NATIVE  NOTES

Kate’s Mountain clover

    Bill Grafton – Editor                                                                     Daniel Grafton –Assistant

WEST VIRGINIA NATIVE PLANT SOCIETY NEWSLETTER

Volume 14:2                                                            OCTOBER 2006

Sept. 22 – 24 Annual Meeting @ Point Pleasant

The 2006 Annual Meeting in Point Pleasant offered the opportunity to learn more about the plants along the Ohio River Valley.  We also learned a little about the stern-wheelers of Tom Sawyer’s day, the 1st battle of the Revolutionary War (Virginia militia vs Shawnee Indians), and the more modern Mothman.  There was a very nice statue of Mothman in the downtown area and similar statues of Andrew Lewis and Chief Cornstalk the two combatants at the Battle of Point Pleasant on the river front.

Our Saturday field trips took us to Green Bottom and McClintic Wildlife Management Areas that featured open fields and numerous wetlands and the Sunday morning trip was to Winfield Wetlands with a boardwalk financed by American Electric Co. and Toyota.  There were lots of interesting plants in each of these 3 areas and some will be listed later in this newsletter.

Some members chose to stay at the historic Lowe Hotel while others stayed at the “dog barn” at McClintic.  Everyone seemed to have an enjoyable time despite the threat of heavy rains and flash floods.  We did indeed escape the heavy rains and only had to endure a few showers on Saturday and steady rains on Sunday morning.

Highlights of the business meeting:

Financially, WVNPS has about $4700 in 2 checking accounts, $3,000 investments in “Life Members” CD, and $2,000 in additional CDs.

We will once again give members the option to receive Native Notes electronically which would save printing and postage costs.

Helen Gibbins (Chair), & Lois Kuhl and Romie Hughart were the Nominating Committee and presented the following officers and board members who were elected to terms as listed below:

President – Chad Kirschbaum : 1-year term

Vice P – Lawrence Beckerle : 1-year term

Recording Secretary – Helen Gibbins : 1-year term

Corresponding Sec – Steve Mace : 1-year term

Treasurer – Donna Ford-Werntz : 1- year term

Trustee – Bill Hall : 1 year term – remainder of Beckerle term

Trustee – Kevin Campbell : 3-year term

Past Pres. – Emily Grafton : 1-year ex-officio term

Newsletter Editor – Bill Grafton : Appointed 1-year term

          Continuing Trustee – Lois Kuhl : 2 years

          Kanawha Chapter Rep. – Chris Gatens

          Tri-State Chapter Rep. – Jeff Patton

The website is being improved. Sections to be added soon are:

History of botany in WV

Membership brochure

Chapter functions, photos and field notes (send to Jeff Patton at

jzebulon@hotmail.com

A link will be added to the US Forest Service’s website that celebrates wildflowers and exemplary wildflower/ plant communities in each national forest

Chris Gatens will be the Kanawha Chapter’s website contact

Lawrence Beckerle announced that the West Virginia Dept. of Agriculture will attempt to update the “Noxious Weed List for WV” this year.  Look for more on this further on in this newsletter.

Lawrence also announced that the “worst of the worst” committee has added Norway Maple and Winter creeper (Eounymus fortunei) to the list.  The WVNPS official list can be compared with the Dept. of Agriculture Noxious Weed information later in this Native Notes.

Membership:  Frank Porter suggested we develop a packet of information to hand out at public events.  Romie Hughart was tentatively approved to attend the  Hunting & Fishing Days at Stonewall Jackson Resort in 2007 to distribute the above packets and operate an exhibit on “poaching wildflowers”.  We also need to determine if the distribution of membership brochures and lupine seed packets at the WV Wildflower Pilgrimage in May of 2006 garnered any new members.  Frank Porter suggested that the Cedar Lakes Arts & Craft Fair could be an excellent  event to recruit members.

There was also talk of getting t-shirts with appropriate designs for sale to our members.

Mary Sansom and Lois Kuhl will write a news article on our 25th Anniversary and distribute to appropriate newspapers.

