Know Your Natives Archive

Know Your Natives – Black Nightshade

Black Nightshade (Solanum ptychanthum) of the Nightshade Family (Solanaceae) is a common weedy native with small white flowers and black berries. The genus name, meaning “quieting,” is the classical Latin name for the nightshades, in reference to the narcotic properties of some species of the genus.* The specific epithet is formed from the Greek for … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Carolina Horse Nettle

Carolina Horse Nettle (Solanum carolinense) of the Nightshade (Solanaceae) family is a toxic* perennial with attractive flowers and fruit and piercing prickles. The genus name is Latin for “quieting” in reference to the narcotic properties of some species. The specific epithet suggests that Linnaeus, who named the species, examined a specimen from the Carolinas, where … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Lady Fern

Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina*) of the Woodsiaceae (Lady Fern) family is a medium size fern of North America, Europe and Asia. The genus name originates from a Greek word referring to “door” in reference to the hinged indusia (protective spore covers). The specific epithet is based on Latin words for “fern” and “woman.” Lady Fern … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Canada Rockcress

Canada rockcress (Borodinia canadensis*) of the Mustard (Brassicaceae/Cruciferae) family has small white flowers and long pendent bean-like fruits. The genus name most likely commemorates the Russian botanist Ivan Parfenievich Borodin (1847-1930) who founded the Russian Botanical Society. The specific epithet denotes the species’ occurrence in eastern Canada. In the U.S., it is found primarily from … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Spring-Beauty

Spring-beauty (Claytonia virginica), traditionally treated as a member of the Purslane (Portulacaceae) family but more recently as a member of the Miner’s-lettuce (Montiaceae) family, is a widespread, common, native wildflower, a perennial herb with lovely white, pink-veined flowers. The genus name honors John Clayton, one of Colonial America’s earliest botanists. The specific epithet refers to … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Yellow Meadow-Parsnip

Yellow meadow-parsnip or smooth meadow-parsnip (Thaspium trifoliatum var. aureum) of the Carrot (Apiaceae) family has small yellow flowers with in-turned petals, much like those of the golden-Alexanders (Zizia aptera and Zizia aurea) (see last paragraph). The genus name, coined by Thomas Nuttall, is a play on Thapsia, a related genus of the Mediterranean region. The … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Bird’s-Foot Violet

Bird’s-foot violet (Viola pedata) of the Violet (Violaceae) family, the paragon of the violets, has distinctive leaves and large, exquisite flowers in several colors. The genus name is the classical Latin name for violets. The specific epithet, the Latin for “foot-like,” refers to leaf shape. In the U.S., bird’s-foot violet occurs in two broad belts: … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Two-Wing Silverbell

Two-wing silverbell (Halesia diptera) of the Storax (Styracaceae) family is one of several understory trees in the family with pendant showy white flowers. The genus name recognizes English botanist Stephen Hales who authored Vegetable Staticks* in 1727. The specific epithet is based on Greek words for “two-winged” in reference to fruit structure. In the U.S., … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Ditch Stonecrop

Ditch stonecrop (Penthorum sedoides) of the ditch stonecrop (Penthoraceae) family is a short-lived, herbaceous perennial of wetlands. The genus name originates from the Greek words for “five” and “marker” in reference to the pentamerous (five-part) floral structure. The specific epithet translates to “resembling sedum,” also in reference to floral structure.* In the U.S., ditch stonecrop … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Southern Prairie Aster

Southern prairie aster (Eurybia hemispherica) of the Aster or Sunflower (Asteraceae) family is a slender stemmed plant with spectacular, inch-wide, lavender composite flowerheads. The genus name is based on Greek words for “wide” and “few,” a reference to big-leaf aster (Eurybia macrophylla), most likely to the ligules of the ray flowers. The specific epithet derives … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Tall Thistle

Tall thistle (Cirsium altissimum) of the Aster, Sunflower or Composite (Asteraceae) family is a tall biennial thistle with weak spines and pink to lavender flower heads. The genus name derives from a Greek root for “swollen vein” in reference to past use of the plants to reduce swelling. The specific epithet is Latin for “tallest.” … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Toothed Spurge

Toothed spurge (Euphorbia dentata) of the Spurge (Euphorbiaceae) family is a drought-tolerant summer annual with milky sap and a complex, bizarre inflorescence called a cyathium. The genus name recognizes Euphorbus, a Greek physician.* The specific epithet is from the Latin for “toothed” in reference to the leaf margins. The common name “spurge” derives from the … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Water-willow

