Nature Journals ~ Identify That Plant!

leaves and acorns drawn in pen and ink, copyright Liz Macklin 2021

In master naturalist training we identified trees by looking at their shape, bark, leaves and seeds. While hiking near Barcroft’s bog, we found oaks and poplars growing tall above a thriving poison sumac. Be aware, and if you’re in doubt about a plant, don’t touch or taste! Poet Jacqueline Jules stresses the importance of learning our plant IDs — and watching out for poison ivy!

Identifying Ivy

by Jacqueline Jules

I beg you. Reconsider
preconceived notions
and identify the difference.
 
Three together. Mitten shaped.
Small stem on the center leaf.
Pointed tips. Shiny. White berries.
 
Not the same as Virginia Creeper
and its cluster of five.
 
Do a little research. You’ll find
most are harmless. Don’t despise
every green vine gracing the path
because one or two
produce a nasty itch.

“Identfying Ivy” copyright by Jacqueline Jules — printed with permission of the poet

Read more poetry by Jacqueline Jules at Metaphorical Truths.

For help with identifying plants and animals, submit a photo to INaturalist. Researchers and citizen scientists (and even people like me!) use the posted data to learn more about our world.

In the Washington, D.C. region Alonso Abugattas posts observations about animals and plants and answers questions on his blog, the Capital Naturalist.

Sunflowers

Three Sunflowers
Sunflowers | watercolor | copyright Liz Macklin 2016

We have a bumper crop of pumpkins this year but absolutely no sunflowers. I guess the squirrels ate the seeds.

My friend, author Jackie Jules, grew sunflowers on her deck. Her seedlings vanished once, then twice. But did Jackie give up? No.  In fact, I bet that she sang as she watered her plants– songs of maidens and magic seeds. Her flowers bloomed in the brightest gold.

More than a thousand miles away, I dreamed of blossoms and howling guards that chased away the squirrels. In the morning I’d walk the dog and sneak past a neighbor’s house for a glimpse of her sunflowers.

Then one day Madelyn Rosenberg came to my rescue. She was typing away. I imagine her looking like a brunette Katherine Hepburn — author/ journalist. She took a break to bring sunflowers to everyone at our writers group. Madelyn, how did you know? I just had to paint them.

—————  Even if plants can’t hear storytellers,  what do we know of how plants respond to sound? A study of caterpillar crunching! From the California Academy of Sciences.

Winter Watercolors and Then — Spring!!

Along Four Mile Run at Long Branch Nature Center
Along Four Mile Run at Long Branch Nature Center

Spring? Not quite yet. This month I’ve painted with a new group of artists – talented teens from Arlington County. On a sunny Saturday we packed up our watercolors and met at Long Branch Nature Center.

There’s still snow in the shadows, but the park naturalists are thinking ahead to spring planting. The center sponsors an annual native plant sale with a deadline for placing orders on April 4, 2014. See the center’s web site for more information and full color photos of bluebells, cardinal flowers, coneflowers, wild geraniums and other flowers. I’m thinking about green shoots and blossoms now. How about you?garden detail