In My Garden – New Volunteers

One of the fun parts about having some wild areas on the property is scouting out what new plants have arrived.  I get to identify them and then decide if they are good plants I want to keep.  This season, I’ve found two of them!

The first one I found was next to the woodland garden path, under an oak tree.  It is grassy, but if you look closely you’ll see these unusual alien-looking spikes coming out of the base.  I remembered the adage “Sedges have edges, rushes are round, and grasses are hollow all the way to the ground.”  Because of the triangular nature of the leaves, I thought it might be a sedge.  So off to my go-to source for new plant identification, the Go Botany site within the Native Plant Trust website.  I worked my way through the selection, and found the picture most closely matched Carex viridula, Little green sedge. What seemed to clinch it was that the sedge is native on Cape Cod.  It typically is found in wetlands – this spot in the yard is about 6 or 8 feet above the water table so maybe with the very wet April we had there was enough moisture for it.  It will be interesting to watch this plant over time!

This next one puzzled me for a while.  It’s about 3 feet tall, growing in dappled shade under a wild cherry. The leaves are alternate and lobed like maples and also like young porcelain berry.  The stems, though, were kind of hairy, neither a maple nor a porcelain berry.  Then in July that lovely pink-violet flower appeared.  Back to Go Botany, but I wasn’t sure whether this was a perennial or a shrub or a vine, so had no luck.

Several people had recommended to me a phone app called Picture This for plant identification, so this was the time to try it out.  I downloaded the app, opened it, clicked on it to take a picture of the plant, and within 5 seconds it had it – Rubus odoratus, or Thimbleberry, also called Flowering raspberry.  Once I had the name and was able to find it on Go Botany, the pictures and descriptions matched exactly.  Evidently this plant, although native to New England, is not documented on Cape Cod.  But it does spread out into a nice ornamental thicket, so I’m keeping it. Love those free plants!

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