Water-willow (Justicia americana) of the Acanthus (Acanthaceae) family is an herbaceous aquatic perennial with willow-like leaves. The genus name recognizes James Justice, an 18th-century Scottish author of horticultural books. The specific epithet denotes the plant’s area of primary occurrence. In the U.S., water-willow occurs primarily from eastern Oklahoma and Kansas in a broad sweep that … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Hairy Woodland Sunflower

Hairy woodland sunflower (Helianthus hirsutus), of the Sunflower, Aster, or Composite (Asteraceae) family, is one of three Arkansas species with the common name “woodland sunflower.” The genus name is based on Greek words for “sun” and “flower.” The specific epithet is Latin for “hairy” or “bristly.” In the U.S., hairy woodland sunflower occurs from the … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Pawpaw

Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) of the Custard Apple (Annonaceae) family is a small deciduous understory tree with edible fruit. It is widespread in the deciduous forests of the eastern U.S., from eastern Texas and southeastern Nebraska, east across southern Michigan to the Atlantic Coast from Pennsylvania to northern Florida. In Arkansas it occurs statewide. The genus … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Woodland Agrimony

Woodland agrimony (Agrimonia rostellata) of the Rosaceae (Rose) family has leafy stems terminating with a raceme(s) of small yellow flowers. The genus name is a corruption of Argemone, the botanical name of the prickly poppy. The specific epithet is based on a Latin word for “beaks,” in reference to the fruit shape. In the U.S., … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – White-Nymph

White-nymph (Trepocarpus aethusae) of the Carrot (Apiaceae) family is the only species worldwide of the genus Trepocarpus––the genus is “monotypic.” Etymology of the generic name is uncertain. The specific epithet is a reference to Arethusa, a water nymph of Greek mythology. The species occurs in the central and southwestern portions of the Southeastern U.S., primarily … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Snoutbean

Snoutbean (Rhynchosia latifolia) of the bean or legume (Fabaceae) family is a perennial herbaceous plant with large trifoliate leaves. The genus name is from the Greek for “beak,” referring to the shape of the keel petals. The specific epithet is from the Latin for “broad leaves.” Snoutbean occurs from eastern Texas and Oklahoma, through southern … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Sundrops

Sundrops* (Oenothera fruticosa) of the Evening Primrose (Onagraceae) family has bright yellow flowers open during the day. The genus name may be from Latin (oenothera) for a sleep inducing plant or from Greek (onothera) a hypnotic plant added to wine. The specific epithet is based on Latin for “bushy”. In the U.S., the species occurs … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Forest Pea

Forest pea or bushy vetch (Lathyrus venosus) of the Bean or Legume (Fabaceae) family is a perennial deciduous vine with pea-like flowers. The genus name is based on the Greek Lathyros, the ancient name for a leguminous plant. The specific epithet is from the Latin for “conspicuously veined,” in reference to the banner, the large, … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Ninebark

Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)* of the Rose (Rosaceae) family is a large shrub which bears tight clusters of small white flowers. The genus name, from Greek words for “bladder” and “fruit,” refers to the inflated carpels of the fruit. The specific epithet, from Latin, compares the leaves to those of Viburnum opulus. Ninebark is widespread in the … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Yellow Pimpernel

Yellow pimpernel (Taenidia integerrima) of the Parsley or Carrot (Apiaceae) family is an elegant and attractive herbaceous perennial with twice-compound leaves and compound umbels of tiny yellow flowers. The genus name comes from the Greek taenidion, “a small band,” referring to the scarcely prominent ribs of the fruit. The specific epithet, from Latin for “most … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Wild Quinine

Wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) of the Aster, Sunflower or Composite (Asteraceae) family is an herbaceous perennial with frosty composite flowerheads. The genus name is from the Greek word parthenos, for virgin––only the pistillate ray florets are fertile. The specific epithet, from Latin, means “entire-leaved,” meaning undivided, although the leaf margins are crenate to serrate-dentate. The … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Round-leaf Ragwort

Round-leaf ragwort (Packera obovata, formerly Senecio obovata), of the Aster, Sunflower, or Composite (Asteraceae) family, is an herbaceous clonal species that bears bright yellow daisy-type flowerheads in early spring. The genus name honors John G. Packer, author of Flora of Alberta. The specific epithet, from Latin, means obovate (egg-shaped, but broader distally), in reference to … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Crow Poison

Crow poison (Nothoscordum bivalve) of the Onion (Alliaceae) family (formerly of the Lily (Liliaceae) family) resembles a wild onion and is often called “false garlic,” but the species has neither garlic nor onion scent or taste. The genus name is actually derived from Greek words for “false” and “garlic.” The specific epithet means “two sides” … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Deerberry

Deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum) of the Heath (Ericaceae) family is a medium-sized deciduous shrub that has small bell-shaped flowers with flared corolla lobes. The species occurs from east Texas and Oklahoma, northeast to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. In Arkansas, it occurs statewide except for some portions of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. The genus name is … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Large-Flower Bellwort

Large-flower bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora) of the Bellwort (Colchicaceae) family, formerly of the Lily (Liliaceae) family, is a clump-forming herbaceous perennial with dangling yellow flowers. It occurs in the U.S. primarily from the Ouachita Mountains to northern Minnesota, east to New York, and thence south and west along the Appalachian Mountains to northern Alabama, Mississippi and … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Yarrow

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) of the Sunflower, Aster or Composite (Asteraceae) family has distinctive, highly dissected, frilly leaves. The species, the only Arkansas member of the genus Achillea, is native to North America, Asia, and Europe––one of the widest worldwide ranges among the flowering plants. It occurs across almost the entire U.S., including throughout all of … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Buttonbush

Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) of the Madder or Coffee (Rubiaceae) family is a deciduous wetland shrub with many small radiating flowers packed into tight spherical heads. It occurs across a large area of the eastern U.S. from the Big Bend area of Texas, northeastward into southeastern Minnesota, and east to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. There … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Hairy Lipfern

Hairy lipfern (Cheilanthes lanosa)* of the Brake Fern (Pteridaceae) family, formerly of the Polypody (Polypodiaceae) family, is a small to moderate-sized evergreen fern with delicate fronds. It occurs at higher elevations from Oklahoma to Connecticut, principally in the following physiographic provinces: Interior Highlands, Interior Low Plateaus, Valley and Ridge, Blue Ridge and Piedmont. In Arkansas, … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Sensitive Fern

Sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis) of the Sensitive Fern (Onocleaceae) family, formerly of the Polypody Fern (Polypodiaceae) family, is a widespread fern with dimorphic fronds (leaves): deciduous, sterile, photosynthetic (green) fronds and persistent, non-green, fertile fronds. The genus name is from the Greek for “closed cup,” from the rolled pinnules (divisions of pinnae) that conceal the … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Scarlet Rose Mallow

Scarlet rose mallow or swamp hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) of the Mallow or Cotton (Malvaceae) family is a tall herbaceous perennial with large, spectacular, scarlet (rarely white) flowers. The genus name is an old Greek name for “mallow”. The specific epithet is Latin for “scarlet”. The species occurs in scattered areas of the Coastal Plain from … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – White Crownbeard

White crownbeard or white wingstem (Verbesina virginica) of the Aster, Sunflower, or Composite (Asteraceae) family has tall winged stems with domed clusters of white flower heads. In the U.S., it is found primarily from central Texas up through southeast Kansas, across to Maryland and thence to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. In Arkansas, the species … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – White Snakeroot

White snakeroot (Ageratina altissima*), formerly Eupatorium rugosum, of the Aster, Sunflower, or Composite (Asteraceae ) family has a multitude of small white flowerheads late in the growing season. It occurs from Texas to eastern North Dakota, across all states to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, but of limited occurrence in Florida and Georgia. In Arkansas, … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Boott’s Goldenrod

Boott’s goldenrod (Solidago arguta subsp. caroliniana var. boottii*) of the Aster or Sunflower (Asteraceae) family is a medium-size goldenrod with large ovate-lanceolate basal leaves. The genus name is from Latin for “to make whole” or “to heal” in reference to purported health benefits derived from some species of the genus. The varietal name honors Francis … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Carolina Elephant’s-Foot

Carolina elephant’s foot (Elephantopus carolinianus), of the Sunflower or Aster or Composite (Asteraceae) family, is a herbaceous perennial with leafy stems and small lavender flowers. In the U.S., the species occurs from eastern Texas to southeastern Kansas, east to Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and southward to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. In Arkansas, it occurs … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Jumpseed

Jumpseed (Persicaria virginiana), formerly Polygonum virginianum, of the Buckwheat (Polygonaceae) family has slender knobby terminal stems that bear long racemes of tiny white flowers. In the U.S., it occurs throughout the East, from eastern Texas north into eastern Nebraska and southern Minnesota, and east to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. In Arkansas, it occurs statewide. … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Tall Coreopsis

