native plants

PSI Master Class: A Rose By Any Other Name… Identifying Rosaceae

Tuesday, April 16th, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm

@ Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve

Members: $30 Non-Members: $35

Dr. Ann Fowler Rhoads, instructor

In the Pennsylvania flora the Rose Family is made up of 28 genera (144 species) of woody and herbaceous plants.  Growth form ranges from canopy trees in the forest to common wildflowers of fields and woods.  Flower and fruit form vary primarily by the degree of fusion in the ovary and its placement with respect to other flower parts.  In PA the family includes 1 federally listed threatened species and 18 that are tracked by the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program.

While species identification in many Rosaceae genera is straightforward, others including the shadbushes and hawthorns provide an ongoing challenge because of the processes such as apomixus (seed production without sex).

The Rose Family is important to wildlife through the processes of pollination and seed dispersal.  It also includes important fruit and ornamental crops.

We will try to understand what holds the family together as well as the characteristics that allow us to recognize individual genera and species.

To register, call 215 862 2924 or e-mail Jared Rosenbaum, PSI Coordinator, at



13th Annual “Land Ethics Symposium: Creative Approaches for Ecological Landscaping”

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sheraton Bucks County Hotel, Langhorne, PA

Brochure/information about the 2013 Symposium can be found at

Online registration – early bird rate until January

CEUs available

Sponsored by:

Presenting Sponsor: County of Bucks, Office of Commissioners

Premier Sponsor: Paul W. Steinbeiser, Inc. Landscape Design & Construction

Partner Sponsors: American Native Nursery, Aquascapes Unlimited Inc., Ernst Conservation Seeds, Inc., GreenVest, LLC, Moss Acres, North Creek Nurseries, Inc., Octoraro Native Plant Nursery, Pinelands Nursery & Supply, Princeton Hydro, LLC, Quercus Studio, LLC

Friends: Association of Professional Landscape Designers, Delaware Valley College – Department of Natural Resources, Mt. Cuba Center, Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery Association Foundation, PA/DE Chapter of American Society of Landscape Architects, The George Washington University Landscape Design & Sustainable Landscapes Graduate Programs

Baldpate Mountain USGS Topo

The next Stewardship Roundtable meeting is this Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at Baldpate Mountain in Titusville.

The “business” portion of the meeting will involve discussion of the deer letter, the native and do not plant list, and support of the Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Rearing Laboratory. Over lunch there will be a discussion of stewardship of Flagship Preserves  including management of rare flora and fauna, public education programs, trails, restoration, land preservation, and partnerships.

Finally, there will be a walk to see ecological restoration in action at Baldpate Mountain with Sharyn Magee, Cornell Birds in Forested Landscape data collector and volunteer Breeding Bird Surveyor.  For more information, directions, and a complete agenda, click here.

Truax Grass Seeder

MacKenzie passed along this – seems like a really good deal for an organization that might be looking to do native prairie restoration projects.

A Truax seeder being auctioned by the state of Virginia.  This machine looks to be about 50% wider than the ones we have.  No guarantees on its condition, though.  The current bid is ~$500.  See

This might be a good buy for a contractor-farmer, or someone planning to seed any appreciable acreage of warm-season grasses (at the typical $20/acre rental fee plus delivery, you’d spend $500 to plant just 25 acres with a rented Truax).  We get a lot of calls from farmers looking to rent ours for various types of no-till plantings, so it’s clear there’d be a demand for something like this locally.

A heads up for monitors of streams, vernal pools and other waters:

I took a walk along the headwaters of Rock Brook in the Sourlands a couple weeks ago and noticed the invasive plant white water cress (Rorippa nasturium-aquaticum) in the streambed.

I also found white water cress in a vernal pool about 1500′ north of the stream and at one other vernal pool in the Sourlands several miles away.

Small populations of this plant are easy to remove by gently hand pulling. The roots are often lodged in soft soils. Chilled and immobile hands, damp sneakers, and “stewardship back” (aching lower back from hunching over invasive species) were the worst I experienced.


White water cress is a member of the Mustard family. It can grow fully or partially submersed in shallow waters. It will destroy vernal pools by creating a mass of plant material. It also infests streams, ponds, and other quiet waters where it outcompetes native plants.

It overwinters as bright green basal rosette with pinnately lobed leaves. It is noticably bright green compared to native species that grow similar habitats. For example, our native golden saxifrage (Chrysosplenium americanum) is a dull green.

White water cress flowers are small, white and have 4 petals. Seeds are borne in slender pods. When crushed the leaves smell pungent, like nasturtiums.

Plants can spread via seed or dislodging of the adult plant which can reroot downstream.

White water cress has native and non-native lookalikes, but the pungent smell (and taste this species is cultivated as an edible) is distinctive.

For more information:

Preparation for prescribed burning, Schiff Nature Preserve, 3/01/2009

Preparation for prescribed burning, Schiff Nature Preserve, 3/01/2009

I spent part of this past Sunday working with the NJ Forest Fire Service preparing for prescribed burning this spring at Schiff Nature Preserve.  This will be my third season of prescribed burning.

We have three goals with our program.  First and foremost, we want to reduce the wildfire danger to our neighbors by reducing the amount of flammable vegetation close to homes.  Second, the preparation work, if conducted properly and carefully, can help with maintenance and construction of woods roads and trails. There is one inaccessible portion of the Preserve where we will be creating a new trail that will also act as a firebreak.

Finally, prescribed burning can help maintain and restore degraded forests and meadows.  We have approximately 30 acres of native meadow habitat dominated by warm season grasses.  Prescribed burning is a proven way to effectively manage native warm-season grasses.  For our meadow management, we follow best management guidelines developed by the Xerces Society.  The Xerces Society recommends only burning 30% of a particular habitat patch in a given year to ensure long-term diversity of native polinators. 

Prescribed Burn Locations, Schiff Nature Preserve, Mendham, NJ

Prescribed Burn Locations, Schiff Nature Preserve, Mendham, NJ

In the forested areas of the Preserve, we want to reduce the density of non-native invasive plants which dominate the understory and inhibit forest regeneration.  Frequent burning will reduce the density of non-native invasive plants. At the same time we implement this prescribed burning plan, we are overhauling our white-tailed deer management program, which up to now has had limited success at reducing the over-browsing of our native plants.

The idea is that as the deer herd is reduced, the invasives will concurrently be reduced by yearly prescribed burning.  Eventually we will reduce the frequency of burning and hope to start to see native plants regenerating in the growing space vacated by the invasives.   I am a big proponent of adaptive management, so we will also be developing a simple monitoring protocol in order to determine if we are getting the ecological results we are expecting.  

I am interested to learn how others are using prescribed burning as a land management tool.