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Winter 2010 


Vol. 29, No.l 
ISSN 1085-9632 


www.vnps.org 


A publication of the VIRGINIA NATIVE PLANT SOCIETY 

Conserving wild flowers and wild places 



//, 


// 


Our Mountain Roots 
in Shenandoah 
National Park 
Annual Meeting 2010 


VNPS members are invited to gather 
September 10-12 in Shenandoah Na¬ 
tional Park for the Annual Meeting 
2010, hosted by the Piedmont Chapter. 
In keeping with the meeting's theme, 
"Our Mountain Roots," activities will 
highlight the park's cultural history as 
well as its plant communities. A variety 
of hikes will showcase varied ecosys¬ 
tems with their native plants, many still 
in bloom or fruit. Be ready for the chal¬ 
lenge of sorting out asters and golden- 
rods, or spotting more elusive plants 
such as doll's eyes (Actaea pachypoda ) 
or ladies' tresses (Spiranthes spp). The 
Friday-night speaker, park botanist 
Wendy Cass, will describe efforts to pre¬ 
serve the park's botanical treasures. Ac¬ 
commodations are reserved at Skyland 
Resort. Members are encouraged to 
monitor the Bulletin and the website as 
more information and registration de¬ 
tails become available. 


Don't judge a book by its cover 

The curious case of wild ginger pollination 

W hat pollinates wild ginger? This seems like an easy question. The incon¬ 
spicuous little flowers are held close to the forest floor, often completely 
hidden by a dense canopy of ginger leaves above. Flower color is rather drab, 
dominated by brown and maroon hues. Wind pollination seems completely un¬ 
likely and flowers pollinated by bees, butterflies, moths, or hummingbirds are 
always much more showy and accessible to these flying creatures. Flies, how¬ 
ever, given their natural inclination to seek carrion as a food source for their 
babies (i.e. maggots), are often attracted to brown and maroon flowers. And 
because their actual quarry, animal carcasses, would be located on the ground, 
visiting a wild ginger flower could easily be perceived to be consistent with 
routine fly behavior. It seems obvious: wild ginger flowers sure look like they 
ought to be cross-pollinated by flies of some sort. 

In fact, I remember being taught long ago that fungus gnats, a sort of fly, 
pollinate wild ginger, and, I am embarrassed to admit that I have passed along 
that half truth (really, less than half true) to more than one class of students. The 
general idea of fly-based pollination for wild ginger was widely repeated in floras 
and accounts of natural history prior to 1940, and a study of wild gingers and 
fungus gnats was published somewhat later (Vogel, 1978). These alleged gnat 
and fly pollinator theories have dispersed widely and now can be found infesting 
the Internet. It is not difficult to locate on the Web multiple iterations of and 
variations upon the wild ginger-fly/gnat story. Sometimes the 
story is embellished with 
wonderfully elaborate de¬ 
tails: flies newly emerged in 
early spring allegedly en¬ 
counter wild ginger flowers 
while searching for the thaw¬ 
ing bodies of small mammals 
that failed to survive the pre¬ 
ceding harsh winter. Often the 
story is told with the imprimatur 

(See Wild Ginger sex , page 6) 



Wild Ginger 
Asarum canadense 
Illustration by 
Nicky Staunton 













Bulletin of the Virginia Native Plant Society 


From the president 


Winter plant clues bring warm thoughts 

W hile there's still snow cover with the day, and while away a cold morning think- 
here in mid-January. I've ing warm thoughts. A book I like for looking up off- 


hile there's still snow cover 
here in mid-January, I've 
been spending a little more time 
inside. Oh the things you find! 
Yesterday it was a collection of plant parts, pretty 
dried up. What ARE these? Where did they come 
from? I really wasn't sure, but sat looking closely at 
them until it started to come back to me. A bit of the 
flowering part of skunk cabbage looking like something 
from another planet. A stem of flowers from a box el¬ 
der, I think. The calyx of a stachys flower, purple on 
the tips and still stuffed with hairs. Some grass, no 
less a mystery now than when I first picked it! While 
we should all heed the rule of not picking on publicly 
owned lands and gardens, I sometimes come in with a 
handful of things from yard or roadside and have a 
closer look. Not only are the pieces interesting in them¬ 
selves, and amazing because they keep some rather 
delicate looking parts, but you can shut your eyes and 
remember the feel of the air, or the smells associated 


season finds is Wildflowers in Winter, by Carol 
Levine, although there are other good ones. 