A discussion was held on what is the appropriate involvement of WVNPS in Cooperative Weed Management Area (CMWA) groups.

Special Donations:  The following were approved: $100 to the WVU and the Marshall Herbaria, $50 to the WVU Bryophyte Collection, and $100 to a wildflower kiosk on the Monongahela River Rail Trail at Morgantown.

Frank Porter (owner of Porterbrook Native Plants ) offered to arrange future field trips in Ohio at Forked Run and Shade River State Parks.  He also agreed to conduct a workshop on plant propagation at his nursery.  A local library can be used as a meeting location.  This event will be held in 2007.

The meeting was concluded with a discussion of what projects the members present would like to see implemented.

Contact Info for Officers and Native Notes

Chad Kirschbaum-Pres.            Lawrence Beckerle- VP

Wayne Natl Forest-Ironton            POB 118

6518 State Route 93                       Craigsville, WV 26205

Pedro, OH 45659              

740  534-6535 – Office PH.            304  742- 3639 Phone

cdkirschbaum@yahoo.com            lawrencebeckerle@yahoo.com

Helen Gibbins- Record. Sec.            Steve Mace-Correspond. Sec.

6128 Gideon Road                POB 808

Huntington, WV 25705               New Haven, WV 25265

304  736- 3287                          304  882- 2450

                                                cell: 304  674- 5523

gibbins@verizon.net                   sdmace@citynet.net

Donna Ford-Werntz – Treas.  Bill Grafton- Editor Nat. Notes

621 North Street               WVU, POB 6125

Morgantown, WV 26505            Morgantown, WV 26506

304  291- 5820                          304  293- 4797    X 2493

diford2@wvu.edu                     wgrafton@wvu.edu

DOLLY SODS IN THE RAIN AND FOG : September 2, 2006

By: Bill Grafton

Emily and I debated whether the 2 ½ hour drive would be worth a day in the cold rain and wind that we knew would be the weather on Dolly Sods.  The skies were showing some blue in Morgantown but by the time we arrived in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland the temperature was a chilly 55 degrees and a steady rain was falling.  We reluctantly drove on and arrived at Bear Rocks Trail (#522) on Dolly Sods where, in fact, it was cold and foggy with a steady wind. 

We pulled on our coats and boots and backpack and headed down the rocky road from the trailhead.  It was only 2 days after Ernesto (the hurricane, so lots of water was present.

We literally walked on a carpet of three-toothed cinquefoil for several hundred feet.  The dwarfed plants were already in seed which is necessary when you only have a 90 day growing season.  Low shrubs of wild raisin, smooth serviceberry, black chokeberry, early low blueberry and black huckleberry were common along the old road.  The black huckleberry was covered with ripe fruits that were excellent fare.

To add to the beauty of the heath barrens were taller clumps (6-10 feet tall) of mountain holly, mountain laurel, and Minnie-bush.  Very visible, even in the heavy fog, were the golden spikes of bog goldenrod flowers.

Along the road edges were dense clumps of crinkle grass and Allegheny flyback grass.

The first half-mile was down hill to an unnamed tributary of Red Creek.

Open bogs and swampy thickets straddled the stream.  Yellowish brown leafless stalks of yellow Bartonia were frequent; sticking their heads above the fading sedge leaves, hispid dewberry, and running clubmoss.  In more open areas, were the bright showy red capsules and tiny golden yellow flowers of Canadian St. John’s-wort.  The abundant small cranberry plants were covered with whitish green fruits on long stems that will be certainly be ripe in another 2 ½  months, in time for Thanksgiving.  Patches of bluejoint grass dominated small areas and many spots were flattened by the wind and rain of Ernesto.

Open sphagnum bogs showed white puffs of cottongrass, yellow spikes of bog goldenrod, and whitish blue flowers of the rare narrowleaf gentian.  Thickets of black chokeberry with shiny red and black fruits and the bright red fruits of wild holly (Nemopanthus mucronata) hung on their 1-inch stalks.  We also frequently caught the strong pungent odor of wild raisin wafting on the damp air. 

