Thursday, June 30, 2011

California Native Gardening Choices – Plants that Fit that Landscape

California incorporates the USDA hardiness zones of 5 through 10. This is a wide variance of minimum temperatures and weather patterns. Gardeners and landscapers should be assured of the hardiness zone of the area they are working in as well as the hardiness zones of the plants they are using. These three plants are all native to the area, and are all assured of doing well in the California landscape.

Clinopodium douglasii
Common Name: Oregon-tea, Yerba buena
Synonyms: Micromeria chamissonis, Satureja douglasii
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: This grows to 6 feet wide in a creeping growth pattern. There are round bright green leaves with a mint fragrance and small two-lipped flowers that are white. Bloom season for this plant is April through September. It does well as a ground cover in moist shaded areas.
Planting Guide: Clinopodium douglasii prefers partial shade and moist soil.
Propagation: Oregon-tea is propagated by seed, cuttings, or rooted sections of plant. There is no scarification or stratification needed on the seed.
History: An herbal medicinal tea is made with the leaves to alleviate childbirth pain.
            Yerba buena means “good herb” in Spanish.
Warnings: There are no known warnings for Oregon-tea.
Distribution: Clinopodium douglasii is found in AK, CA, ID, MT, OR and WA.


Sarcodes sanguinea
Common Name: Snow Plant
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: A fleshy erect plant, it is bright red in color. Bracts will wrap around the stems. The flowers, in racemes, also have bracts wrapped around them. Bloom season is between April and July.
Planting Guide: Sarcodes sanguinea
Propagation: Snow plant is propagated by seed.
History: Sarcodes sanguinea was named by an American taxonomist, John Torrey.
Warnings: It is known as a parasitic plant that will get its nutrition from the fungi of tree roots.
Distribution: Sarcodes sanguinea is found in CA, NV and OR.

Catalpa bignonioides
Common Name: Cigar Tree, Southern Catalpa, Indian Bean
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Growing 25 to 40 feet high and nearly the same in width, this tree has an irregular crown. Leaves are veined, green, heart-shaped, and deciduous. Flowers are 2-lipped, white and bloom between May through June. Fruits look like a cigar and are in a pod.
Planting Guide: Catalpa bignonioides prefers partial shade and wet or moist soils.
Propagation: Cigar tree is propagated by hardwood cuttings, softwood cuttings, or by seed. Seed is collected from split capsules in late winter or the beginning of spring and put into dry cold storage. There is no stratification or scarification needed on the seed to achieve germination.
History: This tree is very hardy and some have called it “indestructible”.
Warnings: Root suckers can be an issue as well as caterpillars defoliating the tree.
Distribution: Catalpa bignonioides is found in AL, AZ, AR, CA, CT, DE, FL, GA, IN, IL, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, LA, MA, MS, MO, NY, NJ, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, TN, UT, VT, VA, WV and DC.


These three plants are all found in the California landscape. They will work well in prairie gardens and in water-wise xeriscaping. While some may require moist or wet soil, they will still take less water than those that were not native to the California state.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Full Shade Native Plants and Wildflowers

There are many plants that cannot take the stress of being in full sun or full shade conditions. However, these native wildflowers and plants are all well suited for shade conditions and thrive in it. If you’ve a shady spot in the landscape to fill with wildflowers, these are good choices to choose.

Cimicifuga racemosa (L.) Nutt. (Black Cohosh, Black Bugbane, Actaea racemosa)
This perennial is excellent for borders with its tall spikes and white flowers. It is a member of the buttercup family and prefers deep shade. It will grow up to eight feet and bloom May to September.  Its root was an official drug listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia from 1820-1926. Today it is a popular alternative to estrogen therapy and is in many over-the-counter herbal menopause remedies.

Clintonia umbellulata (Michx.) Morong (White Clintonia)
This perennial grows on eight to 18 inch stems and is abundant with blooms. It will usually have five to 30 small white flowers with purple spots during its bloom season of mid to late spring.  It has wonderfully shiny foliage and dark bluish-black berries. Plant a white clintonia in shady locations and in acidic soil. Propagate by division of clumps, seed, or underground runners.

Hepatica nobilis var. acuta (Pursh) Steyermark (Sharplobe Hepatica, Mountain Hepatica, Hepatica acutiloba, Hepatica acuta)
The sharplobe hepatica grows four to six inches tall with spring-blooming pink, purple or white flowers. Blooms appear March and April. It is a perennial with hairy stems and pointed evergreen leaves. It prefers shaded areas with rich moist soil that is near neutral in pH. Propagate by seed or by clump division.  Seeds are hard to collect and the clump takes a long time to increase, but of the two choices the clump division is the better propagation bet.

Impatiens capensis Meerb. (Jewelweed, Spotted Touch-me-not)
This flower gets two to six feet tall with an 18 to 24 inch spread zone. It likes shade and moist soil. There are pendent gold or orange blooms from July to October. It self sows, so deadhead to prolong bloom life and self sowing if you want it contained. Butterflies and hummingbirds love jewelweed’s blooms, and so will you. This is an herbal remedy: crush leaves to put on bug bites, poison ivy, or razor burn. WARNING: Berries can be toxic if ingested.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Georgia’s Native Plants – The Solidagos

These six Solidagos are native to the state of Georgia. While Solidago was once mistakenly believed to be the cause of hay fever, we now know that isn’t the case. This beautiful blooming plant can decorate any Georgia yard without the fear of sneezing.

Solidago caesia L. (Blue-stemmed Goldenrod, Wreath Goldenrod)
Blue-stemmed goldenrod grows one to three feet high. Stems are slender and purple-tinted with narrow dark green leaves. Flowers are in clusters, yellow, and arch in a spray. They bloom August through October. Blue-stemmed goldenrod prefers sun or partial shade in dry soils. It may be propagated by seed. Birds and butterflies are attracted to this perennial.