There is plenty to look forward to in the coming 
spring, including another stimulating lineup of 
speakers at our Annual Workshop on March 6, the 
second official Invasive Removal Day on May 1 that 
we cosponsor with the Virginia Master Naturalists, 
and another week-long trip to Southwest Virginia 
beginning May 9. Please look for more information 
on the trip elsewhere in this newsletter, or contact 
the office for details. 

I want to wish a warm welcome to new members, 
particularly those of you who received gift member¬ 
ships last year. Thanks also to the members who gave 
those gifts. I hope you will like what we offer, both on 
the state level and in your chapter, and continue your 
association with us. 

Your President, Sally Anderson 


Join VNPSfor a Southwest Va. botany-natural history foray 


Set aside the week of May 9-14 for a 
trip of exploring and botanizing. This 
year's trip will include stops at Mount 
Rogers for a visit to the boreal forest of 
Virginia and a walk among the wild¬ 
flowers. Doug Ogle has agreed to lead 
us on a trip to the ponds of Saltville. It is 
an area of much history, unique plant 
growth (can you believe saltwater 
plants?) and geologic wonder. 

We will visit the Clinch Mountain 
Wildlife Management Area to see spec¬ 
tacular displays of larkspur and tril- 
lium as well as blue-eyed Mary ( Col- 
linsia verna). This area climbs 1,600 feet 
above the valley to offer beautiful 
views as well as a diversity of flora. 

A drive through Burkes Garden in 
Tazewell County is always a treat. It is 
one of the most scenic areas in the Old 
Dominion. This is the highest valley in 
Virginia at 3,000 feet. For the birders this 
area offers waterfowl in the ponds and 
is home to the golden eagle. A drive 
through this area is as rural as it gets. 
The pastoral setting with the mountains 
looming above is spectacular. 

Breaks Interstate Park is located in 
Page 2 = 


Dickinson County and spills over into 
Kentucky. This is the deepest canyon 
east of the Mississippi. The 4,500 acres 
of this park offer a wide variety of plant 
life including catawba rhododendron 
(.Rhododendron catawbiense). The Russell 
Fork River offers fishing and 
whitewater rafting. We will spend the 
night in the lodge there and join a park 
ranger for a close-up look at a true Vir¬ 
ginia treasure. 

The drive between Breaks Inter¬ 
state Park and Natural Tunnel State 
Park is quite scenic and includes a stop 
at Birch Knob where on a clear day six 
states can be seen from the tower. Once 


we arrive at Natural Tunnel we will see 
an incredible variety of plants. This was 
one of the highlights of the 2009 trip. If 
you are interested in geology, there are 
fossils found in the limestone rocks 
here. Natural Tunnels was dubbed the 
eighth wonder of the world by William 
Jennings Bryan. 

More information is coming soon. 
Trip cost is $600 and includes lodg¬ 
ing, guides, a $100 VNPS donation, and 
most breakfasts. Trip limit is 16. To re¬ 
serve space, send a $100 deposit to 
the VNPS office. To learn more, con¬ 
tact Butch Kelly (butch2410@msn.com 
or 540- 384-7429). 


Globally rare ecosystem threatened by marina 

Tucked in the far southeastern corner of Virginia, the Back Bay National Wildlife 
Refuge and its namesake. Back Bay, harbor a rich array of aquatic life and vibrant bird 
populations and draw anglers and birders year round. The shallow bay, averaging 
just four feet in depth, is ruled by the wind rather than lunar tides, making it a globally 
rare ecosystem. The bay has been designated an Aquatic Resource of National Impor¬ 
tance by federal agencies, but that doesn't automatically protect it from harm. 