Tall coreopsis or tall tickseed (Coreopsis tripteris) of the aster or sunflower family (Asteraceae) is the tallest of eight coreopsis species native to Arkansas. It occurs primarily from eastern Texas north to Iowa and Wisconsin and east to Pennsylvania and the Florida panhandle. In Arkansas, it grows throughout much of the state except for lower … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Missouri Ironweed

Missouri ironweed (Vernonia missurica) of the Sunflower or Aster (Asteraceae) family has vivid purple to magenta composite flowerheads in midsummer. The primary area of occurrence extends from western Florida to eastern Texas, north and east to Indiana and southern Michigan. In Arkansas, the species occurs throughout most of the state, though apparently absent from portions … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Baldwin’s Ironweed

Baldwin’s ironweed (Vernonia baldwinii) of the Sunflower or Aster (Asteraceae) family is a tall plant with a vivid purple inflorescence. In the U.S., it occurs principally from central Texas north to Nebraska and Iowa and east to Illinois and Arkansas. In Arkansas, it is found in the northwestern two-thirds of the state, primarily within the … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Shrubby St. John’s-wort

Shrubby St. John’s-wort (Hypericum prolificum) of the St. John’s-wort (Hypericaceae) family is a short-lived, deciduous shrub with spectacular bright yellow flowers. The genus name originates from Greek words for “above” and “picture,” from the practice of placing flowers above a wall-mounted picture to discourage evil spirits on St. John’s feast day. The specific epithet, meaning … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Royal Fern

Royal fern (Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis*) of the Royal Fern (Osmundaceae) family is a large herbaceous fern with a crown of clustered spore cases (sporangia) on the fertile fronds (leaves). In the U.S., it occurs from eastern Texas to Minnesota and thence to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. In Arkansas, it occurs pretty much statewide. … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Climbing Rose

Flowers of climbing rose (Rosa setigera) of the Rose (Rosaceae) family, one of four native roses that occur in Arkansas, have a single layer of five pink (occasionally white) petals. The genus name is Latin for “rose,” the specific epithet, also Latin, means “bristle-bearing”. Climbing rose occurs in the U.S. from Texas to Wisconsin east … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – American Snowbell

American snowbell or storax (Styrax americanus) of the Storax (Styracaceae) family is a large deciduous shrub with bell-shaped snowy-white flowers. The genus name is the ancient Greek name for a European species, Styrax officinalis. The specific epithet refers to the native range of the species. In the U.S., it occurs from Illinois and Virginia south to … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Aniseroot

Aniseroot (Osmorhiza longistylis) of the Carrot (Apiaceae) family is a herbaceous erect perennial that has pleasantly aromatic roots. It occurs across most of the U.S. from New Mexico to Montana, thence east to the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, with the exception of Louisiana and Florida. In Arkansas, the species occurs in the Highlands of the … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Mayapple

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) of the Barberry (Berberidaceae) family is an herbaceous perennial that has one or two large leaves per stalk. The genus name is from Greek words for “foot” and “leaf”, in reference to the appearance of  the leaves. The specific epithet, from Latin, is a reference to the vegetative leaf’s umbrella-like form, in … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Southern Corydalis

Southern corydalis (Corydalis micrantha subsp. australis)* of the Poppy (Papaveraceae) family, formerly of the Fumitory (Fumariaceae) family, is an over-wintering annual that reproduces both sexually (chasmogamous flowers, which are cross-pollinated) and asexually (cleistogamous flowers, which are self-pollinated). In the U.S., it occurs from Texas and Louisiana, north to Kansas and Illinois, and then east along … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Crested Iris

Crested iris or dwarf crested iris (Iris cristata) of the Iris (Iridaceae) family is a low-growing iris that produces light blue flowers in early spring. In the U.S., it occurs from Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri east to Atlantic Coastal states. In Arkansas, the species occurs across the Ozark Plateaus, Arkansas Valley and Ouachita Mountains. The … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Hairy Skullcap

Hairy skullcap (Scutellaria elliptica) of the Mint (Lamiaceae) family is one of nine skullcap species known to occur in Arkansas. The genus name is from the Latin scutella, a dish, in reference to the distinctive shape of the lower portion of the fruiting calyx (see below). The specific epithet refers to the leaf shape. The … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Ernest’s Spidewort

Ernest’s spiderwort (Tradescantia ernestiana) of the Commelinaceae (Spiderwort) family is an early-blooming, low-growing species, one of the 12 spiderworts that occur in Arkansas. The genus name honors John Tradescant, gardener to Charles I of England, while the specific epithet honors American botanist Ernest Jesse Palmer. This spiderwort occurs in Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama. … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Carolina Larkspur