Solidago nemoralis Ait. (Gray Goldenrod, Old Field Goldenrod, Prairie Goldenrod)
Gray goldenrod grows one-and-a-half to two feet high with coarse-toothed leaves and hairy stalks. Flowers are vase-like and in clusters. Yellow plumes bloom June through October. This variety prefers any lighting and dry sandy or rocky soils. Propagate by seed. It has a moderate resistance to deer foraging and is attractive to butterflies.

Solidago odora Ait. (Sweet Goldenrod, Anise-scented Goldenrod)
Growing two to five feet high, sweet goldenrod has a pleasant anise scent. It has yellow flower heads in clusters on arched branches.  Blooms occur from July through October. Sweet goldenrod prefers sun and moist acidic soils.  Propagate by seed or by clump division.  Leaves can be made into a tea.

Solidago rugosa P. Mill. (Wrinkleleaf Goldenrod)
This flower gets up to two to three feet high and needs 18 to 24 inch spacing. It prefers full sun and needs acidic to mildly alkaline soil that is well-drained. Its gold flowers arrive in September. It has graceful arching spikes of flowers and late season color. This is a great choice for some unique texture and movement in your garden. You can sow seed or do stem tip cuttings to propagate.

Solidago sempervirens L. (Seaside Goldenrod)
A member of the Aster family, seaside goldenrod grows two to eight feet high.  Evergreen basal leaves are in a tight clump form while deep yellow flowers are in arching branches. Flowers bloom August through October. It prefers sunny spots and moist sandy soils. Seaside goldenrod attracts birds and is resistant to salt spray.

Solidago speciosa Nutt. (Showy Goldenrod)
Growing one to five feet high, showy goldenrod has red-tinted stems and small yellow flowers in a column. Blooms arrive in August and September. It prefers partial shade and moist rocky or clay soil. Moist soils can make this Solidago a bit aggressive. Propagate by seed collected in October or by division. Said to be the showiest of all of the Solidago species.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Full Sun Loving Native Plants That Are Propagated by Seed

These four native plants are great for full sun landscapes and garden plots. They are all propagated by seed and as such can be used as great additions for seed-swap parties. These native plants are a good start to wildflower gardening.

Liatris elegans (Walt.) Michx. (Gayfeather, Blazing Star, Pinkscale Blazing Star)

Gayfeather grows one to four feet high with narrow needle-like leaves and non-ray flowers. Flowers are lavender-pink or purple on a flower spike six to 20 inches long. Leaves are whorled around the stem and gradually reduce in size. Flowers bloom August through October. Gayfeather prefers full sun and dry sandy soils. It also attracts butterflies to the landscape. Propagate by seed.

Manfreda virginica (L.) Salisb. ex Rose (Rattlesnake Master, False Aloe, Agave virginica, Polianthes virginica)

The rattlesnake master grows four to five feet high with thick strap-like leaves. Flowers are tubular and green-white, blooming in May through August. Leaves are basal and leather-like, growing up to 16 inches long. Flowers are in spike-like clusters. Rattlesnake master prefers sunny locations and dry soils. It is drought tolerant. Propagate by seed.

Monarda punctata L. (Spotted Beebalm, Spotted Horsemint, Horsemint, Monarda punctata ssp. villicaulis)
A fast growing drought-tolerant plant it has multiple branches and semi-woody stems. It grows from six inches to three feet tall. Leaves are hairy and opposite, ranging from one to three inches long. They have a faint scent of oregano. Flowers are small and can be pink or purple and at the end of a spike. The blooming season is from April through August. Spotted horsemint prefers full sun and regular watering, but will tolerate drought and tolerates partial shade. Propagate by seed with either dry or moist stratification. It was named after Nicolas Bautista Monardes, a botanist and physician of the 16th century, by Linnaeus.
Liatris squarrosa (L.) Michx. (Blazing Star, Scaly Blazing Star, Scaly Gayfeather)

Blazing star grows 10 to 24 inches tall with one or many stems. Flowers are red-violet and bloom early, from June through September. Tuft-like, the blooms are evenly spaced on a spike. It blooms the earliest of most Liatris varieties. This Liatris prefers sunlight and dry rocky or sandy soil conditions. Propagate by seed. Blazing star makes a good border plant or works well in wildflower gardens.

Georgia’s Native Plants – Rhododendrons

Georgia has many great shrubs to plant in any yard or landscape. Of these, native Rhododendrons are some of the southern staples that are typically in people’s yards. These Rhododendrons are just some of the great natives that you’ll love for their lower maintenance.


Rhododendron arborescens (Pursh) Torr. (Sweet Azalea, Smooth Azalea, Azalea arborescens)

This shrub gets up to eight to 12 feet tall and prefers partial shade and moist acidic well-drained soil. It is a rapid grower. There are fragrant white or bluish/pinkish blooms in three to seven flower clusters in late spring. Its dark green leaves will turn bright orange to red in the fall. You can propagate this by seed. WARNING: It is a poisonous plant due to the toxin andromedotoxin.

Rhododendron austrinum (Small) Rehder (Florida Azalea, Yellow Azalea, Azalea austrina)
This fragrant shrub is from the heath family and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. It grows eight to 10 feet high and two feet wide. Flowers are golden yellow trumpet-like blooms that have a reddish base. Leaves are alternate and two to five inches long with a medium green color. It prefers light acidic well-drained soil with partial sun. Propagate by seed. It is suppose to be one of the native Rhododendron’s easiest to grow.

Rhododendron calendulaceum (Michx.) Torr. (Flame Azalea, Azalea calendulacea, Azalea lutea)
This shrub gets up to six to eight feet tall with an equal spread. It likes partial shade and moist well-drained acidic soil. Its red, orange, or yellow fragrant flowers will appear in late winter to early spring. Blooms are in clusters and funnel-like. Leaves are medium green and deciduous. Too much shade on this one will lessen the blooms. It has average water needs. You can propagate this by seed. WARNING: Parts are poisonous if ingested due to the toxin andromedotoxin.

Rhododendron canescens (Michx.) Sweet (Mountain Azalea, Wild Azalea, Piedmont Azalea)

This deciduous azalea grows six to 15 feet tall and puts out very showy pink flowers in early spring. It prefers acidic well-drained, but not limey, soils and partial shade. Propagate by seed. WARNING: Parts are poisonous if ingested due to the toxin andromedotoxin.

