Mark posts with this category that are designated as news.

RIWPS Record breaking sales of Spring Ephemerals!

RIWPS sold more than 700 native plants last Saturday, May 14, at URI East Farm spring festival, in South Kingstown. The warm, sunny morning brought out crowds of eager gardeners, who queued up early to find beautifully-grown specimens of Geranium maculatum (wild geranium), Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine), Trillium erectum (red trillium), Sanguinaria canadensis (blood-root), and hearty natives of the coastal plain, including Vaccinium angustifolium (low-bush blueberry) and Rosa virginiana (Virginia rose), which thrive in sunny, dry sandy gardens.

These early bloomers are just a tantalizing preview to RIWPS’ June 4 sale, also at URI East Farm, Route 108, South Kingstown, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m, rain or shine.

More than 3,000 shrubs, trees, vines and perennials, all locally grown and suited to Rhode Island gardens – sun, shade, dry or wet – will be for sale. To name a few: Hamamelis virginiana (American witch-hazel), Benthamidia florida (flowering big-bracted dogwood), Amelanchier canadensis (eastern shadbush), many viburnums and azaleas suited to Rhode Island.

 

These natives species not only enhance the subtle beauty of a landscape, they provide food and habitat for birds and native insects, including pollinating bees and butterflies.

Why buy plants at the RIWPS sales, rather than at the box store?

Why plant Benthamidia japonica (kousa dogwood), which, according to ecologist Doug Tallamy supports no native insects (and thus feeds no birds), when you could plant a Benthamidia florida (flowering dogwood), and feed 117 species of native insects (and a lot of birds)! Let’s plant for wildlife.

Development — cities, suburbs, highways, strip malls, grazing land, miles of crops, 40 million acres of lawn – have taken over 95 percent of the wilderness that first greeted the Pilgrims. Scientists find a 1 to 1 correspondence between habitat loss and the loss of plant and animal species.

At our sales, choose from plants native to Rhode Island, New England and Eastern North America.

•  Plants are organically grown, from seed or cuttings, by knowledgeable local gardeners, so they are sturdy, disease-free specimens with healthy roots.

• Experts will be available to explain the needs of the plants, and their role in sustaining pollinators and birds.

• Native plants for a variety of conditions – sun, shade, wet, dry – are available, and knowledgeable gardeners can suggest plant combinations and tips on how to grow them successfully.

• Both plant sales include Rhody Native™, plants grown from locally collected seed, which means these specimens are genetically more diverse and better adapted to local conditions than those commercially grown, which are often cloned from a small number of plants.

• A collector’s plant table at the June Sale, including the double forms of Trillium grandiflorum (white trillium) and Sanguinaria canadensis (blood-root) and Cypripedium parviflorum (yellow lady’s slipper) awaits the connoisseurs! But come early; these rare beauties are soon snatched up.

 

 

Preview for the Early Native Plant Sale on May 14

ON APRIL FOOL’S DAY, RIWPS Seed Starter Sandra Thompson writes:

It must be spring!  Look what I woke up to this morning.  Blood-root. With more to come, by the look at all those buds. Ever wonder how this lovely early bloomer, (Sanguinaria canadensis) got its common name?  Its dark red, knobby, underground stems, or rhizomes are filled with an orange-red sap that inspired its Latin name, Sanguinaria which means bloody. Native bees and flies may cross-pollinate blood-root flowers, if it’s warm enough for insects to be flying around, but if it’s too cold out, blood-root has an insurance policy: self-pollination.  What a plant! And you can have one of your own, if you come to RIWPS’s Early Native Plant Sale at the URI Spring Festival at East Farm on Saturday, May 14th.

• Blood-root is native to moist woodlands and floodplains from Nova Scotia to Florida and Texas. A member of the poppy family, its flowers last only a few days, but its rounded notched leaves make a beautiful groundcover, and can be combined with native ginger, trillium, columbine and ferns.

• The Eastern woodland herb was used extensively by Native Americans to treat coughs and croup, to heal sores and ulcers. Its bitter compounds made a powerful emetic. The root juice was also used as a red dye and face paint. Blood-root’s common name in the South – coon root – may have been a corruption of the Indian name, puccoon.