The area along this small stream is a fascinating mixture of bogs, openings, thickets and dense dark green stately spires of red spruce.  Clumps of mountain rosebay were scattered among the large shrubs and brought back memories of the showy deep pink flowers in late May and June of this unusual azalea that flourishes up to 4000 feet elevation.  The glade St. John’s-wort still had a few fuzzy yellow flowers but was mostly the small 3-5 mm long capsules.  Several patches of sprawling yellowish green stems and bladdery perigynia seeds of Carex folliculata-Northern long sedge gave a psychedelic look to their small niche of the landscape.

This small stream was lower and the thickets and red spruce blocked the wind so we felt warmer and the fog was more dense.  We now headed westward over the ridge toward Red Creek.  The trail passed through open hardwood forests of stunted and limby beech, black cherry, red maple with a scattered understory of striped maple and beech root sprouts.  There were also large patches of hay scented fern and Allegheny flyback (Danthonia compressa).

Near the top of the ridge we broke into a more open landscape with scattered red maple, beech, black cherry and red spruce outlined in the ghostly fog.  Shrubby clumps of black chokeberry in heavy fruit were common along with patches of velvetleaf  and early low blueberries with virtually no fruits left on the stems. Bears, birds and humans had enjoyed the bountiful harvest earlier.  Only the masses of black huckleberry fruits remained and each tug could easily collect 6-10 delicious, but seedy, fruits.  It was tempting to eat and forget the haunting though faint roar of Red Creek about ½ mile down the hill.  The open hillside was covered with triangular bracken ferns, dense yellow green patches of hay-scented ferns, early low blueberry (green and blue leaf forms), and tree clubmosses.  Scattered among the patches were also the rough leafy vines of trailing arbutus, running clubmoss, teaberry and a few cow-wheat plants with their delicate yellowish white flowers.

Halfway down the hill was a springy seep that was perfect habitat for the rare American mannagrass (Glyceria grandis), cinnamon fern, mannagrass (Glyceria melicaria), and nodding sedge (Carex gynandra).

As we neared Red Creek, we intersected the Dobbin Grade Trail.  Below this trail were lush meadows, swales and seeps.

A small patch of broad-leaved cattails lined one swale. Silky willow, quaking aspen, and glade St. John’s-wort were common shrubs in this area.  Bog goldenrod was common, and narrowleaf gentian and cottongrass still provided a colorful landscape.  The sphagnum moss was deeper and wetter.  Two new and unusual plants found here were elliptic-leaved St. John’s-wort and the round-leaved sundew

Finally we reached Red Creek which was about 10 feet wide and could easily have been crossed but we turned back to tackle another trail.  Red Creek is laden with the tannic acid of “blackwater streams” and had neat patches of foam lining the bank of pools.  One final photograph of Red Creek and it was time to retrace our steps.

But it is often a small world and thus along the trail we met Fred and Carol McCullough, members of The Brooks bird Club.  They were hiking because the bad weather had “closed the nets” on the bird banding station.

Nature and naturalists: a great way to end a hike on Dolly Sods.

The next trail on our list was the always popular Blackbird Knob Trail (#511).  The trailhead is very close to the Red Creek campground and the first few hundred feet are on a nice boardwalk through a dense wet thicket.  The thicket is composed of speckled alder, black chokeberry, mountain rosebay and glade St. John’s-wort.  The purple-stem aster was just beginning to bloom and the wrinkleleaf goldenrod was at its prime while the cinnamon ferns were turning yellowish brown.

At the end of the boardwalk we encountered an open forest on a slightly sloping hillside.  Trees were black cherry, red maple, and red spruce with a shrubby understory of mountain holly, hawthorn, witch-hazel, and smooth gooseberry.  Numerous patches of hay-scented fern, interrupted fern, Allegheny flyback, white flat-topped aster, and grass-leaved goldenrod filled the open gaps between the trees.

The first half-mile of Blackbird Knob trail is extremely rocky and has many flat muddy areas.  As we climbed the hill, we encountered several groves of red pine and red spruce plantations.  After skipping from rock to rock and walking in the mud we reached the summit and encountered a beautiful heath barren stretching westward.  Also the temperature was now comfortable and the sun even popped through the clouds once in a while.  The fog had burned off or blown away and the day was becoming very nice.  The magic of Dolly Sods still amazes me.