Carolina larkspur (Delphinium carolinianum subsp. carolinianum) of the Buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family has irregular (bilaterally symmetrical) springtime flowers that are typically deep blue. The genus name is based on a Greek word for “dolphin”, in reference to the shape of flower buds (when viewed from the side). The specific epithet is a reference to one of … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Red Buckeye

Red buckeye (Aesculus pavia var. pavia*) of the recently expanded Soapberry (Sapindaceae) family–it now includes the maples from the former Aceraceae as well as the buckeyes and horse-chestnuts previously classified in the Hippocastanaceae–has large, showy red inflorescences in early spring. The genus name, a classical name for an oak tree, is based on the Latin … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Celandine Poppy

Celandine poppy or wood poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) of the Poppy (Papaveraceae) family is a herbaceous perennial that bears bright yellow flowers in early spring. The genus name is from the Greek for “style” and “bearing” in reference to the flower’s distinctively long style. The specific epithet is also from the Greek, for “two leaves,” in … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Woodland Phlox

Woodland phlox, blue phlox or wild sweet William (Phlox divaricata ssp. laphamii) of the Phlox (Polemoniaceae) family is the first phlox to bloom in the spring in Arkansas. The genus name is Greek for “flame,” in reference to many species of the genus with strongly colored corollas. The specific epithet, from the Latin, refers to … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Woolly Lip Fern

Woolly lip fern (Cheilanthes tomentosa*) of the Brake Fern (Pteridaceae) family, is an evergreen fern that becomes brown and shriveled during drought but revives with renewed moisture. The genus name combines Greek words for “lip” (cheilos) and “flower” (anthos), in reference to the location of the sori or “fruit dots” (see below). The specific epithet … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Sparkleberry

Sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum) of the Heath (Ericaceae) family is a blueberry that adds persistent color to the fall-foliage palette. The genus name is ancient, but of no clear meaning–possibly from the Latin vaccinus, “of cows”. The specific epithet is from the Latin, meaning “tree-like”. Sparkleberry occurs from Texas to Kansas east to the Atlantic and … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Arrowhead

Arrowhead (Sagittaria platyphylla) of the Water Plantain (Alismataceae) family is an aquatic perennial of shores and marshes. It is one of eight Sagittaria species found in Arkansas that have “arrowhead” as their common name (see below). The genus name is from the Latin sagitta, an arrow, for the sagittate (arrow-shaped) leaves of some other species in … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Wreath Goldenrod

Wreath goldenrod (Solidago caesia) of the Aster or Sunflower (Asteraceae) family is one of the smaller goldenrods that occur in Arkansas. In the U.S., it is found from Texas to Wisconsin and thence east to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. In Arkansas, it occurs across the state except for portions of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Obedient Plant

Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana*) of the Mint (Lamiaceae) family is an attractive plant with showy late summer to early fall flowers. The genus name is from Greek words for “bladder” and “cover” in reference to the inflated calyx that covers maturing fruit. The specific epithet refers to the type locality, Virginia, the provenance of the … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Wood nettle

Wood nettle (Laportea canadensis) of the Nettle (Urticaceae) family is a perennial forb cloaked in needle-like, translucent, painfully stinging hairs. The genus name honors French naturalist Francois Laporte who studied the fauna of North America in the 1840s. The specific epithet refers to Canada, the locality from which Linnaeus’s type specimen was collected. In the … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Gum plant

Gum plant (Grindelia lanceolata) of the Sunflower (Asteraceae) Family is a viscid (sticky) plant with thick leaves. The genus name recognizes the early 19th-century Russian botanist, David Grindel. The specific epithet refers to the lance-shaped leaves. In the U.S., the species ranges from New Mexico to Ohio and Kentucky, as well as Wisconsin and Connecticut. … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Hairy Blazing Star

Hairy blazing star (Liatris hirsuta*) of the Aster (Asteraceae) family has vibrant violet to lavender flowers, typical of many species in the genus. In the U.S., hairy blazing star is reported from Texas and northward to Nebraska and Iowa, with scattered reports in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. In Arkansas, it is found throughout much of … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Fly poison

Fly poison (Amianthium muscitoxicum*) of the Bunchflower (Melanthiaceae) family, the only species in the genus, bears white flowers that change to green. The genus name originates from Greek words for “pure” and “flower”. The specific epithet is from Latin words for “fly” and “poison”. In the U.S., fly poison occurs from Oklahoma and Missouri across … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Green Milkweed

