • Question
    Found in northeast Nebraska on a prairie
    Answer
    Dear Shellbi, your plant may be Erigeron canadensis (Canada fleabane; synonym: Conyza Canadensis). I'm not confident because of my lack of familiarity with the Nebraska flora, but I suggest you check there to see if this fits well. Best wishes. (Monday, 27 November 2017)
  • Question
    Found in northeast Nebraska on a prairie
    Answer
    Dear Shellbi, sorry, I can't help with this one. I'm not familiar with the flora of Nebraska. Best wishes. (Monday, 27 November 2017)

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