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November 2021 — Volume XXVII, Number 11— Published by the Georgia Native Plant Society

Arabia Mountain

Plant of the Year nominees for 2022, clockwise from top left: American beech (Fagus grandifolia), Downy ragged goldenrod (Solidago petiolaris), Hearts-a-bustin’ (Euonymus americanus), Rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium virgatum), Spotted beebalm (Mondarda punctata), and Bearded beggarticks (Bidens aristosa).

Plant of the Year Voting is Open

We are pleased to announce the nominees for the 2022 GNPS Plant of the Year (pictured above):

  • American beech (Fagus grandifolia)
  • Downy ragged goldenrod (Solidago petiolaris)
  • Hearts-a-bustin’ (Euonymus americanus)
  • Rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium virgatum)
  • Spotted beebalm (Mondarda punctata)
  • Bearded beggarticks (Bidens aristosa)

Thanks to everyone who participated by nominating their favorite. Voting is now open and will continue through November 30th. You can learn more about the nominees here on the website, and you can go to the voting page here and help your favorite plant rise to the top.

GNPS Ladyslipper Rescue in Partnership with GA DNR

Lady Slippers

Pink ladyslippers (Cypripedium acaule). Left photo by Ellen Honeycutt, right photo from rescue site.

Only about a third of GNPS members participate in our plant rescues, so you may not realize that GNPS has a long-standing relationship with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA DNR) to report rare plant findings on rescue sites. Each time that we inform our contacts at GA DNR of these findings, they decide if there is a protected site that could be the new home for these plants in the path of destruction. If they do not have a place, GNPS members are allowed to rescue them when we are sure they will be destroyed. 

In April of this year, our rescue facilitators identified a large population of pink ladyslippers (Cypripedium acaule) on a rescue site in Cumming, Georgia. Our rescue facilitator Dave Gregory contacted Lisa Kruse, Senior Botanist with GA DNR, and arranged a special rescue of these plants. Over a two-day period, GNPS facilitators Dave, Mary Griffin, Carol Hershey, Michelle Eifert,and Karen Meinzen McEnerny rescued over 101 mature plants. 

These plants were then transported to a protected site in nearby Hall County (which already had pink ladyslippers growing there naturally). Dave and Carol assisted Lisa with replanting them there. We hope those ladyslippers will thrive in their new home!

Lady Slippers

Rescue participants Lisa Kruse (left) and Carol Hershey (right) and some of the rescued ladyslippers.

Plant Spotlight: Gentians

Gentianella quinquefolia

Dwarf gentian (Gentianella quinquefolia). Photo by Bruce Roberts.

Just when I think the woods are done and the leaves crunch beneath my feet, a flash of blue might catch my eye near the stream. In my area, that blue likely belongs to soapwort gentian (Gentiana saponaria). This species can be found in north Georgia and down into the western Coastal Plain. An earlier blooming species with white flowers is striped gentian, Gentiana villosa. I have seen them both in the wild in my area of Cherokee County and soapwort grows naturally on my tiny little creek, clinging tenaciously to the bank. The flowers never quite ‘open’ – you have to be a bee knowledgeable in the ways of opening those petals to get inside.

These special and delicate flowers include a number of species in the US, many of them in the west. Some are rare due to habitat destruction. A story was circulating recently about a population of fringed gentian (Gentianopsis crinita) that had been destroyed in Union County, further putting that species at risk in Georgia.

Slightly more abundant is dwarf gentian (Gentianella quinquefolia), a species that is found in a number of northeast Georgia counties. On a Facebook group for sharing photos of native plants, several people recently posted pictures of this spectacular flower on roadsides.

Look out for these blue flowers in the fall and count yourself fortunate to get a glimpse of their special beauty.


Left: Soapwort gentian (Gentiana saponaria). Photo by Ellen Honeycutt. Right: Fringed gentian (Gentianopsis crinita). Photo by Bruce Roberts.

Native Fauna Need Native Flora

Passionflower and fritillary

From this feature in April 2021. Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), right, is a host plant of the Gulf fritillary. Left photo by Jaret C. Daniels, © University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), used by permission. Right photo by Greg Lewis.

NativeScape is grateful to Deborah Ashley for the articles she has contributed to this feature that we started in 2021. Now, we would like to solicit submissions from other GNPS members, either as occasional contributions or on a regular basis. If you have a background in any aspect of wildlife, whether it be insects, birds, mammals, amphibians, or reptiles, and you wish to share stories about the interconnections of native plants to these animals, please contact us at nativescape@gnps.org.

