Plant Highlights


~ Plant Highlights ~   New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus) is a low-growing, native shrub that can be found throughout most of the eastern half of the U.S. It is an interesting plant from both an ecological standpoint and from a historical / ethnobotanical standpoint. In the wild, New Jersey […]

New Jersey Tea


~ Plant Highlights ~ Sweet goldenrod (Solidago odora) is one of the over 30 species of goldenrods native to Kentucky according to the USDA Plant Database. This species of goldenrod is also native to most of the eastern U.S. (sorry Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Maine – it’s not native in […]

Sweet Goldenrod


~ Plant Highlights ~   The springbeauty (Claytonia virginica) is native to most of the eastern half of North America. It can be found growing in rich, moist woods and occasionally in semi-shaded lawns that don’t get mowed early in the season. Springbeauties prefer rich soils full of organic matter […]

Springbeauty



~ Plant Highlights ~   The American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is a medium-sized tree that is native to most of the eastern half of the U.S. It grows in full sun and a wide variety of soils. The dark green leaves are your stereotypical “leaf shape” so aren’t much help […]

American Persimmon


~ Plant Highlights ~   Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) is native to most of the eastern half of the U.S. In the wild, this shrub is often found along streambanks, woods edges, rocky slopes, and moist open areas. Although it is often found naturally in medium to moist locations, once established, […]

Ninebark


~ Plant Highlights ~   Scaly blazing star (Liatris squarrosa) is native to much of the U.S. and is one of approximately 10 species of blazing stars that are native to Kentucky. It grows naturally in sunny, open areas with thin, rocky or sandy soils. Scaly blazing star tends to […]

Scaly Blazing Star



~ Plant Highlights ~   The American hazelnut (Corylus americana) is native throughout much of the eastern two thirds of the U.S. It grows in full sun to part shade, but produces more nuts in full sun, and will tolerate a wide variety of soils. This native shrub often forms […]

American Hazelnut


~ Plant Highlights ~   Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) is a tall shrub / small tree native to most of the eastern U.S. It grows naturally in open, disturbed sites and may form dense colonies or clumps. Note: Staghorn sumac and poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) are two different plants. They […]

Staghorn Sumac


~ Plant Highlights ~   Virgin’s bower (Clematis virginiana) is a native vine that grows throughout much of the eastern two thirds of the country. As the scientific name suggests, this is a native clematis and related to the exotic clematises that are common in the horticulture trade. In the […]

Virgin’s Bower



~ Plant Highlights ~   Joe-pye weeds are tall, native wildflowers that produce a large, pink cluster of flowers in the late summer / fall. Five species of joe-pye weeds (Eutrochium sp.) can be found in the eastern U.S. The three most common species are hollow joe-pye weed (Eutrochium fistulosa), […]

Joe-pye Weed


~ Plant Highlights ~   Shrubby St. John’s wort (Hypericum prolificum) is a native shrub throughout most of the eastern half of the U.S. It can be 2-5 feet tall and grows in a wide variety of soils. It grows in full sun to partial shade, but prefers more sun. […]

Shrubby St. John’s Wort


~ Plant Highlights ~   Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is a perennial wildflower native to most of the eastern 2/3 of the U.S. In the wild it is found in open prairies and meadows. It is also commonly planted in prairie restoration sites or similar settings and has become a […]

Purple Coneflower



~ Plant Highlights ~   The common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) is a native wildflower in most of the U.S. It is found naturally in sunny fields, roadsides, prairies, and disturbed areas. Common evening primrose can also be grown in the garden as a native wildflower. It is a biennial, […]

Common Evening Primrose


~ Plant Highlights ~   Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans) is one of our native, ephemeral wildflowers. It grows in rich, open woodlands throughout much of the eastern U.S. It is a relatively short plant, only growing to around a foot tall. The leaves are compound and are said to resemble […]

Jacob’s Ladder


~ Plant Highlights ~   The eastern columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is a perennial wildflower native to much of the eastern U.S. It often grows in rocky or sandy soils and in open woods. Columbines are perennials, but will also readily self-seed if the conditions are favorable. Their self-seeding ability means […]

Eastern Columbine



~ Plant Highlights ~   The rough-leafed dogwood (Cornus drummondii) is one of five species of dogwoods native to Kentucky. It can be found growing in thickets, open woodlands, edges of fields or creeks, and savannahs. Rough-leafed dogwoods can grow 15-20 feet tall and will often send up new shoots […]