In 2005, a Virginia Beach developer applied for a permit from the Army Corps 
of Engineers to build a 76-slip commercial marina in the bay just north of the 
wildlife refuge. The project would result in a significant increase in motorboat 

(See Back Bay, page 8) 

— Winter 2010 














Bulletin of the Virginia Native Plant Society 


Bird bellies provide plant link 



What do the following have in 
common? The Statue of Liberty arrives 
in New York Harbor. A patent is filed 
for the first roller coaster. Grover Cleve¬ 
land becomes president of the United 
States. The Apache warrior, Geronimo, 
is fighting U.S. troops. Louis Pasteur 
invents the rabies 
vaccine. A 19- 
mile-long rail- 
road track 
connecting 
Norfolk to 
Virginia 
Beach is 
' two years 
old. The Vir¬ 
ginia Beach 
Hotel gets a 
"facelift and will soon 
reopen as the Princess Anne Hotel. 
The answer lies in the 19th century — 
the year 1885. 

The Virginia landscape in 1885 
was, in many places, a shadow of its 
former self. The long leaf pine had been 
logged to near extinction. Forests that 
greeted the early colonists had been 
cleared for homes, crops and pastures. 
Marshes and swamps had been 
drained to increase acreage for agricul¬ 
ture. George Washington had made a 
failed attempt a century earlier to 
wrestle land from the Great Dismal 
Swamp. Watershed quality had de¬ 
clined as soil erosion from farmlands 
clouded streams, rivers and bays. 

All the while, wildlife was pushed 
from its native homes and forced to find 
new food and cover. Flocks of wild tur¬ 
key moved out as jays, crows and star¬ 
lings moved in. Cultivated crops of 
corn, oats, barley and wheat proved a 
boon for wildlife. Cleared forests cre¬ 
ated edges where grass, perennials and 


ArC. 



shrubs could grow and provide wild¬ 
life with seeds, fruit, insects and cover. 
The ivory-billed woodpecker and the 
passenger pigeon became extinct 
while other wildlife flourished and 
adapted to the ways of mankind. 

The ability of wildlife to adjust and 
adapt to altered landscapes and intro¬ 
duced foodstuffs had long been of in¬ 
terest to field naturalists. The famous 
author of Birds of America (1827-1838), 
John James Audubon, shot the birds he 
posed and painted. He studied their 
stomach contents and noted foods 
eaten as "wild fruits and grains," 
"weed seeds" or "insect and plant ma¬ 
terials." With scalpel, tweezers, pencil 
and journal in hand, Audubon became 
an early practitioner of studying bird 
food habits in a laboratory. 

The traditional study of wildlife 
and food habits occurs in the field. 
The field naturalist needs a keen eye, 
patience and excellent recordkeeping 
skills. Henry David Thoreau is an early 
example. Weary after writing Walden, 
Thoreau embarked on a labor of love 
as he began to observe and record the 
goings-on of the native plants and 
wildlife near his home in Concord, 
Massachusetts. Thoreau writes of 
American chestnuts in the fall of 1850 
that "the chestnuts are rattling out. 
The jays scream and the red squirrels 
scold while you are clubbing and shak¬ 
ing the trees." He found 35 chestnuts 
a mouse had stored in the rodent's gal¬ 
lery. Thoreau noted the fall chestnut 
harvest of 1852 "was more than the 
squirrels could consume." 

Would that we could know what 
Thoreau did. The queen of the eastern 
forests fell victim to chestnut blight in 
1904. The American chestnut was all 
but a memory by 1950. Thanks to 
Thoreau and his writings in Wild 


Greenbrier (left) 
Illustration by Nicky Staunton 
Dogwood (right) 
Illustration by Barbara Stewart 




Fruits, we can wonder what it's like 
when "the chestnuts are rattling out." 

In 1885 the study of wildlife and 
their food habits became a mandate of 
the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 
Early research focused on wildlife food 
habits that could harm farmers' fields. 
It evolved to include the study of water- 
fowl, upland game birds, fur and game 
animals and other species. Fish and 
Wildlife Service record #1 was of a song 
sparrow shot in a marsh near Ossining, 
N.Y. at 6 p.m. on July 3,1885. Its stom¬ 
ach contents were studied and recorded 
as 20 percent animal matter and 80 per¬ 
cent vegetable matter. Decades later, 
more than 250,000 records existed for 
birds plus thousands of records on 
mammals, reptiles and amphibians. 

