Invasive Plants List for Pennsylvania

Q: Interested in learning more about what plants are invasive and why that matters?

A: Head on over to Invasive Plants by the United States National Arboretum for all the information you’ll need. Scroll down that page for a link to your state where you can find out more about invasive plants that are causing problems in your locale.

For Pennsylvania the DCNR lists many forbs/grasses as invasive.

For a plant to be invasive

Read moreInvasive Plants List for Pennsylvania

Wild Pink Flowers on the Hillsides

Wild Pink would make a nice addition to any garden. It’s low to the ground and the flowers are a delightful light pink color.

Who says pink isn’t a natural color?

Wild Pink, Silene caroliniana, looks similar to a common garden plant called moss phlox. Moss phlox, Phlox subulata, is popular in gardens and you’ll see it planted around houses as it’s a popular landscaping plant that flowers in neon-bright colors.

By the way during the month of May you can see a great display of a tall Wild Blue Phlox, Phlox divaricata, at Shenk’s Ferry.

Wild pink flowers range in color from the lightest pink, almost white, to a dark pink. Flowering in the middle of May most of the flowers are light pink in color.

These wild pink flowers are such a light pink they're nearly white.
These wild pink flowers are such a light pink they’re nearly white.
Wild pink flowers in a dark shade of pink.
Wild pink flowers in a dark shade of pink.

The whole plant will get only a few inches tall. The photo above shows the flower stalk reaching about 5 inches high, a little taller than the leaves.

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Asian Long-Horned Beetle Look-a-Like Pine Sawyer

Q: What large black beetle has really long antennae and white spots on its back?

A: The Asian Long-Horned Beetle and its look-a-like the White-Spotted Pine Sawyer.

We were sitting out on the deck one afternoon for lunch when a really loud bug flew by. It made a rattling sound that really caught my attention. Was it her wing covers clicking together as she worked her wings to get to her destination?

When it landed on the edge of the deck I got these pics. Photos taken 3 June 2014.

Pine Sawyer resting on a 1 x 1" deck railing.
Pine Sawyer resting on a 1 x 1″ deck railing.

At first we thought it was the Asian Long-Horned Beetle as the general characteristics seemed right.

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Wild Geraniums Bloom for Weeks

Wild Geraniums are one of my favorite forest plants. The light purple flowers appear in May or late April. Rains at this time of year will beat down existing blossoms or make them drop some petals, but other flower buds will open to replace them.

The wild geranium blooms for a couple of weeks or longer with the largest and oldest plant blooming the longest. Flower buds open in succession so that some will be spent and developing their beak-like seedpods before others are in complete bloom. Photos taken 16 and 26 May 2014.

Wild geranium bloom surrounded by flower buds that have yet to open.
Wild geranium bloom surrounded by flower buds that have yet to open.
Wild geranium flower on the left is just opening and the flower on the right has been fertilized and has lost its anthers.
Wild geranium flower on the left is just opening and the flower on the right has been fertilized and has lost its anthers. The pistil is swelling at the base as it starts to form the seed pod.

In our area of the Appalachian Mountains in South Central Pennsylvania we saw wild geraniums blooming for 4 weeks from the middle of May to the middle of June. Most years I would start looking for them to flower in the beginning of May.

Large plants may bloom for a couple of weeks, while plants in different locations will bloom at slightly different times. For instance, the wild geraniums on a south-facing slope may bloom a week earlier than a similar-sized plant on a north-facing slope.

Wild geranium blooming next to a country road.
Wild geranium blooming next to a country road.

The foliage is quite noticeable. I mean, it’s pretty easy to identify. Look for the palmate leaves in clumps near forest openings, along roads near wooded lots, and surely along hiking trails in Eastern North America.

Wild Geranium will be seen along roads, but probably only when it's in bloom.
Wild Geranium will be seen along roads, but probably only when it’s in bloom.
Flowers are held high over the palmate foliage of Wild Geranium.
Flowers are held high over the palmate foliage of Wild Geranium.

Dame’s Rocket Not Native to America

Dame’s Rocket is all but done blooming for this year. Even though it’s an invasive plant I admit I still enjoy seeing it in bloom.

Just yesterday we saw a few plants still holding on to their flowers while on a drive in the Allegheny Mountains of Central Pennsylvania.

Some of the most common plants we see today came from afar and that is the case with Dame’s Rocket, Hesperis matronalis. It is original to Asia and Europe and was supposedly brought to America back in colonial times as a garden plant. I can see why – the deep purple, pink or white flowers are real pretty flowering along Pennsylvania roads in late May.

Dame's Rocket Blooming in Purple
Dame’s Rocket Blooming in Purple

Dame’s Rocket has had a few hundred years to spread out in America, so we’re sure it’s here to stay.

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No Flowers For Large Whorled Pogonia

Every year I visit this particular section of the woods to see how the Large Whorled Pogonia is making it.

Large Whorled Pogonia, Isotria verticillata, is a native orchid that we have growing wild on the mountain top. I’ve seen only a few flowers in the nine years since I discovered this group of plants and they were all blooming only in that one year. My pics of the flowering Whorled Pogonia were from 2010.

According to Peterson’s Field Guide to Wildflowers a close relative, the Small Whorled Pogonia, I. medeoloides, is a rarity to see in bloom, if at all:

“This plant remains dormant underground for as much as 10 to 20 years before reappearing.”

Who knows what factor governs the reappearance and blooming of the Large Whorled Pogonia.

Read moreNo Flowers For Large Whorled Pogonia

Star Toadflax Flowers in the Forest

Star Toadflax, also known as Bastard Toadflax, is flowering in the woods here in south central Pennsylvania.

It’s a semi-parasitic plant native to all of North America, even Canada and Alaska. Hawaii, Louisiana and Florida are the only U. S. states that don’t report Comandra umbellata as being present. Star toadflax is a member of the Sandalwood family, Santalaceae.

Bastard Toadflax Flowering at the Edge of the Woods
Bastard Toadflax Flowering at the Edge of the Woods

Here’s something I hadn’t known about this little plant

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Seeds of Field Peppergrass and Field Pennycress

From a distance a field of tall weedy plants looks the same regardless if the bulk of the plants are Field Peppergrass or Field Pennycress.

There are other tall roadside weeds that appear similar like Shepard’s Purse and Poor-Man’s Pepper and they’d look just as weedy from afar.

Viewing the plants up close will no doubt help in identifying them. Leaf shape and whether the leaves clasp the stem are characteristics that tell the identity of these field weeds before their seeds develop.

If seeds are present,

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