Monday, August 27, 2012

Welcome to Maryland

We just closed on our new property in Maryland.  It is in what I consider to be a pretty rural area near Harper's Ferry.  This is a new experience for me, since I have always been living in more or less suburban areas.  We have a mix of mowed lawn, unmown/early successional meadow and woodland edge.  Over the next couple of months I will be trying to ID the plants on the site and then deciding how to use the spaces for creating new gardens, plant production and possibly just letting go.

In this posting I'll share some of the plants and insects I've ID'ed so far.  There are a lot of Box Elder, Acer negundo, but they are all growing in thickets and don't stand out too well.  One of the easiest trees to pick out was this Tulip Tree in the mown part of the yard.  The leaves have a distinctive tulip-like shape.  I'm guessing it's about 20 years old.

There are a number of what appear to be ornamental cherries on the property but these are in need of some TLC.  What I'm pretty sure are the native Pin Cherry, Prunus pensylvanica, looks a lot healthier, despite being in a less managed area.

I think this is a Pin Cherry.  The fruits were in small clusters,
rather than on racemes as found on Choke Cherries

Further in the back or the property I noticed the distinctive leaves of a Paw Paw tree.  This small tree/shrub has large drooping leaves.  I did not notice any fruits, but I understand that they are favored by the wildlife, so I may never get a chance.  I did see some Zebra Swallowtail butterflies which use the Paw Paw as a larval host.

The upper wings of this Swallowtail were in constant motion.
Another small native tree/shrub I found appeared to be a Carolina Silverbell.  This was in a shrub border close to the house so I don't know if it was planted or naturally occurring.  I would not have noticed it if it weren't for the winged seed pods.

The previous owner planted a wonderful assortment of flowering plants near the house, including a bunch of Butterfly Bushes.  I will probably replace some of these with native alternatives, but for now we will enjoy the variety of insect pollinators they attract.

I found the website Gardens with Wings to be very helpful in IDing these butterflies.

There are also a number of invasive plants that I will need to deal with.  One of the first we noticed was a displaced mid-western native Catalpa Tree.  These huge leaves really make the seedlings stand out along the roadsides.
This tree is no more.
 Some of the more insidious invasives to deal with are Japanese Stiltgrass and Mile-a-Minute vine.  The annual stilt grass is pretty easy to pull out, the key will be to keep it from reseeding and spreading.  Mile-a-Minute vine is pretty nasty looking and will require more work, and protection, to remove.
Stiltgrass can be recognized by a silvery line
along the mid-vein on the top of the leaf.

I started to pull at this vine, but then I noticed
the barbs all over the plant.  This will have to
wait until I have my gloves on.


ZielonaMila said...

Wonderful photographs, such views always enrapture me. I am greeting

Anonymous said...

Welcome to MD, dude! How coincidental. We are in the same state and doing the same thing.

No wonder I've been seeing so much more native wildlife..other than the pesky deer.

I had to plant all my pawpaw and stuff. So jealous you have a stand already on your property!

Best of luck being a steward of the land.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just read an article recently about managing mile-a-minute vine with weevils. This plant is their main food source. If you contact the URI Cooperative extension, I am sure they can help you get some hungry weevils! Good luck.

Curtis said...

This year I've noticed lots of holes in the Mile-a-minute leaves. I've been so manic about pulling the vines out, I have not checked to see whats eating them. Thanks for the info!