This vast reserve of federal food- 
habits data plus that gathered by state 
conservation and fish and game de¬ 
partments across decades is the back¬ 
bone of a unique book titled American 
Wildlife & Plants : A guide to Wildlife Food 
Habits. This book was published in 
1951 under the direction of the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Department of the 
Interior, at the Patuxent Research Ref¬ 
uge, Laurel, Maryland. The authors 
who took on the challenging task of or¬ 
ganizing, interpreting and publishing 
this data were biologist Alexander C. 
Martin, consultant Herbert S. Zim and 
Arnold L. Nelson, director of the 
Patuxent Research Refuge. 

This book answers questions 
such as "What foods does the com¬ 
mon goldfinch eat?" and "What 
foods do goldfinches prefer to eat?" 
The answer is that ragweed year- 
round is 10-25 percent of the gold¬ 
finch diet; thistle and sweet gum are 
10-25 percent of its wintertime diet 
and shepherds-purse is 10-25 
. percent of its summertime diet. 
. ’ l Goosefoot, sunflower, dande¬ 
lion, velvet grass and alder are 


(See Bird study, page 7) 


Winter 2010 


■ Page 3 









Bulletin of the Virginia Native Plant Society 

Flora of Virginia 

A peek inside the pages . . . 


T he manuscript of the Flora of Virginia goes to the 
copy editor next January, so this year is the home 
stretch! Ecological review of completed family treat¬ 
ments is now under way, and authors are winding up the 
remaining family treatments, as measurements are verified 
in the herbarium with specimens collected in Virginia. We're 
also gearing up to collect plants on our most-wanted list for 
illustration this year. In late 2012, we'll have the Flora in hand. 

We wanted you to have a preview of what the Flora is 
going to look like inside, so here (opposite) is a complete 
family treatment that will serve as a model 7 xl0-inch page. 
We picked a family — the Annonaceae — with only two rep¬ 
resentatives in the state, which lets us present a whole family 
treatment on one page. This treatment is not final, and there 
will probably be a few tweaks to the format. 

Let's have a look. A family treatment will begin with 
the prominent display of the family name, its authority, 
and its common name. This is followed by the family de¬ 
scription (D) and the references (R) used in the family's 
taxonomy and description. The taxa within a family will 
be presented genus by genus, alphabetically. For families 
with more than one genus in Virginia, there will be a di¬ 
chotomous key to the genera, but for the Annonaceae, we 
have only one genus, Asimina. A genus name is also pre¬ 
sented prominently, with its authority and common name. 
The genus is then described (D) and references (R) given. 

Next comes the dichotomous key to the species in the 
genus; in Virginia, there are two species in Asimina. The 
key is followed by a full description of each species, pre¬ 
sented in alphabetical order. A species description in¬ 


cludes authority, common names, and synonymy, keyed to 
references, which are coded to save space (for example, C = 
Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and 
Adjacent Canada, by Henry A. Gleason and Arthur 
Cronquist; F = Gray's Manual of Botany, by Merritt Lyndon 
Fernald; FNA = Flora of North America; and RAB = The 
Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas, by Albert E. 
Radford, Harry E. Ahles and C. Ritchie Bell). Then come 
the morphological description of the species (D), phenol¬ 
ogy information (P), habitat information (H), status (S), and 
any comments about the species (C). 

More than 3,500 taxa will be keyed and described in 
the Flora of Virginia, and 1,400 taxa will be illustrated with 
drawings commissioned especially for this book. The Flora 
will be a hefty 1,400 pages long and will include a history 
of botanical exploration in Virginia, a discussion of the 
plant communities in the commonwealth, and a glossary. 

