This site is for people who like plants -- growers, enthusiasts, aesthetes, novices and professionals, those who appreciate wild things and those who appreciate the cultivated. I garden in Chelsea, and I've been visiting people's yards for 20+ years in the course of my work. My goal is to make this blog a community project, so if you share my interests, please consider becoming a participant and contributing content -- Guerin. Info:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Housekeeping and odd bits

In my post regarding slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) at Wurster Park, I mentioned that a quick way to identify the species is by the insect damage on the leaves. Here's a shot from Longshore Park showing damage by the elm leaf miner. Note also the attenuate tip of the leaf blade (with its cute little twist) -- I don't know if this is characteristic of the species universally, but it works around here. Of course a more honest way to differentiate the species from American elm is by the seed, but that's only available for a short while in the spring.

In my post about buckeyes and horse-chestnuts, I didn't mention the wonderful Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra), mostly because I had just missed the opportunity to photograph it in flower. According to, this species is native to Washtenaw County. If so, just barely. However, there are places in Ann Arbor where people have long grown the tree, and this is one that the squirrels readily help to propagate. I'm thinking mostly of Geddes east of Dixboro, but no doubt there are other buckeye communities. I've found it along the Huron near Mast Rd, and along 94 west of Dexter. The photograph is of a specimen by an old farmhouse in Dexter Township.

For fun I include a picture (from my garden) of a scrambling species of soloman-seal (Polygonatum sp) from China. The tips of the leaves will latch onto nearby plants for support.

The two mystery plants I posted pictures of on May 29 have been identified by Tony Reznicek of the U-M Herbarium: Symphytum grandiflorum and Diphylleia cymosa. The former is a great weed-smothering ground cover that works in dry shade. The later is a mayapple relative from the Blue Ridge Mountains and environs.

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