Clumps of 6-10 feet tall shrubs of black chokeberry, mountain rosebay, wild raisin, scrub oak, and Minnie-bush dotted the landscape as did shorter colonies of velvetleaf and early low blueberries.  Bracken fern, running clubmoss, hay-scented and interrupted ferns were very common.  The yellowish strobili (cones) of the clubmosses added color as did the somewhat similar yellow Bartonia.  The yellow spikes of bog goldenrod stood like sentinels and the half ripe small cranberry fruits sure made me think of a roast turkey dinner.  Other neat plants were hispid dewberry, Canadian St. John’s-wort, crinklegrass, and teaberry.

The trail next crossed a very rocky and muddy swale where we saw a wild holly (Nemopanthus mucronata) literally red with fruits, very lush growth of bog goldenrods, and vigorous nodding sedges with their pendulous seeds.  Also of interest were small groves of quaking and bigtooth aspens growing within a few feet of each other.  Mountainash were covered with light reddish berries in large flat clusters that will put on a real show in another month.  We also spotted a single balsam fir sapling that was free of the deadly Balsam Woolly adelgid insect.

The next leg of the trail was down the long dry slope to Alder Run.  The trail was quite smooth and there were constant vistas to the west.  At the bottom we found the 8 foot wide Alder Run in a pure grove of pole-sized black cherry that were moderately infected by the black knot disease.

We easily crossed Alder Run and followed the trail through a dense forest to the open top of the ridge.  Along the way were millions of fresh leaves scattered across the forest floor.  Obviously they had suffered the wrath of Ernesto’s winds.  I spotted a familiar leaf and was very surprised to locate a tulip poplar tree growing at an estimated  3700 feet elevation.  The ridge summit was quite open with large 20-30 foot circular clumps of early low blueberry, hay-scented fern, and Allegheny flyback.  Note:  Have you wondered about  this Allegheny flyback grass??  The story is that the very tough stems of the grass, defied the sharp scythe blade of pioneer farmers who tried to cut it for winter hay.  Even a sharp scythe would slide over top of the grass and the grass would fly back upright .  There were numerous plants of spreading dogbane, whose wonderfully fragrant flowers are a midsummer treat and aromatic treasure.

We reached Red Creek, which was much larger than where we found it 3 miles upstream on Bear Rocks Trail.  Here, we were in a dense red spruce forest with lots of Rhododendron and mountain laurel  in the shrub layer.  Red Creek would be much more formidable to cross but people were up to the challenge as witnessed by tents on the opposite side of the creek. 

For us, it was time to head back to our car and loose our thoughts in memories of “blackwater”, white rocks, heath barrens and fog.

May you and future generations enjoy Dolly Sods as we have so many times!!!

Breathed Mountain Trail (#553)    September 9, 2006

Many trails of the Dolly Sods area are now easily reached by driving Forest Service Road 80, which is a continuation of Freeland Run Road in Canaan valley.  The road was in terrible condition a few years ago.  An amazing transformation occurred when the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge decided to put “our tax dollars to work” and the road is now a smooth gravel surface that is easily driven in any sedan vehicle.

At the end of Forest Road 80 is a small parking lot but no trail signs.  Fortunately for us and a couple from Pennsylvania, a bear hunter was training his dogs and knew where the trails were located.

We continued on out the road (walking mode) another mile or so to a low gap where there was a kiosk with a nice map and trailhead signs for Breathed Mountain, Big Stonecoal and Cabin Mountain Trails.

The weather was nice, the ravens soared overhead and croaked their “caw caw” notes, as we headed down Breathed Mountain Trail (#553).  The first mile or so of the trail is rugged with lots of boulders and roots to walk on or around.  The forest is typical red spruce and northern hardwoods with dense mountain laurel shrubs and occasional breaks of heath barrens and small boggy areas.

