February 5, 2016

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 from Friends of Accotink Creek. From the top, there’s not too much to se...

December 4, 2015


 Photo: A leaf of Smilax rotundifolia. Note the deltoid shape and similar length and width.


Welcome back for another ID Lab! As a housekeeping note, I had hoped to write another ID Lab post earlier, but neither my schedule nor the weather cooperated. I’ve also started adding footnotes (Chicago style, natch) where I’m using terminology or making assertions that warrant further explanation than I can cover here. Despite my scheduling woes, I did manage to get a few photos of two species of native, frequently overlooked and underappreciated vines: Smilax rotundifolium and Smilax glauca.


Commonly referred to as greenbrier and catbrier, respectively, these vines (technically, since they are woody, they are “lianas,” but no one bothers with this nomenclatur...

October 30, 2015


Photo: A solitary Leersia virginica caryopsis. Note: Clicking on any photos in this blog post will take you to the flickr page on which they are hosted.


I’m often asked in the field, “How did you know what that was?” Since almost all of my (admittedly meager) botanical knowledge I’ve picked up on my own by some combination of observation, reading, and listening to those more knowledgable than myself, I often find myself unable to give a satisfying response to this simple question. Sometimes, it’s a number of small traits that, together, lead to a correct ID. For other species, noticing a single unique anatomical quirk might be all it takes.


With that in mind, I welcome you to my first ID Lab post. Every other week or so, I’m going to choose a plant or two,...

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