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Recently Updated Plant Articles

Black Tupelo

Black Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica)

Updated November 23rd, 2022

A large, generalist tree of the eastern US and Ontario.

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Broomsedge Bluestem

Broomsedge Bluestem (Andropogon virginicus)

Updated November 4th, 2022

A perennial grass native to eastern North America, an early colonizer of open, disturbed sites.

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White Wood Aster

White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata)

Updated October 25th, 2022

A shade-tolerant perennial native to and slightly beyond the Appalachians.

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Recently Updated Ecoregion Articles

Rugged mountains, mostly covered in coniferous forest, under a blue sky, with dry, open grasslands in a valley.
North America » Northwestern Forested Mountains » Western Cordillera »

Idaho Batholith

Updated September 7th, 2022

A rugged mountainous region mostly in central Idaho, mostly covered in coniferous forest with open scrubland at low elevations.

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A landscape of hilly, dissected terrain with a mix of open ground, partly-wooded slopes, and coniferous forest
North America » Northwestern Forested Mountains » Western Cordillera »

Blue Mountains

Updated September 6th, 2022

An open mountain range mostly located in Oregon, varying from semiarid grasslands to coniferous forests at higher elevations.

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Steep, round-topped mountains covered in evergreen forest, with dense clouds, and water in the foreground.
North America » Marine West Coast Forest »

Coastal Western Hemlock-Sitka Spruce Forests

Updated August 16th, 2022

A steep, mountainous coastal region with numerous inlets and sounds, almost entirely covered in coniferous forest.

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Recently Updated ID / Comparison Guides

collage of Purpletop and Johnsongrass

Purpletop (Tridens flavus) vs. Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense)

Updated November 16th, 2022

These two species are frequently confused where their ranges overlap. Both are perennial, warm-season grasses with purple inflorescences. They are easily distinguished by foliage, size, and details of the inflorescence. Although their habitats overlap, Johnsongrass is more restricted to moister, richer sites, and is more competetive with other vegetation, whereas purpletop ranges farther into drier sites and poorer soils and prefers less competing vegetation. Johnsongrass ranges farther west into arid climates, but their ranges in the east are similar.

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collage of Pin Oak and Scarlet Oak

Pin Oak (Quercus palustris) vs. Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea)

Updated October 18th, 2022

These oaks are frequently confused, especially when used as landscaping plants, as both have deeply-lobed leaves. In the wild, these species prefer almost opposite moisture conditions and rarely occur together. Pruning of landscaping plants can also make ID difficult by obscuring shape distinctions that are obvious on wild plants. Where present, they are easily distinguished by acorns, and with more effort, by pubescence on buds and leaf shape. Although both can be found in sunny, early-successional habitats, pin oak prefers wet, often poorly-drained conditions, whereas scarlet oak is typically found on dry sites with thin, rocky soil.

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collage of Water Oak and Willow Oak

Water Oak (Quercus nigra) vs. Willow Oak (Quercus phellos)

Updated August 25th, 2022

Water oak and willow oak are often confused; they grow together in bottomlands in the southeastern US, and have similar growth habits, bark, and acorns, and both have leaves that lack the lobing of typical oak leaves. They are easily distinguished by differences in their leaves, but they also have subtle differences in acorns and bark. Water oak prefers sites slightly better-drained than willow oak, and is also found on a wider range of sites, sometimes occurring on mesic uplands; willow oak is rare on uplands, only occurring locally on poorly-drained sites.

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