Shade Metals

Species Specific Botanical Jewelry

Australian Pine (Casuarina equisetifolia)

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NATIVE RANGE: Southeast hemisphere

DESCRIPTION: Evergreen conifer, green-grey branches with minute scale leaves, both male and female flowers on the same tree.

Australian PIne, Casuarina equisetifolia ID 110414697 © Colin Young | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Australian PIne, Casuarina equisetifolia ID 110414697 © Colin Young | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Also called the Sea Pine, this drought-resistant conifer loves coastlines. Its native region extends from Australia up though Malaysia, the Pacific Islands, Burma & Vietnam. It has been naturalized on some islands off the coast of Africa like Madagascar and Mauritius. However, where it has been introduced in North and South America it can become an invasive species. It has harmed ecosystems in places like Florida, Texas, Brazil, and South Africa.

Australian Pine, Casuarina equisetifolia ID 93264912 © Jit Anong Sae Ung | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Australian Pine, Casuarina equisetifolia ID 93264912 © Jit Anong Sae Ung | Dreamstime.com.jpg

HEAVY INDUSTRY:
The leaves, bark, cones & seeds of this tree have proven to effectively remove harmful chemicals from the waste-water of textile dyes.

WEAPONS:
The almost 6-foot spear Kaumaile was cut from this tree nearly 900 years ago. Its original owner, the hero Tefolaha, fought with it in Samoa and Tonga until his death. Then it was passed down through 23 generations of his heirs.

Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

Sara & CesarComment

NATIVE RANGE:

Southeast North America

DESCRIPTION:

Deciduous conifer, green needle leaves turn orange and fall off in winter,

bald-cypress-trees-ID 70379766 © Huayjean | Dreamstime.com.jpg

bald-cypress-trees-ID 70379766 © Huayjean | Dreamstime.com.jpg

bald-cypress-leaf-ID 129587434 © Diana Coman | Dreamstime.com copy.jpg

UNDERWATER FOREST:

This iconic tree of southern swamps has some amazing characteristics. It has aerial roots that stabilize it in shifting water and sand. These roots, called “knees,” reach above the water line and help it to breath in standing water where other trees would suffocate. The bald in bald cypress hints to the fact that its leaves turn orange and fall off before the winter. While it has the pine cones and needles of conifers, it is termed a false conifer because of its leaf loss.

What may be most exciting however is the fact that off the coast of Alabama a hurricane shifted the sands 100 feet down in the gulf of Mexico. This storm uncovered a forest of bald cypress that had been buried for thousands of years. Read more about the story here: An Underwater Forest

Bark (Rhytidome)

Sara & Cesar

DESCRIPTION:

A layer of dead cells on the outer surface of a tree or woody plant. Bark can be paper thin, like Birch trees, or two feet thick, like a mature Redwood tree.

willow tree bark ID 67781166 © Linjerry | Dreamstime.com.jpg

willow tree bark ID 67781166 © Linjerry | Dreamstime.com.jpg

wood slice with wounds ID 108309942 © Losmandarinas | Dreamstime.com.jpg

wood slice with wounds ID 108309942 © Losmandarinas | Dreamstime.com.jpg

PROTECTION:

The exterior layer of bark that is most familiar to us is a layer of mostly dead cells, called rhytidome. It helps support the erect, massive shape of trees.

Bark also provides a layer of protection for the inner workings of the plant. It can keep out insects, fungus, and bacteria that would otherwise attack the fragile living cells in the trunk, branches, or stems. When an insect or a foreign object manage to pierce through the bark, the trees will cordon off the wound. They send more bark tissue to surround the wound where it threatens the plants’ inner layers.

In the slice of wood pictured here you can see several holes surrounded by the darker tissue similar to that of the outer bark. When these wounds happened, the tree compartmentalized the damage and continued to grow around it. Tree wounds don’t get better, as they say in the business: trees don’t heal, they seal.