This is an exciting time, made even more so by the ter¬ 
rific support we have received from the Virginia Native 
Plant Society, its chapters, and, individually, its members. 
While our fundraising lagged a bit last year compared with 
2008, we did better than we had anticipated, given the re¬ 
cession. This serves as our springboard for raising the 
$250,000 we need to make the Flora Project succeed. You 
can find information about the Flora Project and our spon¬ 
sorship programs on our website, floraofvirginia.org, or 
call me at 804-371-5561. Once again, VNPS has designated 
the Flora Project as the recipient of its annual giving cam¬ 
paign. An appeal letter should arrive in your mailbox soon. 
Bland Crowder, associate director and editor, Flora of Virginia Project 


Flower Camp to offer Nature Journaling Workshop 

Seeing nature in a new light will be the focus of the Nature Journaling Workshop 
to be held April 30 to May 2 at Nancy Ross Hugo's Flower Camp in Howardsville. 
Participants will learn to observe and record natural phenomena in new ways with 
artist Rhonda Roebuck, who returns to the Flower Camp setting overlooking the James 
River to lead her fifth workshop there. As always, Rhonda will not only share what 
she has learned from her own lifetime of journaling but also coach campers in new 
and interesting ways to record what they see. Rhonda will demonstrate interesting 
ways to alter digital images, play with paint, and experiment with drawing (even if 
you can't draw), but her emphasis during this workshop will be less on embellishing 
the journal page than on improving seeing. Rhonda's usual smorgasbord of materials 
will be available for campers to use, but this year participants will spend more time 
outdoors practicing techniques that enhance seeing rather than indoors working on 
journal pages. Camp director Hugo will be on hand to lead forays into the woods and 
gardens around Flower Camp, pointing out early spring tree traits, among other things. 
Tuition of $375 includes five meals (dinner Friday through brunch Sunday), two nights' 
lodging, instruction, and most materials. For more information, contact Hugo at 2047 
Selma Road, Howardsville, VA 24562; nancyhugo@comcast.net; or 804-798-6364. 


Winter 2010 



Linden tree journal page by 
Rhonda Roebuck. 


Page 4 
















Bulletin of the Virginia Native Plant Society 


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FIiti 'A ^"irvunvi 


Anncfiicciir 32 


Winter 2010 


Page 5 


















— Bulletin of the Virginia Native Plant Society 

Wild Ginger sex not as it seems 


(Continued from page 1) 
of authority, like a certain PowerPoint 
lecture that can be downloaded from a 
major university located somewhere in 
the Midwest (Pm not telling which, but 
it is not hard to find) in which the wild 
ginger of eastern North America (Asarum 
canadense ) is a featured example of fly- 
mediated pollination. Flies and wild gin¬ 
ger make a great and convincing story, 
but it's not the whole truth! 

Some of the first chinks in the wild 
ginger-fly story appeared in a 1940 ar¬ 
ticle by Donald Culross Peattie titled, 
"How is Asarum pollinated?" Peattie's 
article summarizes earlier literature 
and recounts his own observations of 
multiple species of Asarum and 
Hexastylis in their native habitats in 
North Carolina and California. 
Peattie's main points are: 1) earlier 
published accounts of wild ginger-fly 
interactions are mere assertions not 
accompanied by data, 2) prior to 1940, 
at least two detailed studies, one in 
Europe and one in Alabama, failed to 
record any insect visitors to wild gin¬ 
ger flowers, and 3) wild ginger flowers 
emit no detectable odor at all, whereas 
bona fide fly-pollinated flowers are 
typically foul-smelling, sometimes in 
the extreme. Peattie ends with a plea 
for well-documented studies of wild 
ginger pollination. 

Since Peattie's article, a few de¬ 
tailed studies of wild ginger have been 
published. The consensus emerging 
from several studies since the 1980s is 
that wild ginger flowers are self-polli¬ 
nated (these are well summarized in 
Kelly 1997,2001). The evidence is com¬ 
pelling: intact flowers that are care¬ 
fully bagged to prevent access by in¬ 


sects set seeds at rates equivalent to 
untouched control flowers while flow¬ 
ers that are carefully emasculated (an¬ 
thers removed before pollen is mature) 
but left uncovered (i.e., available to po¬ 
tential insect visitors) produce very few 
seeds. The evidence shows that self-pol¬ 
lination predominates and cross-pol¬ 
lination is rare. 

