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March 2022 — Volume XXVIII, Number 3— Published by the Georgia Native Plant Society


In this issue ...

  • You can help stop invasives
  • If you missed the 2022 GNPS Symposium...
  • Spotlight on green and gold
  • And Chapter News, of course! 

A Step Toward Advocacy

How many times have you thought, “Why doesn’t Georgia outlaw the sale of English ivy, Chinese privet and other invasive species?” If you are like most GNPS members, you wish you had a nickel for every time this crossed your mind. Well, the reason this hasn’t happened is part politics, of course, but also it also is due to a lack of data. During my more than 10 years of working as the Invasive Species Coordinator for the UGA Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, Georgia had a reputation for being a “data desert,” meaning that people in surrounding states had reported and mapped the locations of invasive species much more frequently than had Georgia. If you want to convince a politician to vote for something, you must provide the politician enough data to justify their vote.

Green and gold

EDDSMapS data shows progress of Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum), affecting northern Georgia first. For an example of an invasive species coming from the south, check out Japanese climbing fern (Lygodium japonicum). Image source: invasive.org.

Our strategic plan recently outlined some ambitious advocacy goals. We realize that we may be years away from an invasive species ban, but here is one way all GNPS members can take a step toward helping make that a reality: learn to use EDDSMapS, and use it to map locations of invasive species when you see them.  The University of Georgia, in collaboration with partner organizations, is providing a comprehensive training and update summit that is free and open to everyone from beginners to experienced users. To be held on Wednesday, March 23rd, the summit will include presentations on how to use EDDMapS products, including smartphone apps, website, tools, and projects. To register for the summit, click here.

Please take the time to learn to use this extremely valuable data mapping tool. Having the data to prove to our legislators the magnitude of the invasive species problem brings us a step closer to our goals.

2022 Symposium Summary

I am grateful to have been able to attend the annual GNPS conference in its live virtual format. I know I am not the only one participating, but for those of you not able to work this into your schedules, I would like to summarize some of the things covered.

Saturday, February 19th

After an introduction by Ellen Honeycutt, the first presentation was by Mincy Moffett on the topic of protecting endangered species.  He went over some of the many challenges, such as that only 3% of Georgia land is slated for conservation while 91% is private land.  The Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance, consisting of 59 organizations, is working to provide in-situ and ex-situ protection.  The process has three legs: conservation of source site, preservation, and oversight, with the Mountain Bog project serving as an example.  He closed with six steps for participation that we should be able to variously adopt, including membership in organizations like GNPS, donations, license plate purchases, and staying up on legislation.

The second speaker was Georgann Eubanks on Saving the Wild South in six states. She pointed out that we are losing things we don’t even know about, focusing on the roles dwarf sumac and the rivercane fill in their ecosystems. (An aside – there is a large bamboo patch near us that I was hoping I would ID as rivercane, but it is golden bamboo, a serious invasive.) She has a new book coming out soon: Uncommon Wanders, about experiencing nature.

The final presentation on Saturday was by Jennifer Ceska, conservation coordinator with the State Botanical Garden, on Cues of Care.  Many of us have dealt with the issue of trying to convince neighbors that natural gardens aren’t just neglected patches of weeds, and some of the ways to make this clear include mowing a boundary, creating paths, using walls, repeating patterns, providing  “sidewalk botany” (signs that identify plants), and posting certification placards.

Sunday, February 20th

The first presentation was by Angela Burrow with the forestry service on the issue of Native Plant Habitat Certification. Certification can help make the public aware of the issues of the benefits of native plants, the importance of controlling invasives, and the promotion of related organizations.  She also discussed some of the details of gold and silver certification and the process involved.

This was followed by Rick Huffman, founder of the landscaping company Earth Design, focusing on the roles of microbes and plants in the remediation of soil damage and water recovery.  We are adding many pollutants into the environment, some with the misguided intent of improving the biome, as with excess fertilizers, without regard to the naturally occurring grasslands and wet meadows (among others) that can do much of the work.  He included illustrated examples, as from the Furman campus, of how this embraces art, science, design, and education.

The final speaker was a colleague of Huffman’s, Tradd Cotter of Mushroom Mountain LLC, discussing the importance of the fungal component of the biome.  There are many complicated relationships between plants and fungi, including nutrient transfers, water management, seed transport, and even heat. We can help manage the insects by letting fungi take on the work rather than overusing insecticides.

Each presentation was followed by questions and answers, and the recorded session links have been sent to those that enrolled.  You can also start looking forward to next year’s conference!

Plant Spotlight: Green and Gold

Green and gold

Green and gold (Chrysogonum virginianum var. virginianum).

This month’s spotlight is on a small native, evergreen perennial and groundcover that could be used a lot more in our Georgia gardens. Chrysogonum is a genus uniquely found in the Southeastern U.S. and has a single species, Chrysogonum virginianum, which has three forms, two of which are native to Georgia. Its most common name is green and gold, but it is also called goldenstar.

