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Recently Updated Plant Articles

American Pokeweed

American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)

Updated November 25th, 2020

An herbaceous perennial plant, abundant in Eastern North America. Native, but commonly viewed as a weed.

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Black Oak

Black Oak (Quercus velutina)

Updated October 1st, 2020

A large oak with a wide distribution across eastern North America, common in much of its range, often a canopy tree in forests. More tolerant of dry, nutrient-poor conditions than most large oaks.

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Bur Oak

Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)

Updated October 1st, 2020

A rugged oak native to North America, with a wide distribution, ranging farther west and north than most oaks that also occur in the east.

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Recently Updated Ecoregion Articles

Oak Openings
North America » Eastern Temperate Forests » Central USA Plains » Huron/Erie Lake Plains »

Oak Openings

Updated October 8th, 2020

Sandy openings in the Huron/Erie Lake plain, unsuitable to agriculture, supporting oak forest, prairie, and savanna.

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Tug Hill Transition
North America » Northern Forests » Atlantic Highlands » Northeastern Highlands »

Tug Hill Transition

Updated October 5th, 2020

A sloping region surrounding the Tug Hill Plateau, currently with a mix of agriculture and early-successional forests.

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Northern Sandstone Ridges
North America » Eastern Temperate Forests » Ozark, Oauchita-Appalachian Forests » Ridge and Valley »

Northern Sandstone Ridges

Updated October 5th, 2020

Long, mostly unbroken and forested ridges of sandstone, with steep slopes and rocky, acidic soil, never glaciated.

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Recently Updated ID / Comparison Guides

collage of Bear Oak and Blackjack Oak

Bear Oak (Quercus ilicifolia) vs. Blackjack Oak (Quercus marilandica)

Updated October 20th, 2020

Bear oak and blackjack oak can be confused as both can occur together in harsh, barren habitats, and in such habitats blackjack oak may exhibit a scrubbier growth habit more like bear oak. They are usually easily distinguished by differences in leaf shape, buds, acorn caps, and growth habit. Their ranges only overlap in a small portion of the Mid-Atlantic and mid-to-southern Appalachians; bear oak ranges farther north and blackjack oak farther south and west.

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collage of Redstar and Scarlet Creeper

Redstar (Ipomoea coccinea) vs. Scarlet Creeper (Ipomoea hederifolia)

Updated October 16th, 2020

These two species are easily confused where their ranges overlap. They are best distinguished by whether their fruiting pedicels curve. They have differences in flower color and leaf shape as well, but variability can make these characteristics less reliable. I. coccinea is more likely to occur in disturbed and anthropogenic habitats, whereas I. hederifolia is more likely in wild forests, but both can co-occur in the same environments.

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collage of Bear Oak and Black Oak

Bear Oak (Quercus ilicifolia) vs. Black Oak (Quercus velutina)

Updated October 1st, 2020

These species are easily confused. Black oak has a much broader range of habitat preferences, but can overlap with bear oak both in dry, sandy coastal areas and more barren upland sites, and when it does, it tends to exhibit morphological changes that make it look more similar. The species are easily distinguished by differences in leaf shape, pubescence on leaves and buds, and growth habit. Acorns are similar but can be distinguished by how much of the nut the cap covers, and whether or not the scales of the cap are loose.

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