Rhododendron catawbiense Michx. (Catawba Rosebay)

This shrub gets up to six to 10 feet tall and has a spread of six to eight feet. It prefers light shade and acidic soils. Leaves are clustered and thick. There is shiny evergreen foliage and has average water needs. There are pink, red, or violet trumpet-shaped flowers in spring. It is the Southeast’s most common native azalea. WARNING: Parts are poisonous if ingested.

Rhododendron maximum L. (Great Laurel, Wild Rhododendron, Rosebay Rhododendron, White Laurel, Rhododendron ashleyi)

A member of the heath family, the great laurel is an evergreen shrub/small tree that has crooked branches and trunk. Flowers are big, bell-like, pink or white and come in June. Great laurel grows four to 15 feet tall in northern states but can be up to 30 feet tall in the south. Leaves are leather-like and dark blue-green. It prefers partial shade and wet or moist acidic soils. Propagate by seed. It is a very hardy Rhododendron species. WARNING: All parts are toxic and should not be consumed by people or animals.

Rhododendron periclymenoides (Michx.) Shinners (Pink Azalea, Pinxterflower, Rhododendron nudiflorum)

This shrub gets up to six to 12 feet tall and has a three to eight foot spread. It likes partial shade and acidic moist soil. It has fragrant pink funnel-like flowers in mid-spring to early summer. Blooms are in clusters. Its deciduous foliage is leathery and medium green in color. It’s a good solid azalea choice for blooms and foliage. Propagate by seed. It is susceptible to dieback, chlorosis from high pH, and leaf scorch. WARNING: Parts are poisonous if ingested.

Rhododendron vaseyi Gray (Pinkshell Azalea)
A member of the heath family, the pinkshell azalea grows five to 15 feet tall with an open growth pattern. Flowers come before the leaves and are not tubular like most azaleas. Flower hues will range from pink to white and have a yellow throat, blooming in April.  Leaves are medium green in color and will turn red in the fall. It prefers shade and moist acidic well-drained soils. Propagate by seed.It is not drought tolerant and cannot hybridize with other Rhododendrons.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Georgia Native Plants That Grow By Seed

Seed propagation can be handy for those that want to store up future gardens, those that want to start a seed swap in their neighborhoods, and those that just prefer the ease of planting seed versus layering, cuttings, or division of roots. These Georgia native plants are all lovely plants that are propagated by seed. The pink milkweed, the wideflower phlox, and the upright prairie coneflower are all shown with their planting and growing requirements.

Asclepias incarnata
Common Name: Pink Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Growing 2 to 4 feet high, this plant has green narrow lance-like leaves and small flowers in clusters. Flowers are pink or purple and bloom between June and October. Stems are tall and branching. Seed pods are tan-brown.
Planting Guide: Asclepias incarnata prefers full sun or partial shade conditions with a wet or moist soil. It can tolerate clay soil. It also prefers slightly acidic or neutral soil pH.
Propagation: Pink milkweed is propagated by division and by seed. Divide in the spring on established plants or collect seed in October or November. Heat can help germinate the seed.
History: This plant was named for the Greek god of medicine, Aesculapius, mainly for its contributions to herbal medicine.
            It attracts hummingbirds and butterflies for its nectar. It is also a larval host and nectar source for the Monarch (Danaus plexippus) butterfly and the Queen (Danaus gilippus) butterfly.
Warnings: This plant is poisonous raw due to cardiac glycosides and resinoids. All parts are considered toxic.
            It may have an aphid problem and need spraying if the plant becomes sick-looking.
Distribution: Asclepias incarnata is found in AL, AR, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TX, TN, UT, VT, VA, WV, WI, WY and DC.


Phlox latifolia
Common Name: Wideflower Phlox, Mountain Phlox
Synonyms: Phlox ovata
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: This small plant grows 4 to 6 inches tall with pink or rose flowers. Flowers are on the end of a stem and bloom from May to June. There are 3 leaf pairs on each flower stem.
Planting Guide: Phlox latifolia needs a shaded area and a rich slightly-acidic soil.
Propagation: Wideflower phlox is propagated by seed, cuttings and division. Divide in the fall or first part of spring, use cuttings in the late summer season, and plant seed as soon as it is ripe or in the spring.
History: It does creep well and make a good ground cover.
Warnings: There are no known issues with this plant.
Distribution: Phlox latifolia is found in AL, GA, IN, KY, MD, MA, NC, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA and WV.

Ratibida columnifera
Common Name: Upright Prairie Coneflower, Mexican Hat, Prairie Coneflower, Red-spike Mexican-hat, Thimbleflower, Long-headed Coneflower
Synonyms: Ratibida columnaris
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: A deciduous plant, this is a fast growing plant with strong smelling foliage. Flowers are yellow or reddish brown and on long stalks. It will grow up to 3 feet high. It looks like a sombrero to many gardeners. Blooms will be in season from May through October. Feathery leaves adorn the lower leaves of the stem.
Planting Guide: Ratibida columnifera should be planted in sunny locations and in moist or dry neutral soil. Soil should be well-drained. It tolerates drought and clay soils.
Propagation: Upright prairie coneflower is propagated by seed that has been stratified in cold for 9 weeks. Fall sowing of seed is preferred but it can be done in the spring. Collect at the end of summer.
History: This plant is to attract wildlife such as butterflies, birds, and some flying insects and bees.
            There was a tea made out of the leaves that has been used as an herbal remedy for stomach pain. Flower tea has been used for headaches while stems that are boiled have been a medicinal herbal treatment for snakebite.
Warnings: It is an aggressive grower and needs to be watched so that it does not choke out other plants.
Distribution: Ratibida columnifera is found in AL, AZ, AR, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IN, IA, KS, LA, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WV, WI and WY.