That’s why sometimes it appears that the tree has swallowed ropes, chains, or even an entire bicycle. It simply continues to grow around any damage.

Burclover (Medicago truncatula)

Sara & CesarComment

NATIVE RANGE:

Mediterranean region

DESCRIPTION:

Low growing ground cover with yellow flowers. It resembles clover with its three-fold leaves, but also has seed burrs, so together those characteristics give it its common name.

Burclover, medicago truncatula ID 79144210 © Whiskybottle | Dreamstime.com

Burclover, medicago truncatula ID 79144210 © Whiskybottle | Dreamstime.com


roots-rhizosphere dreamstime_xxl_100726908 .jpg

MODEL ORGANISMS:

Legumes like the burclover have a special relationship with the soil. They are hosts to micro-organisms that convert nitrogen into a form that other plants and animals can use.

A model organism is one that has certain characteristics that make it an ideal candidate for study. Scientists hope that by extensively studying and experimenting with one particular species of plant, it can lead to discoveries across the entire family of those plants.

Botanists hope that by studying Medicago truncatula they can learn about the relationships this plant has with bacteria and fungi that live in the soil. The few millimeters of soil directly touching the roots of plants are full of bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms that trade nutrients with the plant. For example, the plant may give off signals that it has carbon to trade, and a fungi may respond by giving the plant phosphorus in exchange. Understanding what goes on in this few millimeter of soil, the rhizosphere, could help us understand how to produce nutritious food for an ever-growing population.

burclover-silver-earrings-1.jpg
burclover-medicago-truncatula-silver-necklace.jpg

CUSTOM WORK:

We were introduced to this species from a request for custom work. Our client’s daughter had been working on her PhD studying this plant. It is a widespread type of clover used as agricultural feed in much of Europe and Africa, and it is studied by botanists worldwide.

The parents wanted to surprise their daughter with a gift after she defended her thesis. We hadn’t seen the plant, it is native to the Mediterranean region, and the request was made in late fall so there was no way we were going to find the plant in bloom for several months. We worked closely with them to find the right photos and approach to making it a unique, wearable piece of art. While we attempted a few carvings, the final version was a 3D printed model that provided both intricacy of design and lightweight, easy functionality.

If you are interested in custom work, email us at: info@shademetals.com

Burdock, Great (Arctium lappa)

Sara & CesarComment

NATIVE RANGE:

Europe & Asia

DESCRIPTION:

Tall (up to 10 feet) biennial plant, large alternating leaves, purple flowers bloom from spiky clusters in late summer.

Great Burdock, Arctium lappa ID 121555765 ©  Whiskybottle  |  Dreamstime.com

Great Burdock, Arctium lappa ID 121555765 © Whiskybottle | Dreamstime.com

FOOD: Japanese and other Asian cuisines use burdock root in many ways. It has a crunchy, mildly sweet flavor similar to lotus root, and is put in stews, stir-fry, and pickled dishes.

VELCRO: The Swiss inventor of velcro was inspired by the tiny hooks on the flower spike of burdock. The dead flowers would latch onto his clothing and his dog as they hiked.

Cape Blanco (Sedum spathifolium)

Sara & CesarComment

NATIVE RANGE:

Western North America

DESCRIPTION:

Evergreen perennial succulent, spade shaped blue-gray leaves tinged with red grow in rosette clusters, yellow flower stalks bloom in late summer.

Cape Blanco Sedum spathifolium - ID 97311971 © David Ross | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Cape Blanco Sedum spathifolium - ID 97311971 © David Ross | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Most succulents are native to southern Africa, but this one here is an American variety of sedum that grows from British Columbia down to southern California and east to Colorado. It grows slowly, and prefers rocky soils with lots of sun.

This is one of our favorite succulents to work with and we have done several pieces based on its tiny rosettes. My mother helps us grow and rotate out our succulents, so that if we clip a bit of plant to cast, it goes back under my mother’s grow lights to recover before we will harvest from it again. She has over 6 of these cape blancos, because we use them all the time.