Green milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora) of the Dogbane (Apocynaceae) family, formerly of the Milkweed (Asclepiadaceae) family, is one of 14 Asclepias species found in Arkansas. It occurs across the U.S. except for six western states and five northeastern states. In Arkansas, it occurs throughout much of the state, except for lowlands of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Clammy groundcherry

Clammy groundcherry (Physalis heterophylla) of the Nightshade (Solanaceae) family is one of eleven species (with one having two varieties) of the genus occurring in Arkansas, with a twelfth species currently being described new to science. It occurs naturally throughout much of the continental U.S., except for the far West. In Arkansas, this species occurs pretty … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Heart-leaf Skullcap

Heart-leaf skullcap (Scutellaria ovata*) of the Mint (Lamiaceae) family is one of 11 skullcaps** found in Arkansas that have blue to purple, two-lipped tubular flowers. Heart-leaf skullcap occurs from Texas and Minnesota east to the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, as far north as Pennsylvania. In Arkansas, it occurs throughout much of the state except lowlands … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Sensitive Brier

Sensitive brier (or briar) (Mimosa quadrivalvis var. nuttallii*) of the Bean (Fabaceae) family is a sprawling perennial legume that is covered with prickles. The genus name is from a Greek word for “mime” or “mimic,” in reference to leaves in some species that fold when stimulated, suggestive of mimicking conscious life. The specific epithet is from … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Foxglove Beardtongue

Foxglove beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) of the Plantain (Plantaginaceae) family, formerly of the Figwort (Scrophulariaceae) family, is the largest of five white-flowered beardtongues in Arkansas. It is found throughout much of the eastern U.S. The genus name is from Greek words translating to “five stamens.” The specific epithet refers to the foxglove-like flowers of the genus … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Death Camas

Death Camas (Toxicoscordion nuttallii) of the Bunchflower (Melanthiaceae) family* is a white-flowered, poisonous spring ephemeral. The genus name is from Greek for “poisonous garlic”. The specific epithet honors Englishman Thomas Nuttall who, beginning early in the 19th century, published books on U.S. plants after exploring several areas of the country (including Arkansas). Death camas occurs … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Wild Comfrey

Wild comfrey (Cynoglossum virginianum) of the Borage (Boraginaceae) family is a short perennial with large leaves and pale blue flowers. In the US, it occurs from Texas to Illinois to New York to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. In Arkansas, it occurs statewide except for some areas of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain and lower elevations … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Eastern Bluestar

Eastern bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana) of the Dogbane (Apocynaceae) family is an herbaceous, long-living perennial with blue flowers. The genus name honors 18th-century Virginian physician Dr. Charles Amson. The specific epithet honors Jacob Tabernaemontanus, a 16th-century German physician and botanist and author of the New Herb Book. Other common names include blue dogbane, willowleaf amsonia and … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Violet Wood Sorrel

Violet wood sorrel (Oxalis violacea) of the Wood Sorrel (Oxalidaceae) family is a small bulb-plant that bears shamrock-style leaves. The genus name is based on a Greek word for “acid”, in reference to the plant’s pleasantly sour taste. The specific epithet is Latin for “violet-colored”, referring to the flowers. It is found across the eastern … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Wild Ginger

Wild ginger (Asarum canadense*) of the Dutchman’s-pipe (Aristolochiaceae) family is a low-growing woodland spring ephemeral. It occurs throughout the eastern U.S. from Louisiana and Oklahoma to North Dakota thence eastward to the Atlantic Coast, except Florida. In Arkansas, it occurs throughout the Interior Highlands (Ozarks, Arkansas Valley, and Ouachitas) as well as on Crowley’s Ridge. … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Green Trillium

Green trillium (Trillium viridescens), of the Trillium (Trilliaceae) family is a spring ephemeral. It has a limited distribution in the U.S., occurring along eastern borders of Texas and Oklahoma, in southeastern Kansas and southwestern Missouri, and throughout western Arkansas. In Arkansas, it occurs primarily in the mountainous areas of the Ozark Plateaus, Arkansas Valley and … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Downy Serviceberry

Downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) of the Rose (Rosaceae) family is a small tree or large shrub that produces showy white flowers very early in spring. The genus name likely originates from a common name of the type species of the genus, Amelanchier ovalis, a European species. The specific epithet translates to “tree-like”. Downy serviceberry is … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Rose Vervain