• Blood-root is among many woodland wildflowers with fleshy elaisomes attached to the seeds, which are rich in lipids and proteins. Ants carry these seeds back to their nests, where they eat the nutritious elaisomes and toss the seeds on a waste pile that provides the perfect conditions for germination! It’s one of the many examples in which an insect species is fed by a plant, which in turn spreads a bit farther into the woods.

Go Botany – Sanguinaria canadensis

RIWPS 2016 Annual Volunteer Awards

Volunteer of the Year is awarded to Helen Drew for her work at Seed Starters West and the Early Native Plant Sale. The Lifetime Service Award is given to Doug McGrady for his dedication to seeking and identify rare plants and plant communities in RI and sharing his passion and knowledge as a RIWPS walk leader.  Rhode Island’s native plant populations and the RIWPS community are better because of them.  Awardees from past years.

RIWPS Native Plant Exhibit Wins Three Awards

Rhode Island Coastal Habitats – Spring: Emergence and Rebirth earned, First Place Award (Non Profits), First Place Award (People’s Choice) and The Roger and Elizabeth Swain Award for Design and Execution at the RI Spring Garden & Flower Show at the Providence Convention Center, February 18-21.

Congratulations and much appreciation to Kevin Alverson, Judy Ireland, Frances Topping and Barney Webster for their outstanding exhibit. Special thanks to Sue Gordan for her work forcing and nurturing plants and to all those who volunteered their time and talents to bring the design from the planning stage to its final rendition on the exhibit floor, complete with exhibit docents.

Rhode Island Coastal Habitats – Spring: Emergence and Rebirth highlighted the plant diversity occurring at the transition zones between coastal and inland climates, one of Rhode Island mini ecosystems that makes our landscape so unique and beautiful, and one of the habitats most threatened by rising sea levels and other climate changes.

Using our native plants in our public open spaces as well as our private coastal properties is essential to secure a diverse coastal vegetative habitat, to create a buffer zone to protect against coastal erosion and to maintain the foraging and shelter habitats that native plants provide for our wildlife.

State of New England's Plants

Why Native Plants Matter


New England Wild Flower Society
has released its State of the Plants report, the most comprehensive assessment of New England plants and plant communities ever assembled.

The report discusses the critical importance of plant diversity, profiles five key habitat types, and identifies primary threats to these habitats and to New England’s plant life as a whole. It assesses the status of hundreds of rare and declining plant species. The report also outlines priorities for researching, conserving and managing thousands of species that together comprise New England’s vibrant flora.

Insights from the report include:

  • Plants are in trouble worldwide and in New England, where 22% of native plant species-593 species-are listed as rare or possibly extinct, and 31% of plants are non-native.
  • After a century of reforestation, New England’s forest cover is declining, along with plant diversity.
  • Climate change is already affecting New England plant communities and will accelerate if current trends continue. Forest, alpine, coastal, and estuarine species are most at risk. If current trends continue, Vermont will have the climate of Connecticut by 2039 and of North Carolina by 2070.
  • Multiple threats, ranging from land development to widespread pesticide use to invasive species, together undermine the resilience of our native plant communities.
  • Insect-pollinated plants-the majority of native plants-are in particular trouble and are declining along with insects that pollinate and rely on them.

The report recommends urgent and continued action to save endangered plants, mitigate threats, and conserve and better manage land where plants thrive. At a regional level, we must expand research about our native plant ecosystems and strengthen laws to protect them.

We can individually support native plants and their vital food webs in many ways: by planting native species in our landscapes, avoiding pesticides and herbicides, controlling non-native invasive plants on our land, and educating our children and communities about native plants and their ecological value.

Authored by Elizabeth Farnsworth, the Society’s Senior Research Ecologist, the peer- reviewed report draws on hundreds of studies of New England plant communities, the fieldwork of more than 700 volunteers and professional botanists across New England, and the expertise of leading botanical researchers and the 60 partner organizations in the Society’s New England Plant Conservation Program.

Read State of Plants in Brief or the full report