Emily discovered snowberry and round-leaved sundew in one of the small bogs and they were complemented by sphagnum mosses of deep red, dark green and whitish green colors.  The marsh St. John’s-wort was showing off its bright red capsules, the white puffs of cottongrass waved in the breeze, and the narrowleaf gentian was beautiful in the bright sunlight. 

About a mile or so down the rocky trail there is a 30-acre bog on the north side of the trail.  It was a scene to remember as thousands of puffy cottongrass waved in the afternoon sun.  We explored to find lots of fruits on the small cranberries, the small but rare Juncus filiformis, Carex canescens, and black-girdled bulrush (Scirpus atrocinctus).

A lot of this bog had been beaver ponds “in another life” as evidenced by the old dams and channels where the beaver float wood through shallow areas of the ponds.  We saw several “National Geographic” shots where narrowleaf gentian and cottongrass were growing together.  But, darn it, our one digital camera had just run out of space.   So we will store the memory in our “personal hard drives” called the human brain. 

We did walk another 1 ½ miles over nice smooth trails through the forests, plantations of red spruce and red pine, and more nice heath barrens where we ate our fill of black huckleberries.

We also saw the “revenge of nature” where quite a few beech trees were covered with white adelgid insects and the accompanying black areas of nectria canker.  Together they are the deadly beech bark disease that has ravaged the beech on more than 100,000 acres of our high mountain forests.  “Revenge” is because we continue the unlimited international commerce and keep shipping animals, plants, insects and diseases back and forth around the globe.  It is great for business but devastating for our manmade and natural ecosystems.

Fortunately the beech bark disease is a background memory and the fantastic bog and spruce forest are what I remember from Breathed Mountain.

I must get back and explore the big 30-acre bog more thoroughly.  It is intriguing and now I wonder how many more bogs are out there? 

So many bogs, barrens, swamps, and riverbanks, and not nearly enough time.  The dilemma of the ages!!!

FIELD OBSERVATIONS : CHRIS GATENS
Brush Creek Falls –TNC Nature Preserve in Mercer County

May 6, 2006

Kanawha State Forest, Middle Ridge Trail

August 5, 2006

These 3 plants were growing in association on a dry southwest facing slope.  The tree canopy was comprised of pitch pine, Virginia pine, sourwood, white oak, and chestnut oak.  Common understory shrubs included Vaccinium spp. and mountain laurel.

Muddlety Exit on US Route 19 north of Summersville

August 29, 2006

Twenty individual plants were observed on the road cut near the edge of the woods.  The plants were magnificent and ranged from 4 to 6 feet in height.

FIELD NOTE : STEVE MACE

In early May, I (Steve Mace) had a co-worker show me some pink lady slippers on his uncle’s property in Meigs County, Ohio.  One had a pale (almost white ) flower.  Sooner or later, I will see an albino pink lady slipper.  But the real treat for me that day was a small (approximately 8 inch) eastern hog-nosed snake.  I hadn’t seen one of those fellows, probably in 10 years.  He rolled over several times, with his tongue out, playing dead.   I had to convince Dennis not to kill it, and after some time, he agreed to it as the right thing to do, or was just tired of hearing me go on about it.  My point here is, we all love botany, but we should never bypass the chance to protect other parts of our natural heritage.  I ran off a few copies from the internet on the eastern hog-nosed snake and placed them on the break tables at the plant.

TWO WET SUMMERS

Walter Veselka is a graduate student at WVU whose research is being directed by one of our members, Dr. Jim Anderson.  The research has concentrated on frogs, birds, plants, and insects that make the full range of West Virginia’s wetlands their home.

I have helped Walt with the plants that provide habitats for all animals.  WVNPS members, PJ Harmon, Elizabeth Byers and Jim Vanderhorst helped inventory wetlands in Randolph, Barbour, and Tucker Counties.  Walt also had help from Jim Anderson, Dr. Jim Rentch, Adrianne Brand and Mark Hepner.

We used a system of estimating percent cover for each plant species inside a 1-meter circle for herbs, grasses, etc; a 6-meter circle for shrubs and a 10-meter circle for trees.

