1 April 2017 – Chickasaw Plum

Today at the Patuxent Research Refuge, we stopped by the Chickasaw Plum “Grove” (Prunus angustifolia Marshall). There are two clumps of the trees at this location, and they put on a nice display.

According to Sargent in 1965 and E.L. Little in 1979, this species was originally native to central Texas and Oklahoma, and was naturalized beyond that range (including Maryland) by Native Americans in pre-European settlement times. Renown botanist William Bartram wrote that “he never saw the Chickasaw plum wild in the forests but always in old deserted Indian plantations”. He hypothesized that the Chickasaw Indians brought it from the Southwest beyond the Mississippi River (Bartram, 1791).

So we may surmise that this could have likely been planted by Native Americans many centuries ago.

 


CITATIONS:

  1. Bartram, W. 1791. Travels through North and SouthCarolina, Georgia, East and West Florida. In Little, E. L. Checklist of United States Trees.  USDA FS Washington, D.C.
  2. Little, E. L. 1979. Checklist of United States Trees. USDA FS Washington, D.C.
  3. Sargent, C. S. 1965. Manual of the trees of North America. 2nd Ed. Vol. II. Dover Pub., Inc. New York. 934p.
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30 December 2016 – Hairy Bracken Fern

Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn var. pubescens Underw.

This bracken fern is another species of fern that we found on our nature walk. This variety is called the Hairy Bracken Fern or Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn var. pubescens Underw. It differs from the Bracken Fern commonly found on the Patuxent Research Refuge with shorted terminal segments on the well-developed pinnules, The Hairy Bracken Fern is found in Western North America from Alaska to Northern Mexico, as far east as Texas and South Dakota.

It forms colonies which can be invasive, especially in hay fields.

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30 December 2016 – Western Sword Fern

Polystichum munitum (Kaulf.) C. Presl
Western Swordfern growing in Bellevue, Washington 30 December 2016.

The Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum (Kaulf.) C. Presl) is an evergreen fern found on the west coast of North America from Southeastern Alaska to Southern California. There are isolated populations in the Black Hills in South Dakota and on Guadalupe Island off Baja California.

Its favorite habitat is in the understory in conifer forests. Native Americans peeled and roasted the rhizomes for food.

It is difficult to grow and cultivate in the eastern past of North America.

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30 December 2016 – Nature Hike with Granddaughters in Bellevue


Today,my granddaughters in Seattle and I took a hike on the Boeing Trails in Bellevue Washington. We saw several types of native trees as well as the non-native American Holly. We also saw the Western Sword Fern and the ubiquitous blackberry patches, which are common in the urban areas in Western Washington.

Rubus armeniacus Focke – Himalayan blackberry

Rubus laciniatus Willd. – cutleaf blackberry

Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn – western brackenfern

Polystichum munitum (Kaulf.) C. Presl) – Western Sword Fern

Douglas Fir – Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco

Red Alder – Alnus rubra Bong.

Pacific madrone – Arbutus menziesii Pursh

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This time we will examine two similar species of Thoroughwort (sometimes called boneset) – Hyssop-leaf Thoroughwort (Eupatorium hyssopifolium L.) and Torrey’s Thoroughwort (Eupatorium torreyanum Short & Peter). The synonym Eupatorium hyssopifolium L. var. laciniatum A. Gray is sometimes applied to Torrey’s Thoroughwort.

The difference between the two species is subtle, but distinct and is mainly seen on the leaves.

Eupatorium hyssopifolium

Eupatorium hyssopifolium – Note the narrow leaves with no teeth

The shape of principal leaves on the Eupatorium hyssopifolium are described as linear to narrowly lanceolate. Additionally, they are generally shorter (2 to 7 cm long) and narrower (1-5 mm wide) than the Eupatorium torreyanum, and are 10 to 40 times longer than wide. Also, the margins of their leaves are mostly entire or obscurely toothed.

Eupatorium torreyanum

Eupatorium torreyanum – note the wider leaves and if you look closely, you can see the toothed leaves

On the other hand, the principal leaves on the Eupatorium torreyanum are described as lanceolate, 5 to 12 cm long and 5 to about 10 mm wide.  The length to width ratio is 6 to 15. The margins of the leaves are conspicuously and divergently toothed.

Hyssop-leaf Thoroughwort - Note the narrow entire leaves.

Hyssop-leaf Thoroughwort – Note the narrow entire leaves.

Hyssop-leaf Thoroughwort naturally occurs in Eastern USA from Massachusetts on the north, Georgia on the south and Tennessee on the west. It is common throughout Maryland and on the Refuge.

