Teaching the Next Generation About the Environment

by Lisa Stern

ARMN member Lisa Stern describes the dedicated work of another ARMN volunteer, Jennifer Frum, to engage Gunston Middle School sixth graders by providing hands-on experience in pulling invasive plants.

(Photos by Lisa Stern, unless otherwise indicated)

The best lessons in life are the ones in which we have the opportunity to participate. And, if we are lucky, these experiences are guided by teachers and mentors who want to encourage the learning process by letting us get our hands into the project.

Several times a year for the past six years, Gunston Middle School sixth-grade science teacher Luz Chamorro has been heading a special project with lead ARMN volunteer and mentor, Jennifer Frum. The project started as trash cleanup around the school. However, as the cleanup progressed, Chamorro noticed invasive plants taking over spaces around the school. What started as trash cleanup became a lesson in helping the environment by pulling invasive plants.

Gunston sixth-grade science teacher Liz Chamorro

Gunston sixth-grade science teacher Luz Chamorro

Jennifer Frum wrestles with English Ivy.

ARMN volunteer Jennifer Frum wrestles with English Ivy.


Over the years, the project has been supported by a number of other ARMN volunteers— including Mary Van Dyke, Judy Hadley, and Bill Browning—and Arlington County. Six Americorps volunteers also assisted one year. But steadfastly, Jennifer Frum has been the lead ARMN volunteer for the project, organizing the effort year after year and ensuring that Chamorro and the classes had extra help and guidance on identifying and pulling the invasive plants. Imagine six classes of 25 excited sixth graders out in the field!

Gunston sixth graders tackle invasives.

Gunston sixth graders tackle invasives. (Photo courtesy of Luz Chamorro)

On a recent Thursday in October, Frum explained to one of the classes that in order to restore habitat for wildlife, invasive plants needed to be pulled so that native plants could survive. Standing in front of the classroom with strands of English Ivy as an example of an invasive, she explained that nonnative invasive plants don’t supply good nutrition to birds, bees, and other wildlife and that native animals need native plants for proper nutrition to survive. “If you ate ice cream every day for a week and it was your only source of food, it wouldn’t be good for you, would it?” Jennifer noted—and the class agreed. After a quick in-class lesson, the eager students headed out the door. Throughout the remainder of the day, six different classes (along with Chamorro, Frum, and parent volunteers) took turns pulling invasive plants and competing to make the largest pile.

Which class made the biggest pile of invasives?

Which class made the biggest pile of invasives?

Frum and Chamorro plan to repeat the project several times this year. The students are always excited to work outside and get a sense of helping the environment. They loved their experience so much that Jennifer Frum was touched to receive a heartfelt, handmade thank you note signed by Luz Chamorro’s students!

Thanks, Ms. Frum!

Thanks, Ms. Frum! (Photo courtesy of Luz Chamorro)

ARMN Discovers a Librarian’s Hidden Gem in the Weeds

by Noreen Hannigan

ARMN volunteer Noreen Hannigan describes efforts to restore Arlington Central Library’s native-plant gardens, a legacy of the late Lynn Kristianson.

Visitors to Arlington’s Central Library may have noticed a work in progress taking place around the rear and side entrances—restoring native-plant pollinator gardens created by a kindred spirit who sadly passed away.

A few years ago, library employee Lynn Kristianson created and maintained native-plant beds for pollinators along the rear and sides of the building. Lynn had a Masters degree in microbiology and was a native-plant enthusiast. With the library’s permission, she bought plants with her own money and tended the gardens on her own time. Lynn planted an impressive variety of flowers, including sundrops, liatris, hyssop, mountain mint, columbine, buttonbush, New York ironweed, spiderwort, and many others. Lynn even placed signs around the gardens with the names of each native plant.

Lynn and her husband were also recreational bicyclists. In February 2014, Lynn was cycling on a country road and was struck by a hit-and-run driver. She was seriously injured and struggled to recover, but unfortunately died in June 2015.

After Lynn’s accident, the library staff did its best to keep the weeds back but were unable to work in the garden on a regular schedule. The invasive plants had their way in the end and the signage became weathered and faded.

