What Happened in 2010?

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Posted December 19, 2010 from DMcG

I’ve been exploring the hills and ledges in western Foster and Glocester.  We have one population of Mountain Spleenwort in the area, so why shouldn’t there be others.

I have not found any yet, however, while looking over some hills in nearby Killingly, I discovered an interesting spot with lot of promise for spring ephemerals. 

Maidenhair SpleenwortHepaticaThis conservation land has green-stone ledges, seeping hillsides with Sugar Maples, and swaths of Christmas Fern.  After looking at some the ledges I saw hundreds of Maidenhair Spleenworts (Asplenium trichomanes) and near the road, Round-lobed Hepatica (Anemone Americana).  While these species are not considered rare in Connecticut they are precious among Rhode Island wildflowers.  ;-) 


Fort Wetherill

Hunting for plants in the cold weather months is a challenge - there just aren’t that many to be seen.  Regardless, “you’ve got to do something”, to quote Chris Nerone.  In early December I visited Fort Wetherill in Jamestown.  It’s a beautiful spot with high, rocky bluffs covered with Red Cedar and English Oak.  I was surprised to see a couple plants still in bloom sheltered in the rocks.

Seside Goldenrod

There was a small Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens).

Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle Flower headSpiny-leaved Sow ThistleSpiny-leaved Sow Thistle Plant

Sonchus asper (Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle) (shown above) was in bloom.

Rock Spikemoss

A very small patch of Rock Spikemoss (Selaginella rupestris) was sitting in gravel on a large, flat rock.  Reports of sightings were requested from a previous contributor.



Posted November 14, 2010 from kb

Out of season Blueberry blossomWhile Fran and I were exploring in West Greenwich yesterday, we were amazed to find a lowbush blueberry in bloom. No leaves. . . just flowers.




Posted November 13, 2010 from GP in Tiverton

Fall is such a great season to see unusual plants! Here's a couple candidates seen today while working in the field.

Jimsonweed Jimsonweed     Fall is such a great season to see unusual plants! Here's a couple  Bushy Bluestem


Posted November 13, 2010 from DMcG

Climbing Fern HabitatClimbing FernClimbing Fern fruiting fronds

I took a late October hike to a remote area of Coventry to check on a population of Climbing Fern (Lygodium palmatum).  Since it’s  an evergreen plant, I tend to survey this species in the fall or winter.  Its delicate, little hands don’t look that hardy, but there they are, scattered on the ground and climbing over the other vegetation.  In my experience, this plant almost always grows among Pitch Pine and near water.  Such is the case on my October hike.  I have included photos showing the vegetative leaves, the fruiting members and a bit of the habitat.  They live at the edge of a Pitch Pine forest overlooking a river flood plain.

Dwarf Chestnut OakI’ve also included a photo of Dwarf Chestnut Oak (Quercus prinoides).  I have hiked this area many times and just never noticed them before.  They seem to blend in with the Scrub Oak.  Like the Climbing Fern, Dwarf Chestnut Oak is a species of concern in Rhode Island.  It grows as a shrub, not a tree, but it’s still an oak.  The leaves are similar to the Chestnut Oak tree, however there are none of those in area.

Posted November 2, 2010 from GP in Tiverton

If one should drink no wine before its time,
neither should a plant be viewed before its time.

And it's now time to enjoy the soft, rosy hues of the Maple Leaf Viburnum (V. acerifolium). All through the growing season it hides in the shadows of oaken forest canopies, behind the green curtain of more assertive understory growth. Then, at autumn time, when those plants are exhausted and give up their foliage, the maple-leaf quietly assumes its lovely colors to delight passers by.

Below seen today in Fort Barton Woods.

Maple-leaved ViburnumMaple-leaved ViburnumMaple-leaved Viburnum

Posted October 23, 2010 from DMcG

Large-leaf AstersLarge-leaf Aster blossomsOn a dirt road in Westerly I noticed a patch of Large-leaf Aster (Eurybia macrophylla).  It’s typical to see a large group of basal leaves with just a few plants flowering.  This is a species of “concern” in Rhode Island.


Posted September 23, 2010 from DMcG

Goat's RueA row of power lines pass through land trust property in Scituate, and continues onto Providence Water Supply land. It’s a lovely stretch of open ground with plenty of Little Blue Stem, small shrubs, mosses, lichens and very few invasives. Goat’s Rue (Tephrosia virginiana) is scattered along the row for nearly a half mile. It’s a plant that does well in poor, dry soils. At this time of year it is disbursing seed from its peapod-like shells. I surveyed the site with permission from PWS.


