Friend or Foe

(Zone 5a)

I finally got my last bunch of pictures onto the computer. There are a heap of photos of plants I will eventually want identified.

I will start with this one. The area needs mowing and if this one is a nice native, I want to move it. The leaves feel kind of rubbery. There were no others around in the little area. Right there makes me hope it's a native, because at least there are hopes it is not invasive. :)

I will post more later but I've got inside work I have to do. Bummer. At least I got to play with my new little tool today, a 2 in 1 hoe and fork. It's the right size to get close to the plant without the fear of whacking it with a full sized hoe. I've done that before.

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Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

I don't know what it is, but it sure looks promising, I would let it bloom and see what happens.

(Zone 5a)

I think it might be a Physalis (ground cherry) of some type. The leaves do not look quite right for the Common, but the flowers are close to opening. I hope it's an edible variety, but if not I still would like more of this, so will wait and see.

A friend plants ground cherries and gave us some. They were tasty. :)

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

It does look like it could be that.

(Zone 5a)

Here is a picture of the Ground Cherry flower. Is this an edible variety and is this native?

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(Zone 5a)

Here is another... friend or foe?

This grows on the north side of my house and if I let it, this grows around everything. I never really knew it was there until some years ago when I planted Impatiens. I no longer grow those, having replaced them with natives, but this stuff is still around.

If it this is a native and just grows around other plants without taking over, I'll stop pulling it up. I assume it likes shady areas, as I have not seen this in the sunnier spots.

Thank you for your continued help.

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Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)


(Zone 5a)

Ah, you are right... Not sure whether to be happy or not. We've been buying Chickweed salve for eczema and bug bites, so I guess we can now make our own. I already found a link with simple instructions. The only thing we do not have on hand is bees wax and I hope it is inexpensive. The price of the salve keeps going up. The plant is edible, but it would have been nice if it was a native.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

I saw your photograph of the seedling and groaned! The best way to get rid of it is to let chickens or geese loose in your yard before the chickweed starts flowering, but then you'd be liable to lose some of your hard-won native plants, too. It is NOT native on this continent - it's common all over its native Europe, where it is equally dreaded. I first met it in the overgrown garden of a YWCA hostel in Devon, England, when I was a ten year-old interested in plants. I spend many, many springtime hours digging it up in my Texas wildscape, but cannot exterminate it with the old black plastic, since I leave the soil open to native volunteers.

(Zone 5a)

I'll just continue yanking it up until next year. We have enough salve on hand.

Carolbtx, My Black-eyed Susan has been very cooperative and has begun spreading in the area where the Chickweed is, so I would like to keep that spot open. I planted some Virginia Bluebells there, too.

Here is another plant needing ID. I just could not get the camera to pick up the teeny-tiny purple flowers.

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Anna, IL(Zone 6b)

Chillybean - The teeny-tiny purple flowered plant has the leaf of a rose verbena?

(Zone 5a)

They seem to look similar. I took a picture of the plant along the road yesterday that shows the flowers better. Picture one.

#2. Quite a bit found in our pasture. Oh, I hope it is a native... but we did not plant this.

#3. We have some of these climbing up our conifers. The leaves are large, about 4 inches across, just had a child measure this. Can it be either a type of wild grape or Moonseed (Menispermum canadense)?

If these vines are native, are they going to harm the trees? I'd like to just leave them be, if I can.

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Anna, IL(Zone 6b)

The middle picture is probably blue vervain. The first one does not have a bloom like the rose verbena, but the foliage is somewhat of a rose verbena look-a-like.

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

Your vine looks like a wild grape. We have a lot of that here. It can grow very high up in the trees and can eventually choke a tree or weaken it so that the weight may bring it down in a storm, etc.

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(Zone 5a)

I was looking for a different plant and found what I think is #1 in Post #9897024,Verbena bracteata.

#2 ended up being a Hoary Vervain. The leaves are short and oval. There is also a bit of it along the road, too. I hope to gather seeds there, if the county doesn't mow it down before then.

The Wild Grape is starting to flower. We'll see if it actually bears fruit. I found some along a fence, too. I would rather keep that one as the grapes would be easier to reach. :)

#1 This character is coming up with some Bee Balm I planted. I am not sure I have seen leaves like this before. If it is a keeper, is there a way to separate these without killing either?

#2. The last couple of years my husband planted a bunch of Norway Spruce in our tree line. Most of those died. I found a couple of strange trees/shrubs growing among the dead spruce. One of the children told me they were in the pots with the spruce. I took this close up of a few of the leaves. It seems to be coming up shrub-like rather than a single trunk.

I appreciate all your help.