Invasive plants take over Central Library's gardens

Invasive plants took over Central Library’s gardens. (Photo courtesy of Yu-Hsin Hsu)

ARMN member Yu-Hsin Hsu was leaving the library one day and saw a library employee frantically pulling weeds. Yu-Hsin talked to her and learned that the library was trying to clean up the garden in time to hold a dedication ceremony in Lynn’s memory. Although not an experienced gardener, Yu-Hsin jumped in and started helping. She returned every week, rain or shine, to work on the weeds. A few weeks later, I joined in on the effort.


Central Library’s gardens begin to recover. (Photo by Noreen Hannigan)

The library held its memorial ceremony in June 2016, placing a plaque to Lynn’s memory. ARMN has now adopted “Lynn’s Garden” as a service project with the hope of keeping Lynn’s good work going.

Lynn’s husband Gordon, a retired construction manager, later designed and installed a lovely pergola in the sunny part of the garden. We envision it covered in coral honeysuckle next summer.

In addition to the groundcover weeds, one plant in particular, a kind of aster called Boltonia asteroides, had seeded itself aggressively and was growing in thick clumps throughout the garden. Although a native itself, it overtook many of the other native plants. So, the decision was made to remove the Boltonia. In its place were vestiges of Lynn’s natives that, happily, came back as spring and summer wore on.

Boltonia asteroides at Arlington Central Library

Boltonia asteroides at Arlington Central Library (Photo by Noreen Hannigan)

Another challenge was remedying the conditions around the line of four river birch trees planted in the library’s berm garden. The trees are mature and beautiful, but they are surrounded by pavement on all sides and the soil is very hard, dry, and rocky. They experienced some significant leaf drop during the hot spells, but the library has allowed us to use the outdoor faucets for watering. Now we are looking for ways to spruce up the berm garden without impacting the birch trees.

There is much work yet to be done.  We will have periodic volunteer work parties to bring Lynn’s Garden back to the way it was when she was alive. Check the Volunteer tab on the homepage of this website for updates. If you have a few hours here and there, we’d love to see you there.


Dedication plaque (Photo by Noreen Hannigan)



ARMN Volunteers in the Making

Article and photos by Suzanne Dingwell 

ARMN member Suzanne Dingwell provides a firsthand account of the launch of the latest Master Naturalist training class.

Expectations and energy levels were running on high settings on the night of Tuesday, September 6, when the newest class of ARMN trainees came together for the first time. The new group is full of motivated people who are primed to “Go!” They come from many walks of life, but all have the same desire to learn more about the natural world unique to Virginia. And, importantly, they want to make meaningful contributions to our local community by educating others and improving environmental conditions. During the ice-breaker activity, the folks quickly shared with each other their backgrounds and their hopes for using their newly acquired skills at training’s end.


Behind the scenes, the ARMN Training Committee had been hard at work, scheduling talks and field trips, getting materials, putting notebooks together, and assembling the bag of resources each new trainee received the first night. Trainees were eager to delve into the carefully chosen collection of books related to our local natural world.

Past-president Caroline Haynes was on hand to remind the class of the mission statement of Virginia Master Naturalists and the commitment to volunteer. Certified Master Naturalist volunteers give 40 hours of their time each year (and many give far more! ) to help provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.

Basic information about the course and the Master Naturalist organization was shared and —as a taste of things to come—the class put their detective skills to work on some mysterious tree branches. Using a simple dichotomous key in one of their new books, Common Trees of Virginia, they deduced that the tree was a mulberry. A lively discussion ensued over the question of white mulberry versus red!

Matt Bright and Kyle

Matt Bright (right) and Kyle Chapman confer over tree identification.

It was such a pleasure to be on hand for this new beginning; I was inspired and impressed by the knowledge, passion, and commitment demonstrated by this latest group of ARMN trainees. Welcome! I can’t wait to be out there volunteering at your side.

Barcroft Magnolia Bog Restoration Project Receives 2016 Achievement Award

The Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) recently recognized Arlington County’s Department of Parks and Recreation’s (DPR) Barcroft Magnolia Bog Restoration Project with a 2016 Achievement Award. VACo described this innovative program “as a model for natural resource management in urban areas by highlighting opportunities to incorporate community groups in environmental stewardship activities.” http://www.vaco.org/pressreleases/16releases/16programdescription.pdf.

The Barcroft magnolia bog occurs as a collection or mosaic of 18 separate springs that create wooded wetlands within a 25-acre undeveloped portion of Barcroft Park in South Arlington. The bog ranks as one of only two dozen such bogs known in the world and gets its name from the Sweetbay Magnolias (Magnolia virginiana) that grow naturally there.


Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana), the signature plant of magnolia bogs. (Photo courtesy of Greg Zell)

The bog area lies just steps away from baseball fields, picnic areas, and tennis courts in Barcroft Park. Nearby development, changes in the water table, invasive plants, and other environmental stressors have all taken a toll on this globally rare ecosystem.

The bogs were identified by botanist Rod Simmons in 2004 and brought to the attention of Greg Zell, then chief naturalist at the Long Branch Nature Center. Zell and Simmons immediately began a series of field studies to document the presence of both state and globally rare wetlands. Several dozen locally rare wetland plants were found that grow nowhere else in Arlington. As a result, a plan to protect and restore this natural treasure was drafted. The draft became the basis for DPR’s five-year-long Barcroft Magnolia Bog Restoration Project. The goals of the plan were to:

  • Preserve high-value natural lands through removal of nonnative plant species and targeted reforestation of extant species.
  • Restore degraded wetlands through re-introduction of historically appropriate native plant species and wildlife.
  • Stabilize the hydrologic regime to former conditions where possible to favor long-term stability of wetland plant communities.
  • Develop a holistic plan that favors an ecosystem approach to ecological management of the site.

To implement the plan, Arlington County staff partnered with AmeriCorps and volunteers from ARMN, the Windgate townhome community, Earth Sangha, the Virginia Native Plant Society, and the Remove Invasive Plants (RIP) group to inventory the bog’s plants, remove invasive plants, build a vernal pool, and install locally sourced native plants. The work extended to areas around the bog to stabilize and protect it.


Greg Zell supervises the removal of invasive plants from the floodplain adjacent to the bog area. (Photo courtesy of Christ Bright)

In 2011, DPR also received a grant to restore an additional 13 acres of the Barcroft magnolia bog area and to provide for outreach to Arlington residents about invasive plants and the restoration work. In 2012, AmeriCorps helped the County expand existing wetlands near the bogs, release Wood Frog eggs in the new vernal pools, conduct further inventories at the site, and help to lead additional volunteer events. In 2013, County staff and ARMN members re-introduced local ecotype native species to the bog area.

Today, the bog and its surrounding buffer are nearly 90-percent free of invasive plants.  Long-lost animals and plants are returning. New colonies of Spring Peepers, Wood Frogs, Gray Fox, Yellow-crowned Night Herons, and Little Wood Satyr butterflies, as well as uncommon plants such as Dwarf Ginseng, Bloodroot, and Wood Anemone, are expanding their range inside of Barcroft Park. Long-term success will be measured through periodic plant and animal surveys.

Swamp Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) (Photo courtesy of Sarah Archer)

Swamp Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)
(Photo courtesy of Sarah Archer)

“This is a real success story for our County,” said Jane Rudolph, director of Parks and Recreation. “The bog is home to wetlands, natural forest, and more locally rare plants than any other site in the County. We want it to be here for generations of Arlingtonians to enjoy.”

Royal Fern: Osmunda regalis

Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis) (Photo courtesy of Vincent Verweij)





Show Some Pollinator Love with a “Protect Pollinators” License Plate

ARMN member Samantha Gallagher combined a talent for graphic art—and advocacy—to make a Protect Pollinators license plate a reality in Virginia. Read on….

The efforts of ARMN’s own Samantha Gallagher just keep generating wonderful benefits for pollinators. Samantha has always loved bees and other pollinators, advocating for them from a young age. When she moved to Virginia a few years ago, she learned that the state had a specialty license plate for wildflowers, but not for pollinators. So she decided to do something about it. Using her skills as a graphic artist, Samantha designed a custom plate that features Virginia native pollinators, and in 2010, began the long process to gain approval for a Protect Pollinators license plate.


Samantha Gallagher holds a sample Protect Pollinators license plate. Photo courtesy of Claire Harper and The Zebra.

Once she submitted the proposal to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, the hardest part of the process began: getting 450 people to commit to purchasing the license plate and pay the specialty-plate fee in advance. The effort took four long years, with Samantha attending Earth Day activities, nature festivals, and any event even vaguely connected with pollinators. During that time she also kept in touch with those who pledged to buy the plate with her upbeat reassurances that it would become a reality.

