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[ Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense) | Posted on June 10, 2018 ]

Most of the east Asian Privets, as Border & Amur Privets, have flowers and fruit borne auxiliary (on the sides of twigs), but this species bears the flowers and fruit terminally and some upper auxiliary. The European Privet bears its flowers and fruit terminally also. This Chinese Privet is a very invasive, weedy species that infests forest borders in the South and some of the mid-Atlantic. I enjoy cutting it down and axing the base like I do with other Eurasian invasive plants out in nature. There are two variegated foliaged cultivars that are grown in the South as ornamentals. Unfortunately, the variegated forms still give birth to the mother green form from seed and they can revert back to the mother form if not pruned.

[ Birch-Leaved Spiraea (Spiraea betulifolia var. lucida) | Posted on May 31, 2018 ]

This Western Shinyleaf Spirea is native to southwest Canada and from Washington & Oregon to Minnesota. It is shorter than the other varieties, being 1 to 2 feet high.

[ Spirea (Spiraea betulifolia 'Tor') | Posted on May 31, 2018 ]

This shrub is new on the market. The mother species of Birch-leaved Spirea is mostly native to Japan and northeast Asia and the cultivar of 'Tor' was taken from Asian stock. The name comes from the Gaelic word of "torr" that means mound or hill. 'Tor' is a little more compact growing than the Asian Birchleaf Spoirea mother species. (There is an American variety, S. betulifolia corymbosea that is rare and found wild in a few spots in the eastern US from Pennsylvania down to northern Alabama & Georgia. There is another American variety of S. betulifolia lucida, the Western Shiny Birchleaf Spirea that is shorter of 1/2 to 2 feet high and native to southwest Canada and from Wahington & Oregon into Minnesota.)

[ Dwarf Dandelion (Krigia biflora) | Posted on May 28, 2018 ]

A nice native flowering forb that ranges from southern Manitoba thru Ontario to New York & Massachusetts down into Georgia to Oklahoma, plus Colorado & Arizona. Loved by bees.

[ Sweet Shrub (Calycanthus floridus 'Athens') | Posted on May 28, 2018 ]

This 'Athens' cultivar is noted as growing in a dense, rounded form and it bears pale yellow flowers that should always have good fragrance. The only one of this shrub I have seen is at Jenkins Arboretum in southeast Pennsylvania and its flowers looked more white when I viewed the plant. This cultivar is good for USDA Zones 4 to 8.

[ Chinese Lilac (Syringa x chinensis) | Posted on May 18, 2018 ]

The "so called" Chinese Lilac is not from China. It is better called the Rouen Lilac (Syringa x rothomagensis) as its origin is a chance seedling between the Common Lilac from southeast Europe x the hybrid Persian Lilac (Syringa x persica) of central Asian origin that occurred in Rouen, France in 1777. This must be the Persian Lilac that is occasionally sold by many larger nurseries in the eastern and midwestern US., but is slightly mislabelled by them. It is usually about 8 to 10 feet high with flower clusters to about 6 inches long that are very fragrant and can be used as cut flowers like the Common Lilac, though they don't hold up quite as long in a vase with water as the other. It is not as frequently planted as the Common Lilac. It also suffers from mildew in late summer and fall.

[ Persian Lilac (Syringa persica) | Posted on May 18, 2018 ]

The Persian Lilac is a hybrid between the Afghan Lilac x the Cutleaf Lilac from central Asia and is almost completely sterile, not bearing dehiscent brown capsules. It has small, spearhead leaves about 1 to 3 inches long x 1/2 to 1 inch wide. The lilac-colored flower clusters are looser than those of the Common Lilac and are just as fragrant, and can also be used as cut flowers in a vase. Some are still sold at most larger nurseries in the Chicago area. Not nearly as frequently planted as the Common Lilac. I just find it here and there occasionally. It is a nice larger shrub usually about 8 to 10 feet high. The leaves often get mildew in late summer and fall; not having any autumn color like most other lilacs. (There is a good possibility that the Persian Lilac that is occasionally sold by conventional nurseries is really the Rouen Lilac (Syringa x rothomagensis) (also called the Chinese Lilac of Syringa x chinensis, though not from China) that is a hybrid of the Persian Lilac x the Common Lilac that occurred in Rouen, France in 1777. The Rouen Lilac gets 8 to 15 feet high and bears flower clusters to about 6 inches long. The true Persian Lilac only gets 4 to 8 feet high and bears flower clusters to 3 inches long, according to the textbooks.) Therefore, conventional nurseries may have it slightly mislabelled.