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Anna, IL(Zone 6b)

#1 looks like leaves of the gray-headed coneflower (a native in my area). You could maybe wet the soil and pull up what I think is the gray-headed coneflower (or use a trial or long knife to dig/pull out this plant and replant in a sunny spot).

#2 Yep - looks like the makings of a tree or shrub.

(Zone 5a)

Quote from Cville_Gardener :
Your vine looks like a wild grape.

Since I posted my photo, this has really exploded. The flowers are currently being pollinated, and will see what happens. I found another one on a fence. I hope I am not repeating myself. We'll let that one go, but if this actually sets fruit, we'll take what we can reach off the trees. Then we'll cut it down or yank it out.

The most common pollinator seems to be wasps.

(Zone 5a)

Turns out the "grape vine" is a One-seeded Bur Cucumber. Bummer. But it is still native. Pheasants will eat this, so we'll leave the stuff along the fence.

Here's an article about it that shows a picture of the "fruits".

This message was edited Oct 8, 2014 1:40 PM

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

Interesting, Chillybean. Glad to hear it's a native and has benefits for some of the fowl.

(Zone 5a)

I have two more... I tried really hard to identify these on my own, but need some help.

These are out in our pasture where we've done no seeding or anything. It just has not been mowed since 2011.

These first three are what I believe to be New England Aster, but I am not certain. Photo one was taken a different day than the next two.

The last two are of what I think is a white aster. The very last photo was of the base, but sadly, most of the leaves were eaten. I think it might be Heath Aster (Aster ericoides) or Small White Aster (Aster vimineus). I have one more photo of a whole plant, but my limit is five, so I'll put it in the next reply

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(Zone 5a)

Here's the final photo of the white flower.

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Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

I think you're right about the plant in the first 3 photos: it looks like Aster novae-angliae (new name Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) (New England Aster), which USDA shows as native in your area.

Asters with small white flowers are difficult to ID - I have a native mystery one in my backyard that I keep meaning to ID - but Aster (or Symphyotrichum) ericoides looks like a good possibility. How wide are the flowers? More close-ups might help, also photos with something to provide some scale, e.g. a hand or ruler.

The USDA plants database has 7 pages of thumbnail photos for Asters (under the new name Symphyotrichum), and many of them are white Asters. Maybe we can both figure out what kind of asters we have!

Your meadow is beautiful, by the way.

(Zone 5a)

Thank you Muddy1. We do enjoy our little property. At times I wish it were bigger for more habitat, but the price of the land around us is high since it is suitable for row crops. :( These flowers were a surprise since it seems most things that come up freely are invasive non-natives.

Someone told us to get soil tests done around the property because if it is determined to be "wetland" we can get some protection on it. I have been a little concerned that if we move all our efforts to restore it to something native will be destroyed for hay or grazing again. Or I could hope to sell this place to someone who appreciated the natural aspects. What birder wouldn't want a yard list with a potential of 131 or more species?! :D

That is a crazy long name for the asters. :) I still have the patches of the white flowers, so will traipse out there to get more photos. Because more have opened up I am staring to wonder if we have multiple kinds. If I can get just one identified, that's good enough for me.

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

Somehow I thought you had a dry, prairie-like pasture, not a wetland. Either way, it's great that you're restoring native habitat.

The butterflies sure like that NE Aster! They might be Yellow Sulfur butterflies.

Grants Pass, OR(Zone 8a)

Chillybean, as you are going native this is probably no concern to you but I wanted to share my experience with a native white aster that went to seed. I was not ever able to completely control this species. It invaded all of the well watered areas. They can spread by underground runners as well.

(Zone 5a)


It's weird learning all the classifications. Historically the vast majority of Iowa was tallgrass prairie. Yet, because of the location of glaciers when they melted, we are on the southern tip of what is called the Prairie Pothole. Lovely name... :) Our area had lakes until the farmers tiled up the fields and drained the water.

The wetland classification is apparently the most important for people in this area in regards of protection. Farmers are starting to recognize its usefulness in controlling erosion. Our property is not completely flat, so when we have heavy rains the water rushes through from the west. On the south side, the water runs muddy, so we see how the farmers and us are losing soil. On the north, it runs clear. We have no idea if it comes in like that as I've not watched the water flow in, or if the plants are stopping the flow with their roots. Something I will do the next big rain we get. I am curious now.

Except for near the house, we are striving to get tallgrass prairie plants out there. Those surprise flowers, I do not know if they technically belong in tallgrass prairie. I cannot seem to find an exhaustive list of plants. When we went to the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge where they have done a large amount of prairie restoration, the NE Aster was there. I remember asking about those flowers because they were so striking among all the grasses, but I did not pay attention to the leaves at the time. We had gone there to look for birds, not the plants.