After Samantha gathered the required applications, she still needed a state legislator to sponsor a bill to approve the pollinator plate. She found a perfect ally in someone who had already introduced pro-pollinator legislation: Virginia Senator Creigh Deeds. In January 2014, Deeds introduced the bill “to authorize the issuance of special license plates for supporters of pollinator conservation bearing the legend: PROTECT POLLINATORS.” On April 6, 2014, the bill became law.

While this was a wonderful accomplishment, it isn’t the end of the story.

In the summer of 2014, Nicole Hamilton of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy had a brilliant idea. She had watched with despair as medians filled with milkweed and other wildflowers were mowed time and time again. She wondered: Can we simply change the mowing schedule to allow this valuable resource to continue growing for migrating Monarchs? And, ideally, use medians along Virginia’s highways to plant more milkweed and other native flowering pollinator plants as well? She contacted the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) regarding changes to the mowing schedule for existing patches of milkweed and scheduled a meeting with VDOT’s vegetation management. She invited Samantha to attend the initial meeting as well; while Nicole could speak about the Monarchs, Samantha could speak about our native bees.

VDOT was excited about the opportunity, but there was an issue of funding for digging up existing fescue in medians and creating new plantings. The pollinator license plates were discussed as a potential fundraiser for what would eventually become VDOT’s Pollinator Habitat Program. This program provides for naturalized areas planted with native  pollinator species along state-maintained roadways and also creates meadows and gardens with informative signage at park-and-rides and rest areas. [http://www.virginiadot.org/programs/pollinator_habitat_program.asp]


Pollinator meadow at Dale City rest stop. Photo courtesy of Samantha Gallagher.

To make changes to the existing legislation, Samantha contacted local Senator George Barker, who agreed to sponsor an amendment to ensure that the revenue from the pollinator plate would be used strictly for the Pollinator Habitat Program. In July 2016, with more than 5,000 plates now on the road, the pollinator plates officially began generating revenue for the new program.

To learn how to get your own Protect Pollinators license plate and find out more about why this effort is so important, visit Samantha’s pollinator plate website at: http://www.pollinatorplates.com/. To read the full story of Samantha’s efforts to make the pollinator plate a reality, see Tom Sherman’s article, “The Bees, Creigh Deeds, and the DMV,” in The Zebra: http://thezebra.org/the-bees-creigh-deeds-and-the-dmv/.


Fall is the Perfect Time to Plant Native Trees and Perennials!

by Kasha Helget

ARMN communications chair Kasha Helget provides inspiration for fall planting and a list of upcoming sales that feature native plants.

Spigelia marilandica (Photo courtesy of Lark Wells)

Spigelia marilandica (Indian Pink) (Photo courtesy of Lark Wells)

Autumn is one of the best times to install plants. The reason is that conditions are usually ideal to give plants a great start. The soil is still warm, which allows roots to become established before the plant goes dormant, and cooler air temperatures allow for less plant shock for the parts above the soil. There are also many plants that bloom in the fall and provide wonderful winter interest. You and your garden will also have a jump on the spring season—when the new plants will emerge ready to delight you all year.

Native plants are a particularly attractive choice because they have adapted to the local climate and soil conditions where they naturally occur. They do not require the fertilizers and pesticides that lawns and many nonnative perennials do, and when installed in the right location, will need less water and help prevent erosion. Moreover, they are beautiful and they provide nectar, pollen, and seed sources for native butterflies, insects, birds, and other animals. Most nonnatives do far less.

As far as the right location for particular natives in your yard, there is a wonderful FREE guide to help: the Plant NoVA Natives website (http://www.plantnovanatives.org/) provides detailed information and photos about plants local to Northern Virginia so you can choose native species that are best suited to your property. Both beginners and expert gardeners can appreciate the site’s colorful guide to local natives, a list of local businesses that supply them, and links to organizations that will come to your property and offer customized landscaping recommendations.

Asarum canadense (Canada Wild Ginger) Photo courtesy of Kasha Helget

Asarum canadense (Canada Wild Ginger) (Photo courtesy of Kasha Helget)

Fall Native Plant Sales around Northern Virginia

There a number of fall native plant sales coming soon to the area. Following is a list of dates and locations of those that provide reliable stock and where you can receive guidance from sellers who know their plants well.

