Going Native

I’ve been taking stock of the flora found on the cottage property, learning what are native plants and what are not. This is mixed woodland with acidic soil on a northern slope with some sun and some shade, in southeast Pennsylvania (somewhere on the tipping point between Hardiness Zones 6b and 7a, according to the 2012 updated USDA map).

An incomplete inventory:

Native ferns and flowers: Christmas Fern, Pink Lady Slippers, Quaker Ladies, mosses.

Native shrubs: Mountain Laurel (although mine are nearly tree-size and we’re in the middle of a gradual pruning-down), Wild Azalea, Rhododendron.

Native trees: Oaks (Pin, Chestnut, etc), Birches, Beech, Sassafras, Flowering Dogwood, Maple, Holly, Tulip, Maples, Pines.

“Species of special concern”: American Holly (Ilex opaca) (this is growing in spades, lots of new plants. However I am guessing it’s Ilex opaca and not some similar-looking pretender)

Non-native, Introduced: English Ivy, Barberry (although possibly native, depending on what it is), “domestic” azalea, some kind of Lily-of-the-Valley, Yew (the yews were planted a good 50 years ago, and although most have died off, there are a handful of seedlings taking their place, which I will tend for nostalgia’s sake and because they’re not bad looking), some kind of not-yet-identified Mimosas (which have the same story and fate as the Yews.)

Wish list: Myrica pensylvanica (Northern Bayberry. It would be nice to make bayberry candles from the berries!), Highbush Blueberry, Diphasiastrum digitatum (Fan Clubmoss, or Crow’s Foot, discussed below, as a transplant project), Pussy Willow, American Witch Hazel, Restoration American Chestnut (My piece of land is a low slope of what’s called the Chestnut Hill Ridge, named for the now-gone American Chestnut trees that used to grow all through there. However, the American Chestnut Foundation is working on blight-resistant seedlings (their FAQ page is very informative) which may soon — certainly within the next decade — produce nuts for general distribution. I plan to get in line for some when the time comes.)

The Beau speaks of a vegetable and herb garden, but those will have to be in containers or isolated beds. I have my eye on top-bar beehives, also a long way down the road.

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2 Responses to Going Native

  1. ellroon says:

    What is the third picture down? I’ve seen that as a volunteer out here in Southern California, or something very like it. Can’t believe it would be the same, unless it’s an invasive weed tree with an indifference to location…. 😛

  2. Marcellina says:

    We’ve been calling them Mimosas… my grandmother had a large one on the property that she liked, several decades ago. This one has a few siblings, one is about 8 feet now so they are indeed trees. Unfortunately, as Wikipedia tells us, there are hundreds of species of Mimosa and several other species which are misidentified as such, so we don’t really know. But most certainly an invasive… it might be a black locust?

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