04 July, 2024

Cottongrasses in New England

The cottongrasses are a genus of flowering plants in the sedge family. There are six species of cottongrasses in New England, five of which are known to occur in all New England states. For more info about the cottongrasses in New England, see the following document:

The linked document contains identification tips, short descriptions, habitats, flowering phenology, and observation links for each of the species.

Posted on 04 July, 2024 19:23 by trscavo trscavo | 5 comments | Leave a comment

19 June, 2024

Blue Ridge Fen

There's an extensive wetland complex (including a fen) on Blue Ridge Mountain (~2,900 ft) in the Green Mountain National Forest in the town of Chittenden in Rutland County, Vermont. I visited this place on June 15, 2024. It was a difficult hike but well worth it.

Here are a couple of maps that illustrate where this place is:

The first map shows the larger picture, with landmarks and (and a subset of) parking areas. The second map shows a close-up of the fen, where the green dots indicate some of the plants I found. Both maps are centered on the fen.

To reach Blue Ridge Fen, I followed an old woods road up the eastern slope of the mountain. The road ended about halfway (as shown on the first map), at which point I bushwhacked the remaining stretch of slope. Question: Is there a trail up Blue Ridge Mountain? What is the best path to Blue Ridge Fen?


Posted on 19 June, 2024 11:30 by trscavo trscavo | 4 observations | 8 comments | Leave a comment

09 June, 2024

Natural communities in Vermont

The State of Vermont recognizes 97 natural community types. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department publishes an informative fact sheet for each natural community:

Each natural community has been assigned a state rank. For example, the Open Peatlands are a group of peat-accumulating wetland communities:

Each fact sheet includes a detailed list of associated plant and animal species. A short list of places in Vermont that typify the natural community is also included.

Posted on 09 June, 2024 21:20 by trscavo trscavo | 4 comments | Leave a comment

31 May, 2024

False mermaid rediscovered in Vermont

The flowering plant known as false mermaid (Floerkea proserpinacoides), previously thought to be extirpated in Vermont, has been rediscovered. For a detailed account, see: vtdigger.org 2024-05-30

Quoting from New Flora of Vermont (2015):

Floerkea proserpinacoides Willd. False mermaid. Floodplain forests along low-gradient rivers; rare. No recent collections (1903) and perhaps extirpated. Chittenden Co.: Shelburne (Pringle). Rutland Co.: Castleton (Oakes, GH); Fair Haven (Oakes, GH). Of significant conservation concern, should it be rediscovered. This species has a large range in the West and extant populations occur in Quebec, New York, and Connecticut.

Other resources:

Posted on 31 May, 2024 23:10 by trscavo trscavo | 0 comments | Leave a comment

20 May, 2024

Salmon Hole

I recently visited the Salmon Hole in Burlington. Salmon Hole has a remarkably diverse assortment of plant species, including many non-native plant species and numerous invasive species.

Most spectacular invasive species. A massive invasion of lesser celandine (Ficaria verna) blanketed the steep slope from Riverside Avenue down to the Winooski River. This was the first time I had seen this species in Vermont. It was an impressive display.

Most spectacular native species. A mature population of red trillium (Trillium erectum) was also growing on the slope leading down to the river. Small groups of plants had variously-colored petals (not just typical red). There's a population in the southern Appalachians with pure white petals called Trillium erectum var. album, so the plants at Salmon Hole are technically called Trillium erectum var. erectum (according to the iNat taxonomy). The population here is very old, at least decades old, probably more.

Most surprising observation. I found a sunburst lichen (order Teloschistales) growing on a granite post along Riverside Avenue. There are similar posts used in multiple places along Riverside Ave…it would be interesting to see if this lichen is on other posts. I wonder what granite quarry the posts came from?

Life first. I observed nipplewort (Lapsana communis) for the first time at Salmon Hole. In the field, I had no idea what it was but the leaves had a distinctive shape so the plant's identity was easily guessed (and later confirmed by @tsn).

Posted on 20 May, 2024 16:18 by trscavo trscavo | 4 observations | 2 comments | Leave a comment

15 May, 2024

Tiarella in New England

A revised taxonomy of Tiarella in eastern North America was proposed in July 2021. (Nesom 2021) The new taxonomy was subsequently accepted by Plants of the World Online (POWO), Flora of the southeastern United States (FSUS), VASCAN, and others. iNaturalist (which follows POWO) split Tiarella cordifolia into five species in November 2022.

In New England, the new taxonomy reduces to a name change, from Tiarella cordifolia to Tiarella stolonifera. New Flora of Vermont (2015) and Flora Novae Angliae (2011) accept Tiarella cordifolia and Tiarella cordifolia var. cordifolia, respectively. As of May 2024, Go Botany (an online version of Flora Novae Angliae) recognizes Tiarella cordifolia var. cordifolia as well.

Prior to the split, the taxonomy of Tiarella in the southeastern U.S. was sorely in need of change, so the new taxonomy was welcomed by some (e.g., FSUS). To others, the name change appears to be arbitrary. Indeed, a significant number of iNaturalist users have pushed back on the change.