Primrose and big brown bat

From July 2021. Left: Pink lady evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa) and other light-colored flowers are more visible at night, attracting moths and, indirectly, bats. (Photo © C T Johansson cc-by-sa-3.0.) Right: A big brown bat at rest (photo by Ann Froschauer / U.S. Forest Service).

Chapter News

Several chapters are having annual meetings very soon, including new chapters which are voting on bylaws and electing their first boards of directors. In order to vote at an annual meeting of a chapter, GNPS members must affiliate with that chapter. Voting may be in-person or online, depending on the chapter, so take note of the annual meeting specifics.

If you are receiving NativeScape as a GNPS member, but are not affiliated with the chapter that you wish to support, contact us at membership@gnps.org for information on how to change your chapter affiliation.

Augusta's River Region Chapter

We are pleased to announce that Augusta's River Region Chapter has formed and will be completing all of the necessary documentation for full chapter status very soon.  

The Phinizy Water Sciences Center has graciously allowed the Chapter to host outdoor meetings at their lovely site, surrounded by many native flora and fauna!  We are welcoming interested native plant enthusiasts from throughout the Central Savannah Region of Georgia, as well as South Carolina, to join us. Find us on Facebook at @NativePlantsCSRA.

Coastal Plain Chapter

The annual meeting of the Coastal Plain Chapter will be held on Saturday November 6th from 9 a.m. to noon, and it will be virtual again this year. We have a full agenda. During the business meeting, we will elect officers for the next two years and vote on adopting new bylaws. The slate of officers presented by the Nominating Committee include Mary Alice Applegate (President), Jimmy Lindsey (Vice President), Katie Antczak (Secretary) and Elizabeth King (Treasurer). We will also accept nominations from the floor.

During the educational program, four speakers will share their passions and expertise in protecting and promoting use of native plants in different habitats for different goals.

  • Eamonn Leonard - Invasive Plants in the Urban Landscape & How to Treat Them
  • Erin Cork - Wildlife Habitat Garden Ponds
  • Heather Brasell - Wetland Restoration
  • Katie Antczak - Virtual Nature Walk through the Okefenokee Swamp Park.

Intown Atlanta Chapter

The Intown Atlanta Chapter will hold its inaugural annual meeting on November 7th from 1:00-3:00 p.m. at Zonolite Park in Atlanta. Members will vote on the chapter’s bylaws and the Board of Directors. After interviewing interested chapter members, the committee created a slate of seven directors who are impressive both in their shared enthusiasm for native plants and in their broad range of talents. The slate includes members who live in Stone Mountain, Oakland City, Morningside, Druid Hills, Inman Park, and Grant Park. Some are long-term members of GNPS, while others have joined recently, and the group includes those with degrees and training in horticulture (landscape design, plant biology, natural resources), as well as experience in communications, web design, education, and fundraising for nonprofits.

After the business meeting, Sally Sears, a founding member of The South Fork Conservancy, will talk about the history of Zonolite Park and the role native plants played in the restoration of the former brownfield. GNPS has been a partner in this effort since the early days, and Zonolite Park is still a GNPS Restoration Project. At the end of the meeting, attendees can enjoy guided walking tours through the 13-acre urban sanctuary.

Trees Atlanta Sale

Sally Hilton and Alex Dileo, members of the Intown Atlanta Chapter Startup Committee, helped spread the word about native plants at the recent Trees Atlanta Annual Tree Sale at the Carter Center.

North Georgia Mountains Chapter

The North Georgia Mountains chapter, along with three others, has achieved provisional status, waiting for the IRS to designate us as tax-exempt.  Now we will be able to address what activities we feel will best serve our goals of conservation and education. To that end, we will be having a meeting at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 13th at Young Harris College.  After discussing possible events to pursue and what positions we will need to fill at the December annual meeting, we will have a presentation on the topic of "Common Gardening Challenges in the Mountains" by Jacob Williams, county agricultural agent. 

We are looking forward to taking on the goals of introducing more people to the benefits of native plants to us and to the environment.

North Metro Chapter

The North Metro Atlanta Chapter had our first plant sale at the Old Rucker Farm Park in Alpharetta, and it was a success. Many thanks to the volunteers, vendor partners, and the City of Alpharetta for making it possible. Our annual meeting is coming up on November 6th at 11:30 a.m. at the Don White Memorial Park pavilion in Roswell. We'll be discussing business, electing our first board, and holding a seed/plant swap. Also coming up on November 13th, the Heritage Park Restoration Site is holding a brown bag lunch and plant/seed swap.

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

GNPS trademark

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