Trees and Shrubs

The Soap Bush!

The Soap Bush!

When I worked in state parks in New York, I frequently conducted guided tours of parklands to school, scouts and the general public. One of the shrubs I featured in the early summer was sweet pepperbush when this plant bloomed. I tore off a flower and demonstrated how it became an abrasive soap to wash […]

The Fragrant Berry

The Fragrant Berry

When I grew up on Long Island and visited the sea shore, I always enjoyed the fragrance of the native northern bayberry. Breaking off a leaf and crushing it in your fingers releases the bayberry scent often used in candles today. Later in the summer, the flowers turn into fruit that are green at first, […]

Not Your Garden Azalea

Not Your Garden Azalea

When gardeners think of azaleas, there are thoughts of going to a nursery to purchase these shrubs to plant around the house. But in our native woodlands there are wild azaleas that thrive in acidic wetlands. One such azalea is the swamp azalea. It has showy, fragrant white flowers that bloom in the early summer. […]

Plums by the Beach

My favorite shrub of beach environments is the beach plum. I always look forward to its prolific blooms of five-petaled white flowers in the spring. Once pollinated by bees and other pollinators, it produces lots of fruit that are green at first, but by the end of the summer the fruit ripen into a deep-purple […]

The Vine That Grabs You

The Vine That Grabs You

My first encounter with this thorny vine was as a 10-year old boy traipsing through the woodlands on Long Island in New York. It formed impenetrable thickets in the wetlands near the house I grew up in. Its sharp thorns caught my clothing and it did not easily let go. I eventually broke free, full […]

Wild “Apples” of the Forest

Wild “Apples” of the Forest

If you see a small tree with with white blossoms that looks similar to a wild rose flowers, you may have found a species of chokeberry. Its five petaled bloom with pink stamens attract bees responsible for pollination. These small trees are four to eight feet tall and are members of the rose family. These […]

A Heath of Bogs and Wetlands

A Heath of Bogs and Wetlands

The last few blogs, I featured some of the members of the heath family of plants including blueberry, huckleberry and swamp sweet bells. Another member of this family and sometimes mistaken for blueberry because of its white bell-like blossoms is the leatherleaf. Leatherleaf has dark green leathery leaves on arching shoots often growing along the […]