Cherry, Asian (Prunus serrulata)

Sara & CesarComment

NATIVE RANGE:

East Asia, China, Japan, Korea, and parts of India

DESCRIPTION:

Small deciduous tree with delicate pink flowers that bloom in early spring The bark is smooth with horizontal stripes, and it grows alternating toothy leaves after it blooms.

Cherry, prunus ID 88469727 © Avmedved | Dreamstime.com

Cherry, prunus ID 88469727 © Avmedved | Dreamstime.com


TREE DIPLOMACY:

The US and Japan began exchanging flowering trees over 100 years ago. In 1912, the mayor of Tokyo gave the US 3000 cherry trees. Those trees took 8 years to plant in Washington DC and are still commemorated each year with the Cherry Blossom Festival. The US responded in 2012, giving Japan 3000 flowering dogwoods, some of which were planted at a memorial for the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

cherry-branch-necklace-prunus-serrata.jpg

PRUNING:

As a tree steward part of my work involves pruning street trees. Trees in urban environments often get too much sun and water, because they tend to grow alone instead of with other trees close by. This means that they grow very quickly, which can effect the long term health of the tree. Pruning helps to control this overly rapid growth, particularly in young trees, which helps them to live longer and to be more equpit to handle the hazards of city life - hazards include cars and people breaking off branches, power lines, bikes parked against their trunks which opens the bark up to infection, toxins in the air and water etc.

Early spring is the best time to prune. The trees are just waking up from their dormant state, and they will have the rains of spring and the summer sun to recover from the pruning. We use several different species of branches in our work, but collecting young cherry branches is always one of my favorite foraging tasks.

Cockscomb (Celosia argentea var. crisata)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE:

Tropical climates. This particular variety is thought to originate either from West Africa or India, but various species of this plant grow in tropical regions throughout the world.

DESCRIPTION:

An herbaceous shrub growing no more than 2 feet high with juicy fat stems, lanceolate (pointy at both ends) leaves, and wooly, wavy flower heads.

cockscombs, celosia argentea var crisata, ID 66040885 © Santipap | Dreamstime.com copy.jpg
celosia garden ID 97068442 © Mansum008 | Dreamstime.com

celosia garden ID 97068442 © Mansum008 | Dreamstime.com

FOOD:

All parts of the plants are edible. While it is technically a psudeo-cereal in the amaranth family, it tastes something like spinach, or basil, but without the bitterness of many leafy vegetables.

Its nutritional value includes calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamins A & C, and some protein. It is most popular in Nigeria, but it is also part of the cuisine in Congo, Benin, and Indonesia. In the Yoruba language it is reffered to as “soko yokoto” the food that makes husband’s face rosy, because it is rumored to enhance both physical and sexual stamina. The Nigerian stew made with celosia leaves is boiled with fish or meat, onions, eggplant, palm oil, hot peppers and sometimes a bit of peanut butter to enhance the nutty flavor of the leaves.

Celosia is attracting attention in the agricultural realm because of its ability to grow quickly in a variety of conditions. The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine report that celosia’s genetic abilities has made it a valuable crop for areas with difficult growing conditions. It can grow in both wet and dry climates, without much preference for soil type, and with a hardy resistance to pests and disease. Read their report here.

celosia ID 111491628 © Asim Hazra | Dreamstime.com

celosia ID 111491628 © Asim Hazra | Dreamstime.com

The flaming bright flower stalks gave celosia its scientific name, which comes from the ancient Greek word κήλεος (kḗleos) that means burning

celosia ID 73448509 © Maksym Fesenko | Dreamstime.com optimized.jpg

FLOWERS:

Celosia is an annual, so it completes it journeys from baby seed to mature flower producing seeds in a matter of months. If you’ve ever left cut celosia sitting around too long, you know that it can drop hundreds of tiny black seeds overnight, so it generally has no problem reseeding its territory every year.