These three native plants are all good ones to start from seed. They are native to Georgia, so they will not need as much attention, water, or fertilizer to stay thriving. Native plants have so many wonderful uses in prairie and wildflower gardens, and these three selections are perfect for the Georgia heat and humidity.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Native Trees That Are Found in Florida

Florida has everything from rich water-logged swampland to sandy salt-infused soils. In this environment, it is best to work with nature than against it. Native trees of Florida can handle the heat and the soil pressures of the environment. These three trees are all Florida natives and can be found strewn along roadsides, in fields, and in some landscaped yards.

Oxydendrum arboretum
Common Name: Sorrel Tree, Sourwood
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: With glossy leaves and flower clusters, this tree grows 30 to 70 feet high. The green leaves turn red in the fall. Branches are spreading and go all the way to the ground. Bark is red-gray and furrowed. Flowers are white and look similar to lily-of-the-valley blooms. Fruits are pale yellow and showy. Bloom season is July.
Planting Guide: Oxydendrum arboretum prefers partial shade and acidic well-drained soil.
Propagation: Sorrel tree is propagated by seed or softwood cuttings. Seeds are tiny and germinate well when planted under a plastic tent.
History: Tree is called sourwood for the acidic taste of the leaves.
Warnings: This tree has few pest and disease problems.
Distribution: Oxydendrum arboretum is found in AL, FL, GA, IN, KY, LA, MD, MS, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA and WV.

Pinus echinata
Common Name: Shortleaf Pine
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: This pine grows 50 to 100 feet high with spreading branches and bright green needles. Needles are about 5 inches long. Cones are red-brown. Blooms are yellow and come between February and March.
Planting Guide: Pinus echinata should be in partial shade and dry sandy soils. It is drought tolerant.
Propagation: Shortleaf pine is propagated by seed that does not need pre-treatment. Cones can be collected at the end of summer and beginning of fall.
History:  This is a larval host plant for the Elf (Microtia elva) butterfly.
Warnings: This pine can be plagued with the southern pine beetle, root-rot, Nantucket pine tip moth and the fusiform rust.
Distribution: Pinus echinata is found in AL, AR, DE, GA, FL, IL, KY, LA, MD, MS, MO, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, SC, TX, TN, VA, WV and DC.


Prunus serotina
Common Name: Black Cherry, Rum Cherry
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: A deciduous tree that grows 50 to 110 feet high, black cherry has arching branches and glossy leaves. Dark red fruits are a contrast to the white raceme flowers. It is fragrant and smells like cherries.  Green leaves will turn yellow in the fall. Bloom season is March through June.
Planting Guide: Prunus serotina prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade conditions. It is cold tolerant.
Propagation: Black cherry is propagated by seed, hardwood cuttings, semi-hardwood cuttings, root cuttings and softwood cuttings. Seed must be stratified in sand for 1 to 2 months and then cold stratified. Cuttings must be taken in the summer.
History: This is a larval host plant for the New England (Hemileuca lucina) buckmoth, Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) butterfly, Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) butterfly, and the Columbia (Hyalophora columbia) butterfly.
            This was once an herbal remedy used as a sedative and cough syrup.
Warnings: Seed, twigs and leaves are toxic if ingested. They have the cyanogenic glycoside amygdalin.
Distribution: Prunus serotina is found in AL, AZ, AR, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KY, KS, LA, ME, MD, MA, MN, MI, MS, MO, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OK, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VT, VA, WV, WI and DC.


These three trees are all designed for the rich Florida landscapes. They have interesting effects such as bringing butterflies into the landscape, and make for nice decorative specimen trees. Always check your soil and make sure that the soil in your yard will work for the specific tree you’d like to plant.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

New York Native Plants Used in Folklore Herbal Remedies

There are many plants, both native and introduced, that have been used at one time as an herbal folklore remedy. From the early settlers and Native Americans, many have shown their success and failure in laboratory testing. These three plants have all been used at one time or another as herbal remedies, and all are native to the New York area.

Liquidambar styraciflua
Common Name: Sweetgum, American Sweetgum
Lifespan: Long-lived Perennial
Description: A tree that can grow up to 130 feet high in the wild and up to 75 feet tall in landscapes, sweetgum is an open-crown and straight trunk tree. It is aromatic with glossy green deciduous leaves and a horny woody ball fruit. Leaves turn purple and red in the fall. Bloom season is March through May for the white or green blooms.
Planting Guide: Liquidambar styraciflua prefers partial shade and moist acidic soil. It is not drought tolerant.
Propagation: Sweetgum is propagated by seed or by cuttings. Seeds can be either untreated when planted for stratified. If stratified, do so for 30 to 60 days with temperature slightly above freezing. Cuttings should be rooted in summer and taken with a heel.
History: This was an old tribal herbal remedy used to treat wounds with a leaf tea. Sweetgum bark balsam was used for an astringent.
Sweetgum timber has been used to make barrels, cabinets and plywood.
            The resin-like solid that is scraped off when the bark is peeled back was once used by pioneers as a type of chewing gum.
Warnings: Can get iron chlorosis when the soil is too basic in pH and may get out of control in moist sandy soils.
Distribution: Liquidambar styraciflua is found in AL, AR, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MS, MA, MD, MO, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TX, TN, VA, WV and DC.


Hierochloe odorata
Common Name: Sweetgrass, Vanilla Grass
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Sweetgrass grow 12 to 20 inches high with erect slender leaves and small seed heads. It has a sweet scent to both the gray-green leaves and the yellow June blooms. It will have bronze spikelets. It has hollow hairless stems and flat leaf blades. The spikelets have three flowers and the inflorescence is an open panicle.
Planting Guide: Hierochloe odorata is hardy in USDA hardiness zones of 3 through 11. It prefers a sunny location and wet or moist soil.  Soil pH should be between 5.7 and 7.4 with at least 130 frost-free days for best growth.
Propagation: Sweetgrass is propagated by seed. There is no cold stratification required on the seeds. It can also be propagated by rhizome cuttings or bare rootstock. Cuttings have a better success rate for germination than seed.
History: Sweetgrass has been used as a ceremonial incense or smudge for purification and to bring prayers to the Great Spirit. Many Native Americans still use sweetgrass for this. Another Native American use is as a perfume sachet. It is also a Native American basket-weaving material and used in baskets and bags.
            Sweetgrass herbal remedy uses include a Blackfeet Native American use as a tea for ceasing vaginal bleeding after a birth. The tea was also said to remove venereal infections in Blackfeet men. The tea could be used for men and women as a cough remedy and for sore throats.
Warnings: The sweet smell of sweetgrass comes from Coumarin, a natural anticoagulant. It can be potentially toxic and may cause liver hemorrhages and injury.
Distribution: Hierochloe odorata is found in CT, DE, ME, MA, NH, NY, RI and VT.