First Wednesday of the month from April to October, 10 am to noon, Virginia Native Plant Society–Potowmack Chapter  VNPS–Potowmack propagation beds behind the Green Spring Gardens Horticulture Center, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA 22312. http://vnps.org/potowmack/

Saturday, September 10, 9 am to 3 pm, Green Spring Fall Garden Day, Green Spring Gardens. The VNPS–Potowmack propagation beds are behind the Green Spring Gardens Horticulture Center,. There are some vendors of native plants mixed in with the nonnatives vendors, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA 22312 (http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/events.htm).

Saturday, September 10, 9 am to 3 pm, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Fall Native Plant Sale, Morven Park, 17263 Southern Planter Lane, Leesburg, VA (http://www.loudounwildlife.org/Event_Native_Plant_Sale_Fall.html).

Saturday, September 17, 1 to 4 pm, Long Branch Nature Center, 625 Carlin Springs Road, Arlington, VA (https://parks.arlingtonva.us/events/fall-native-plant-sale-3/; plants may be ordered online by September 7: https://parks.arlingtonva.us/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2016/07/Fall-Order-Form-16.pdf

Saturday, September 24, 9 am to 2 pm, Northern Alexandria Native Plant Sale (formerly Parkfairfax Plant Sale), Church of St. Clement, 1701 N. Quaker Lane, Alexandria, VA (http://home.earthlink.net/~sknudsen/)

Sunday, October 2, 10 am to 2 pm, Earth Sangha Open House and Plant Sale, Cloud Drive entrance to Franconia Park, Springfield, VA 22150. See http://www.earthsangha.org/#!wpn/c1drm for plants and directions.

Bird Mobs at Long Branch Nature Center

by Steve Young

ARMN member and Long Branch environmental steward Steve Young shares a mindful encounter with nature.

During a warm July morning, I found myself walking along the Long Branch Nature Center access road. Just east of Willow Pond, I began to hear a commotion among small birds. First to get my attention were the scolding alarm calls of Wood Thrushes—”Whip! Whip!” Then I began to notice other birds calling and in some cases flying around near the stream: Eastern Towhees, Common Grackles, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmice, Carolina Wrens, Blue Jays, and undoubtedly some others I either missed or have forgotten.

To me the uproar was almost a sure sign of the presence of some predator. Birds alert each other to a predator and often “mob” it. Interestingly, even though there are crows around and they tend to be very aggressive mobbers, I heard or saw none.

I slowly walked closer to the stream, toward the epicenter of the activity, expecting to see perhaps a ground-based predator like a domestic cat or a fox, maybe with a victim in its grasp, since that would amplify the upset of the birds. But I saw nothing. Barred Owl? I looked up in the trees, but saw no owl. Finally, about 15 feet above the stream, I spotted a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk perched motionless in a tree. This was the cause of the racket. As I got close, it flew to a new perch about 3 feet away from its previous one. As soon as it moved, two grackles dived at its head. There was no more direct mobbing, but the sonic uproar continued. I took several pictures and walked on.

Red-shouldered Hawk at Long Branch (upper right in tree)

Red-shouldered Hawk at Long Branch (upper right in tree)

Had I not focused on the message from the birds and realized they could tell me something, I would never have known the silent, motionless hawk was there. The more attention we pay to nature with our various senses, the more stories nature shares.

Applications for ARMN Fall Training Class Due August 20

Identifying non-native invasive plants

Learning to identify nonnative invasive plants at Fort C. F. Smith

Macro-invertebrate stream monitoring

Assessing stream health by observing collected macro-invertebrates

“I love ARMN and opportunities it offers.”

“I enjoy the broad spectrum of volunteer projects/opportunities, the many continuing-education possibilities, the good networking between the local nature groups and organizations/agencies /events, and the exchange of information about nature stuff, events, organizations—and more!”

~Current ARMN master naturalists

Do you have a great interest in nature? • Do you want to learn more about insects? • birds? • mammals? • reptiles? • geology? • aquatic and terrestrial ecology? • native and invasive plants? • parts of nature you didn’t even know existed? • Would you like to help keep our natural world healthy or share what you learn about nature with neighbors/schools/the larger community?

Then apply now to train as a master naturalist during ARMN’s 14-week Fall 2016 basic training course. No prior experience is necessary—just your interest in the natural world.

Classes will be held on Tuesday evenings from 7:00 to 10:00 pm, from September 6 through December 6, 2016, at Long Branch Nature Center, 625 S. Carlin Springs Rd, Arlington, VA 22204. Four Saturday field trips will be scheduled at parks around the area.