Most Celosia varieties grow with straight, vertical stalks, but celosia argentea’s flower has mutated into firm and fuzzy brain-like clusters. These are the pieces we use to make rings and pendants. The positive mold of each cluster has to be thickened with wax so that when the negative of the mold is made, the silver is able to flow freely into the various channels and textures created by the flower.

Clover, White (Trifolium repens)

Sara & CesarComment

NATIVE RANGE:

Europe & Central Asia, naturalized almost worldwide.

DESCRIPTION:

Low growing ground cover, leaves of three (rarely 4), white or cream-colored flower head, sometimes tinged with pink.

Field of Clover, Trifolium repens ID  120519220  ©  Daniil Belyay   Dreamstime.com

Field of Clover, Trifolium repens ID 120519220 © Daniil Belyay Dreamstime.com


Bee on clover, trifolium ID  118760288  ©  Jozef Jankola |  Dreamstimeom

Bee on clover, trifolium ID 118760288 © Jozef Jankola| Dreamstimeom

LUCKY & ESSENTIAL:

Clover of one species or another grows in a variety of ecosystems on every continent except Antarctica. We worked with white clover, because in the Mid-Atlantic region of North America, that’s what we have the most access to. However, regardless of the species, clover plays an extremely important role in the health of the soil, the health of bees and other livestock, and therefore ultimately in our health. You can read more about the agricultural benefits of clover in this blog: Why Clover is More than Just a Lucky Symbol.

Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE:

Indian Subcontinent & South Asia to Northern Australia

DESCRIPTION:

Colorful pink and purple long-lasting blooms, slender trunks with shedding bark, simple, opposite leaves.

Crepe Myrtle, Lagerstroemia ID 34836954 © Twoellis | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Crepe Myrtle, Lagerstroemia ID 34836954 © Twoellis | Dreamstime.com.jpg

crepe-myrtle-bronze-necklace.jpg
crepe-myrtle-bronze-earrings.jpg

Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE:

Hubei, China

DESCRIPTION:

A tall deciduous conifer with an iconic Christmas-tree profile. It is a deciduous conifer, its bright green needle leaves turn orange and fall off before winter. In China it is commonly called the “water-pine” because it grows in drenched lowlands.

Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia Glyptostroboides ID 64079307 © Chen Li | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia Glyptostroboides ID 64079307 © Chen Li | Dreamstime.com.jpg

dawn redwood leaves coens ID 76715187 © Ian Redding | Dreamstime.com.jpg

dawn redwood leaves coens ID 76715187 © Ian Redding | Dreamstime.com.jpg

dawn redwood bark ID 100322350 © Zayacskz | Dreamstime.com.jpg

dawn redwood bark ID 100322350 © Zayacskz | Dreamstime.com.jpg

LIVING FOSSILS:

Dawn redwoods once grew all over the northern hemisphere, and their closest relatives are the redwoods on the Pacific Coast of North America. North America’s redwoods are Sequoias, this Redwood is the Metasequoia, meaning changed Sequoia.

Scientists believed that they had been extinct for millions of years, they could only find fossil remnants of it. That was until the 1940’s when a Chinese forester discovered them growing in a single forest in Lichuan Province, Hubei China. These dawn redwoods were growing in the lowlands, often in standing water were rice was cultivated. Locals called them 水杉, the “water fir.” Seeds and cuttings were soon collected and exchanged, and the baby trees were distributed worldwide to help regenerate the population.

Because dawn redwoods loose their leaves in winter, they are able to grow in much colder temperatures than other redwoods. Young seedlings have survived in harsh conditions in Alaska, Europe and North America, hinting that their original range probably included icy climates.