[ Large Fothergilla (Fothergilla major) | Posted on April 30, 2018 ]

I remember seeing one good specimen of this beautiful shrub at Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois near the library in the 1980's & 90's. After 2002, the arboretum totally restructured the east side entrance and visitor center areas, and many plants once there were gone. According to Dr. Michael Dirr it was about 60 years old when he saw it in the 1980's. It is native to the Appalachians from northern Alabama up into Virginia. The nursery industry has grown lots of selections of the Dwarf Fothergilla (F. gardenia), but has not grown this species very much. I finally saw a few Large Fothergillas being sold at a native plant nursery in southeast Pennsylvania. It is an excellent, high quality, neat, clean ornamental shrub with nice white flowers, handsome foliage, and good fall colour and that is somewhat expensive to expensive to buy. It is medium in rate growing in youth and lives up to about 100 years. It grows in soils that are gravelly, stony, sandy, silt loams, not heavy clay, that are acid, perhaps up to pH 7.0.

[ Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana 'Grey Owl') | Posted on April 29, 2018 ]

I finally saw a young specimen being sold at a nursery in southeast Pennsylvania. This shrub form is similar looking to the Blue Pfitzer Juniper. It may be a hybrid of the 'Glauca' cultivar of the Eastern Redcedar with Pfitzer Juniper or just from a seedling of the former that was bushy instead of being a tree. It is a female clone that bears a lot of juniper "berries." It has been noted as getting about 3 feet high by 6 feet wide. It is a good looking coniferous shrub.

[ Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana 'Aristocrat') | Posted on April 24, 2018 ]

I planted two Aristocrat Callery Pear trees in a big parking lot island in northeast Illinois in 1989. They looked fine in that tough location. About 2005 the hospital completely redid that area and all is gone. This cultivar was more pyramidal with wider branch crotches, (and wavy leaf margins and thornless) than most, but still was susceptible like other cultivars of this species to storm breakage. In the South it often was hit hard by Fireblight Disease. 'Aristocrat' has mostly been discontinued by the nursery industry. I don't recommend Callery Pear as a good ornamental tree for regular yards and landscapes. The birds will eat the tiny brown pears and spread them into the wild where it becomes a horrible invasive plant with sharp branchlets.

[ Flowering Pear (Pyrus calleryana 'Cleveland Select') | Posted on April 24, 2018 ]

This cultivar of Callery Pear from China is one of the few cultivars left that are being propagated because it is not as likely to break from storms because of the weak, brittle wood. It has a more upright, tighter branching habit than most. I don't mind it as a parking lot island tree or some such tough, limited, urban site itself, but unfortunately the hungry birds will eat its tiny brown pears and seed it into the wild, where it becomes an invasive nuisance plant. It has nice white flowers, though they stink, but the Callery Pear does not make a good quality ornamental tree for a regular yard or landscape. I told my neighbors not to plant one from Home Depot because of those reasons and someday they will be sorry.

[ Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford') | Posted on April 24, 2018 ]

'Bradford' was the first great cultivar of this Callery Pear from China that was released in the 1970's. It had a broad and very rounded form. It bore very little of the tiny brown pears at first, until other cultivars were planted around also and there was cross-pollination. Callery Pear is a weak, brittle-wooded tree and the 'Bradford' cultivar was especially susceptible to a lot of storm breakage. I remember a few that broke right in two in northeast Illinois back in the 80's and 90's. The nursery industry discontinued it by 2000 because of its weakness. No great loss.

[ Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana) | Posted on April 24, 2018 ]

If Callery Pear did not become so invasive into the wild in eastern North America, I would promote it for parking lot islands and similar tough urban situations. Outside of nice white flowers, it is not a beautiful tree to use in regular landscapes. It is brittle wooded and easily breaks in storms. When it goes wild into nature, it develops horrible sharp branchlets that really hurt and it is really getting aggressive in fields. The first great cultivar of 'Bradford' was a very broad, rounded form that I saw a good number of times break up from storms (I remember seeing one specimen in northeast Illinois breaking right in half), and it was discontinued by the nursery industry by 2000. A number of other cultivars were also discontinued for the same reason. A few more upright, tighter-growing cultivars, such as 'Cleveland Select' and 'Chanticleer,' are still being sold a lot because their breakage is not as severe. This species from China is not very useful for American native beneficial insects, and the fruit is not really good for native birds. I call this "the Chinese Rat Tree."

[ Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) | Posted on April 12, 2018 ]

A reclining to upright, thicket forming palm, often with a creeping, prostrate trunk, but sometimes it makes a short trunk. Native from southern North Carolina to all through Florida over to Louisiana. It is not only a common wild plant, but it is also used in southern landscaping.

[ Wild Coffee (Psychotria nervosa) | Posted on April 12, 2018 ]

I came upon a wild plant in Tradewinds Park in Coconut Creek, Florida, a little northwest of Fort Lauderdale, while on spring vacation. It is a good-looking evergreen shrub that is native from central Florida down into the West Indies. It grows in sunny to light shade sites with moist soil that is neutral to slightly alkaline pH. It bears nice small white flowers in spring and summer and small red to maroon berries in clusters that is eaten by birds.

[ Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) | Posted on April 9, 2018 ]

This species once covered over 90 million acres of the southern coastal plain from southern Virginia to central Florida to Mississippi & Louisiana. Only a small fraction is left. Much of that is due to the prevention of natural fires that aid this species. It was the major tree in sandhill pinelands and wiregrass savannas. I have seen it growing well in landscapes. It grows as a tall upright or spreading tree. Terminal buds are silvery white. The seedling trees look like tall grass plants for some years before forming a trunk. The needles are long of 8 to 18 inches long in clusters of 3. It bears large, conical cones about 6 to 12 inches long with big prickles. It prefers deep sandy or sand-clay soils with little organic matter and a pH of 5 to 7; not liking heavy clay soils. The similar Loblolly Pine has replaced it in many situations. It is a good tree and should be encouraged more not only in nature, but also in landscapes.

[ Slash Pine (Pinus elliottii var. densa) | Posted on April 9, 2018 ]

This South Florida Slash Pine is the variety only found in southern Florida. The whole species is native to all of Florida into southern South Carolina and west to Louisiana. It has needles mostly in clusters of 2, but with some in 3's that are about 8 to 12 inches long. The brown cones are conical and about 3 to 6 inches long, usually about 5 inches long with sharp but small prickles on the scales. It prefers moist, slightly acid, well-drained soils. It grows fast of about 2 or some more feet per year. It lives about 100 to 200 years. I think it is a great pine species, and it is similar to the Longleaf & Loblolly Pines also of the South.

[ Sea Oats (Uniola paniculata) | Posted on April 9, 2018 ]

This is the major dune stabilizing species from coastal Virginia down all through the coast of Florida along the Gulf of Mexico to Louisiana.

[ Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis) | Posted on March 17, 2018 ]

This Hairy or Fringeleaf Wild-Petunia is an easy, reliable perennial for sunny and dry to well-drained soils and makes a good garden plant and should become more well-know and used more. It is not a true Petunia, but a member of the Acanthus Family. It is native to much of the eastern and central US. It has grayish-green, opposite leaves and white hairy stems. Its purple, trumpet-shaped flowers get to 2.5 inches wide and bloom from sunrise into the afternoon, but then flowers fall off before sunset, each flower lasting less than a day. The flowers don't really have a scent and they bloom about 2 months long in summer. It produces some fairly large dark seeds that get around so that it self-sows a good amount. I planted three plants in my garage bed of low plants and I've found some coming up in the front and back yards. It does not compete well with taller plants. It is deer and rabbit resistant. I've seen some in native meadow and prairie restorations, and the Lurie Garden in Chicago has a number placed around their site. The species is sold by a good number of native plant nurseries. I'm probably the only one in my little town that has some.

[ Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) | Posted on March 17, 2018 ]

This Canadian Wild-Ginger is an easy, somewhat slow growing groundcover plant. I have seen some growing wild in rich, moist soils of the woods of southeast Pennsylvania. Its native range is from New Brunswick through southern Quebec & Ontario into southern Manitoba down into Oklahoma to northern Louisiana to Georgia, growing in various wooded situations. Its best pH range is 6 to 7, but can go over and under some. It is called Wild-Ginger because the rhizome roots emit a ginger-like odor and they can be cooked to have a ginger substitute, though it is warned that the foliage is toxic and it would not be good to eat much of the roots that have some toxic also. It is a larval host for the Pipeline Swallowtail Butterfly. It is in the Pipeline Family and not a true Ginger. Prairie Nursery in central Wisconsin notes that it is a good groundcover plant to overcome the invasive European Garlic-Mustard and that it can suppress evil Buckthorn seedlings and other invasive plants. Plant about a foot apart to form a solid groundcover. This species is sold by most native plant nurseries and by a good number of conventional nurseries with a diverse selection of perennials. I see it occasionally in gardens and landscapes.

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