Eupatorium torreyanum

Eupatorium torreyanum – Note the distinct teeth on the leaf, which do not appear on the Hyssop-leaf Thoroughwort

Botanists have found Torrey’s Thoroughwort from New York on the north, to Florida on the south, and to Ohio, Tennessee, and Louisiana on the West. It is considered to be a viable hybrid between Hyssop-leaf Thoroughwort and another species of Eupatorium. The identity of the other parent species is a matter of controversy and requires further research.

Interestingly, Torrey’s Thoroughwort is listed as occurring in Maryland, yet the Maryland Biodiversity Project (MBP) and the Maryland Plant Atlas (MPA) have no report (as of 5 September 2016).  Maybe this is the first known report of this species, or previous reports of it just have not been documented yet. In any event, this species is often overlooked because of its co-occurrence with Hyssop-leaf Thoroughwort, and observations of it could be easily dismissed because it is so similar in appearance.

Some botanists elevate Torrey’s Thoroughwort to a species level, others subordinate it as a variety of Hyssop-leaf Thoroughwort, and others have lumped these two together into one species. Whatever its taxonomical status, Torrey’s Thoroughwort is definitely a distinct botanical entity from Hyssop-leaf Thoroughwort.

Close-up of Eupatorium hyssopifolium flowering heads

Close-up of Eupatorium hyssopifolium flowering heads

Close-up of Eupatorium torreyanum flowering heads

Close-up of Eupatorium torreyanum flowering heads

REFERENCES:

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Bald Cypress – Taxodium distichum – 24 June 2016

Today, I forayed on the South Tract and spotted a bunch of Bald Cypress trees thriving in a swampy area next to Reddington Lake.  Bald Cypress is not native this far north, but can do all right when planted in the right place.  In this case, they were planted by Fran Uhler back in the 1960’s or 1970’s.  They are doing just fine and some of the trees are producing cones and seeds. In fact, these trees have established themselves with several younger trees growing next to the larger ones.

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Wild Yam – Dioscorea villosa – 18 June 2016

Several vines of wild yam (Discorea villosa) L. were spotted in full bloom along the Knowles 1 Pond on the Central Tract. Wild Yam is common in North America ranging from Ontario on the North, along the Eastern Seaboard to Florida and West to Texas and Nebraska.

It purportedly has medicinal properties, including as an anti-cancer treatment. However, according to the American Cancer Society these claims are false, and there is no evidence of its effectiveness.

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Bottlebrush Buckeye – Aesculus parviflora – 24 May 2016

On the way home from work today, I took a bunch of pictures of two established colonies of Aesculus parviflora (Bottlebrush Buckeye) near our home. One of them was in the middle of someone’s lawn and the other one was in the woods.  I first spotted them six years ago, and they have spread since then. The latter one ran for about 100 feet along the road and was about 50 feet back into the woods. Three or four saplings had popped up across the road from this colony. I am not sure if they are primarily spread from seedlings or if they are clones, but they sure like where they are at.

The following are photographs that I took today. (Click on the thumbnails for a larger view.)

The following are photographs that I took in previous years.

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Pecan! – 21 May 2016

Today in front of the old house in which the Refuge superintendent used to live, I spotted a pecan tree (Carya illinoinensis). The pecan is native to Mexico and southeastern USA, but not Maryland.  This specimen is handsome. I wonder if it will produce pecan nuts in the fall.

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21 May 2016 – Temple Grass – Zoysia matrella

Spike with pistillate (female) flowers. (Click on thumbnail for larger view)

Today, I found an interesting exotic on the Central Tract. It is called Temple Grass and the scientific name is Zoysia matrella. This native to East Asia and northern Australia is sometimes planted in North America as a lawn grass. Its matting nature makes it a natural for planting on golf course greens. It is tolerant to high salinity and is therefore sometimes planted as erosion control and in lawns in coastal areas.

Someone planted this grass on the Snowden Pond dike, and it seems to like it there.

 

 

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Spike with staminate (male) flowers. (Click on thumbnail for larger view.)

It is a diecious, meaning that the female and male reproductive flower parts are found on separate plants. (see the photos on this page.) The leaves angled at more or less 90 degrees from the culm/stem, distinguishes this species from a related species, Zoysia japonica, which have leaves that point upwards towards the end of the stem.

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Leave blades extending at about 90 degrees from culm/stem. (Click on thumbnail for larger view.)

