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Recently Updated Plant Articles

Swamp Chestnut Oak

Swamp Chestnut Oak (Quercus michauxii)

Updated January 12th, 2021

A white oak of bottomlands in the southeastern coastal plain and Mississippi valley, superficially resembling the chestnut oak.

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Chinquapin Oak

Chinquapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii)

Updated January 8th, 2021

A white oak native to North America, preferring soils high in calcium.

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Chestnut Oak

Chestnut Oak (Quercus montana)

Updated January 7th, 2021

A native oak of ridgetops and dry uplands, especially in the Appalachians, named for its resemblance to the American chestnut.

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Recently Updated Ecoregion Articles

Maumee Lake Plain
North America » Eastern Temperate Forests » Central USA Plains » Huron/Erie Lake Plains »

Maumee Lake Plain

Updated January 22nd, 2021

A flat, poorly-drained region on the western shore of Lake Erie, heavily altered by urbanization, draining, and agriculture.

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Champlain Lowlands
North America » Eastern Temperate Forests » Mixed Wood Plains » Eastern Great Lakes Lowlands »

Champlain Lowlands

Updated January 6th, 2021

A region surrounding Lake Champlain, near the border of northwestern VT and northeastern NY state, with high biodiversity and abundant agriculture.

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Lake Superior Clay Plain
North America » Northern Forests » Mixed Wood Shield » Northern Lakes and Forests »

Lake Superior Clay Plain

Updated January 3rd, 2021

A mostly flat shoreline region in Wisconsin and Michigan with reddish, clayey soils and mixed forests.

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Recently Updated ID / Comparison Guides

collage of American Holly and European Holly

American Holly (Ilex opaca) vs. European Holly (Ilex aquifolium)

Updated January 26th, 2021

These two broadleaf evergreen trees with spiny leaves are often confused, mainly in landscaping in the east. They are easily distinguished by their foliage, and they also have differences in fruit. In the east, European holly is rare outside of landscaping, but in the west it is widely invasive; American holly is native in the east and not found in the west.

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collage of Northern Red Oak and Black Oak

Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra) vs. Black Oak (Quercus velutina)

Updated January 23rd, 2021

Although these species sometimes look blatantly different, significant variation in individual leaf shape and other characteristics can make these species challenging to tell apart in some cases. There is some overlap in habitat, with black oak preferring slightly drier sites and northern red oak being more shade-tolerant. The two species can also hybridize and form intergrades, so it may not be possible to identify all individuals.

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collage of Norway Maple and Sugar Maple

Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) vs. Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

Updated January 20th, 2021

These plants are often confused due to similarity in leaf shape and occurrence in the same habitat; they are easily distinguished by samaras, flowers, mature tree bark, buds, or the presence/absence of milky sap. Leaf shape can be distinguished, but is best supplemented by other cues. Although there is much overlap in habitat, Norway maple is found on a broader range of sites, including disturbed habitats, whereas sugar maple is more limited to rich, mesic sites.

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