Northern Wild RiceNorthern Wild RiceNorthern Wild Rice (Zizania palustris) has turned up on a river in Coventry.  It seems the species has not been previously documented in RI.





Annual Wild RiceAnnual Wild RiceLast year Zizania aquatica (Annual Wild Rice), a species of concern in Rhode Island, was reported on this web site. The two species are very similar. A taxonomist was needed to confirm the identification.
To my amateur eye, the differences are as follows: Aquatica is more of a symmetrical clump, sits higher in the water (4'-7'), and has a more broadly branched inflorescence. Palustris is an asymmetrical clump with fewer stems, sits about 3'-4' above the water, and has a more compact and asymmetrical inflorescence.


Northern Blazing Star Northern Blazing Star Maryland Golden Aster

The PCVs took a field trip to Block Island in early September. Highlights for me were the Northern Blazing Star (Liatris scariosa var. novae-angliae) and the Maryland Golden Aster (Chrysopsis mariana).


Posted September 7, 2010 from DMcG

Cross-leaved MilkwortCross-leaved MilkwortWhile browsing some power lines in South Kingstown I came upon a patch of Cross-leaved Milkwort (Polygala cruciata). The plants were a little past peak and losing some color, but still a treat to find. In the photos, the plants are growing amongst dewberry leaves.


Sickle-leaved Golden AsterIn an otherwise wooded land trust property in Westerly, there is a bald, sandy hill top. The open sandy space is littered with Sickle-leaved Golden Aster (Pityopsis falcata). It was growing with Hudsonia tomentosa. This plant is a NEPCoP Dev. 1 globally rare species. While we would not consider it "abundant" in our state, it is sometimes regarded as a "common" rare plant. 


Rock SpikemossLast year a contributor to this web site asked for evidence of Rock Spikemoss (Selaginella rupestris) in our area. Another population has turned up in Westerly on land trust property. It's the biggest patch I've seen at around 6' square. While this is not a state-listed rare species, it is not common. Also notable is that it is growing with the regionally rare Smooth Sandwort (Minuartia groenlandica ssp. glabra).


Oak Fern close upOak Fern spore casesOak Fern site





This spring I was exploring some conservation land in Foster. I notice an unusually rich site about an acre in size. It includes a couple cellar holes. There was a good variety of soft plants including plenty of Bloodroot, Anise-root, Nodding Trillium, Columbine, and Christmas Fern. In the summer I returned to find a couple hundred Oak Fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris), a first for me in RI. While more common in other states, RI is said to have 3-5 populations.


Late in the season last year I reported a new population of White Fringed orchids (Platanthera blephariglottis) in Warwick. Most had gone by and were not easy to count. This year, in mid-July, there were hundreds in magnificent full bloom. I think if we didn't have power lines, we wouldn't have many of our special plants.


Last winter I did some exploring in southern Arcadia along Brushy Brook. While most of the uplands were a monotonous expanse of oaks over Black Huckleberry, the bottomlands had a variety of trees, shrubs, and other plants. There were ash, maples, birches, hornbeams and pines. There were moist, rich areas, and some of those were adjacent to sections of Pitch Pine.

Ragged-fringed OrchidWhen I returned in the spring I was encouraged by the variety of soft plants: violets, Robbins Plantain, White Baneberry, ferns including Rattlesnake Fern, and Cut-leaf Grape Fern.  In June I noticed some kind of orchid coming up in the moist areas. I hastily erected some fences made of sticks around them hoping they might survive a deer attack. They did and by mid-July Ragged-Fringed orchids (Platanthera lacera) were opening up. In three different seep areas, there were about a dozen plants.


Canada Lily showed up on power lines along the Blackstone in Woonsocket.


Posted September 2, 2010 from kb

Autumn CoralrootAutumn Coralroot flowering stalkWhile wandering in the wilds of Charlestown on 8/30, Fran and I came across Corallorhiza odontorhiza (Autumn Coralroot). We also came across an amazingly bright and beautiful spider.




Posted August 16, 2010 from kb

Spotted CoralrootClose-up of Spotted Coralroot While exploring in Cumberland on 8/13, I found Corallorhiza maculata (Spotted Coralroot)in bloom. Who says Friday the thirteenth is unlucky.



SpikenardClose-up of Spikenard berriesI also found Aralia racemosa (Spikenard) with berries.





