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Recently Updated Plant Articles

a lush mass of plants growing up against a brick wall, with many small rhombus-shaped leaves

Rhomboid Mercury (Acalypha rhomboidea)

Updated June 21st, 2024

A common annual native to eastern to central North America, found in a range of habitats that have been disturbed in late spring to early summer.

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pine tree with twisted trunk and branches and relatively long needles

Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida)

Updated June 13th, 2024

A scrubby, fire-adapted pine that often grows in harsh conditions, such as dry, acidic, sandy or rocky soil.

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White Avens

White Avens (Geum canadense)

Updated May 30th, 2024

An perennial with inconspicuous flowers native and common across much of central to eastern North America.

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Recently Updated Ecoregion Articles

a river in the foreground, and a flat landscape with mostly evergreen trees, tall snowy mountains in the distance
North America » Northwestern Forested Mountains » Boreal Cordillera »

Copper Plateau

Updated June 19th, 2024

A cold, flat, poorly-drained region in Southcentral Alaska, surrounded by ice-covered mountains.

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a river curving through a valley with sloped walls, with patchy forest interspersed with open meadows, in a hilly landscape
North America » Northwestern Forested Mountains » Boreal Cordillera »

Interior Highlands and Klondike Plateau

Updated June 18th, 2024

An area of interior Alaska and western Yukon with hilly terrain, mostly unglaciated and only spottily forested.

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Recently Updated ID / Comparison Guides (See All)

collage of Orchard Grass and Common Velvetgrass

Orchard Grass (Dactylis glomerata) vs. Common Velvetgrass (Holcus lanatus)

Updated June 29th, 2024

These grasses, both introduced and invasive in North America, are easily confused as they are similar in height, often have bluish foliage, have largely overlapping bloom times. They can be easily distinguished by the presence or absence of pubescence, by their ligules, and by the structure of their inflorescences. Holcus lanatus prefers wetter conditions, benefits more from disturbance, and can be found in wetlands, whereas Dactylis glomeratus ranges farther into the interior of the continent, persist longer in undisturbed habitats, and is not usually found in wetlands but ranges into drier conditions.

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collage of Whitegrass and Japanese Stiltgrass

Whitegrass (Leersia virginica) vs. Japanese Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum)

Updated June 28th, 2024

These two species, one native and one invasive, are easily confused. They often are found together in moist, partly-shaded habitats, especially along paths. Both have a sprawling habit with branching stems that can root at nodes. Leersia virginica ranges farther west, north, and south, is more restricted to partly-shaded, moist to mesic conditions, and prefers habitats with only light to moderate disturbance levels, whereas Microstegium vimineum also ranges into slightly drier and sunnier conditions, and higher levels of disturbance, and can also occur in lawns.

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collage of Northern Blue Flag and Southern Blue Flag

Northern Blue Flag (Iris versicolor) vs. Southern Blue Flag (Iris virginica)

Updated June 26th, 2024

These two species are visually similar, but there are numerous small differences that can be used to distinguish them, particularly when they are in bloom. They have a narrow band of overlap through VA, MD, WV, OH, MI, and MN, but both can be planted in gardens outside their native ranges. These species are closely related and can hybridize in the wild, horticultural hybrids are widely planted, and hybrids are fertile thus leading to backcrosses and intergrades, so it may not be possible to identify all plants to species level. These species mostly inhabit similar habitats. I. versicolor may tolerate slightly more shade, whereas I. virginica may be slightly more likely to occur in disturbed habitats like roadside ditches.

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