Tag Archive: Native Species

Field Notes

A Prickly Problem

October 5, 2022 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator Did you know that one of Virginia’s State Forests was established specifically for research on a single species? That site is the Lesesne State Forest, located at the base of Three Ridges Mountain in Nelson County. The species is the iconic American chestnut (Castanea dentata). American chestnut was once so abundant and ecologically important that it was considered a foundation species. But in... Read More

Field Notes

Far-Flung Seeds

September 21, 2022 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator Plants are endlessly fascinating. Not only do they make their own food out of water, air, and light, but some lead exciting lives that put James Bond to shame. Theirs is a world of hostile takeovers, pollination trickery, chemical warfare, and ingenious travel methods. I may have a minor obsession with how seeds move from place to place, given that this is my... Read More

Field Notes

Native Plants for Hummingbirds

July 21, 2022 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator You’re working in the garden when you notice a low-pitched hum, and you look around for its source. Could it be a territorial carpenter bee? A clumsy June beetle? Someone’s tiny, wayward drone? No, it’s a hummingbird – our favorite feathered pollinator! The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only species that breeds in the East, although you might see an occasional rufous hummingbird during... Read More

Field Notes

A Pollinator Primer

March 28, 2022 - By Scott Bachman, VDOF Senior Area Forester Recently, I attended the Virginia Association of Forest Health Professionals meeting held in Staunton, VA.  There were many great topics discussed over the day and a half long conference.  I will admit I was there for the pesticide recertification credits I could earn. You never know what you will get when you attend a pesticide recertification meeting, but this agenda was quite varied... Read More

Field Notes

(Don’t) Pick Your Poison

July 9, 2021 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator Walking along a forest path this time of year, it’s tempting to reach out and touch all those lush, green leaves. That’s not always a good idea, because Virginia has three species of plants in the genus Toxicodendron. When the botanical name translates to “poison tree,” it’s best to look, not touch. The most familiar of Virginia’s poisonous plants is poison ivy, Toxicodendron... Read More

Field Notes

Woodland Weirdos

May 7, 2021 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator There’s a lot going on underfoot in Virginia’s forests, from wild to wonderful to just plain weird. Some of our strangest plants break all the rules we learned back in elementary school. They aren’t green, they don’t photosynthesize, and they don’t even look like plants. At first glance, these odd growths emerging from the leaf litter appear to be mushrooms. A closer look... Read More

Field Notes

Field Notes: Longleaf Pine Planting at Big Woods

December 29, 2020 - By Jim Schroering, VDOF Longleaf Pine/Southern Pine Beetle Coordinator On a cold but sunny Saturday in December, the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) completed a longleaf pine planting project on their Big Woods State Forest (BWSF). Longleaf pine once covered more than 1,000,000 acres in Virginia, but it is now considered a diminished species. Until 25 years ago, only 200 mature longleaf pines were left in southeast Virginia. Longleaf pine... Read More

Field Notes

Field Notes: When Volunteers Go Bad

May 21, 2020 - by Sarah Parmelee, Area Forester Last fall, a little seedling popped up in my yard. It was too young to be readily identifiable, so I left it on the off chance that it was something cool. This spring when it leafed out, I realized that it was a butterfly bush. Now, I do not have any other butterfly bushes in my yard, but other folks in my neighborhood do, and... Read More

Stories

VDOF Pine Projects Continue Despite Unusual Circumstances

April 15, 2020 - In late March, VDOF personnel completed a longleaf pine grafting project at the New Kent Forestry Center (NKFC). The longleaf pine seed orchard at NKFC has been developed in response to a need for consistent crop production to support restoration efforts for this diminished species. Read more: From the Brink! The Effort to Restore Virginia’s Native Longleaf Pine, 2014 Status Report This year during a three-day period, a crew collected... Read More

Field Notes

Field Notes: Good Green, Bad Green

April 7, 2020 - By Ellen Powell, Conservation Educator The calendar and the plants agree – spring has arrived in central Virginia! Patches of green among the leaf litter mean spring wildflowers are making their annual appearance. Often called “ephemerals,” for their short-lived bloom time, those in flower this week include pennywort (Obolaria virginica), star chickweed (Stellaria pubera) and wild geranium (Geranium maculatum). Unfortunately, the shrub layer of many hardwood forests reveals a “dark... Read More