Betula papyrifera
Common Name: Paper Birch
Lifespan: Short-lived Perennial
Description: This deciduous tree grows 50 to 75 feet high with either a single trunk or multiple trunks. Bark is white and peeling. Leaves are bright green and simple, turning yellow in the fall. It will have an irregular crown. Flowers are yellow, green, or brown and occur in April.
Planting Guide: Betula papyrifera can grow in any lighting and moist cool soil. Soil should also be fertile.
Propagation: Paper birch is propagated by cuttings and by seed. Collect seed while the catkins are still green and put into bags. Sow in the fall in sandy moist soil with the seed not buried deep. Cuttings will need rooting hormone and allowed to go dormant before transplanting.
History: It is a larval host plant for the Luna (Actias luna) moth and the Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) butterfly.
            Its sap has been used as an herbal remedy for colds while the wood has been used for cradles, baskets, snowshoe frames and canoes.
            Paper birch’s wood is often used to make clothespins, ice cream sticks and broom handles.
Warnings: There is some disease and insect trouble with this tree. Bronze birch borers are especially trouble, as is birch dieback.
            Do not prune until the sap has stopped flowing sometime in summer.
            It is a short-lived tree.
Distribution: Betula papyrifera is found in AK, CO, CT, ID, IL, IN, IA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NC, NY, ND, OH, OR, PA, RI, SD, TN, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI and WY.

Paper birch, sweetgrass, and sweetgum are all native to the United States and found in New York. They have had many different uses in herbal remedy folklore, and so far have not been proven to be effective.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Texas Native Grasses for the Landscape

Ornamental grasses help bring butterflies to the yard and can serve as great accents to a landscape. These three native grasses all have interesting histories and descriptions. They grow well in many areas, but specifically these three are to be used in a Texas yard. For the planting, growing, care, and history of these grasses, read on.

Elymus canadensis
Common Name: Canadian Wildrye, Canada Wildrye, Prairie Wildrye, Nodding Wildrye
Lifespan: Short-lived perennial
Description: Growing 2 to 4 feet high, this ornamental grass has arching stems and a spike-like seed head of oat-looking seeds. Leaves are deciduous, green, and linear. Flat leaves will grow from the stem’s base. Canadian wildrye’s claw-looking auricles form from a yellow or light green collar. The leaves and stems of this grass’s crown are coarse and have some fire resistance. Blooms are yellow and inconspicuous, arriving in late spring.
Planting Guide: Elymus canadensis is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 8. This grass prefers being planted in sun or partial shade with moist well-drained soil. It has some drought tolerance. It is classified as winter hardy. Soil should be between 5 and 7.9 pH with at least 90 frost-free days for best growth. There is a medium salinity tolerance.
Propagation: Canadian wildrye propagation is by root division or by seed. For division, it should be divided in the fall. For seed propagation, do a cold-moist stratification of the seed two weeks prior to planting in the fall. Seed should be dispersed onto the soil and not buried as it needs the sunlight to germinate.
History: This has been used for erosion control and in some seeding mixes where there needs to be quick development. It provides cover and nesting to wildlife and has fair use as a wildlife food. Early plants can be decent forage for livestock; however older plants aren’t as palatable. It has little protein but does well for energy.
            It is attractive to butterflies as it is a larval host to the Zabulon skipper (Poanes zabulon) butterfly.
Warnings: There is a potential disease problem with Canadian wildrye. Leaf rust, stem rust and ergot are all potential issues the gardener should be aware of.
Distribution: Elymus canadensis is found in AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY, and DC.

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri
Common Name: Lindheimer’s Muhly, Big Muhly
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: This ornamental grass grows 2 to 5 feet high in a fountain-like growth pattern. With silvery seed heads and fine airy foliage, Lindheimer’s muhly has blue-green or gray-green semi-evergreen basal leaves and lace-like fall panicles. Blooms appear May through November and are a white inflorescence.
Planting Guide: Muhlenbergia lindheimeri is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 7 through 11. This particular grass prefers sunny conditions and an alkaline soil under 7.2 pH.  Well-drained moist or dry soil with either a rocky or limestone base is best. It is both cold and heat tolerant.
Propagation: Lindheimer’s muhly is propagated by seeds that are collected in December. It tends to germinate easily.
History: Lindheimer’s muhly is named for Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg, Henry Muhlenberg, and Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer. The Muhlenbergs worked with many European botanists while Lindheimer has been called the Father of Texas Botany. Henry Muhlenberg is credited for 150 plant species named and classified while Lindheimer is credited with several hundred plant species being discovered.
            It is used for livestock and wildlife forage and as a nesting source for birds. It has a high resistance to deer.
Warnings: If you cut back the foliage during the cold season it could be slow in recovering. The foliage is dormant in the cold season and cutting is not necessary. Simply break off stalks once the flowers are gone and the stalks are brittle. Also remove any dead leaves by combing the plant with a leaf rake.
Distribution: Muhlenbergia lindheimeri is found in TX.