In the case of Asarum canadense and 
closely related species, the details of self- 
pollination are fascinating. As soon as 
the flowers open, stigmas are receptive 
but the pollen is not initially located 
nearby because the stamen filaments 
(stalks) are bent to a position parallel with 
the base of the floral cup. Over a period 
of several hours to several days, filaments 
straighten, bringing the pollen-bearing 
anthers into proximity with the stigmas. 
Cross-pollination would be possible if 
an insect visitor brought pollen to a 
flower shortly after opening, but it seems 
that insect visits of any kind are rare, and 
most seeds form as a result of delayed 
autonomous self-pollination brought 
about by reorientation movements of the 
stamens. At present, documentation of a 
minor role for cross-pollination by gnats 
or flies rests with some of the western 
U.S. species of Asarum. Asarum hartzvegii 
emits a faint musty floral fragrance 
(Mesler & Lu, 1993) and mushroom flies 
are reported to lay eggs in the flowers of 
several western species (Meeuse & Mor¬ 
ris, 1984). But, our eastern wild ginger, 
Asarum canadense, seems to be over¬ 
whelmingly self-pollinated. 

The story for the closely related 
wild gingers sometimes classified in 
the genus Hexastylis is a bit different. 
In these plants the stamens are short, 
their anthers are located well below the 
stigmas, and their filaments undergo 



Master Naturalists accepting applications 

Applications are now being ac¬ 
cepted for the Arlington Master Natu¬ 
ralist Program that starts this fall. Make 


a difference by becoming a Master 
Naturalist volunteer! 

For information and to complete an 
application for the Arlington program, 
visit the Arlington Regional Master 
Naturalist website at www.armn.org. 
For additional questions, please email 

Page 6 


arlingtonmasternaturalist@gmail.com. 
Training programs are also starting all 
across the state. For information about 
the statewide program and for chapters 
in other parts of the commonwealth, 
visit www.virginiamastematuralist.org. 

The Virginia Master Naturalist Pro¬ 
gram is a statewide volunteer corps pro¬ 
viding education, outreach, and service 

(See State naturalists , page 8) 


Wild Ginger 
Illustration by 
Virginia Nathan 


no repositioning movements. The dis¬ 
tance between anthers and stigmas is 
too great for easy direct self-pollination. 
For the few species studied, it seems 
that a variety of small insects visit flow¬ 
ers of Hexastylis and, while scrambling 
around inside, move pollen from an¬ 
ther to stigma, but these pollination 
events are overwhelmingly within the 
same flower, not crosses between dif¬ 
ferent flowers (Otte, 1977). 

So, things are not always as they 
seem. Wild gingers look like they ought 
to be cross-pollinated by flies but the 
best available evidence is that only 
some species are and then only some of 
the time; self-pollination, whether au¬ 
tonomous (in Asarum) or insect-assisted 
(in Hexastylis ) appears to be the norm 
for these curious plants. 

References cited: 1) Kelly, L. M. 1997. 
"A cladistic analysis of Asarum 
(Aristolochiaceae) and implications for 
the evolution of herkogamy." Amer. J. 
Bot. 84: 1752-1765. 2) Kelly, L. M. 2001. 
"Taxonomy of Asarum section Asarum." 
Syst. Bot. 26: 28-53. 3) Meeuse, B., & S. 
Morris. 1984. The Sex Life of Flowers. 
Faber, London. 4) Mesler, M. R., & K. I. 
Lu. 1983. "A re-evaluation of the green- 
flowered Asarum (Aristolochiaceae) from 
southern Oregon." Brittonia 35: 331-334. 5) 
Otte, D. 1977. "The pollination biology of 
Hexastylis arifolia (Michx.) Small var. arifolia 
and H. minor (Ashe) Blomquist 
(Aristolochiaceae) in the area of Chapel 
Hill, North Carolina." master's thesis. Uni¬ 
versity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 6) 
Peattie, D. C. 1940. "How is Asarum polli¬ 
nated?" Castanea 5:24-29. 7) Vogel, S. 1978. 
"Pilzmiickenblumen als Pilsmimeten." I. 
Flora 167: 329-366. 

W. John Hayden, VNPS Botany Chair 

_Winter 2010 









Bulletin of the Virginia Native Plant Society 


•Bird study - 

(Continued from page 3) 

2-5 percent of the goldfinch diet, de¬ 
pending on the time of year. The data 
also show that summer, fall and win¬ 
ter seeds make up 96, 99 and 97 per¬ 
cent, respectively, of their diet. Its 
spring diet is 49 percent animal food 
such as insects and 51 percent plant 
food. This is outstanding information 
for anyone who wants to attract gold¬ 
finches to the landscape! 

