Category Archives: Interesting Plants

Weekly Puzzler Answer #153

Greetings friends. Were you able to identify last week’s mystery plant? A handful of people correctly identified it as Galax, or Galax urceolata, which is also called beetleweed and wandflower. Wandflower is easy to understand when you see the white flowers at the tops of long stalks, in bloom mid May-early July.

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This plant grows in the eastern United States, particularly the Appalachians. The wide, shiny, thick and heart-shaped leaves are often used in floral arrangements. Something that I learned while researching this post is that revenue for harvesting this plant, according to a National Forest Service site, runs from $10-25 million dollars annually, with 99% of the harvesting in North Carolina. As with any wild plant, there are restrictions on collection of this plant and a permit is required to harvest on National Forest land. Like other native flowers such as ginseng and ramps, poaching has become a real problem in many areas, with people wanting to harvest the plant to sell, but not wanting to acquire proper permits.

Galax beside a trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Galax beside a trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Here is our next puzzler–another commonly found plant in the eastern US…. see if you recognize it.

Weekly Puzzler #154: Spiral Fern

Hello and happy Saturday to you all! Now that summer is officially here, what exciting things do you have planned? Hopefully some outside time is on the agenda. I saw a quote recently, that I thought was great. It read, “Forget the box. Think OUTSIDE.”

Check out our next puzzler– my all-time favorite fern. It is especially lovely after a rain when the water sits on the top of each delicate leaf. Have you seen this in a forest near you? Do you know the name of it?

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Here is a video of a patch of it beside a stream. If you want to guess, use the comment box below. This is the first puzzler of our new quarter! I give away prizes four times each year–on the first day of each season. Congratulations to Arden for being our first-day-of-summer winner! Arden will get a sampler pack of my greeting card collection called Beauty is Everywhere. If YOU want to win, you must guess! All correct responses will be entered in the drawing.

Have a lovely weekend! See you again soon.

Weekly Puzzler #153: Tall White Flower Above Waxy Leaves

Happy Saturday!

This week’s puzzler is a plant, commonly found in southeastern North America. Here in North Carolina it is very common, especially on trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Check out the photos below–have you seen this plant? Do you know the name of it?

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Use the comment box below to give your guess. This is the very LAST week to get your guess in the box for a chance to win this quarter’s drawing. In the past I have given away blank notebooks, greeting card sampler packs and posters. All correct answers will be entered in the drawing, which will take place on the first day of summer–which is next week, on Wednesday, June 21st!

Weekly Puzzler Answer #143

The leaves are edible

The leaves are edible

So last week’s puzzler was a video, showing a lot of one plant on a bank beside a stream. Were you able to recognize it?

Here’s a clue… perhaps you’ve eaten it! Those plants are RAMPS, an edible plant that has a mild, garlicky flavor that is highly prized among those who collect wild edibles.  Both the green leaves and bulbs are edible. Ramps, also called wild leeks, are native to the forests of eastern North America. As you can see from the video, they are one of the first plants to burst out of the soil in spring, filling the otherwise drab woods with glorious green. They will not last long, turning yellow long before the trees get their first leaves.

They do not last long!

They do not last long!

Have you tried them? Here are a few recipes if you find some in a forest near you.

Rampy Ramp Risotto

Grilled Ramps

Asparagus and Ramp soup with yogurt

and finally, Loaded Vegetable Spring Quiche

If you Google ramps you will find LOTS more recipes. And one more thing–if you do find a patch of ramps, please don’t harvest them all! It’s best to practice sustainable harvesting so the ramps will continue to grow for many years to come. Here are a few pointers on harvesting ramps:

  1. Never take all the plants in a bunch. At most, take half of the leaves, leaving some of the older ones to grow.
  2. If you’re going to harvest the bulbs, do not use a shovel as this unnecessarily disrupts the soil. Instead, use a small soil fork or trowel with a knife. And just like the leaves, do not take them all. Taking all the bulbs is a sure way to end the profusion of ramps in the future in that spot.
  3. Be careful where you step so as to not stomp down everything in your path on the way to get the ramps.
  4. Make sure you have permission if the land is private. Most homeowners do not appreciate someone coming onto their land and digging something up. And if it is in a national park or state land, know the rules before you pick. Different parks have different rules about edible plants and it’s definitely not always legal.

The New York Times wrote an article about over harvesting ramps a few years ago–in some places it has become a problem and is banned.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about ramps! Do you have a favorite recipe? Do you pick them? Do you like them? Use the comment box below!

Here’s the next puzzler.

Weekly Puzzler Answer #139

Did you recognize the nuts from last week’s puzzler? They are black walnuts from the black walnut tree, Juglans nigra.

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Black walnut trees can grow up to 150 feet tall and are native to the eastern and central United States. The bark of a black walnut tree is blackish to dark gray with deep furrows. The leaf is a compound leaf that can be 18 inches long.

nuts33-6142An interesting fact about black walnut trees is that they produce this toxic substance called juglone in its roots and leaves that can kill other vegetation growing nearby. Thus, sometimes you might see black walnut trees growing all alone in the middle of a field. Some plants, such as morning glory, rose of Sharon, pansies, black raspberries, plums and squash,  are immune to this toxin and can still prosper there.

Here is the next puzzler! And this is your LAST CHANCE to be entered in the quarterly drawing as I have decided I want to give away my holiday DVD to the winner and want to send this out before the 25th, thus, not waiting until the 21st to pull the winner. If you want to be entered in the drawing, use the comment box below. All correct responses will be eligible. Good luck!

And have a fabulous weekend!!

Weekly Puzzler #139:Tangerine-Sized Nuts

Hey all! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are enjoying the weekend. Is the weather nice where you live?

Rather than spend Black Friday in the stores shopping, my family went to the woods to enjoy a hike to a beautiful spot overlooking the mountains. Ahhh, it was so much quieter than the stores!

Check out this photo of these large nuts. Have you noticed this year’s bumper crop of NUTS? The squirrels and other animals who eat them are going to be in Heaven! So many! Have you seen any like this in piles where you’ve been hiking?

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Do you know what they are? I wish it was possible to convey the smell through the internet. Have you ever picked one up and given it a whiff? Oh, I love the smell of these!

Check back next weekend to see if you are correct. And don’t forget to add your guess in the comment box below–chances to qualify for this quarter’s drawing are running out! A winner will be chosen on the first day of winter, just a few weeks away. Good luck!

See you again soon.

Weekly Puzzler Answer #138

m3-6725Were you one of the people who knew the answer to last week’s puzzler? The beautiful low growing plant with bright red berries?

It is Cornus canadensis –Commonly known as Bunchberry, Bunchberry Dogwood, Dwarf Dogwood, Canadian Bunchberry, Dwarf Cornel, or Creeping Dogwood.

In the spring and summer it has lovely white flowers which resemble those on our flowering dogwood trees, hence the name of Bunchberry Dogwood. You can see a photo of these flowers here.

Here is the next puzzler!

See you again soon.