Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) is a showy plant that makes you stop and ask questions about it whenever it is stumbled upon - whether in your garden or along a hike. From its impressive height, sometimes up to 10 feet tall, to its distinctive reddish-purple stems - you stop and ask yourself: “what is it?” To me, this is the least interesting question you could ask. By observing this showy species, you can ask more interesting questions that tell you so much more about this plant’s ecology and history.
“Forty-two pounds of Edible Fungus
In the Wilderness a-growin’
Saved the Settlers from Starvation,
Helped the founding of this Nation.”
- Robert McCloskey, 1943
By the time February rolls around, many of us are longing for springtime. Spring brings a renewal of plant life in our forests, the arrival of the first batch of neotropical birds migrating back from their southern winter homes, and the awakening of reptiles and amphibians that have been long dormant during the frigid temperatures of winter. Skunk cabbage’s emergence out of the soil, the first calls of spring peepers, red maple buds bursting into bloom, and woodcock displaying in the meadows at dusk are all proof that spring is on its way. But for me, the most
When we think of the bawdy, overbearing characteristics of alien invasive species, often what first comes to my mind is their early-to-rise, late-to-bed season of growth. By emerging earlier than our natives, invasive species leaf out, scoop up all that precious sunlight and moisture, then quickly shade out the natives under their canopy that are still waiting for their time in the sun, which may never come.