Conifers are important members of our forests year-round, but visually are most prominent during the winter when their evergreen leaves stand out in a sea of dormant deciduous limbs. To the untrained eye these trees may all look the same, but there is a vast amount of diversity among this ancient group of plants. Conifers
A mature American holly, Ilex opaca. Photo by Ryan Davis. Sixteen species of holly (the genus Ilex) are native to North America. Two of the most widespread eastern species, American holly (Ilex opaca) and winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata), are commonly used for holiday decorations due to their cheerful red berries and, in the
Resurrecting something from the dead is a classic scary story plotline, but there is nothing spooky about efforts to bring back our American chestnuts (Castanea dentata). The grand, incredibly valuable tree has been functionally extinct for the past century, but efforts are underway to restore it as a component of our eastern forests. The
A dead American chestnut, Castanea dentata. Photo by Robert Llewellyn. Our woods are haunted. Generations ago, there was a massacre that left few survivors, and our nation has never been the same. The ghosts of the victims still cling to our forests, reminding naturalists and hikers of what was lost. This isn’t fiction.
In October, bats are everywhere. Images of them, at least. The mammals typically are hibernating by Halloween, tucked away in caves and deep rock crevices. Summertime is when you will see real bats around, but if you live in the northeast or mid-Atlantic, you have likely seen dramatically less bats foraging in the summer dusk
Many species, including the cerulean warbler, suffer in a homogenous, unmanaged landscape. Woodland Stewardship Networks are helping landowners to create multiple patches of nearby habitat with their neighbors, which should help populations of cerulean warblers and many other species of conservation concern to grow. Photo by Robert Royse. It can be challenging to
Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima): a tree that elicits curses and anger wherever it grows and is recognized. The non-native plant's angelic name belies its destructive nature. It spreads prolifically by seeds and root sprouts, forming thick groves that completely dominate sunny areas within just a few years. Beneficial native plants are quickly outpaced, shaded out, and replaced
Thousands of trout fingerlings, like this brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), are raised and stocked every year by students in classrooms across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Photo by Ryan Davis. Trout are excellent ambassadors of forested landscapes. They are widely fished for recreation, economically important, and downright charismatic, especially the stunning native brook trout.
Photo credit: Corinne Lamontagne Wintry weather can take a toll on year-round wildlife residents of mid-Atlantic and northeastern forests. For roughly one third of the year, regional forests offer little protective broadleaf cover from predators and the elements, have limited food sources, and are frequently inundated with snow. In response to these lean
On a warm Saturday morning this fall, over 30 landowners gathered on a property in Baltimore County, Maryland to learn a little about promoting the birds and the bees. Literally. The workshop, titled “Get to Know Your Backyard Habitat”, invited local residents to see an example of stellar wildlife habitat tended by landowners Pascale Meraldi
Despite occasionally being a bit of a Grinch, something I love about the holiday season is that we fill our houses with wild flora. Dozens of conifer species are displayed in homes as Christmas trees, wreaths of hemlock and fir hang from doors, and sprigs of American holly brighten up rooms with their glossy green
Mile-a-minute (Persicaria perfoliata), oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), and Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) swallowing up a pine in York County, PA. You could be next! Photo by Ryan Davis Invasive plants have a lot in common with zombies. They’re dangerous, hard to dispatch, and have a tendency to surround and overwhelm even the most