IDENTIFICATION:

Height: Most 50-60 ft (15-18 meters), but it can reach up to 165 ft (50m)

Profile: Christmas tree

Leaves: Feathery soft needle leaves

Cones: Both male and female cones on the tree, larger globe-shaped female seed cones (3/4 inch long), smaller male drooping pollen cones.

Bark: Reddish brown, peels in long strips

Where to find in Richmond VA: Along Monument Avenue near the I-95 exchange, Maymont Park, Sneeds Nursery.


Coast Redwood, sequoia sempervirens, dreamstime_xxl_39896018.jpg

Coast Redwood, sequoia sempervirens, dreamstime_xxl_39896018.jpg

WHY “DAWN” REDWOOD?

Coastal Redwoods and Giant Sequoias are the only cousins of Dawn Redwoods. These sequoias are significant actors in the biomes of the Pacific Northwest. They not only support a huge amount of wildlife, they can influence weather patterns, draw thousands of tourists every month, and they hold the record for the largest organism on the earth. While not the oldest organism on earth, one particular Giant Sequoia in Redwood National Forest is 3,240 years old, born in 1221 B.C.E.

Sequoias are incredible, so when the Metasequoia was discovered in China, Californians were among the first to pay attention. A U.C. Berkeley professor and a science writer for the San Francisco Chronicle travelled to China and were the first westerners to see the tree. U.C. Berkeley funded a seed dispersal project to help spread the tree to botanical gardens, universities and colleges throughout the world. And the name Dawn Redwood was thought up in an editorial office of the San Francisco Chronicle to help sell the story.

Dogwood, Magic (Cornus florida urbiniana)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE:

Mountain Forests of Eastern Mexico

DESCRIPTION:

Understory tree known for its spiral blooms that don’t open flat like other dogwoods, white flower bracts are fused at the top

magic-dogwood-mexican-flowering-dogwood-cornus-florida-urbiniana-national-arboretum-washington-dc-optimized.jpg

magic-dogwood-mexican-flowering-dogwood-cornus-florida-urbiniana-national-arboretum-washington-dc-optimized.jpg


magic-dogwood-national-arboretum-dc - 1.jpg

NATIONAL ARBORETUM:

We first encountered this tree at the National Arboretum in Washington DC. Overlooking the Anacostia river, the dogwoods in this collection start blooming in March and don’t quit until June. The collection features the European Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas), our east-coast native Flowering Dogwoods (Cornus florida), the Chinese Dogwood (Cornus kousa) and the magic one- the Mexican Flowering Dogwood. These flowers are similar to the young blooms of our native dogwood,but they grow longer, thinner bracts that exhibit some fantastic twists and twirls.

We made a short video to illustrate the process of sculpting these flowers, each pendant is unique just like the shapes on the real tree. Sculpting Dogwood Flowers

 
magic dogwood blossom, mexican flowering dogwood copy.jpg

Elm, Red (Ulmus rubra)

Sara & CesarComment

NATIVE RANGE:

Eastern North America

DESCRIPTION:

Medium sized deciduous tree with a vase-like profile and elegant spreading crown. The inner bark is reddish-brown, and the young emerging leaves are often tinged red before they hit the deep green of summer.

Elm, ulmus rubra dreamstime_xxl_90910671.jpg

Elm, ulmus rubra dreamstime_xxl_90910671.jpg

elm tree proile - 1.jpg

IDENTIFICATION:

Height: Up tp 65 ft (20 meters)

Profile: Vase-like

Leaves: Toothy, serrated leaves that are asymmetrical at the stem, growing alternately along the branch.

Fruit: Wingless samaras

Bark: Gray to brown, with deep furrows separating wider flat regions.