Rough-leafed Dogwood


~ Plant Highlights ~   Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is a common and much-hated native plant that can be found throughout the eastern half of the continent. It seems to grow pretty much anywhere and the allergic reactions it can cause are infamous. However, no matter how much we may […]

Poison Ivy


~ Plant Highlight ~   The American holly (Ilex opaca) is a native evergreen tree that grows throughout much of the eastern half of the country. In the wild, it can be found growing in rich, well-drained (but not super dry), slightly acidic soils. It prefers mostly sunny areas, but […]

American Holly



~ Plant Highlights ~   Short’s aster (Symphyotrichum shortii) is a native wildflower that can be found in Kentucky, Tennessee, and most of the surrounding states. It’ll grow to about 3 feet tall. The upper portion of the stem and upper leaves have tiny, stiff hairs that give the plant […]

Short’s Aster


~ Plant Highlight ~   White wingstem (Verbesina virginica), a.k.a. white crownbeard, a.k.a. frostweed, a.k.a. frostflower, is a native, fall-blooming, perennial wildflower. White wingstem blooms from Aug. through Oct. in Kentucky, and grows in medium to slightly moist, open woodlands and fields. It can reach over 5 feet tall. Honey […]

White Wingstem


~ Plant Highlight ~   Cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum) is a tall wildflower that is native to Kentucky and much of the eastern U.S. It commonly grows 4-6 feet tall and has been known to grow even taller in ideal conditions. Once established, cup plant spreads both by seeds and […]

Cup plant



~ Plant Highlight ~   Goldenrods (Solidago spp.) are in the aster family – the same family as daisies, sunflowers, and asters. The USDA Plants Database lists 33 species of goldenrods that are native to Kentucky. Two of those species, the white-haired goldenrod (Solidago albopilosa) and Short’s goldenrod (Solidago shortii) […]

Goldenrods


~ Plant Highlights ~   Passionflower (Passiflora incarnate) is a deciduous vine native to most of the eastern U.S. and a few states west of the Mississippi River. It is often found trailing along the ground or climbing up nearby vegetation in sunny areas. The passionflower is the state wildflower of […]

Passionflower


~ Plant Highlight ~   The grey-headed coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) is a perennial wildflower native to most of the eastern U.S. It grows naturally in dry prairies and barrens. Grey-headed coneflowers have also become a favorite addition to prairie restoration areas, pollinator plantings, and wildflower gardens. Another common name for […]

Grey-headed Coneflower



~ Plant Highlight ~   Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is a deciduous shrub native to the eastern half of the U.S. It can be found growing naturally along creeks, ponds, lakes, and other fairly wet areas. Buttonbush can also be grown as a native ornamental in mostly sunny areas where the […]

Buttonbush


~ Plant Highlights ~   Slender mountain mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium) is one of nine species of mountain mints native to Kentucky. Mountain mints are in the mint family, but despite their name are not restricted to mountainous regions. They can be found growing throughout the state and many of the […]

Slender Mountain Mint


~ Plant Highlight ~   False indigo bush (Amorpha fruticosa) is a member of the legume or pea family. It is native to Kentucky and much of the eastern U.S. The leaves look very similar to the leaves of black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) which is also in the pea family. […]

False Indigo Bush



~ Plant Highlight ~   Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is also commonly known as blue giant hyssop and lavender hyssop. Occasionally, it will also be called by the name of its genus, Agastache. Anise hyssop is a perennial wildflower native to Kentucky, although it is much more common in the […]

Anise Hyssop


~ Plant Highlight ~   Lance-leaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) is native to most of the continental U.S. It is one of eight species of coreopsis native to Kentucky and is the species that is the most common. Other names for lance-leaf coreopsis include tickseed and sand coreopsis. The name tickseed […]

Lance-Leaf Coreopsis


~ Plant Highlight ~   Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) is one of 13 milkweed species native to Kentucky. It can be from 3-6 feet tall, but 3-4 feet is more common. Swamp milkweed has clusters of pink flowers that bloom from June through August, depending on the plant and whether […]

Swamp Milkweed



~ Plant Highlight ~   Black locusts (Robinia pseudoacacia) are tall trees native to the Appalachian region and parts of the Ozarks, but they have been widely planted across the U.S. and in parts of Canada. They have even been imported to other parts of the world where they are […]

Black Locusts


~ Plant Highlight ~   The highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) is a native to many parts of the eastern U.S. including Kentucky. It is a tall shrub that can be found growing in sunny locations that typically have relatively moist, but well drained, acidic soil. The highbush blueberry is also […]