Achnatherum hymenoides
Common Name: Indian Ricegrass, Sandgrass, Indian Millet
Synonyms: Stipa hymenoides, Eriocama cuspidata, Oryzopsis hymenoides
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: This grass grows 1 to 2 feet high with sage-green leaves and ivory seed heads. Leaves will get tan during its dormancy. Foliage is wiry in appearance. There are yellow or green blooms in an inflorescence from June through September. Leaves are slender and rolled. Flowers are at the end of very thin branches. Black or brown seeds are hairy and either round or elongated.
Planting Guide: Achnatherum hymenoides is hardy in USDA hardiness zones of 3 through 8. Plant it in a sunny location with a dry sandy or rocky soil. It is drought tolerant and heat tolerant. Indian ricegrass needs to be planted under 1/2 inch to 1 inch of soil if soil is fine to medium textured and from 1 to 3 inches deep if it is coarse textured soil. Soil should be between 6.6 and 8.6 pH and have a minimum of 90 frost-free days to have the best growth.
Propagation: Indian ricegrass is propagated by seed that has been scarified by either mechanical means or by H2SO4. Scarification helps in germination. The seed should be planted 1 to 2 inches into the soil. The hard coating of the seed helps its dormancy and is why seeding can take up to two years to be established.
History: It is both wildlife forage and a livestock feed. The plant is palatable and nutritious food source for cattle, elk, sheep, deer and antelope. Indian ricegrass is a larval host for skipper butterflies and attracts birds for the seed.
            Native Americans used the ground seed of Achnatherum hymenoides to make flour. This flour was mixed with water and made a nutritious mush food source.
Warnings: This is a short-lived grass and will not tolerate winter floods, poor-drained soils, or shade.
Distribution: Achnatherum hymenoides is found in AZ, AR, CA, CO, ID, KS, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, ND, OK, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA, WI, and WY.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Native Shrubs That are Generally Pest and Disease Free

There are great native gardening shrubs that work well in a landscape and are low maintenance. These shrubs typically take less water because of being native to the area. Also, these shrubs have a very low instance of pests or disease, making them truly low maintenance.

Rhododendron prinophyllum
Common Name: Early Azalea, Roseshell Azalea, Woolly Azalea
Synonyms: Rhododendron roseum
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: This multi-stemmed azalea shrub grows 6 to 12 feet high and 6 to 12 feet wide. With light pink or purple flowers in clusters from May through June. Leaves are blue-green and smooth, turning purple in the fall.
Planting Guide: Rhododendron prinophyllum prefers shade and moist well-drained soil nearly neutral in pH.
Propagation: Early azalea is propagated by seed. Seed will need to be mixed with sphagnum moss and germinate under plastic over a 2:1 mixture of perlite to peat moss.
History: This is a very hardy azalea and can tolerate high pH soils.
Warnings: The instance of pests or disease is rare for this particular azalea.
Distribution: Rhododendron prinophyllum is found in AL, AR, CT, GA, IL, KY, ME, MD, MA, MO, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, RI, TN, TX, VT, VA and WV.

Rhus copallinum
Common Name: Winged Sumac, Shining Sumac, Flameleaf Sumac
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Growing 20 to 35 feet high, this large shrub can also be a small tree. Leaves are glossy and dark green, turning red-purple in the fall. Flowers are yellow-green and have a bloom season of July and August.  There is a dark red drupe for the fruit. These drupe clusters will stay through winter.
Planting Guide: Rhus copallinum prefers sunny locations and dry rocky soils.
Propagation: Winged sumac is propagated by division, semi-hardwood cuttings, and seed. Seed will need acid scarification for 60 to 120 minutes and then planted under an inch deep. Cuttings should be in fall or summer to root.
History: It is a source of winter food for many birds and small animals.
            The fruit can be made into a lemonade-type beverage.
Warnings: This is a relatively disease free plant.
Distribution: Rhus copallinum is found in AL, AR, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MS, MO, NE, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VT, VA, WV, WI and DC.

Fallugia paradoxa
Common Name: Apache Plume, Ponil
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: This many branched shrub grows 2 to 6 feet high with gray-white branches. Leaves are yellow-green and deciduous with white flowers that look like apple blossoms. Plumes of pink are the fruit. It is a slender plant. Bloom season is from May through December.
Planting Guide: Fallugia paradoxa should be planted in partial shade and dry sandy soils. It is both cold and heat tolerant.
Propagation: Apache Plume is propagated by seed, sucker division, and layering. Seed should be sown fresh or, if dried, will need stratification for 30 days in cold temperatures.
History: Makes a good forage plant for animals and also is used as a nesting site.
            It has been an herbal remedy by making a tea for indigestion or boiling roots for coughs. Leaves steeped and used as a rinse was a hair growth remedy once as well.
Warnings: This has a low instance of pests or disease.         
Distribution: Fallugia paradoxa is found in AZ, CA, CO, NV, NM, OK, TX and UT.


Acacia constricta
Common Name: Whitethorn Acacia, Mescat Acacia, Mescat Wattle, Whitethorn
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Whitethorn acacia grows 9 to 15 feet high in a multi-trunk form. Leaves are segmented and green and will be deciduous in the dry months. Flowers are small and fragrant, either white, yellow or orange. Red beans will grow 2 to 4 inches long. Bloom season is between May and August. Stems will have a reddish color on the young growth.
Planting Guide: Acacia constricta prefers dry soils and sunny conditions. It is fine in sand, loam, or limestone soil.
Propagation: Whitethorn acacia is propagated by seed or by root division. Seed should be untreated when sown. Collect when seeds are firm and dark brown, in late summer or fall.
History: This is a natural attractor of butterflies and birds thanks to the nectar and the seeds it produces.
Warnings: There are no known issues with this shrub.
Distribution: Acacia constricta is found in AZ, MD, NM, TX and VA.

These four shrubs can work in many situations where a flowering shrub, native to the United States, can add a bit of color and texture to the landscape. Always check your soil type and pH before planting any garden plant to make sure that it will complement the land and not fight with it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

How to Plant and Grow a Southern Sugar Maple

(photo from Tim Ross off wikipedia)

The Southern sugar maple is also known as Acer barbatum, Acer floridanum or Acer saccharum var. floridanum. Other common names include the Florida maple and the Caddo maple. It is from the Aceraceae, or maple, family of plants and is native to the United States. The Southern sugar maple is distributed throughout Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Other than landscapes, it is typically found in the riverbanks and streambeds.

