Notes from a plant nerd: Worts and All

Among the duff of last year’s fallen leaves lie many interesting and beautiful shapes to catch your eye on a winter’s walk in the woods. From the mosses and orchid leaves described in previous columns, to newly emerging plants preparing for spring’s full flush, there are many forms and patterns on the winter forest’s floor.

Notes from a plant nerd: Winter moss gathers no stones

Among my favorite types of plants that grow year-round, and tend to especially shine in the wintertime, are mosses.

Notes from a plant nerd: Winter Green

While there are many plants that stay green throughout the winter, there is only one plant known as wintergreen.

Notes from a Plant Nerd: The winter forest

I love walking in the woods in the wintertime. Sure, there aren’t any wildflowers blooming, but there are no mosquitos to swat away, no flies or ants to bug your lunch, and no snakes to startle your path either. The long-range views visible through leafless trees give a fresh perspective to familiar trails as all the ridges and hollows are outlined starkly on the hillsides, showing evidence of water and its effect through millions of years of erosion.

Notes from a Plant Nerd: Nothing New Under the Winter Sun

Every year on the last night of December, in the dead of winter, the cries go out of “Happy New Year!” We toast our old acquaintance, kiss our sweethearts, celebrate the highs and drown the lows of the previous twelve months in a night of revelry.

Notes from a plant nerd: Happy Holly Days

There are many different plants that Appalachian mountainfolk have used for centuries in their decorations and celebrations on or around the winter solstice.

Notes from a plant nerd: Leftover Cranberries

Many of us may be tired of cranberries by now, having eaten our fill, and then some, at our recent fall harvest celebrations. And whether you were on team fresh cranberry sauce, or you prefer the canned cranberries, you ate the fruit of a plant native to North America called large cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon).

Notes from a plant nerd: Pushing Leaves

Every year, the fallen leaves blanket the forest floor in the fall. And every spring the wildflowers have no trouble pushing up through them to bloom.

Notes from a plant nerd: Witch-hazel

Just as most of the other plants, shrubs and trees in the woods are shutting down and preparing to go dormant for the winter, here comes witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) just beginning to flower for the year. Many will not see their blooms, if they notice them at all, until the leaves are gone. But they begin blooming just in time for Halloween, like any good witch would. 

Notes from a plant nerd: Gentians, pronounced like ‘gen-shun’

It used to be, when I was first getting into wildflowers, that I would see the gentians begin to bloom, and my heart would sink a bit. The melancholy would start to grow, and I’d get a little sad knowing that the end of the wildflower season was getting near. See, I consider gentians to be the last wildflower to bloom in the fall. Now I know that this isn’t exactly true, as the flowers of witch-hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, only start blooming in the fall and can continue to bloom through December. 

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