By Tom Atkinson
Most of us know yams from the produce shelf at the local grocery store, farmers’ market or organic growers. They tend to be solid, relatively dense (when raw), orange in both skin and flesh, and the shape of a warped football. When cooked, the flesh becomes tender, soft even, and succulent. These yams, as we all know, are exotic. They come originally from Papua New Guinea. But did you know that there’s a yam native to eastern North America? I was amazed to learn of its existence, and to discover that it too is edible.... continue reading.
By Trish Murphy
Yes this plant does have a common name, but it is so awkward and misleading that we won’t tell you what it is. Maybe having a cute common name would help this plant get the recognition that it deserves, for it is startling how few people know Euonymus obovata. In the meantime, grit your teeth, all you Latin avoiders.... continue reading.
By Kristl Walek
The smaller fringed gentian is one of our most beautiful natives, found in eastern and Midwestern North America. A self-perpetuating biennial, the plant grows to 18 inches (40 cm) with narrow, pointed foliage. The most striking feature is the plant’s fringed blue flowers, which are upward facing, and open in the sun and close at night or on overcast days.... continue reading.
By Linda and Ken Parker
This Ontario native perennial grass has significant ties to Native North American or First Nation culture. Natives of the Great Plains believe it was the first plant to cover Mother Earth. The Anishinabe Natives believe it is a purifier, and burn sweetgrass before all ceremonies. It is a reminder to respect the earth and all things it provides.... continue reading.
By Tom Atkinson
Black gum, pepperidge, tupelo – these are a few of the vernacular names for that delight among Mother Nature’s panoply of large woody plants known as trees – Nyssa sylvatica. Not too long ago I knew nothing about this plant, but now that I have “seen the light” I wander about preaching its virtues with a missionary’s zeal.... continue reading.
By Janice Stiefel
Description: Rising from the centre of three, large compound leaves, arranged in a circle, is an umbel of small, greenish-white or yellowish-green flowers that are scented like Lily-of-the-Valley (and almost camouflaged by the foliage). The flowers are about 1/12-inch wide, with five petals.... continue reading.
By Paul O’Hara
Myopia is the most common affliction of the modern landscape professional. It comes from too much comfy deskwork and not enough unpaid field wandering. Sometimes I think columns like this do not help. So when asked if I would submit an article for ‘Native Plant to Know’ I felt there was only one plant I could consider: white pine (Pinus strobus).... continue reading.
By Catherine Siddall
My earliest encounter with fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica) taught me that fragrant does not necessarily mean sweet-smelling. I was asked to prune some unruly specimens that were encroaching on a stairway and I left smelling pungent with the shrub’s peculiar earthy, resinous odour. A few of fragrant sumac’s other names – polecatbush and skunkbush, for instance – make reference to what some have called its “malodorous” qualities.... continue reading.