Learn more about the program on the armn.org website under Training (https://armn.org/basic-training/). See the Apply tab (https://armn.org/apply/) for the application form, which you can fill out and deliver to Long Branch by mail or in person no later than August 20, 2016. Space in this popular course is limited, so act now.

Contact: Caroline Haynes (703-525-3614) for questions.

We hope to see you in September!

Arlington 4-H’s Environmental Programs Help Kids Explore Nature

by Caitlin Verdu

Here, 4-H Agent Caitlin Verdu provides a glimpse into the 4-H Outdoor Explorers program, which pairs volunteers with Extended Day staff to get children outside to enjoy nature. Interested in learning more? Attend a free information session on Tuesday, August 23 from 7–9 pm at Walter Reed Community Center or contact Caitlin directly (cverdu@vt.edu or 703-228-6404).

On a chilly April morning, the Arlington County Public Schools’ (APS) Extended Day staff huddled in a silent circle around an oak tree. For sixty seconds, the group scrutinized the branches. After the quiet minute, each participant shared something they had observed:

  • I think I see a bird’s nest.
  • The tree is so tall; I bet it is very old.
  • There is a little plant growing at the base of the trunk.
  • Many of the branches are broken, so it’s probably been in some strong storms.

I explained that this was our Meeting Tree. If we had multiple sessions, we would return to this tree to find differences throughout the seasons. We would search for wildlife, plant seeds, mimic animal adaptations, play in the dirt, and gaze at the clouds—all in the name of exploration. We would become 4-H Outdoor Explorers and, most importantly, we would have FUN!

The 4-H Outdoor Explorers program operates through the APS Extended Day program. School staff are trained in the curriculum and carefully plan out a schedule of activities. Then, with volunteer support, they lead elementary-aged youth in simple nature lessons. In the fall, this program will run at Randolph, Drew, Ashlawn, and Hoffman Boston Elementary Schools.

Photo 1

The 4-H Outdoor Explorers program is one of two exciting 4-H opportunities for volunteers to reach budding naturalists. The other is the 4-H Nature Knights, a club for youth ages 9–13. These curious conservationists meet monthly to investigate a nature topic. Volunteers join the fun by leading one-time nature activities or field trips. Activities are only limited by imagination, and recent offerings have included a tree identification walk, stream surveying, and a lesson on hummingbird migration.

By exposing youth to the wonders of the natural world at an early age, 4-H is developing the next generation of conservation leaders. In order to continue this important mission, we need your help.

Photo 2

We’re looking for volunteers who are interested in sharing their passion for nature with youth. Do you enjoy playing in the dirt? Do you like exploring the outdoors? Do you want to help develop the next generation of naturalists? Then come out to the 4-H training on Tuesday, August 23 from 7–9 pm at Walter Reed Community Center to learn how to put your talents and enthusiasm to use. We will cover program opportunities, share tips and tricks for successful environmental education programs, and experience the 4-H model of “learning by doing” through educational games.

Questions? Contact Caitlin Verdu at cverdu@vt.edu, 703-228-6404, or just stop by her office at the Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington, VA.

Amazing Grasses . . . Right Under Our Feet!

by Caroline Haynes (photos courtesy of Toni Genberg, unless otherwise indicated)

A hardy group of ARMN and Virginia Native Plant Society members braved the late-July heat at Fort C. F. Smith Park for an early morning native grasses ID walk. Leading the trek was ARMN member and plant expert Margaret Chatham. As is typical for continuing education events, there was a range of expertise in the group, but it is safe to say that everyone seemed to learn something new!

Schizachyrium scoparium

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) (photo by Kasha Helget)

From the “barber pole” coloration of the stem or culm of Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) to the number and scales on the spikelets of the Nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus), Margaret shared clues that help identify the plants we saw.


Nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus)

Having scouted the site before the walk, Margaret provided a list of the species we were likely see. This helped immensely in trying to capture the distinguishing characteristics of the variety of grasses (and a few rushes and sedges) that we found in the park.

Many thanks to Margaret for sharing her considerable expertise and to Toni Genberg who took most of the photos seen here.


Globe Flatsedge (Cyperus echinatus)



Deer Tongue (Dichanthelium clandestinum)


Virginia Wildrye (Elymus virginicus)



Purpletop Tridens (Tridens flavus)