For the past few months master gardeners throughout North Carolina have been stalking our neighborhoods taking pictures of plants for the North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox, a searchable database with detailed descriptions and photographs of 4,275 plants that grow in and around North Carolina. When you train yourself to view a plant with an eye for capturing specific leaf arrangements, the unique design of a flower, or to expose minuscule hair-like structures on the stem it’s amazing the other things you’ll see. These are some of the pictures I’ve taken this year in my garden, the native garden next door, or our surrounding neighborhood (CCBY-4.0).
Horsetail (Equisetum hyemale), also called rough horsetail or scouring rush, is a non-flowering evergreen perennial considered one of the oldest plants on earth – mostly because it is nearly impossible to eradicate. Its species dates back to Paleozoic times, some 350 million years ago. It prefers a soil that is at least moderately wet, and can even grow in standing water up to a depth of about 4 inches. At the same time, it is also drought-tolerant. Early Americans used the horsetail plant for scouring pots and pans.
This is a Wolf Spider, member of the family Lycosidae, from the Ancient Greek word “λύκος” meaning “wolf”. They are robust and agile hunters with excellent eyesight. Living mostly in solitude, they hunt alone and do not spin webs. This particular Wolf Spider made her home among the pansies in my front garden. Wolf spiders are unique in the way that they carry their eggs. The egg sac, a round, silken globe, is attached to the spinnerets at the end of the abdomen, allowing the spider to carry her unborn young with her. No other spiders are currently known to carry their young in this way for any period of time.
Carolina silverbell (Halesia tetraptera; formerly H. carolina) and two-winged silverbell (H. diptera) are native trees to the Eastern United States. Clusters of white, bell-shaped, half-inch long blossoms hang in tiers beneath the branches in spring, just as the leaves start to emerge. It’s considered an excellent alternative if you have trouble growing the dogwood tree or in lieu of the foul-smelling, invasive, structurally weak Bradford Pear.
This is one of the many award winning Pamela Crawford planters from around our neighborhood. The planter has holes throughout the liner to allow for unusual and innovative designs.
The Stewartia malacodendron, or silky camellia, is a large, open-branched shrub growing up to 10 feet tall. The species name is Greek for soft tree, and has been cultivated in the U.S. since 1752. The plant has a reputation for being short-lived and finicky as to site tolerance making it difficult to maintain and reproduce.
Sarraceniaceae are a family of Pitcher plants/Trumpets that are carnivorous plants which have modified leaves known as pitfall traps—a prey-trapping mechanism featuring a deep cavity filled with digestive liquid. The plant attracts its insect prey with secretions from extrafloral nectaries on the lip of the pitcher leaves, as well as a combination of the leaves’ color and scent. Slippery footing at the pitcher’s rim, causes insects to fall inside, where they die and are digested by the plant with proteases and other enzymes.