Rose vervain (Glandularia canadensis, formerly Verbena canadensis) of the Vervain (Verbenaceae) family is an herbaceous, low-growing plant with spikes of showy flowers. The genus name refers to glands found on many of the species. The specific epithet refers to the species’ occurrence in what was historically considered to be Canada but is now part of the … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Eastern Prickly Pear

Eastern prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa, formerly Opuntia compressa)* of the Cactus (Cactaceae) family is a mostly prostrate stem-succulent with large, bright yellow, spectacular flowers. Like most members of its family, the species is adapted to thrive in arid habitats. Interestingly, the cactus family (with the exception of a single species) is native only to the … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Resurrection Fern

Resurrection fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides var. michauxiana), formerly Polypodium polypodioides, of the Polypody (Polypodiaceae) family is an evergreen fern that occasionally appears to die in periods of dryness while being “resurrected” when again moistened. The genus name is from Greek words meaning “many” and “shields” (see “peltate scale” below). The specific epithet is based on Greek … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Jerusalem Artichoke

Jerusalem artichoke* (Helianthus tuberosus) of the Aster (Asteraceae) family is a large, tuber-producing perennial that was an important food source for Native Americans and early settlers. The genus name combines two Greek words for “sun” and “flower”. The specific epithet is from Latin and means “with tubers”. This species occurs throughout the eastern U.S., as … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – American Holly

American holly (Ilex opaca var. opaca*) of the Holly (Aquifoliaceae) family is a broad-leaf evergreen tree frequently used for Christmas decorations. In the U.S., it occurs from Texas to Illinois east to Massachusetts and thence south and east to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. The genus name comes from scientific name for holm oak (Quercus … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Rusty Blackhaw

Rusty blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum) of the Arrow-wood (Adoxaceae) family, formerly of the Honeysuckle (Caprifoliaceae) family, is a small deciduous tree or large shrub (referred to as “tree” herein) with a year-round attractive appearance. It occurs in the U.S. from Texas to Kansas to Ohio to Virginia and thence into states along Atlantic and Gulf coasts. … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Drummond’s Aster

Drummond’s aster (Symphyotrichum drummondii) of the Aster (Asteraceae) family is a herbaceous perennial with disk flowers that change color with age. Preferred habitats are partially sunny upland sites in open deciduous woodlands and woodland borders along streams and roads. This aster occurs from Texas and Alabama north to Minnesota and Pennsylvania. In Arkansas, one of … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Blue Sage

Blue sage (Salvia azurea var. grandiflora) of the Mint (Lamiaceae) family is a long lived herbaceous perennial with sky-blue flowers. Variety grandiflora occurs throughout a large portion of the central U.S. stretching from Utah to Ohio, and from South Dakota and Michigan to New Mexico and Alabama. The typic variety, var. azurea, occurs farther to … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Palafoxia

Palafoxia (Palafoxia callosa) of the Asteraceae (Aster or Composite) family is a drought tolerant annual herb. The genus name recognizes José de Palafox y Melzi (1776–1847), a Spanish officer in the war against Napeoleon. The specific epithet is derived from the Latin for “hardened,” from the tips of the bracteal leaves (phyllaries) that subtend the … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Yellow Leafcup

Yellow leafcup (Smallanthus uvedalius), formerly Polymnia uvedalia, of the Aster (Asteraceae) family is a tall herbaceous perennial with very large petiolate leaves. The genus name honors John Kunkel Small, American botanist and author of Manual of the Southeastern Flora, 1933–still the most recent comprehensive floristic treatment of the Southeast. The specific epithet is from Latin … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – White Leafcup

White leafcup (Polymnia canadensis) of the Aster (Asteraceae) Family is a coarse,  short-lived perennial. The genus name is in reference to the Greek Muse Polymnia (also spelled Polyhymnia), goddess of music, song and dance. The specific epithet refers to the plant’s occurrence in Canada. In the U.S., its greatest concentration occurs in eastern Oklahoma across … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – White Four-O’Clock

White four-o’clock (Mirabilis albida) of the Four-O’Clock (Nyctaginaceae) Family is an herbaceous perennial that blooms from evening into the next morning. The genus name is from a Latin word meaning “wonderful”. The specific epithet is from Latin for “whitish”*. Another common name is pale umbrella-wort, in reference to the plant’s large floral bracts. This plant … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Butterfly Pea

Butterfly Pea (Clitoria mariana) of the Pea/Bean (Fabaceae) family, the only species of the genus occurring in Arkansas, has large pea-shaped flowers. In the U.S., it occurs from New Mexico to Kansas, Nebraska, and Minnesota, east to New York and thence southward to the coasts. It occurs statewide in Arkansas. The genus name derives from … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Showy Partridge Pea