The book also answers questions 
such as "What wildlife utilizes sweet 
gum for food?" and "To what extent 
does wildlife prefer sweet gum for 
food?" The answers are "mallard 
ducks, bobwhite quail, Carolina 
chickadees, juncos, white-throated 
sparrows, towhees, Carolina wrens 
and the eastern chipmunk eat sweet 
gum seeds as .5 to 2 percent of their 
diets; goldfinches 5-10 percent, squir¬ 
rels 2-5 percent and beaver (seeds and 
wood) 10-25 percent of their diet. The 
authors remark that "this plant is used 
to only a small extent by wildlife." This 
is excellent information! It helps a land¬ 
scaper decide whether or not to include 
a native sweet gum tree in a landscape 
design or restoration project. 

Duck hunters might be interested 
in the aquatic and marsh section, where 


the food habits of specific waterfowl are 
listed. Fur and game animals are listed 
with their food preference data. All this 
information can be used to help invite 
wildlife home by planting favorite 
foods. Cultivated plants such as corn, 
wheat and barley have their own sec¬ 
tions with wildlife and food habit data. 

This information stands the test 
of time. Bird food habits and woody 
plant preferences should be about the 
same in 2010 as in 1951. The only dif¬ 
ference might be that the number of 
invasive plants as a percentage of 
wildlife diet may have increased as 
invasives have secured a stronger 
hold on the native landscape. 

The chapter that brings closure to 
this article is titled "Wildlife Plants 
Ranked According to their Value." 
Songbirds are the greatest part of each 
plant value but the ranks also consider 
water, marsh, shore and upland game 
birds, fur, game and small mammals 
and browsers. The plants are listed by 
common name. Field and lab limita¬ 
tions made it difficult to drill down 
past genus to identify plant species. 

The woody plants that rank from 
1 to 20 for their wildlife value in the 
southeast region of U.S., including 
Virginia's piedmont and coastal plain. 


are in descending order: oak, pine, 
blackberry, wild cherry, greenbrier, 
grape, blueberry, hickory, black gum, 
holly, poison-ivy, beech, maple, Vir- 
ginia-creeper, persimmon, wax myrtle, 
dogwood, mulberry and tulip tree. 

The woody plants that rank from 
1 to 20 for their wildlife value in the 
northeast region of the U.S. are in de¬ 
scending order: oak, blackberry, wild 
cherry, pine, dogwood, grape, maple, 
beech, blueberry, birch, sumac, aspen, 
spruce, hickory, fir, alder, poison-ivy, 
black gum, mulberry and elm. 

When cross-referenced with Dou¬ 
glas W. Tallamy's List of Woody Plants 
Ranked by Ability to Support Lepidoptera 
Species (Bringing Nature Home, 2007) 
the following are truly dual-purpose, 
highly beneficial native plants: oak, 
wild cherry, blueberry, maple, pine, 
hickory and beech. In all categories, the 
mighty oak comes out on top. The U.S. 
Forest Service Silvics Manual honors 
the white oak, Quercus alba , as "an out¬ 
standing tree of all trees." 

Gail Farley (gailfarley@verizon.net) is a 
member of the South Hampton Roads Chap¬ 
ter and an author/speaker who has devel¬ 
oped a program titled, "10 Lawn and Land¬ 
scape Practices that Benefit Homeowners, 
Watersheds and Wildlife." 


See the address label for your membership expiration date 

VNPS Membership /Renewal Form 

Name(s)_ 

Address_ 

City_State_Zip_ 

_Individual $30 _Student $15 

_Family $40 _Associate (groups) $40* 

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*Please designate one person as delegate for Associate membership 
To give a gift membership or join additional chapters: Enclose dues, name, address, and 
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Make check payable to VNPS and mail to: 

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Membership dues are tax deductible in the amount they exceed $5. Contributions are tax deductible in accordance with IRS regulations. 