Thanks for the comment. Yes, it is true that if it's native here, it is free to go as it pleases for the time being. One thing I am learning about native plants, there are often some form of control for the plant, if it is let be. (bugs, animals, fire, fungus, etc) This is why we have a terrible time with non-natives, we do not have those built-in controls.

The Indian Grass we will be seeding areas with, it will be aggressive early on, but as other things fill in, this grass will back off. I do not care much about landscaping, even in the yard, so this method works for us. We have pretties around the house, but they have a purpose, food for the critters. :) I enjoy watching the bugs as much as seeing the blossoms.

(Zone 5a)


You mentioned the USDA plant site has 7 pages of thumbnails of Symphyotrichum, could you share the link? I still do not know my way around that site very well. I did a search for Symphyotrichum, but it is a list of all plants, no thumbnails. Then they have a silly link, so I cannot show you directly what my results are as it could be anything...

I appreciate your help. I did get a photo and measurement done yesterday. I'll post after I get the new pictures off the camera. To make things more fun, I found a different purple aster... I am close to just saying I have Purple Asters in the pasture and leave it at that. I gave up on the Goldenrod since there are so many types and I hurt my head trying to figure it out. What I do know is that Goldenrod attracts beneficial bugs. :)

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

Ooh...look what I found when I was looking for the best USDA link to attach (I didn't attach one yesterday because I could isolate the link).... a 92-page online book about prairies, including tall-grass prairies:

I will look for a link that brings up USDA's Symphyotrichum thumbnails; if I can't attach it I can tell you how to get to it.

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

This message was edited Oct 10, 2014 6:04 PM

(Zone 5a)

A big thank you for that link, Muddy1! It looks to be very helpful to ID some of what we have. None of my field guides show seedlings.

Now I think I have identified one plant the native man sold me this summer. They should be Royal Catchfly! As he was filling the tray, he was rambling off names that I knew I would not remember if I had not been already familiar with the names. But in a way, it has been fun trying to identify the plants myself.

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

Edited to add a missing step...............

I cannot get the copied links to lead back to the right USDA page, so here's the way I get to the thumbnails:

Google "new england aster", then select the site.

I forgot a step. You have to select the "IMAGES" tab.

It will bring up a page with a photo of a New England Aster and this line above it:

"Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (L.) G.L. Nesom New England aster
click on a thumbnail to view an image, or see all the Symphyotrichum thumbnails at the Plants Gallery"

Click on the link that says "see all the Symphyotrichum thumbnails at the Plants Gallery".

This message was edited Oct 10, 2014 6:12 PM

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Here is a link to the list of all Symphyotrichum that are native to the U.S.
edited to say, Oops sorry it didn't work.

This message was edited Oct 11, 2014 6:48 PM

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

It could be that none of the links posted on DG are working right now. We could always copy and paste it into our search bars though.

(Zone 5a)

Thanks for telling me how to get to the page, Muddy1. I have it bookmarked now and can get back to it.

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

You're welcome, Chillybean!

The link I posted in my aster thread might be useful as well, even though it's geared towards Virginia natives, because many are found in other states. Unfortunately, many of the Symphyotrichum species links don't have photos attached.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 9a)

Indiana- i simply thought these were fleabanes.. light violet sometimes, white usually like yours

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Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

I think fleabanes have more petals - 40-100.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 9a)

I have seen these in Va as well, and wondered if they wee like yours is why I loaded them.

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

Your asters do look a lot like mine (I love that mass of flowers by the way), but I don't think they're fleabanes.

This is an interesting article about fleabanes:

This message was edited Oct 13, 2014 8:48 PM

(Zone 5a)

I had looked at Fleabane, but a field guide said the blooming time was much earlier in the summer. But I am not sure how I should view that. My Spiderwort is supposed to bloom May through July... usually early June through mid-July. This year they started the normal time, but I still had some blooms last week!

(I just started the Fleabane article and it mentions the early bloom time)

That's a good tip to know that fleabane have many more petals. When I first started comparing with others, I had just looked at color and size.

Just a grumble... One thing I know as a birder, you buy a field guide and soon it will become outdated with all the new DNA info and whatnot... I still cannot believe they now say Falcons are related to Parrots! :P

In the last few months, I bought two wildflower guides and now discover they are already outdated. Hmph!

I happened to write someone the other day trying to find a list of Iowa's Tallgrass Prairie plants and mentioned my unidentified white aster. She told me that Frost Aster grows freely in central Iowa. This was not one I have looked at, so I will add this to my list for comparison. I've been kind of busy, and not feeling the best, so that will wait a little.

I had posted a separate thread about it, but I do have my Carrion Flower identified! It's a Smooth Carrion Flower. Now I need to cook up a batch of soil and get those seeds potted and outside.

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