In 2005, we collected data from 68 sites in Tomlinson Run State Park, Hillcrest Wildlife Management Area, Stonewall Jackson Lake, Meadow River wetlands, RD Bailey Lake, Cranberry Glades, and McClintic/Green Bottom Wildlife Management areas, and others.

This year (2006) the researchers inventoried another 83 plots that were located in the following parts of WV:

Wetlands ranged from marl marshes, sewer overflow depressions, floodplain forests, mountain bogs & swamps, cattail swamps, emergent vegetation swamps, springs & swales, areas backed up by roads, railroads, etc., beaver ponds (active and old), river scour zones, buried coal gob piles, and catchment basins.

Plants that were common in many of the wetlands were as follows:

broad-leaved  cattail               duck potato              American burreed

common monkeyflower            silver maple               boxelder

swamp rose mallow             lizard’s tail                    spikerush (Eleocharis palustris)

American germander                    swamp rose                  buttonbush

water willow                             lady’s thumb               mild water pepper

false nettle                                Clayton’s bedstraw            Valdivia’s duckweed

Cares lurida                              Carex squarrosa            Carex lupulina

Carex crinita                             Carex tribuloides            Carex frankii

great bulrush                             rice cutgrass

Some of the nasty invasives frequently encountered were:

Yellow iris                    Oriental bittersweet            Mile-a-minute              garden loosestrife

Japanese stilt grass    jointed grass                narrow-leaved cattail  

We also frequently saw the hybrid cattail (Typha x glauca)

Rare plants are always a treat and we saw quite a few that are listed below with locations:

Hardy County – Carex trichocarpa

                           Watermeal (Wolffia brasiliensis) – our smallest flowering plant

                            Horned pondweed – (Zannichellia palustris)

Putnam Co. – Cattail sedge

                        Greater duckweed (Spirodella polyrhiza)

                        Water pimpernel (Samolus parviflorus)

                        Note – a collection of spicebush means it has now been collected in all 55

                                    Counties.

Wood Co. – Cattail sedge

                     Large burreed (Sparganium eurycarpum)

                     Three-square sedge – a very robust 6 – 7 feet tall

                     Ditch stonecrop

E. Panhandle – Arrow arum – at Martinsburg

                         Ditch stonecrop

                         Wild black currant

                        Floating water pennywort

                        Large burreed

Lincoln Co.  Note: about half of the plants collected in Lincoln were county records

                        because there has been so few plants collected in that county.

Ditch stonecrop

Ragged fringed orchid

Amorpha fruticosa – False indigo bush

Short Mt. – Hampshire County

Poison sumac

Beardflower orchid – Pogonia ophioglossoides

Yellow fringed orchid

Burnet (Sanguisorba canadensis)

Nicholas Co. – Ditch stonecrop

Mermaid weed

Raleigh Co. – Purple fringeless orchid

Water parsnip (Sium suave)

Highlights of this summer included massive numbers of chiggers in Lincoln County that sent one member of our group in search of Benadryl at 2 am. Waffle Hut waitresses in Parkersburg and Beckley were very entertaining and sure wondered if we were “humans” because of all the muck and mud on our wet clothes.  We discovered that wetlands often contain old disposable diapers, basketballs, used lumber with lots of nails, and every other kind of solid waste that should have been buried in the local landfill.  We were lucky.  No bee stings or poisonous snake bites!

We survived an extremely hot, 15-hour day of slogging through open water and swamps in Ritchie and Wood Counties when the afternoon temperatures bounced between 97 and 98 degrees Farenheight.  It was challenging but fun.  Many of these wetlands had literally been dry a few weeks earlier but now had 1 –3 feet of water following heavy rains.  The changes are absolutely amazing.