This tree makes a good shade tree and can be used around patios and porches. It grows 20 to 25 feet high. It is a small tree with a spreading growth pattern. It is generally smaller in all areas of growth than the similar sugar maple found in the north. Leaves are deciduous and opposite. Fall colors are yellow. There is pale bark. It has a good rounded crown and it is a frequent nesting tree for small wildlife and birds. The seeds from it also is a food source for the same wildlife and birds.

To grow a Southern sugar maple, you will need to be in the USDA hardiness zones of 7 through 9. To plant one of these southern trees in the right environment, select a section of the landscape that is in partial shade. Partial shade is an area that gets three to six hours of sunlight a day. It will tolerate shade but perform better in partial shade. Soil can be moist or dry but it will need to be good in draining. There is a high heat tolerance and it can stand dry soil but performs better with supplemental watering.

Start with a nursery selected sapling or seed. For a sapling, dig a hole twice the width and depth of the root ball. Put the sapling into the hole and spread out its roots. Cover with the dirt dug for the hole, it will not need special soil. Cover with a good mulch and water.

For seed, you will need to collect from mid-summer samara fruits. These seeds do not have to be extracted from the samara to grow. However, warm-moist stratification followed by a time of cool stratification can help in its germination. Put in ground and cover with nearly neutral pH soil. Water it well. Cover with much after it has grown into a sapling.

These trees have a bit of trivia that is fun to learn. These trees can be tapped in the spring to make syrup, just like the sugar maple Acer saccharum. It will take around 40 gallons of the sap to make a single gallon of syrup. Sugar maple wood made into charcoal is what gives Jack Daniels whiskey its mellow flavor. The many different Latin names for the plant comes from a taxonomic controversy the tree has been involved in for at least 100 years.

For More Information:
Fast Growing Trees
Trees for Good Fall Interest in Zone 8
Selections of Georgia Flowering Trees for the Landscape

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Native Flowering Plants that are Generally Disease and Pest Free

A look at three plants, all native to the United States, that are typically very disease and pest resistant. These are great starter plants for those looking for lower maintenance gardening solutions. These native plants use less water and adapt better since they were born to grow in the area.

Claytonia caroliniana
Common Name: Carolina Springbeauty
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Growing 4 to 12 inches tall with smooth leaves and flowers in a loose cluster, this has a blooming season of March through June. Flowers can be white or pink and are on the end of a stem. After the seeds are ripe, the plant will die to the ground and resprout come spring.
Planting Guide: Claytonia caroliniana prefers partial shade and wet or moist rich soils. It does especially well in high humus soils.
Propagation: Carolina springbeauty is propagated by corms.
History: This plant can be a food source as its roots can be consumed like a potato. The root is a tuber.
Warnings: There aren’t any known issues with pests or disease with Carolina springbeauty.
Distribution: Claytonia caroliniana is found in AR, CT, GA, IN, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, NH, NY, OH, PA, TN, VT, VA, WV and WI.

Castilleja purpurea
Common Name: Prairie Paintbrush, Purple Paintbrush, Lemon Paintbrush, Downy Indian Paintbrush
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: It grows 6 to 18 inches tall with green or gray-green hairy leaves and flowered bracts on spikes. Blooms are red, orange, yellow, pink or purple and come April through June. Leaves are simple, alternate and deciduous. Flower spikes grow up to 6 inches long.
Planting Guide: Castilleja purpurea prefers sunlight and dry alkaline soils. Planting it next to native grasses can help its growth due to a semi-parasitic bond it has to grass roots.
Propagation: Prairie paintbrush is propagated by seed.
History: Prairie paintbrush has a good source of nectar and attracts hummingbirds to the garden.
            It is a host plant to the Theona checkerspot (Thessalia theona) butterfly and the Common buckeye (Junonia coenia) butterfly.
Warnings: There are no known issues, other than that grass root semi-parasitic bond.
Distribution: Castilleja purpurea is found in KS, MO, OK and TX.

Achillea millefolium
Common Name: Yarrow, Milfoil, Western Yarrow
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Growing up to 3 feet high, yarrow has small clusters of flowers and gray-green hairy stems. There is a slight fragrance to the plant, with alternate green leaves that have a fern-like appearance. Flowers are yellow-white or sometimes pink and are ray blooms. Blooms will appear from April through July in the south and July through September in the north. It is a perennial.
Planting Guide: Achillea millefolium prefers sun or partial shade and dry soil conditions. It is drought tolerant.
Propagation: Yarrow is propagated by seed. Collect the inflorescence and dry. Seed should be light tan when mature; around the end of the summer or first of fall. Sow directly into the ground.
History: Yarrow is a folklore herbal remedy for fever reduction and to stop hemorrhaging. As a poultice, yarrow was used for topical rashes. Native Americans made a yarrow tea and used it for stomach ailments.
            Dried it makes for a great addition to arrangements.
Warnings: There is no known toxicity or growing issues with yarrow; however, it contains thujone which the FDA only allows for thujone-free yarrow extracts. Sage contains more thujone than yarrow, though, and the FDA believes sage to be safe.
Distribution: Achillea millefolium is found in AL, AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NE, NV, NJ, NM, NC, ND, OK, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY and DC.


These three plants can be planted in a wide variety of states and in various locations. They do well in flower gardens, container gardens, and in wildflower prairie gardens. All three have a great look and style.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Poisonous Native Plant Perennials Found in Arizona

Arizona has wonderful native plants designed to live and thrive in the heat of the day and the cool evenings. Many of these plants work well in a variety of landscapes. However, some of the native plants of Arizona are poisonous and toxic to pets, cattle, and children. Knowing if the plant you have in your garden is poisonous may help decide if the plant is a keeper or if it should be moved to a better location.

Zinnia acerosa
Common Name: Desert Zinnia, Dwarf Zinnia, Dwarf White Zinnia
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Growing 4 to 10 inches tall, the desert zinnia has narrow leaves and white or off-white ray flowers with yellow disks. Bloom season is from June through August. It has 5 to 7 flowers per flower head.
Planting Guide: Zinnia acerosa prefers sunny locations and dry rocky acidic soils.
Propagation: Desert zinnia is propagated by seed.
History: Linneas named the “zinnia” genus for Johann Gottfried Zinn, a German botanist, anatomist and ophthalmologist.
Warnings: Leaves and bulbs are poisonous; care should be taken around the plant.
Distribution: Zinnia acerosa is found in AZ, NM, TX and UT.

