“run and find out”
I’m curious about everything. I couldn’t keep hiking along the Billy Goat B and C trails in C&O Canal NHP without learning about all the beautiful flowers there. Plant ID became a hobby, then an obsession. At first I took pictures with an iPhone, but learning more about the plants made me want to take better pictures, so I bought a real camera (Nikon D3200). And taking better pictures got me really interested in photography, so I started studying that, too, and bought a better camera (D750).
And so this blog became a way to teach myself both botany and photography, and a way to share my discoveries with fellow botanerds.
My favorite place to view wildflowers is the Potomac Gorge, but I also spend time on the Cabin John Trail and other parts of the Maryland Piedmont. And whenever I travel, I make at least a little time for botanizing.
For basic plant identification I recommend the following books:
- Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide by Lawrence Newcomb (Little, Brown and Company)
- Wildflowers in the Field and Forest (A Field Guide to the Northeastern United States) by Steven Clemants and Carol Gracie (Oxford University Press)
- Peterson Field Guides Wildflowers (Northeastern/North-central North America) by Roger Tory Peterson and Margaret McKenny (Houghton Mifflin Company)
A few particularly useful websites:
- http://plants.usda.gov/java/ the USDA PLANTS Database for basic data on location and conservation status
- http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/ Dr. John Hilty’s excellent Illinois Wildflowers site for detailed but not overly technical descriptions of plants and their habitats
- https://gobotany.newenglandwild.org/ the New England Wildflower Society’s site for detailed, technical descriptions and good keys
- http://www.efloras.org/ for when you need serious details
- Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States (aka Weakley’s Flora) by Alan S. Weakley for when you need serious details but also need to limit the geographic range
- http://www.itis.gov/ the Integrated Taxonomy Information System for current taxonomy
- http://bonap.org/ the Biota of North America Program for county-level location maps of species
- http://eol.org/info/search the Encyclopedia of Life website: “Information and pictures of all species known to science”
A wonderful work-in-progress that I’m proud to play a small part in:
- http://www.marylandbiodiversity.com/ the Maryland Biodiversity Project, “a 501(c)3 non-profit organization focused on cataloging all the living things of Maryland”
More book recommendations (because I’m a book geek, too):
- Finding Wildflowers in the Washington-Baltimore Area by Cristol Fleming, Marion Blois Lobstein, and Barbara Tufty (Johns Hopkins University Press)
- Eastern Woodland Wildflowers and Trees by Melanie Choukas-Bradley (University of Virginia Press)
- Muenscher’s Keys to Woody Plants by Edward A. Cope (Comstock Publishing Associates)
- Northeast Ferns Steve W. Chadde (privately published)
- Plant Identification Terminology by James G. Harris and Melinda Woolf Harris (Spring Lake Publishing)
- How to Identify Flowering Plant Families by John Philip Baumgardt (Timber Press)
- Botany in a Day by Thomas J. Elpel (HOPS Press)
- Photographic Atlas of Botany and Guide to Plant Identification by James L. Castner (Feline Press)
I am not a botanist. If you believe I’ve misidentified a plant or made any mistake, please leave a (detailed) comment.
banner photo: partridgeberry (Mitchella repens)
Enjoy your website!
Thanks! I enjoyed scrolling through your photos on smugmug. Nice work.
I’d like to use one of the Vernonia photos as modified clip art.
please tell me more?
Elisabeth, it was nice to meet you today. If you wish, I think it would be interesting to share information on wildflowers and photography. You blog is fun and informative so thanks for posting it. 301-229-0195
I attempted to send you and three other people on the MNPS Discussion Group a friend request for FaceBook. I think I succeeded on two of them but I don’t think yours got through. If it didn’t and you’re interested, please send me a friend request. I thought you might like to see the all white Showy Orchis.
A delightful read … I chuckled as you sunk deeper and deeper into plants and photography. (What a great place to spend time!) Thanks too for the references and resources.
Wonderful. I love it.
Hi Elizabeth! I’m writing to say hello from a fellow nature blogger, and to say that I’ve really enjoyed following your work here. I also wanted to tip you off to a new feature on my own website that will hopefully drive some more readers your way.
I recently launched a site called The Pigeon that I’m envisioning as a newsletter, field guide, and resource directory for naturalists across eastern North America. I’ve come to realize that there’s a ton of terrific content out there that should be of interest to nature enthusiasts throughout our ecoregion, but that can be pretty tough to find and keep track of. So I’ve taken it on myself to build up a feed of the latest posts from dozens of local nature bloggers throughout the region. The feed can be filtered by blog category – birds, bugs, photography, etc. – and the blogs can even be viewed on an interactive map by (approximate) location. Check it out here:
It’s very much a work in progress, so if there’s a blog you love that I haven’t found yet – or if you have any issues with how your own blog is being presented – please do let me know. And if you find it useful, do me a favor and help me spread the word! I feel very passionately about helping to build community among naturalists who share our landscape, and I’m glad to be sharing that community with you.
Keep up the great work!
Thanks for including my blog, Matt. Your page looks like a great resource. Check out Alonso Albuttagas’ Capital Naturalist blog at http://capitalnaturalist.blogspot.com/. And also Jim’s blog: https://www.jfowlerphotography.com/. He’s a great photographer.
Awesome suggestions! I’ve added them in and look forward to following them. Thanks!
Hi Elizabeth. I am making a cooperative extension resource for educating about specialist bees and which native plants certain species specialize on, I am wondering if I can use your photo of Solidago racemosa? There are not other pictures of racemosa any where else i can find that is so clear.
Hope to hear from you soon via email
Hi, Maria – happy to share but would like to discuss with you; please let me know your email address.
Just found this blog and it looks great. Signing up for emails. Thanks!
Hi Elizabeth! I just found your blog while trying to find out a bit more about richweed which I saw for the first time today. Reading your About page, I feel like I’m following in your footsteps, but I’m many years behind you. The combination of having an active large-breed puppy and Covid had me start hiking trails this spring, mostly in northern Baltimore County.
I loved photography for years so I’m always looking for good subjects while the dog is looking for good smells. I’m trying to learn to identify too much at once, but have found online groups and nature apps help a lot. I started with flowers but soon added fungi to my interests, and cool-looking bugs and animals as well. I share the most on FaceBook, a little on Twitter, and keep contemplating starting a blog.
I’m looking forward to going through your blog in more detail to verify the identify of species I’ve become familiar with, and see if I can learn the specific species on the ones I’ve only be confident of genus.
Thanks for the kind comments, and welcome to botanizing. If you aren’t already in the Maryland Native Plant Society Discussion Group on Facebook, please do join (be sure to answer all the questions or your request will be denied). We’ve recently been inundated with gardening questions, but the focus is native plants in wild places, and we have some great experts to help with ID. I also recommend Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide; decades after its publication it remains the best ID book for this part of the country.
I don’t know why I hadn’t thought to look for a plant group on FB; maybe because plant ID apps do better than fungi/bug ones, giving me at least a common name I’m confident in if not the specific species. I’ve put in a request to join now (and added the guide to my wishlist), thanks!
Just found your blog and so happy to have a list of plants that are native to this area of the Piedmont (I live in Bethesda). A bit disappointed to learn that Spigelia is not native to Maryland, but I’m keeping it anyway. Thank you for your fabulous website!