Showy partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata var. fasciculata)* of the Pea/Bean (Fabacaceae) family is an annual forb with asymmetrical flowers. It occurs in the U.S. from New Mexico and Kansas to South Dakota and Minnesota to Maine, thence south and east to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. In Arkansas, it is found statewide. The genus name … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Tall bellflower

Tall bellflower (Campanula americana*) of the Bellflower (Campanulaceae) family is an annual or biennial forb. In the U.S., it occurs from Louisiana and Oklahoma north to South Dakota and Minnesota, east to New York, thence southward into states that border the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. In Arkansas, it occurs across the highlands of the northwestern … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Whorled Milkweed

Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) in the Dogbane (Apocynaceae) family, formerly in the Milkweed (Asclepiadaceae) family, is a perennial herbaceous forb. The genus name relates to the Greek god of medicine (Asklepios, alternatively spelled Asclepius). The specific epithet is from a Latin word meaning “whorled”, in reference to the plant’s leaf arrangement. Whorled milkweed, a widely … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Self-Heal

Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris ssp. lanceolata*) of the Mint (Lamiaceae) family is a perennial herb found in generally moist soils.  It occurs as a native species throughout the lower 48 states and Alaska.  In Arkansas, it occurs throughout the state.  The origin of the genus name is not known.  The specific epithet is from Latin for … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – New Jersey Tea

New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus) of the Buckthorn (Rhamnaceae) Family is a small, deciduous, thorn-free shrub.  The genus name originates from a Greek word for “spiny plant” or a Latin word for “thistle”.  The specific epithet relates to its occurrence in the Americas.  In the U.S., it is found from Texas to Nebraska to Minnesota … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Western Daisy

Western Daisy (Astranthium ciliatum) (formerly Astranthium integrifolium*), of the Aster (Asteraceae) family, is an annual species with daisy-like flower heads. In the U.S., it is found in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, southern Nebraska and southwestern Missouri with greatest concentrations in eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas. The genus Astranthium comprises about a dozen species from the southern … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Hairy Phacelia

Hairy phacelia (Phacelia hirsuta) of the Borage (Boraginaceae) family [formerly of the Waterleaf (Hydrophyllaceae) family] is a beautiful annual forb with blue flowers.  In the U.S., it is found naturally in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri, as well as introduced in Kentucky and Pennsylvania.   In Arkansas, it is found throughout much of the state but sparser … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Wild Geranium

Wild geranium (Geranium maculatum) of the Geranium (Geraniaceae) family is an herbaceous woodland perennial that blooms in early spring.  In the U.S., this species is found from Louisiana and Oklahoma to Florida and north to North Dakota and Maine.  In Arkansas, it is found primarily in the highlands of the northwestern half of the state. … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Fire Pink

Fire pink (Silene virginica) of the Pink or Carnation (Caryophyllaceae) family is an herbaceous woodland perennial with bright red flowers.  In the U.S., fire pink is found from Florida to New York and westward to northeast Texas, Kansas and Minnesota.  In Arkansas, it occurs across the highlands of the northwestern half of the state.  Its … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Dwarf Larkspur

Dwarf larkspur (Delphinium tricorne) of the Buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family has distinctive early spring flowers that are often dark bluish-purple (or sometimes white).  Other common names include spring larkspur and rock larkspur.  This species is typically found in rich alluvial deciduous woods and wooded rocky slopes in shady to partially sunny sites with dry to mesic soils.  … Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Ohio Buckeye

Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra) of the Soapberry (Sapindaceae) Family, formerly of the Horsechestnut (Hippocastanaceae) family, is a medium to large deciduous tree with opposite, palmately compound leaves. It is native from central Texas to western Pennsylvania and as far north as central Iowa to southern Michigan and south into northern Alabama and the highlands of the northwestern half of Arkansas. Other common names include “American buckeye” and “fetid buckeye”, based on the odor of crushed leaves, bark and twigs. The name “buckeye” relates to the dark, ovoid poisonous seeds that have a lighter colored hilum (scar). Continue reading

Know Your Natives – Arkansas Yucca

Arkansas yucca (Yucca arkansana) of the Agave (Agavaceae) family, formerly of the Lily (Liliaceae) family, an evergreen shrub, occurs in Texas, Oklahoma, southeastern Kansas, southern Missouri and Arkansas.  In Arkansas, it occurs throughout much of the Interior Highlands.  The genus name originates from a misapplication by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 of a common name for cassava (Manihot … Continue reading

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