Highbush Blueberry


~ Plant Highlight ~   The flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is a small tree or tall shrub native to much of the eastern U.S. It is probably the most familiar of our native dogwoods and is the one that most people are referring to when they say “dogwood.” In addition […]

Flowering Dogwood



~ Plant Highlight ~   There are over 20 different species of violets native to Kentucky and the surrounding states. Probably the most common of these species is the common blue violet (Viola sororia). The common blue violet grows in a wide range of habitats including meadows, parks, open woods, […]

Common Blue Violet


~ Plant Highlight ~   Serviceberries (Amelanchier spp.) are small trees or large shrubs that typically grow to around 10-15 feet tall, but occasionally can be taller. There are multiple different species of serviceberry throughout the U.S. and Canada. In fact, every state except for Hawaii has a native species […]

Serviceberry


~ Plant Highlight ~   Eastern redbuds (Cercis canadensis) are small trees or tall shrubs that are native to much of the eastern U.S. In the early spring, redbuds produce clusters of pink flowers. Redbuds bloom before the leaves have started to appear on most trees and their pretty pink […]

Redbuds



~ Plant Highlight ~   Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is a native shrub that is commonly found in rich, moist woods throughout Kentucky. It blooms in the early spring, usually March or April, before its leaves appear. The small yellow flowers are grouped in clusters along the branches. Spicebush is a […]

Spicebush


~ Plant Highlight ~   Elms are deciduous trees and many species can be found in different parts of the world. In Kentucky, we have four species of native elms – the American elm (Ulmus americana), slippery elm (U. rubra), winged elm (U. alata), and rock elm (U. thomasii). Other […]

Elms


~ Plant Highlight ~   Different species of willow can be found throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere. There are several species native to Kentucky and several exotic species can be found growing as ornamentals. The pussy willow (Salix discolor) is perhaps our most familiar native willow, even though it […]

Pussy Willow



~ Plant Highlight ~   February is a busy month in Kentucky. Regardless of what the groundhog says, it is the transition between winter and spring. It is when we are most likely to have our major snow and ice storms, often right before or after a string of spring-like […]

Red maples


~ Plant Highlight ~   Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) is one of several milkweed species native to Kentucky and the eastern U.S. It is a perennial and relatively easy to identify because it is our only orange milkweed. Unlike other milkweed species, this one lacks the characteristic milky sap. Butterfly […]

Butterfly Milkweed


~ Plant Highlight ~ The American beech (Fagus grandifolia) is a tall, deciduous tree that is native to the eastern U.S. It is the only beech tree native to North America. Other beech species are native to Europe and are sometimes planted as ornamentals. However, when most people in the […]

American Beech



~ Plant Highlight ~   In March, backyards and fields can turn purple when viewed from a distance. The source of this purple hue are species in the genus Lamium. Our most common Lamium species are purple deadnettle (L. purpureum), henbit deadnettle (L. amplexicaule), and henbit (L. maculatum). Henbits and […]

Henbit and Deadnettle


~ Plant Highlight ~ Several species of chickweeds (Stellaria spp.) can be found in Kentucky and the surrounding states. The most common species are common chickweed (S. media) and star chickweed (S. pubera). Common chickweed is an exotic introduced from Europe. It is commonly found in yards and other disturbed […]

Chickweed


~ Plant Highlight ~ Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus) is a deciduous shrub that is native to most of the eastern half of the U.S. It typically grows 2-4 feet tall and is most commonly found in semi-open woods. Coralberry blooms during the summer, but the flowers are not very showy and […]

Coralberry



Jack-in-the-pulpits (Arisaema triphyllum) are native to much of the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. and grow in moist, rich woodlands. In Kentucky, they typically bloom in April and May. Their flowers aren’t very showy compared to some of our other spring wildflowers, but they have a unique shape. They also […]

Jack-in-the-Pulpit and Its Tricky Pollination Method


Many of you are probably wondering what I mean by “when helping the bees hurts.” Am I talking about getting stung? While I agree getting stung wouldn’t feel good, that’s not what I am talking about. What I am talking about is much more complex and the “hurt” can have […]

When “Helping the Bees” Hurts


Eastern redbuds (Cercis canadensis) are small trees or tall shrubs that are native to much of the eastern U.S. In the early spring, redbuds produce clusters of pink flowers. Redbuds bloom before the leaves have started to appear on most trees and their pretty pink flowers can often be spotted […]

Redbuds – A Beautiful and Early Source of Nectar and ...