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8 October 2015 – Rare plant – Pluchea camphorata (camphor pluchea or marsh fleabane)

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It’s been a while since I blogged here. This time we will look at an obscure plant called Camphor Pluchea or Marsh Fleabane. Its scientific name is Pluchea camphorata. This member of Asteraceae is listed by the Maryland State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as a endangered species (S1 E).

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This species grows in clumps in a narrow stretch of the Patuxent River on the refuge. This fall, I spotted a clump of it growing next to a stream by a road which visitors drive by.

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It has a very odd almost putrid smell if you crush the leaves.

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1 August 2015 – Apparent Weevil Damage to Mile-a-Minute

_DSC1568Today I spotted several patches of Mile-a-Minute (Persicaria perfoliata) which has sustained some apparent severe insect damage in the “Savanna” restoration area. I understand that weevils have been released on the refuge. I wonder if this is not damage by weevils. There are weevils which are natural enemies to the Mile-a-Minute in Asia where it is native, but using it as a biological control in the USA is more or less experimental.

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The good thing about using weevils as a biological control of Mile-a-Minute is that they are not known to attack our native Persicaria species. I am not sure of the weevil’s species name, but will try to find out. I believe it could be Rhinocominus latipes Korotyaev.

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27 July 2015 – Milkweeds of Patuxent – Part 1 – Common Milkweed

close-up of seed pod

close-up of seed pod

Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) are important to the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) because its larva feeds exclusively on it. The recent decline of the Monarch butterfly population has sparked an interest saving it by planting milkweed. The Friends of Patuxent is sponsoring an effort to plant milkweed on the Patuxent Research Refuge. The Patuxent Research Refuge is home to six species of Milkweed. This series of blogs will introduce them to you.

Milkweed meadow on Central Tract

Milkweed meadow on Central Tract

The most easily seen species of milkweed is the Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca L.). It grows in open fields and along the side of roads throughout. There are a number of them planted by the North Tract Contact Station. The largest patch of it is under the Pepco powerlines on the Central Tract. (Click here for more details.)

 

Close-up of flowers

Close-up of flowers

The Common Milkweed is found throughout Eastern North America from Southern Canada on the north, along the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to North Carolina and northen Georgia on the east, and to the Great Plains as far west as Texas and Oklahoma. It occurs in a wide range of habitats from floodplains to dry sandy areas and waste fields. It prefers sunny locations over shade.

Chemicals in the milkweed make the larva and adult Monarch’s flesh distasteful to most predators. In addition to the Monarch, it is attractive to the milkweed bug, various other pollinators and insects.

Milkweed bugs

Milkweed bugs

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Adult nectaring on swamp milkweed

(Click here to see a blog of Monarchs at various life stages)

 

Milkweed by Wildlife Loop near Old Forge Bridge

Milkweed by Wildlife Loop near Old Forge Bridge

Milkweed in habit

Milkweed in habit

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25 July 2015 – Japanese Stilt Grass

Photo above: Close-up of inflorescence – 18 September 2010.

Close up of leaf - 8 September 2010


Close up of leaf
Notice the whitish stripe along the middle
– 8 September 2010

Japanese stilt grass (Microstegium vimineum (Trin.) A. Camus) is a common invasive plant from Asia that has spread to 26 states. Infestations of it can alter native plant communities, change and suppress native insects, and slow plant succession. The good news is that the removal of it can lead to a recovery of native plants.

It is found throughout the refuge, especially along roads and trails, and in adjacent woods. The whitish stripe along the middle of the leaf is an easy way to distinguish this grass from other species such as the rosette grasses (Dichanthelium ssp.), white grass (Leersia virginica,) and small carp grass (Arthraxon hispidus).

In habit <br>- 25 September 2015


In habit
– 25 September 2015

Japanese stilt grass is an annual that blooms in late summer and goes to seed soon after. So mowing or weed-whacking infestation before it blooms can be an effective strategy to reduce its seed bank. The seed bank can remain viable for up to five years, so persistence is necessary to get a handle on controlling it. Both pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides can be effective if applied appropriately.


Contrast between mowed and unmowed areas
along Wildlife Loop
– 25 July 2015

 

 

 

This is an example of how effective mowing an infestation next to a road can be. In this case, a strip about 6 feet wide was mowed in early July and the mowed portion has already started to die back. If the infestation would have been done closer to flowering time, mowing it then could be even more effective.

 

25 July 2015 - After mowing


After mowing
– 25 July 2015

 

 

 

This is an close-up of die-back after mowing.