SINCERELY: We had our fun in the water and sun.  Did you?  I would truly love to hear from you on you “summer events”.  Our readers would enjoy knowing what other members are doing.  I always reserve space in this newsletter for you.  Write or email anytime.   Bill Grafton  Email- wgrafton@wvu.edu 

USING NATIVE PLANTS IN THE LANDSCAPE ; FRANK W. PORTER

Getting people to recognize and use native plants in the landscape has proven extremely difficult. There are several factors that help to explain this situation. First, and foremost, most of the general public is unaware of the identity and diversity of the native wildflowers and grasses that are prevalent in their locales. All too often, their first-hand experience with these plants comes from seeing them grow along the roadside of Interstate highways and country roads. Some will unwittingly dig these plants from the wild and attempt to grow them in their gardens. When the plants fail to survive the shock of being uprooted from their habitats, it leaves the mistaken impression with the gardener that native plants are too difficult or finicky to grow. It is so much easier and convenient, they perceive, to purchase non-native plants from local garden centers.

How can we overcome these mistaken impressions and unethical means of taking plants from the wild? I believe wholeheartedly that educating the public about the benefits of using native species in home gardens or in the cultural landscape is the single most important step to take. And there is a receptive audience available. Local garden clubs and Master Gardener programs are just two examples. Garden clubs are always looking for speakers for their meetings, and the Master Gardener program has a well-developed curriculum that allows for the use of native plants to be fully discussed. As these avid gardeners are made aware of the benefits of using native plants, they in turn are in a position to spread that knowledge to others.

So what do we, as native plant researchers and enthusiasts, need to tell these folks? One major piece of information concerns the devastating impact that non-native invasive species is having on our ecosystems. Kudzu, Purple Loosestrife, English Ivy, Periwinkle, Russian Olive, Multiflora Rose, Johnson Grass, and Japanese Stilt Grass--to name just a few--are destroying federal and state managed lands, infesting agricultural land, and spreading at an exponential rate along our highways and waterways. As these alien species compete with native plant populations, they eventually alter the balance of nature. Wildlife populations, dependent on these native plants for food, nesting sites, and cover, begin to decline and in many instances to disappear. Another major point to make is the dependence of non-native species on irrigation, fertilize and pesticides to survive in the garden. This places not only a heavy financial cost on the gardener, but also an even greater burden on the environment. Precious water is lost because of excessive irrigation. And the water that is not used by the plants finds its way into rivers and streams, but now carrying toxic levels of nitrogen, potassium and phosphate residue from commercial fertilizers, not to mention a myriad of other lethal chemicals. Replacing these dependent non-native species with native plants can minimize the use of water for irrigation and reduce--if not eliminate--dependence of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Native species have evolved through time to adapt and acclimate to given habitats and ecosystems.

Another important point to make to these gardeners is that native wildflowers and grasses are also extremely ornamental, deserving of a place in their gardens. We need to demonstrate that native plants offer a viable alternative to non-native plants in the garden without any loss of ornamental quality or beauty in the process. For example, Buddleia species are touted as significant butterfly magnets. And so they are. But Buddleia is also a plant that has escaped into the wild and now poses a threat to many of our ecosystems. A recent trip through North Carolina made it clear that this species is now spreading uncontrollably into the mountains and piedmont regions. Two excellent native alternatives are species of Asclepias and Liatris. They, too, are butterfly magnets, but they do not wreak havoc on the environment. Euonymous fortuneii, E. colorata, and E. alatus are present in yards throughout the eastern United States. They are now also present in yards on the sides of mountains and along roadways throughout the country. Their colorful seeds are spread by birds and other wildlife. Few gardeners are aware that there are three native species of Euonymous that offer the same red foliage in the Fall and also possess equally distinct seedpods and seeds. Euonymous atropurpureus, E. americanus, and E. obovatus can be used quite effectively in the landscape.

Native grasses, sedges and rushes can also be valuable assets to the home gardener. There are a variety of ways these plants can be used. They allow us to explore and better understand the creation of a natural landscape. Although they are perceived to lack the brightly colored flowers of the broad-leaved flora, the subtleties of their form and texture create a lasting beauty that spans the seasons. A natural lawn can pulse with life in a way that heightens the senses and yet also soothes the soul. It also offers an ecologically sound habitat for wildlife that further enriches the gardening experience. Despite these significant attributes, many gardeners have elected to use ornamental grasses from other parts of the globe. Why? One answer rests with the development of large-scale nurseries in the United States after World War II. To satisfy the increasing need for plant mate