Elms in general are quite easy to identify by their asymmetrical leaves. Notice the bottom of the leaves in this photo, all varieties of elms display this characteristic. In fall and winter look around the base of the tree to see if there are any old leaves to look at, it’s a tell-tale quirk of the Elm genus, ulmus.

elm-tree-bark.jpg
Elm trees in NYC Central Park dreamstime_xxl_27291728 copy.jpg

Elm trees in NYC Central Park dreamstime_xxl_27291728 copy.jpg

NYC CENTRAL PARK ELMS:

The only straight path in Central Park leads visitors down Literary Walk, a promenade flanked by graceful American elms trees. There are over 2000 elms of different varieties in the park, and this particular grove of American elms is one of the oldest and largest left in North America. Elms were a favorite of urban plannersin the 19th and 20th centuries because of the cathedral-like ceilings they form when planted on opposite sides of the street. So when Dutch Elm disease hit in the 1930’s, elms in every city and town across the country began to die off. This stand was protected by the park’s vigilant arborists, who carefully monitor the trees and regularly amputate infected limbs.

elm-branch-22%22-silver-chain-2.jpg

Fig, Common (Ficus carica)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE:

The Middle East and Western Asia

DESCRIPTION:

Small tree or shrub, not growing taller than 33 feet (10 meters), deeply lobed leaves, fluted trunks, and of course, bears figs.

fig-tree-ficus-carica-ID  14112219  ©  Verastuchelova  |  Dreamstime.com

fig-tree-ficus-carica-ID 14112219 © Verastuchelova | Dreamstime.com


fig- DOWNLOAD PREVIEW  Snake tempts Eve in the Garden of Eden, a medieval sculpture in Saint Mark Square, Venice dreamstime_xxl_71073775.jpg

RELIGION:

Humanity began cultivating figs long before most other trees. For this reason, they are a symbol in many religions. Fig trees are mentioned 40 times in the Bible, and they are also mentioned in the Qu’ran. Buddha achieved enlightenment sitting under a fig tree, and Vishnu, a Supreme Being in the Hindu tradition, was born under one.

In Western tradition, fig leaves have become synonyms with sin and sex because of their religious connection. The “Fig Leaf Campaign” began in the 16th Century when the Catholic Church published an edict that art should not inspire lust, and the naked human form became even more shameful and scandalous. The campaign began shortly after Michaelangelo unveiled his sculpture David, a large, muscular, and naked ideal of mankind. David was soon girdled with a garland of fig leaves, in what became history’s most infamous example of art censorship that was to last hundreds of years. While many paintings and sculptures have since been restored, it is said that there still exists a box of severed sculptural genitalia somewhere in the Vatican.


fig-tree-ficus-carica.jpg

Gingko (Gingko biloba)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE:

China, now naturalized nearly worldwide

DESCRIPTION:

Large trees reaching up to 115 feet (35 meters), lobed leaves on long slender stalks turn yellow and fall off rapidly in fall.

ginkgo-trees-ginkgo-biloba ID 107012623 © Cj Nattanai | Dreamstime.com

ginkgo-trees-ginkgo-biloba ID 107012623 © Cj Nattanai | Dreamstime.com


eucalyptus tree bombed in hiroshima 1945 ID 102613233 © Pipa100 | Dreamstime.com.jpg

eucalyptus tree bombed in hiroshima 1945 ID 102613233 © Pipa100 | Dreamstime.com.jpg

SURVIVORS 被爆樹木:

Four ginkgo trees survived the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. They were a little over a mile (2km) from the blast site, and although severely damaged, they went on to produce seeds without deformities the following spring. About 160 trees survived the bombing, they are all protected and cared for by the Japanese government as survivors.


ginkgo-trees-ID 117783696 © Tawatchai Prakobkit | Dreamstime.com

ginkgo-trees-ID 117783696 © Tawatchai Prakobkit | Dreamstime.com

LIVING FOSSILS:

Ginkgoes are the last living survivors of their group, there is no other plant on earth that is related to them. They are in a division (phylum) by themselves. Believed to have evolved from ferns, they date back to the Jurassic Period over 250 million years ago.