Posted August 2, 2010 from ABW in Portsmouth

What a delight to be surprised by Turk's-cap blooms when you least expect it! Several years ago an out-of-state member of RIWPS invited me to dig some of her many wild Turk's-cap Lilies to put into RIWPS sale. I did so and potted up about a dozen. Squirrels or mice consumed several bulbs over the years, but 7 remained. In the five or six years the potted bulbs have been in my nursery, one produced a stem and leaves one year and a flower one year; two produced single leaves for two years and nothing the remainder of the time. This spring all pots exhibited healthy stems and leaves and some develped buds and I sent them to the sale. I conclude that transplanting Turks-cap Lily bulbs sets them back by several seasons.  If transplanted into pots, do not toss the pots away, but, keep treating them as viable specimens. Sooner or later you will be surprised and delighted with blooms. Perhaps the quickest way to obtain blooming plants is to purchase a mature potted specimen from a reliable propagator, such as Garden-in-the-Woods. By the way, for the size of a mature, blooming Turk's-cap Lily, the bulb is amazingly small.

Posted July 21, 2010 from GP in Tiverton

Indian PipeJPS of the Tiverton Open Space Commission was recently "policing" the trails of Fort Barton Woods and noticed this beautiful cluster of emerging Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora). Catching it on that one day before the flowers bent downward to hide their interior provided an unusual glimpse at the delicate beauty of this common woodland saprophyte – proving once again that flowers don't need chlorophyll to be lovely.


Posted July 16, 2010 from GP in Tiverton

Turk's Cap LilyTen years or so ago, I planted a Turk's Cap lily in the perfect spot for it in my meadow at the edge of the woodland. It sprouted weakly the following year then I never noticed it again and concluded it was another of my trial plantings that died from neglect. In my "sanctuary" if plant can't make it on its own it doesn't belong there. I assumed that happened with the Turk's Cap. A week or so ago, at evening twilight I was wandering through the trees and, a burst of brilliant orange could be seen through the thicket of goldenrod and wild raspberries. Right where it was planted 10 years ago I discovered the lily had made it on its own. It had made it, indeed!

Posted June 24, 2010 from kb

Last March, Fran asked for help in identifying an exotic he found last year. The other day, I was researching another plant on line when I spotted a photo of Gilia tricolor (Bird's Eye Gilia) at the Bird Mom website.'s-Eye4-17-05CU.jpg.

Her notes pretty much clinched the id. I verified what Gilia tricolor looked like at a couple of other websites and then e-mailed Fran. I also thought folks who read the ARIWF News might be interested, so I'm posting the result here.


Posted June 21, 2010 from DMcG

Tubercled OrchidTubercled Orchid close-upTwo years ago I saw brown shriveled up orchid in the Great Swamp, but I could not tell what it was.  I finally made it back to find it blooming.  There was a patch of a dozen Tubercled Orchids (Platanthera flava var. herbiola), a state-endangered species.


Poke MilkweedPoke Milkweed close-upI was walking down a shady road in Charlestown and nearly bumped into Poke Poke Milkweed (Asclepias exaltata) blooming on the side of the road.  It was surprising since I've walked that road before without noticing it.  It is a species of "concern" in Rhode Island.  Poke Milkweed is a woodland species, but I sometimes see it on shaded roads.  With its white flowers with protruding horns, it reminds me of barnacles.


Sphagnum moss in fruit Sphagnum moss fruiting Sphagnum fruiting bodies close-up

Here's something I never saw before, and never imagined before.  Fruiting sphagnum moss.  This was on power lines Glocester.  Close up they appear as honey pots mounted on green translucent pedestals (you may have to squint).  You can see that most are plump — full of spores, while a few look as though they've already expended themselves.  Read more about sphagnum reproduction at


Posted June 20, 2010 from DMcG

Galax SiteGalax in bloomWhile exploring the Pitch
Pine forests of the Black
Farm WMA in Hopkinton I
was surprised to see a galax plant (Galax urceolata) blooming beside the trail.  It is generally a plant of the Appalachian mountains, from Virginia south.  I saw plenty of it on the Blue
Ridge parkway last year.  It has evergreen leaves and a wand-like spike of flowers near-ly 2 feet tall.  At Black Farm, it looked right at home growing beside Mountain Laurel and Trailing Arbutus.  It is reported in Massachusetts and New York, but not considered native there.  I wouldn't mind seeing more of it.

Posted June 12, 2010 from DMcG

CalopogonIt's June 11 and the Calopogon are blooming.  I saw a dozen in a well-known field in Coventry.  I did not see them when I looked a week ago.  This seems 2-3 weeks earlier than normal.  In the same field, the cranberry (Vaccinium sp.) and the Swamp Candles (Lysimachia terrestris) were blooming also."