 

 

6 August 2010 - Infestation in the woods


Infestation in the woods
– 6 August 2010

 

It spreads from roads to the woods. It is shade tolerant and this makes it an opportunist, meaning that it will take over in places where plants are not growing. The white-tailed deer is an effective vector for spreading the seeds. Consideration to limiting human activity  in infested areas should be considered during flowering and seeding time.

18 September 2010 - Along Bald Eagle Drive


Along Bald Eagle Drive
– 18 September 2010

 

 

 

One of the easiest places to see Japanese stilt grass is along Bald Eagle Drive where it is present on both sides of the road.

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

Bauer, J.T. and Flory, S.L. 2011. Suppression of the woodland herb Senna hebecarpa by the invasive grass Microstegium vimineum. American Midland Naturalist. 165:105-115.

Flory, S.L. and K. Clay. 2009. Invasive plant removal method determines native plant community responses. Journal of Applied Ecology. 4:434-442.

Flory, S.L. 2010. Management of Microstegium vimineum invasions and recovery of resident plant communities. Restoration Ecology. 18:103-112

Flory, S.L. and K. Clay. 2010. Non-native grass invasion alters native plant composition in experimental communities. Biological Invasions 12:1285-1294

Knight TM, Dunn JL, Smith LA, Davis J, Kalisz S (2009) Deer facilitate invasive plant success in a Pennsylvania forest understory. Nat Areas J 29:110–116

National Park Service. Japanese Stilt Grass. http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/pubs/midatlantic/mivi.htm (accessed 27 July 2015.)

Nature Conservancy. The invasive Japanese stiltgrass can be protected against, with care. http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/indiana/journeywithnature/japanese-stiltgrass.xml (accessed 27 July 2015)

Simao, M.C., S.L. Flory, and J.A. Rudgers. 2010. Experimental plant invasion reduces arthropod abundance and richness across multiple trophic levels. Oikos 119:1553-1562.

USDA, NRCS. 2012. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 19 August 2012). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. (accessed 27 July 2015)

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ABOVE PHOTO: A view of Schafer Lake with water lilies

(Click on the thumbnails below for full views.)

DSC01426The objective today was to find the Sundew that had been reported as occurring on the Schafer Farm section of the Refuge’s Central Tract. I had heard that it was next to a pond that I had not been to before. The species had been reported to be the Spoon-leaf Sundew (Drosera intermedia). I just had to check it out.

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After plugging the Sundew’s geo-coordinates that I received from Zach Cravens, a Refuge staff member, into my GPS, I set out for the location. The hike to the location took me in an eastward direction from the open field where I parked my jeep, along a small man-made lake, and then across a swampy area. The swampy area looked like a variant of a floodplain swamp. Cash Run, the outlet stream of Cash Lake, flows north through the swamp on its way to the Patuxent River. The area subject to flooding in heavy rains.

DSC01434As I emerged on the east side of the swamp floodplain, I noticed a fairly large pond and determined it must be the pond where the Sundew was reportedly located. I hiked around the south edge of the pond and encountered a boggy area that was full of various types of sedges and rushes as well as other types of plants one would expect to see in such a habitat. The area was slightly above the water level of the pond but the ground water was percolating up and flowed into the pond. This might be an interesting place to make a plant species inventory some time. I carefully scanned the area but did not see any Sundew.

DSC01436My hike continued along the east side of the pond and then to the north side. Although this side of the pond did not have groundwater percolating up, but there was sphagnum moss right next to the pond. BINGO, I spotted some Sundew. It was growing in several dense clusters at almost regular intervals some distance above the waterline. Sigh, it looked like Round-leaf Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia), and not Drosera intermedia. The leaves were mostly wider than long, although some specimens had dried leaves from the previous year which appeared to be longer than wide. I can see how someone might confuse the two species. It is also possible that someone may have planted the Sundew here because it was occurring in pine needle litter, a place where one normally would not expect to see it, and because it occurred at regular intervals.

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In between the parking spot and the Sundew Pond I collected a few vouchers and took pictures, some of which you can see below.

 

 

Floodplain Swamp

Floodplain Swamp

Floodplain Swamp

Floodplain Swamp

Schafer Lake with water lilies

Schafer Lake with water lilies

Bartonia

Bartonia

Bartonia

Bartonia

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2 July 2015 – Mushroom Cornucopia!!!

(Photo above – the twelve different types of mushrooms collected today)

Click on the thumbnails below for full views.)

Mushroom 1 - Bolete?

Mushroom 1 – Bolete?

After all the rain we have received this past several days, the mushrooms on the Refuge were popping up all over, a real cornucopia. So, today I decided to look for as many different kinds as I could. I ended up with twelve different species, all of which you can see below. I am not a mycologist (fungus expert), so I don’t know the names of these off hand. So, I will be having fun figuring out what I found. Some of these are cool looking. If you happen to know any of the species, let me know.