STINKY LADIES:

Female ginkgo trees produce nuts that smell like rotting meat, some say rancid butter. This is believed to have once attracted carnivores for pollination. Much like Magnoli trees originally evolved to attract beetles, not bees. Today humans are the number one pollinator for ginkgoes, although this is usually done with cloning and grafting.

Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

Sara & CesarComment

Native Range:

Europe & Central Asia

Description:

Heather is a low growing perennial shrub that prefers acidic soils. It has small scale-leaves less than 3mm long, and in late summer flowers emerge that are usually mauve but sometimes white.

Heath in Goathland England ID 59829986 © David Head | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Heath in Goathland England ID 59829986 © David Head | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Heather Pin #2.png

Scottish Tradition:

Heather sweeps across the vast moors of the Scottish Highlands, through Britain, Europe and into Central Asia. Heather is a woman’s name, a plant, or more specifically a flower. While the man’s name, Heath, refers to the entire field of Heather, a Heathland. The both come from the Gaelic, Haeddre.

In the 3rd century, a heart-broken woman who lost her husband in battle turned the purple heather flowers white with her tears. A few centuries later, the King of the Picts and his son died to protect the recipe of Heather Ale from the invading vikings. Heather covers 1/4 of the land in Scotland, and its life plays just as significant an emotional role as it does a practical one.

Heather grows in “poor” soil, which means the soil is acidic, too wet, and not good for growing crops. But sheep and goats can eat the plant all day. Heather likes to be nibbled on - it encourages more growth. In a garden setting, pruning after it flowers leads it to be more bushy the following year. A single shrub can live about 20 years, but Heather can dominate entire fields for centuries.

Following the Anglo-Saxon take over of Scotland, Heather was associated with rural poverty, and therefore not a “fashionable” flower amongst its rivals. It wasn’t until the 19th Century when Queen Victoria brought it back in style.

calluna vulgaris - ID 21693792 © Lejczer | Dreamstime.com.jpg

calluna vulgaris - ID 21693792 © Lejczer | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Growth:

Each Heather flower on the stalk contains about 30 seeds, so one plant can produce 150,000 seeds in a season. For most plants only between 1% - 5% of its seeds will ever germinate, but some plants are better at spreading than others. So while Heather is naturalized in parts of North America and relatively harmless, it is an invasive species in Australia. It can dominate and push out native species that wildlife need to survive.

heather makes.jpg

Hemlock, Eastern (Tsuga canadensis)

Sara & CesarComment

NATIVE RANGE:

Eastern North America

DESCRIPTION:

Tall (100 ft / 31m) evergreen conifer with a straight non-forking trunk. Long-lived and able to grow in shade, it exhibits flat, deep green needle leaves with small cones.

Eastern-Hemlock-Tree-with-Red-Breasted-Grosbeak ID 57221948 © Brian Lasenby | Dreamstime.com

Eastern-Hemlock-Tree-with-Red-Breasted-Grosbeak ID 57221948 © Brian Lasenby | Dreamstime.com


black bear ID 134167 © Tony Campbell | Dreamstime.com.jpg

black bear ID 134167 © Tony Campbell | Dreamstime.com.jpg

WILDLIFE:

Eastern hemlocks groves support wildlife in many ways. Birds make their homes high in the branches while bears and other mammals nest in hollowed-out trunks. All the animals benefit in the winter with the tigthly packed leaves that provide cover and thermal protection from the icy winds and snow. Their foliage feeds deer, moose, rabbits and other grazers, while their seeds feed birds and small rodents.

However, one of the most endearing reports that I’ve read came from the US forest service. In northeastern Minnesota black bear mothers and cubs spent 95% of their time within 600 feet of an eastern hemlock or an eastern white pine that had a girth over 20 inches. These long-lived forest giants can be climbed by the cubs, and mothers stuck close by because if danger came upon them the cub would shoot up the tree.