Grass-leaved ArrowheadGrass-leaved Arrowhead HabitatOn June 5 Grass-leaved Arrowhead (Sagittaria graminea) was blooming in a pond 10 feet from the road in Foster.  It is a species of "concern" in Rhode Island.


On Memorial Day I visited a few bogs searching for Arethusa bulbosa.  I only located it at a previously documented bog in Richmond.  It can be a lot of work to get out onto a quaking peat mat, but the variety of plants there make it worth the effort.

Here are some photos of what was up. Click on the name to view the image. 

Included are:

Dragon's Mouth Orchid (Arethusa bulbosa).
Round-leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia).
Common Bladderwort (Utricularia macrorhiza),
Rose Pogonia Orchid (Pogonia ophioglossoides).
Purple Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea).
Bog Clubmoss (Lycopodiella appressa?).
Dwarf Huckleberry (Gaylussacia dumosa).

Hairy BeardtongueHairy Beardtongue HabitatOn May 27 I saw a plant I never saw before. Hairy Beardtongue (Penstemon hirsutus)on the ledges above the highway in Smithfield.  Compared to Penstemon digitalis, hirsutus has hairy stems and leaves, and narrower flowers

Posted May 28, 2010 from DMcG

Early Meadow-rueI had not seen Early Meadow Rue (Thalictrum dioicum) in Rhode Island before even though it is considered "common".  There were 100s at this location in Bristol in early May.



RhodoraClose-up Rhodora blossomRhodora habitat

Rhodora (Rhododendron canadense)(shown above)is another "common" plant in Rhode Island that few enthusiasts ever see blooming here.  I know of only one spot, at a bog in Exeter. It blooms early.  These photos were taken May 22 and it seemed most had gone by.

Smooth SandwortThroughout the winter I've been seeking out new populations of Smooth Sandwort(Minuartia groenlandica ssp. glabra) on flat, sunny ledges in Washington county. The dead plants are recognizable.  It's nice to see them blooming again.  These were seen on May 22 in Westerly.


Posted May 22, 2010 from DMcG

Daisy-leaved Grape FernDaisy-leaved Garpe Fern SiteI recently noticed a patch of these little ferns called Daisy-leaved Grape Ferns (Botrychium matricariifolium).  They were growing amongst Sugar Maples and Bloodroot in Cumberland.

Posted May 18, 2010.

ARIWF recently received the following e-mail from
Professor Eldridge Adams of the University of Connecticut.


I am a biologist studying an invasive stinging ant that is spreading in New England. We are seeking help from parks, nature centers, and similar organizations to find locations of this species. They are more aggressive and more likely to sting than our native ants (although a few of those sting or bite if sufficiently provoked). The sting is painful and may cause swelling and itching for a day or two, so anyone unfortunate enough to run into this insect usually remembers. For this reason, we are often able to locate the ant through reports from people who are active outdoors.

Please let us know if you encounter stinging ants in your area. Specific locations are very useful, such as street addresses or names of rivers, ponds or other landscape features. Negative answers are also helpful. We'd be happy to answer any questions, and we will visit reported sites to confirm identifications. The ant, Myrmica rubra, is sometimes called the "European fire ant." The workers are reddish brown and about a quarter of an inch in length. In southern New England, they are especially common in wet areas (e.g., near marshes and streams). Some basic information (including a photo) is available from Wikipedia:

Many thanks,

Eldridge Adams
Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT 06269-3043


Posted May 9, 2010 from FRU

Lion's FootNabalus serpentarius, Lion’s Foot, is a rare native perennial listed as State Historical in RI.  It is known to occur in CT and MA and has been found historically in NH. New England is at the northern limit of  the range for this species in the U.S.

On May 7, 2010 a population of Lion’s Foot was found in Providence County by Kathy Barton.  This population will be monitored for flowers and fruit production this summer. To see site, click here.

Tom Rawinski observed a population, also in Providence County in 2009, and was able to obtain some flowering material.

In May 2003, plants presumed to be Lion’s Foot were found in Washington County by Francis Underwood.  This population has never bloomed probably because it is growing in woods without adequate sunlight to stimulate flower production.

ARIW plans to update readers on the status of this rare plant in RI as the season progresses.

More detailed information on this plant can be found at


Posted May 8, 2010 from FRU

Mt. FLy HoneysuckleMt. Fly Honeysuckle siteMt. Fly Honeysuckle,  Lonicera villosa var. villosa,  is a rare shrub in RI known from only a few populations in Kent and Washington counties.  I recently found this shrub growing in Washington County. The only other population that I had seen was in Kent County in 1999.  It disappeared as the swamp it grew in, created by a beaver dam, dried up after the beaver were trapped.