Mushroom 1 - Bolete?

Mushroom 1 – Bolete?

The mushrooms I collected will be dried and process for inclusion in the Refuge’s herbarium.

Mushroom 1 - Bolete?

Mushroom 1 – Bolete?

Mushroom 02

Mushroom 02

Mushroom 02

Mushroom 02

Mushroom 03

Mushroom 03

Mushroom 03

Mushroom 03

Mushroom 03

Mushroom 03

Mushroom 04

Mushroom 04

Mushroom 04

Mushroom 04

Mushroom 04

Mushroom 04

Mushroom 05

Mushroom 05

Mushroom 05

Mushroom 05

Mushroom 05

Mushroom 05

Mushroom 06 - Cantharellus cinnabarinus

Mushroom 06 – Cantharellus cinnabarinus

Mushroom 06 - Cantharellus cinnabarinus

Mushroom 06 – Cantharellus cinnabarinus

Mushroom 06 - Cantharellus cinnabarinus

Mushroom 06 – Cantharellus cinnabarinus

Mushroom 07

Mushroom 07

Mushroom 07

Mushroom 07

Mushroom 07

Mushroom 07

Mushroom 08

Mushroom 08

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Mushroom 09

Mushroom 09

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Mushroom 09

Mushroom 09

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Mushroom 10

Mushroom 10

Mushroom 10

Mushroom 10

Mushroom 11 - Dictydiaethalium plumbeum

Mushroom 11 – Tubifera ferruginosa

Mushroom 11 - Dictydiaethalium plumbeum

Mushroom 11 – Tubifera ferruginosa

Mushroom 12

Mushroom 12

Mushroom 12

Mushroom 12

Mushroom 12

Mushroom 12

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27 June 2015 – Eastern Mud Turtle

DSC01252Rain was the theme of the day at the Refuge today. I drove around a bit to see what was going on, and came across another turtle trying to cross the road. This time it was a male Eastern Mud Turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum.) Mud turtles prefer to spend their time in water or moist locations, but I assumed this little guy might have been looking for a mate and the rainy weather probably helped him feel comfortable on land.

DSC01253The Eastern Mud Turtle is found in the pine barrens of Long Island and New Jersey on the North to the coastal plain regions of Florida and Alabama on the South. In Maryland, they are found all but the two most western counties. They are a shy species preferring to hide themselves in water and in moist humus. That is why it was lucky that I saw this little guy crossing the road.

DSC01255They are omnivores, and will eat crayfish, insects, crustaceans, mollusks, amphibians, carrion, and aquatic vegetation.

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26 June 2015 – Welchs Bog

(Click on the thumbnails below for full views.)


General view of Bog

General view of Bog

Spent about 3.5 hours on the refuge today. My main task was to locate the boggy area just north of the “Savanna” off of Sweet Gum Lane. I did not know what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised. The topography of this bog is steeper than most of the bogs on the refuge, and as a result, the water was flowing rapidly.

Closer view of vegetation

Closer view of vegetation

 

The bog is a variant of the Red Maple Acidic Seepage Swamp (CEGL006238) plant community. The striking thing about the bog at this location Chestnut Oak plant community which surrounds it. The bog feeds a creek called Welch’s Creek and we call this wetland Welch’s Bog as a result.

Chestnut Oak leaves

Chestnut Oak leaves

 

 

Some of the plant species seen in this bog include Sweet Bay Magnolia, Black Gum, Cinnamon Fern, Royal Fern, American Holly, Paw Paw, Skunk Cabbage, Netted Chain Fern, New York Fern, Carex folliculata, Vaccinium sp., and Indian Cucumber.

Sweet Bay Magnolia

Sweet Bay Magnolia

 

 

 

 

The bog continued on down the hill for some distance. However, I did not have time to investigate further. Future forays to this bog will be undertaken.

Cinnamon Fern

Cinnamon Fern

Royal Fern

Royal Fern

American Holly

American Holly

Paw Paw

Paw Paw

Skunk Cabbage

Skunk Cabbage

Netted Chain Fern

Netted Chain Fern

Indian Cucumber

Indian Cucumber

New York Fern

New York Fern

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26 June 2015 – Plants are Wildlife Too

We are in print – The Friends of Patuxent Newsletter, Summer 2015, Page 3. Check it out. (Click on picture for full view.) Friends of Patuxent - Summer 2015 p3.pdf

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