≡ Menu

White false indigo is a herbaceous perennial and a member of the legume family, Fabaceae, that also includes peas, mimosa, and lupine.it is native to North American where is grows in dry meadows and forest edges.  Plants have a deep tap root and stout sparsely branched stems that grow three to sex feet tall.  The greyish/blue green leaves are obovate to oblanceolate, hairless, and compound with three leaflets that are two inches long and pointed at both ends.  Racemes up to two feet long carry 1″ flowers  that  are white  sometimes tinged with purple.  The flowers appear from late spring to mid-summer and give way to green seedpods that are two inches long and turn black with maturity.  The generic name, Baptisia, comes from the Greek word bapto meaning to dip or dye and refers to the flower extract once used as a substitute for indigo.  The specific epithet, leucantha, comes from the Greek words leukos meaning white, and anthos, meaning flower, and refers to the color of the flowers. [click to continue…]

There are several species of  bird’s foot trefoil, the most common of which is common bird’s foot trefoil, Lotus corniculatus.  It is a herbaceous perennial and member of the pea family, Fabaceae, that also includes lupine, mimosa, and locust. Native to Eurasia and  the grasslands of Eurasia and North Africa, it was spread to the US and can be found coast to coast in areas with more than 20 inches of rain.  Although bird’s foot trefoil is a good forage crop it can become weedy and is considered invasive in some areas.   Plants have a well developed branching tap-like root system with side roots near the surface of the soil and grow two to three feet tall.  Slender, well-branched stems carry smooth leaves with five leaflets.  The yellow slipper-shaped  flowers appear in in clusters from spring to early fall and give way to brown seed pods the look like a bird’s foot, hence the common name. [click to continue…]

Also known as black snakeroot, this herbaceous perennial bulb a member of the Melanthiaceae family that also includes trillium and false hellebores. It is native to western North America from southern British Columbia to California, and east to Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Nebraska and the Dakotas where it grows in a variety of habitats including meadows, sagebrush slopes and montane forests. Growing 1-2’ tall, the plant has a .5-1.5” wide bulb that looks like an onion but lacks its odor, smooth grass-like basal leaves, and six-petaled creamy white flowers that appear in dense pointed terminal racemes 2-8″ long from spring until mid-summer. The three-parted capsules that follow are held on elongated stalks. All parts of the plant are poisonous to both livestock and humans. [click to continue…]

Linda Glazer’s book, Compost! Growing Gardens from Your Garbage, is a simple introduction to composting. In the words of a little girl, it tells the story of how a family builds a compost pile from the table and garden waste, maintains it, and then uses it to grow a new garden. The table waste includes scraps that every child can identify such as banana peels, bread crusts, carrots skins and apple cores plus lima beans that the little girl prefers to compost rather than eat . The moldy jack-o-lantern from Halloween, grass clippings, fallen leaves, and debris from the vegetable and flower gardens are included as are the droppings from the family’s pet rabbit, Lopsy. The little girl waters the pile with a hose, and Mom turns it over every few weeks, so that soon the children feel heat from the pile and later notice that the garbage no long smells or looks like garbage but looks like dark brown soil. The family plants vegetables and flowers with the compost and the cycle begins again. Two pages of questions and answers about composting provide adult readers with additional information including specific directions for a compost pile and instructions for an experiment creating a mini compost bin. [click to continue…]

Cardinal flower is a clump-forming herbaceous perennial native to North America where it grows in moist to wet areas such as stream and river banks, pond edges, marshes and swamps in eastern and southwestern US, Mexico, and Central America to northern Colombia. It is a member of the bellflower family, Campanulaceae, that also includes balloon flower (Platycodon), and ladybell (Adenophora). The common name, cardinal flower, refers to the bright red garments worn by Roman Catholic cardinals. [click to continue…]

Also called striped Jack-in-the pulpit, this herbaceous perennial is a member of the arum family, Araceae, that also includes skunk cabbage, calla lily, and elephant ear.  It is native to western China where it grows in oak forests and shrubby valley at high altitudes.  Plants grow from corms and are late to appear and flower.  The inflorescence emerges first in late spring to early summer and consists of a spadix with small flowers and a hood like 3-6″ spath that is white with green stripes on the outside, and  white with pink  stripes on the inside.  Two large leaves appear after the flowers and are three lobed, up to twelve inches long, and provide color in the fall. [click to continue…]

hardy ageratum & goldenrod combinationFor a fabulous late summer to fall combination pair the striking blue flowers of hardy ageratum with the bright yellow flowers of ‘Fireworks’ goldenrod. ‘Fireworks appears in spring with light green buds that persist all summer while hardy ageratum follows a bit later. In late summer the two burst into bloom with their complementary colors just as other plants are beginning to taper off. Both plants feature fuzzy flowers but ‘Fireworks’ carries them all over its long slender stems while hardy ageratum carries them in dense heads. The shiny silvery seed heads of ‘Fireworks’ continue to add interest after the flowers fade. Both plants do well in moist well-drained soil in full sun and attract butterflies. [click to continue…]

Book Review: Cannabis Pharmacy

In this revised edition of Cannabis Pharmacy, author Michael Backes, presents an overview of the uses of cannabis as medicine aimed at the layperson and designed to encourage further inquiry and productive discussion between patients and physicians. The information covered includes a historical and scientific look at cannabis as a medicine, how to use medical cannabis, the different varieties of cannabis, and the uses of cannabis for specific ailments. Although the author does not hold a medical degree, he has specialized in cannabis science and policy issues and works for a Southern California consultancy.
[click to continue…]

Also called coffeeweed, hemp sesbania, and Colorado River-hemp, this semi-woody, native , tender perennial can be found in moist disturbed areas in the southeastern coastal plain into the piedmont from Virginia to Florida, west to Mississippi.   It is a member of the pe family, Fabaceae, that also includes lupine, mimosa, and black locust.  Historically, it has been used as a forage and cover crop but is now considered a serious weed in fields of soybean, cotton, sweet potato, and rice where it damages crops by growing over them. [click to continue…]

Hoary vervain is a herbaceous perennial and a member of the vervain family, Verbanaceae,  that also includes lantanas, verbena, and sandpaper vines.  It is native to the Midwest, the Great Plains, and Texas where it grows in meadows, fields,  and disturbed sites such as roadsides and railroad right-of ways. Plants grows in clumps two to four feet tall and have branched stems  with  two to four inch long ovate leaves that are directly attached to the stem and have coarsely toothed margins.  Both stems and leaves are covered with white hairs.  Small purplish flowers 1/2″ long appear in densely packed terminal panicles from May to September, (primarily in summer) when they bloom  a few at a time from the bottom  to the top of the panicle.  Plants spread by seed and rhizomes and often form colonies by self-seeding.  They make valuable garden plants especially in wildlife gardens where they are a larval host and nectar source for butterflies and provide seeds for small birds and mammals. Hoary verbena may become weedy, however, especially in dry poor disturbed soil. The generic name, Verbena, comes from the Latin word verbena referring to the leaves and twigs of some plants used in sacred ceremonies.  The specific epithet, stricta, is the Latin word meaning erect. [click to continue…]