The warmer than normal winter this year combined with the really warm weather the last couple of weeks means lots and lots of plants are blooming. The maple bloom is especially strong this year. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the red maple trees were when I arrived home last week […]

Maples – repost


Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are perhaps one of the first wildflowers that many of us learned to identify. Their cheery yellow flowers bring dots of color to yards and other open areas. The puffball seed heads bring joy and laughter to kids everywhere. However, many homeowners view them as an evil […]

Dandelions – Not an Evil Weed to be Destroyed on ...





Devil’s walking stick (Aralia spinosa) is a small tree or tall shrub that is native to the eastern U.S. It is often found growing along the edges of forests or in open woodlands. Devil’s walking stick can be a very important plant for honey bees, native bees, and butterflies. From […]

Devil’s Walking Stick




I was first introduced to buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) when I was in college. It quickly became one of my favorite wetland shrubs because I thought the flowers were interesting and it is an important plant for wildlife. As my interest in pollinators has grown, I’ve gained a new reason to […]

Buttonbush – A beautiful wetland shrub that pollinators love


The tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), a.k.a. yellow poplar, tulip tree, or tulip magnolia, is a common and important part of our forests. Despite the name, tulip poplars aren’t poplars. Instead, the tulip poplar is in the magnolia family and is part of a genus that only has two species – […]

Tulip poplars – A source of abundant nectar and pollen ...




“Everything seems to be blooming early this year,” has been a common observation over the last month. I’ve made it and so have many of my friends and colleagues. But memories, especially casual observations from a year or more ago, can be tricky. That’s why many people who are interested […]

Tracking the Blooms


In March, backyards and fields can turn purple when viewed from a distance. The source of this purple hue are species in the genus Lamium. Our most common Lamium species are purple deadnettle (L. purpureum), henbit deadnettle (L. amplexicaule), and henbit (L. maculatum). Henbits and deadnettles look similar. Both have […]

Fields of Purple Equal an Early Source of Nectar and ...


February is a busy month in Kentucky. Regardless of what the groundhog says, it is the transition between winter and spring. It is when we are most likely to have our major snow and ice storms – often right before or after a string of spring-like 70 degree days. It is also […]

Maples – Some of our Earliest Blooming Trees



It’s Dec. 1 and many people’s thoughts are turning to holiday traditions. Christmas trees and other decorations are going up in homes, businesses, and cities across the state. Sprigs of mistletoe are scattered among those decorations, often above doorways in the hope of inspiring a holiday kiss. American mistletoe (Phoradendron […]

American Mistletoe – A holiday plant enjoyed by late foraging ...


It’s the time of year when almost everything has stopped blooming. If I look hard enough, I might be able to find a few clover, dandelion, or smartweed blossoms left. The crazy cold, then warm weather has also tricked our lilac into putting out a few blooms. However, for the […]

American Witch Hazel: The Last Flowers of the Year


What I refer to as the fall asters are actually multiple species within the genus Symphyotrichum. Most of these asters have either white or purple flowers with yellow centers. A few of the common fall asters in Kentucky are New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae),  frostweed aster (Symphyotrichum pilosum),  calico aster […]

Fall asters provide late season boost to pollinators



A couple of weeks ago I talked about goldenrods. They are some of the first fall flowers and quickly attract our attention with their brilliant yellow blossoms. Over the last week, another group of fall flowers has started blooming alongside the goldenrods. These flat-topped clusters of white flowers are known as […]

Thoroughworts and bonesets – The white flowers of fall


Growing up, I wasn’t a fan of goldenrods. They were that yellow weed that made people sneeze and meant it was time to go back to school. Now I have a much greater appreciation for goldenrods (and I know they don’t make you sneeze). In fact, they have become one […]

The goldenrods are blooming!


The black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is a native wildflower that belongs to a group of flowers called the coneflowers. The coneflowers include popular wildflowers like the black-eyed susans, brown-eyed susans, purple coneflower, grey-headed coneflower, and many others. Coneflowers are semi-drought tolerant and bloom during the summer. In Kentucky, Black-eyed susans bloom […]

Black-eyed Susan: A favorite nectar source for butterflies



Common milkweed in bloom.
Our common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is in full bloom and the pollinators are loving it. In the early morning, it is covered in beetles, ants, and small native bees. As the sun comes up a little higher, the larger native bees and honeybees arrive at the patch. Finally, as the […]

Milkweed