Thermopsis montana
Common Name: Mountain Goldenbanner, Golden Pea, Buckbean
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Growing 16 to 32 inches high, there are three-part leaves and clustered flowers. There are fuzzy pods that come after the flowers. Stems are slender and purplish in color. Bloom season is May through August.
Planting Guide: Thermopsis montana prefers good sunny spots in the landscape and dry or wet soils; either rocky or sandy.
Propagation: Mountain goldenbanner is propagated by seed.
History: It has a resemblance to Lupines.
Warnings: This plant is poisonous and contains many quinolizidine alkaloids.
Distribution: Thermopsis montana is found in AZ, ID, CO, MT, NV, MN, OR, UT, WA, and WY.

Astragalus coccineus
Common Name: Scarlet Milkvetch, Scarlet Locoweed
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Wooly compound leaves and long red flowers adorn the scarlet milkvetch. The flowers are only one of three red varieties of Astragalus found. Flowers bloom between March and June.
Planting Guide: Astragalus coccineus prefers poor well-drained soil and sunny conditions.
Propagation: Scarlet milkvetch is propagated by seed. Direct sow after seed becomes ripe or scarify and store until spring planting.
History: Also known as Huang Qi in herbal remedy books, astragalus is said to boost immune systems, detoxify the body, and improve stress and mental clarity.
            This plant attracts hummingbirds to the landscape.
Warnings: All Astragalus plants are potentially toxic.
Distribution: Astragalus coccineus is found in AZ, CA and NV.


These three plants are all interesting in their histories and ornamental qualities. However, they are all poisonous and should be treated as such. Keep the plants away from pets, children, and cattle.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Poisonous Perennial Shrubs found in Alabama

Alabama Wildflowers

Alabama has a rich landscape with hot summers and cool winters. It is a great atmosphere for many plants and gardens. However, many plants, shrubs, and trees are known to be toxic or poisonous. These are some of the poisonous perennial shrubs that can be found in Alabama.

Rhododendron calendulaceum
Common Name: Flame Azalea
Synonyms: Azalea calendulacea, Azalea lutea
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: An upright shrub, this azalea gets 6 to 12 feet high and 6 to 12 feet wide. Flowers are clustered, funnel-like, and either red, orange or yellow. They are not fragrant. Bloom season is from May to June. Leaves are medium green and turn yellow or red in the fall.
Planting Guide: Rhododendron calendulaceum grows well in partial shade and moist well-drained acidic soil. It tolerates a dry soil.
Propagation: Flame azalea is propagated by seed. Seed will need to be mixed with sphagnum moss and germinate under plastic over a 2:1 mixture of perlite to peat moss.
History: This azalea was first collected from North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains by A. Michaux in 1795.
Warnings: All parts of the flame azalea are poisonous due to andromedotoxin and honey from their flowers is also poisonous.
Distribution: Rhododendron calendulaceum is found in AL, CT, GA, KY, MD, MY, MC, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA and WV.


Lycium carolinianum
Common Name: Carolina Wolfberry, Carolina Desert-thorn, Creeping Wolfberry, Christmas Berry
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Growing 3 to 6 feet, this shrub has small leaves and tubular 4-petaled flowers. Colors are usually blue or lavender and bloom in the season between April and October. Berries are red and fleshy, tasting like tomatoes.
Planting Guide: Lycium carolinianum prefers sun or partial shade and moist soil. It is saline tolerant, cold tolerant and heat tolerant.
Propagation: Carolina wolfberry is propagated by seed. Depending on the cultivar, they may need cold stratification for 2 to 4 months.
History: This shrub is very attractive to birds and other small wildlife as a browse and cover.
Warnings: It is listed in the FDA poisonous plant database.
Distribution: Lycium carolinianum is found in AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, SC and TX.

Illicium floridanum
Common Name: Florida Anisetree, Florida Anise, Anise Tree, Stinkbush
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: This evergreen shrub grows 6 to 10 feet high with leaves that are lance-like and leathery. Dark green on tops and paler beneath, the leaves are also aromatic. Flowers have strap-like petals and red, white, or purple flowers. There are 20 to 30 petals per bloom. Bloom season is between April and May.
Planting Guide: Illicium floridanum should be planted in well-drained moist soils and partial shade conditions.
Propagation: Florida anisetree is propagated by seed and cuttings. Cuttings should be firm-wooded cuttings and seed does not need prior treatment to planting. It can self-sow.
History:
Warnings: This plant can be toxic and should not be used as an anise substitute (Illicium verum).
Distribution: Illicium floridanum is found in AL, FL, GA, LA and MS.


Rhododendron maximum
Common Name: White Laurel, Wild Rhododendron, Rosebay Rhododendron, Great Laurel
Synonyms: Rhododendron ashleyi
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: This shrub grows 4 to 15 feet high in the Northern parts of the United States and up to 30 feet high in the Southern areas. Leaves are dark blue-green and leather-like while flowers are white or purple-pink and bell-like. Flowers are in clusters and bloom in June. There are crooked branches.
Planting Guide: Rhododendron maximum prefers wet or moist acidic well-drained soil and partial shade.
Propagation: White laurel is propagated by seed. Seed will need to be mixed with sphagnum moss and germinate under plastic over a 2:1 mixture of perlite to peat moss.
History: White laurel wood has been used for tool handles.
            There is a herbal remedy that uses the leaves as an astringent.
Warnings: All parts of the plant are toxic due to andromedotoxin. Honey made from white laurel flowers is also poisonous.
Distribution: Rhododendron maximum is found in AL, CT, GA, KY, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VT, VA, WV and DC.

These four shrubs are all nicely ornamental and look great in a landscape. Knowing their poisonous properties can help make you better informed whether it can work in your garden or if it must go.