The three forms are distinguished by their growth habit: spreading forms which have short (var. brevistolon) and long (var. australe) stolons, and an upright form with no stolons (var. virginianum). In case you are not familiar with the word, stolons are horizontal stems that increase the spread of a plant. The first two forms are found in Georgia where you can find them for sale as both species and cultivars. Because of their spreading habits, they are easily propagated by division and shared.

One of the more well-known cultivars is Chrysogonum virginianum var. australe ‘Eco-Lacquered Spider’ which is an aggressively spreading plant whose long, reddish stolons resemble a spider. This particular one was discovered in South Central Georgia and introduced by Don Jacobs via his nursery Eco Gardens in Decatur. This link from Clemson provides names of some of the more common cultivars that you might find at nurseries.

Their evergreen presence in the winter garden is much appreciated and warm days in February often entice an early flower or two to appear. The main flush of composite yellow flowers will be in March and into April when it is pollinated by small early bees. Two other qualities to appreciate: healthy plants form a small groundcover and generally it is deer resistant. Look for it at spring plant sales and add some to your garden this year.

Green and Gold subspecies

Chrysogonum virginianum var. australe (left) and Chrysogonum virginianum var. brevistolon (right).

Chapter News

Augusta's River Region Chapter

The Augusta Chapter achieved its 501(c)(3) status in February, completing the final large milestone to full chapter status. 

On March 29th, the Chapter will be hosting a Wildflower Walk with George Reeves in the Stevens Creek Heritage Area.  The Chapter is also seeking volunteers to help with our commitment to assist in the Phinizy Center for Water Sciences Earth Day event.  Please contact augusta@gnps.org if you are interested in either the Wildflower Walk or the Earth Day activities. 

North Georgia Mountains Chapter

Our March meeting will be on Saturday the 12th , starting at 10 a.m. at Young Harris College, as usual.  Our presenter this time will be Tony Ward with MountainTrue on the topic of basic landscaping using native plants, which should be useful for both newcomers and those who have already been at work with it. 

Hexastylis flower and new leavers

We have also started the installation of the initial native plant garden bed at the historic Mineral Bluff train depot.  The opening part involved a lot of shoveling and raking, moving gravel out of the intended bed, and this week we will be filling the bed with soil in preparation for plant installation.  The depot hosts the Tri-State Model Railroad club with a monthly open house to let people see the HO layout, as well as occasional motorcar rides, which we hope will result in many people also learning about the native plants. 

We have obtained our live plant sales license. Although the actual date and location for our first plant sale has not been determined, please start thinking about providing treasures for us to sell!

Coastal Plain Chapter

Registration for the South Georgia Native Plant and Wildflower Symposium is open. It will be held on Wednesday, March 30th at The Crescent at Valdosta Garden Center, located at 904 North Patterson Street in Valdosta. The event is co-sponsored by the Coastal Plain Chapter and the Camellia District of the Garden Club of Georgia, Inc.

The event will feature three presentations and ample time to purchase native plants from three native plant vendors. Presentations begin at 9:15 a.m., featuring:

  • Know It and Grow It, Native Plants in the Landscape—Amy Carter
  • Native Plant Hosts: Attracting Beneficial Insects to Your Garden for a Healthy Ecosystem—Allie Snyder and Lisa Giencke
  • Monarchs and Milkweed—Mary Beth Cary

Registration is $45, including lunch, if registered by March 11th. After March 11th, the fee increases to $60.00, and lunch is not guaranteed. Registration can be completed online or by using a mail in form. If registering by mail, please allow time for delivery by March 11th. For more information, go to www.sgnpws.org.

At the end of the symposium, the Coastal Plain Chapter will have their annual spring chapter meeting at 3:00 p.m.

North Metro Chapter

The North Metro Chapter will hold its first workday on Saturday, March 20th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Old Rucker Farm Park in Alpharetta. In preparation for our plant sale on April 30th, we are looking for donations of plants and volunteers to help pot up plugs for the sale. If you would like to donate plants, contact Ellen at ellenhoneycutt@gnps.org and provide a list of the plant names (common and scientific) and quantities you will be donating. If you would like to volunteer to pot up plants on March 10th, contact Whitney at whitneybkramsey@gmail.com.

Intown Atlanta Chapter

Save the date for the GNPS Intown Atlanta Native Plant Habitat Tour, to be held on Saturday, April 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please contact ljmarkson@att.net if you are interested in volunteering to help us either of these days.

Stay tuned via our chapter page on the GNPS website or our Facebook page for more information.

Georgia Native Plant Society
PO Box 422085
Atlanta, GA 30342
(770) 343-6000

GNPS trademark

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