Winter 2010 


The Bulletin 

ISSN 1085-9632 
is published five times a year 
(Feb., April, June, August, Nov.) by 

Virginia Native Plant Society 

Blandy Experimental Farm 
400 Blandy Farm Lane, Unit 2 
Boyce, VA 22620 

(540) 837-1600 

vnpsofc@shentel.net 

www.vnps.org 

Sally Anderson, President 
Nancy Sorrells, Editor 

Original material contained in the Bulletin may be 
reprinted, provided credit is given to VNPS and the 
author, if named. Readers are invited to send letters, 
news items, or original articles for the editor's con¬ 
sideration. Items should be typed, on disk in Microsoft 
Word or e-mailed to: Editor, 3419 Cold Springs Rd., 
Greenville, VA24440, or lotswife@comcast.net 
The deadline for the next issue is March 1. 


Page 7 


























Bulletin of the Virginia Native Plant Society 


•Back Bay - 

(Continued from page 2) 

traffic, which would disturb sensitive 
marsh birds and other wildlife and 
threaten the recovery of the bay's sub¬ 
merged grasses — critical for maintain¬ 
ing water quality and providing food 
and shelter for fish and birds. Propellers 
can easily get entangled in and destroy 
underwater grasses in the shallow bay. 

Hundreds of local fisherman and 
other residents have consistently op¬ 
posed the project, and the U.S. Environ¬ 
mental Protection Agency and U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, which manages the 
refuge, recommended against the permit, 
the wildlife agency saying the marina 
would pose "substantial and unaccept¬ 
able" impacts to the bay. The Virginia 
Department of Game and Inland Fisher¬ 
ies also expressed grave concerns about 
impacts of the project on wildlife, aquatic 
grasses, and water quality. 

However, after conducting only a 
minimal environmental assessment, 
the Army Corps of Engineers issued 
the permit in 2008, saying that its no- 
wake-zone policy, instituted in part of 
the bay in 2006, would protect the ref¬ 
uge — even though it acknowledged it 
had not enforced the no-wake-zone 
policy and it did not have the money 
to do so. 


In December, the Southern Environ¬ 
mental Law Center, on behalf of Friends 
of Back Bay and Back Bay Restoration 
Foundation, filed suit in U.S. District 
Court in Washington, D.C., challenging 
the permit for failing to meet requirements 
of the Clean Water Act and other laws. 
Article taken from the Southern Environ¬ 
mental Law Center website. See 
www.southernenvironmental.org for more 
information or to read the entire case. 


Botanical field meeting set 

The 2010 Joint Field Meeting of the 
Botanical Society of America (North¬ 
eastern Section), Torrey Botanical Soci¬ 
ety, and the Philadelphia Botanical Club 
will explore the botany of Berkshire 
County, Mass., from June 20 to 24. Par¬ 
ticipants will stay at Buxton School in 
the heart of Williamstown, Mass. 

Field trips, by bus, will include 
Mount Greylock, the highest mountain 
in Massachusetts with its own unique 
subalpine boreal forest and 
Bartholomew's Cobble, a National 
Natural Landmark noted for its great 
fern species diversity. 

The cost is $350 including four 
nights' lodging and meals from Sunday 
night through Thursday breakfast. With¬ 
out room, price is $225. For information 
contact Chair Nan Williams at 
nnwrowe@gmail.com or 413-339-5598. 


• State naturalists 

(Continued from page 6) 

dedicated to the beneficial manage¬ 
ment of natural resources and natural 
areas within their communities. It is 
jointly sponsored by Virginia Coopera¬ 
tive Extension, the Virginia Department 
of Conservation and Recreation, the 
Virginia Department of Forestry, the 
Virginia Department of Game and In¬ 
land Fisheries and the Virginia Mu¬ 
seum of Natural History. 

Interested Virginians become 
Master Naturalists through training 
and volunteer service.The process for 
becoming a certified Virginia Master 
Naturalist typically takes 6 to 12 
months. One starts by completing a 
40-hour basic training course offered 
by a local chapter. An additional 8 
hours of advanced training are also 
required. An important part of the 
certification process is the required 
40 hours of volunteer service. 

Virginia Master Naturalist pro¬ 
grams and employment are open to 
all, regardless of race, color, na¬ 
tional origin, sex, religion, age, dis¬ 
ability, political beliefs, sexual ori¬ 
entation, or marital or family status. 
An equal opportunity/affirmative 
action employer.