At this point, it would be helpful if the authors of New Flora of Vermont and Flora Novae Angliae rendered an opinion on the matter.


Primary source:

Related journal articles:

Posted on 15 May, 2024 16:05 by trscavo trscavo | 1 comment | Leave a comment

14 May, 2024

Vermont Protected Lands Database

The Vermont Protected Lands Database is a public database of protected lands in Vermont. By definition, a protected land has "some level of protection against permanent conversion to developed land uses". The database includes both public lands (national forests, state parks, town forests, etc.) and privately-owned lands. Many (but not all) of the parcels in the Vermont Protected Lands Database are publicly-accessible lands. A protected land does not necessarily imply public access.

Getting Started

  1. Click "View Map" (dismiss warning: "Too Many Records")
  2. Click the magnifying glass in the top righthand corner
  3. Search: Colchester, VT
  4. Hover over a dark blue parcel to view its name
  5. Click on a dark blue parcel to view its metadata

I use the Vermont Protected Lands Database to discover places to explore. More importantly, I routinely download parcel polygons from the database and build maps prior to field trips. In the field, I access these maps on my smartphone, which of course is GPS-enabled. In this way, I always know where I am.


Posted on 14 May, 2024 17:13 by trscavo trscavo | 1 comment | Leave a comment

09 May, 2024

Yellow Archangel in New England

The yellow archangel (Lamium galeobdolon) is native to Europe and western Asia but it is widely introduced in Europe, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States, including New England. Lamium galeobdolon consists of four closely-related subspecies:

  1. Lamium galeobdolon subsp. argentatum
  2. Lamium galeobdolon subsp. flavidum
  3. Lamium galeobdolon subsp. galeobdolon
  4. Lamium galeobdolon subsp. montanum

Subspecies argentatum, the variegated yellow archangel, is highly invasive. In the states of Washington and Oregon, it is listed as a Class B Noxious Weed and therefore banned from sale by state law. Subspecies argentatum is present in New England. Other subspecies may also be naturalized in New England.

According to Flora Novae Angliae (2011), Lamium galeobdolon is confined to Maine and Massachusetts in New England. However, as of March 2024, there are hundreds of research-grade iNaturalist observations of Lamium galeobdolon subsp. argentatum spread across all New England states. According to New Flora of Vermont (2015), Lamium galeobdolon is said to be rare in Vermont (apparently based on a single specimen collected in Chittenden County in 2008), but as of March 2024, there are dozens of research-grade iNaturalist observations of Lamium galeobdolon subsp. argentatum scattered across ten counties in Vermont. These data suggest Lamium galeobdolon subsp. argentatum is now widespread (and increasing) throughout Vermont and all of New England. For links to observation pages and summaries of observations counts, see the following document:

For more information, including numerous reliable sources, see the article on Lamium galeobdolon in wikipedia.

Posted on 09 May, 2024 14:02 by trscavo trscavo | 6 observations | 4 comments | Leave a comment

30 April, 2024

Identification of Trillium ovatum

Trillium ovatum is a white-flowered pedicellate trillium native to western North America. For decades, botanists have recognized two taxa, but based on unpublished data circulated in 2019, Plants of the World Online (and therefore iNaturalist) came to recognize four taxa. An identification key for this group of trilliums appeared in a journal article in March 2024, but since the article is not easily accessible, the key has been reproduced in the following document:

A full citation to the journal article plus links to related resources are included in the linked document.

Posted on 30 April, 2024 13:21 by trscavo trscavo | 4 comments | Leave a comment

04 April, 2024

Variegated Yellow Archangel

The variegated yellow archangel (Lamium galeobdolon subsp. argentatum) is believed to be native to Europe (but its origins are unknown). It has become an invasive subspecies in several European countries, including the Netherlands, Britain, and Switzerland. It was introduced as a garden plant in New Zealand and North America (and probably elsewhere) where it escaped cultivation and became naturalized. In New Zealand, it is listed by the 2020 National Pest Plant Accord and therefore banned from sale, propagation, and distribution throughout the country. It is also listed by the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia in Canada. In the U.S. states of Washington and Oregon, it is listed as a Class B Noxious Weed and therefore banned from sale by state law.

Botanists in Europe recognize four closely-related taxa, either as subspecies of Lamium galeobdolon or as full species, usually in genus Lamium but also in Galeobdolon or Lamiastrum. Most North American authorities recognize a single taxon, referred to as either Lamium galeobdolon or Lamiastrum galeobdolon. In any case, multiple taxa are not recognized in North America.

The invasive subspecies argentatum is readily distinguished by its silvery white variegated leaves. It is sometimes confused with a cultivar of subspecies flavidum known as 'Hermans Pride', which also has silvery markings on its leaves. Unlike subspecies argentatum, however, subspecies flavidum is not stoloniferous, and therefore 'Hermans Pride' is not invasive.

For more information, including numerous reliable sources, see the article on Lamium galeobdolon in wikipedia.

Posted on 04 April, 2024 12:38 by trscavo trscavo | 21 comments | Leave a comment