Invasive Species

Some mountain conifers make the Piedmont their home

In December, the familiar Fraser fir population reaches its fleeting peak in the Piedmont as Christmas trees are harvested from farms in the North Carolina mountains and brought to market. But two other species of conifers largely restricted to the mountains have found surprising refuge in our region — at least for the time being. […]

Finding the beauty in a bagworm

The overall cluster was about the size of my fist.  A woven cylindrical core was decorated with willow oak leaves, some of them whole and others torn.  They had been applied in an intriguingly symmetrical pattern, creating the effect of wings and a tail.  Tiny twigs with swollen buds had also been incorporated into the design, their weight providing a ballast.  The creature twirled and fluttered in the breeze, a sylvan ballerina.

Rare plant communities abound in some unusual North Carolina spots

When you think of rare species, your mind might turn to majestic tigers, ferocious grizzly bears or majestic elephants. But how often do you think of bogs, sandbars and the slimy rocks coated in spray? A recent Natural Heritage Program Rare Plant and Natural Communities Workshop in Hendersonville highlighted theimportance of these unusual ecosystems for […]

When this vine invades, watch out

In August, “it becomes apparent that porcelain berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata) is making a bold attempt at taking over the world.” This witty observation from the Virginia Native Plant Society no longer strikes me as hyperbole. In all my years of conservation work in the Uwharries, I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered porcelain berry in anyone’s […]

He’s (almost) winning a war with invasives

Tall and slender even into his 70s, Haywood Rankin claims he was never much of an athlete. He says he lacked the speed and agility needed for football or basketball and the hand-eye coordination for baseball or tennis. After college, he spent time in Oxford, England, and finally found a sport that fit his skill […]

The mystery of the missing garden cats

As I left town for a quick trip over Labor Day weekend, a dozen hungry monarch caterpillars were munching away on my swamp milkweed. When I returned 32 hours later, they had vanished. Many stems had been denuded, so the cats had apparently eaten a lot of leaves before they disappeared. Most had been fifth […]

Cultivating a new generation of conservation leaders

On a Friday morning in late July, Jan Pender left her home in Raleigh and headed toward the Uwharrie National Forest. (I use the term “morning” loosely – it was 3:30 a.m.) Pender, director of the N.C. Youth Conservation Corps, had allowed plenty of time to stop at McDonald’s, wait for an order of 20 […]

Go native when choosing non-invasive evergreens

It’s been said that good fences make good neighbors, but a dense, evergreen hedge can keep the peace and provide attractive wildlife habitat as well. Whether you live on a tenth of an acre in town or a hundred acres in the country, you always abut a property you cannot control, and sometimes a fence […]

The nature of resolutions

I have a notepad on my kitchen counter for a running grocery list, and there’s one on my desk devoted to errands and chores. I’ve kept a digital file of all the books I’ve read for more than 20 years. My nature observations are recorded in a hefty, leather-bound journal. Despite an obvious affinity for […]

Invading plants threaten native forests and flowers

If you live in the Southeastern United States, you’ve probably seen the shrub pictured above. Despite its attractive clusters of white flowers that lead to big purple fruits, privet is another invader to hate. Free workshop The Greater Uwharrie Conservation Partnership will hold a free Invasive Species Workshop Aug. 22 at Montgomery County Community College […]