Eastern Hemlock Tree Extinction, Great Smokey Mountains National Forest, NC & TN ID 44230894 © Ehrlif | Dreamstime.com

Eastern Hemlock Tree Extinction, Great Smokey Mountains National Forest, NC & TN ID 44230894 © Ehrlif | Dreamstime.com

EXTINCTION:

In 1951, the woolly adelgid, a pest that attacks the Eastern Hemlock and slowly suffocates it, was accidentally introduced to North America from Asia.  Where it doesn't severely damage the trees in Asia, it kills the Eastern Hemlock that grows up the Appalachian Mountain Range from Georgia into Canada. Read more about the problem on our blog Hemlock Tree Extinction 


POISON:

In grade school we learn about Hemlock as the poison that killed Socrates, which is true, but Hemlock the plant is different from Hemlock the tree. European colonists named the tree Hemlock, because the leaves had a similar scent to the poisonous plant they knew from home. They are actually totally unrelated species. Hemlock the plant can kill humans, and it can even cause miscarriage in deer and other grazing animals. Common names can be confusing in the plant world, and are often misleading.

This is hemlock the plant. With its white flower heads it looks like something in the carrot family. It’s definitely not related to the 100 foot evergreen tree.

Hemlock plant along the James River, Richmond VA

Hemlock plant along the James River, Richmond VA

Eastern Hemlock Bough, Tsuga canadensis branch ID 29452625 © Melinda Fawver | Dreamstime.com

Eastern Hemlock Bough, Tsuga canadensis branch ID 29452625 © Melinda Fawver | Dreamstime.com

Hen & Chicks (Echeveria shaviana)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE:

Mexico, though to Central & South America

DESCRIPTION:

Low growing succulent with thick blue-gray rippled leaves and a flower stalk that extends a foot above the plant.

Hen & Chicks succulent, echeveria dreamstime_xxl_129471684.jpg

Hen & Chicks succulent, echeveria dreamstime_xxl_129471684.jpg

echeveria-bloom ID 22056628 © Amansker | Dreamstime.com

echeveria-bloom ID 22056628 © Amansker | Dreamstime.com

TAXONOMY:

The common name, Hen & Chicks, can refer to several differ species of succulents that botanically speaking may only be distantly related. But they all share the characteristic of producing small rosette babies near the base of the mother plant.

Indian Cigar Tree (Catalpa bignonioides)

Sara & CesarComment

NATIVE RANGE:

Southern US - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

DESCRIPTION:

Medium sized deciduous tree with large heart-shaped leaves, showy white flowers, and long fruit pods that contain numerous wind-dispersed seeds.

catalpa - indian cigar tree - ID 76525082 © Galina Khoroshman | Dreamstime.com.jpg

catalpa - indian cigar tree - ID 76525082 © Galina Khoroshman | Dreamstime.com.jpg

catalpa-silver-necklace-1.jpg
catalpa-indian-cigar-tree-sterling-silver.jpg

Lantana, West Indian (Lantana camara)

Sara & CesarComment

NATIVE RANGE:

Central & South America

DESCRIPTION:

Small perennial shrub that grows in dense thickets, small flowers bloom in clusters with a dark blue fruit inedible to humans but loved by birds.

lantana camara ID 130175037 © Nani Francis | Dreamstime.com.jpg
lantana camara ID 6891096 © Ti_to_tito | Dreamstime.com.jpg
lantana flower pendant, sterling silver with 14k gold accents.jpg
lantana camara ID 52167219 © Girolamo72 | Dreamstime.com.jpg

INVASIVE SPECIES:

Lantana makes a lovely ornamental plant, and that’s why it was brought from its Caribbean home to the Old World as early as the 17th Century. Humans and birds continued to spread this plant from European gardens to now over 60 tropical and subtropical countries. In several areas it has become a threatening invasive species that out competes native plants, lessens biodiversity, and contributes to a lack of food plants for the local animals. When planting any exotic species of plant in your garden, it is important to do your research and prevent seeds from invasive plants from spreading into urban and suburban wild areas.