In Praise of Native Plants

Ordinarily, February is not my favorite month. Patience isn't my virtue. I become out of sorts when not engaged in productive work, physically. I keep thinking about all the things that need to be done while realizing there's nothing much I can do about them until, well, spring arrives. This Chantilly greenhouse cured me that February blue this year. We completed sowing: 104 species, 724 trays of pots, and more than 16,000 small pots of native plants from the seeds we collected last year. We could have easily doubled these numbers if we have the space! More than third of these pots are devoted to grass and sedge species. Altogether, we've sown 33 species of native grasses and sedges, without

Loss of Wild Plants

The steady disappearance of wild plants in our region, like elsewhere, is happening quietly. Most of us don’t even notice it, much less care about it. Just as with other forms of environmental damage, people generally only pay attention when the damage is presented in the context of public health and economic losses. When we think of the environment, we often think of its recreational value. In the U.S., most federal and state land-management agencies are built upon this idea. They support plant and animal wildlife, but often for the pleasure of people. They stock game fish species into rivers and streams for recreational fishing, and they manage for game species of land animals — not just d

Mapping Conservation for the Tree Bank

Photo: Tree Bank Co-Directors, Manolo and Cosme, walking along the forest edge of a Credit Reserve. I didn’t want to let Chris have all the fun with Tree Bank blog posts, so I thought I’d quickly share some of the work I’ve been doing with GIS (Geographic Information System). This is still a work in progress, so if you revisit this blog post at a later date it will have changed as I add more data, correct and tidy up what we have, or it may be offline if I’m working on it. You will be able to find the most recent version on our Tree Bank Mapping page. Below is a very simple map that will give you a sense for our conservation activities in the Dominican Republic. Each point represents a singl

ID Lab #3: A Quick Look at a Native Orchid

After digging out from Snowzilla, I figured everyone could do with a quick ID Lab post with a bit of color. I didn’t want to get too far afield from my goal of seasonally appropriate photos, so these are from early December. I’m trying out a shorter format for some of my ID Lab posts, so hopefully I can create more content. I’ll still be doing more in-depth comparative posts. Feel free to leave your feedback in the comments below or on the Sangha’s Facebook. Photo: Frequently, but not always, the top surface of the leaf will be speckled with dark dots. This is Tipularia discolor, Crane Fly Orchid, our most common orchid. I took this photo at Accotink Creek while on a walk with Kris Unger fro

Just over the Next Ridge

Photo: Nobody planned for this. Manolo, one of our Tree Bank Co-Directors, displays two coffee leaves infected by the fungal rust pathogen Hemileia vastatrix. Maybe one day I’ll write one of those business self-help books. “Five Rewarding Ways to Cut Your Income in Half,” or something like that. (Of course I would want to write on something that I’m good at personally.) If someday I do venture into that genre, this is the lesson that I would be most eager to impart: Say that you want to set up some kind of enterprise. Your concept is clear and you’ve got an approach all planned out. Prospective clients welcome your idea. And you have adequate resources for a solid start. Good job, I would sa

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Banner: Late October in a mixed stand of hickories, oaks, and American beech at Fountainhead Regional Park, on the northern shore of the Occoquan River, in Fairfax County, Virginia. Photo by Chris Bright. 

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