Mt. Fly Honeysuckle blooms early in the spring, this year it began blooming in the middle of April. The flowers are yellow and the fruit are blue berries.


Posted May 7, 2010 from DMcG

MayappleThere's undeveloped conservation land in Smithfield that has several large patches for Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum).  Although the plant is native to Massachusetts and Connecticut, it is considered not so in Rhode Island.  They are blooming now and make quite a sight.


WooD BetonyWood Betony SiteWood Betony (Pedicularis canadensis) is not considered rare in RI.  However, in my years of wandering the state I've only come
across it three times.  This photo is from a patch in Smithfield of about 300 plants.  They come in varieties of red and yellow.


Yellow Water-crowfootThis was a first for me this year.  Yellow Water-crowfoot (Ranunculus flabellaris) was growing in a stream on landtrust property in Cumberland.  It was easy to miss as it blended in with the Marsh Marigolds. Of course, the big difference was the feathery leaves.  It is a species of concern in RI.


Purple TrilliumIn mid-April this Purple Trillium (Trillium erectum) was blooming at a "known" locale in East Greenwich.



Posted May 3, 2010 from kb

Yellow Ladyslipper blossomOn May 1, the Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens (Yellow Ladyslipper) in Cumberland was blooming. They've been caged again this year to protect them from deer browse. There were 15 shoots and 2 blossoms. To view a photo of the plant site, click here.



Posted April 6, 2010 from DMcG

Round-leaved Yellow VioletOn April 5, Viola rotundifolia (Yellow Round-leaved Violets) were blooming.  This photo was taken at a refuge in Coventry. To view a photo of plant and habitat click here.



Posted March 17, 2010 from DMcG

Smooth SandwortView of site

In December I posted news of several (30) locations for Minuartia groenlandica ssp. Glabra in Charlestown.  Last weekend, in the rain, I found 4 populations in Westerly.   These are also on conservation land. 

I think this plant is very interesting.  In New England, it is present in RI, CT, NH, and ME.  It is listed as Threatened or Special Concern in each of those states.   Prior to Charlestown, the only place I had seen it was Mt. Washington.

They seem to prefer sunny, flat expanses of rock like the one pictured.  They find purchase in the cracks and the duff, among the mosses and lichens

Posted March 1, 2010 from Fran

I found this pink-flowered plant last summer in a gravel pit in West Greenwich, RI. It is obviously an exotic of some kind, but I haven’t been able to identify it. It is probably from a wildflower mixture of seeds. If you know what it is please let us at Among RI Wildflowers know. You can e-mail us at

Unknown exoticSecond photo of unknown exoticUnknown exotic plantClose-up of Unknown exotic leaf
Photo Credits: © Francis R. Underwood 2010

Posted January 1, 2010

A year ago, we started this website because we felt the Rhode Island wild plant community needed a place offering information and support.  We’ve been surprised over the response to the website. Over the past year, we’ve had over 7200 visitors. Since June we’ve averaged over 20 visitors a day and have had hits from 40 countries. Although, we’re still scratching our heads over why in the month of October we had hundreds of hits from Italy and Argentina. Since July, we’ve had 400 hits on the news page.  Our thanks to GP, DMcG and Tom Rawinski for their support and contributions.  And thanks to Anne Wagner and Betty Allen for their participation in the Mystery Plant game.

There’s been a lot of activity in the reference section, particularly with Bailey’s books.  Over the next year we hope to expand this section. One hundred-fifty people viewed the Rare Plants of the Big River Management Area webpage and seventy-five people viewed the pdf of the article.  Fran is working on some new wild plant and Amateur Botanist articles. Watch for the Rare Plants of City Park, Warwick.

So keep checking the website. And if you have something you want to add or comment on, e-mail us.  

Fran and Kathy


Posted December 19, 2009

Norm  BoyerWe at ARIW regret to announce that Norm Boyer passed away on Wednesday, December 16, 2009.  Norm was a personal friend to both of us here at Among RI Wildflowers and we will miss him. He was a warm, friendly man with great sense of humor and a contagious laugh. Norm was a long time supporter of plant preservation, a charter member of RIWPS and a Plant Conservation Volunteer for New England Wild Flower Society. In the field, you could depend upon his sharp eyes to discover the hidden botanical treasures. He was an outstanding photographer and an early contributor to this website.  Some of his photos can be seen on our Oddities page. 

Our sincerest sympathy and condolences go out to
his wife, Bea, and his daughter, Susan.


Posted December 15, 2009 from DMcG

Smooth Sandwort in DecemberSmooth Sandwort in MayThe dead, brown stems in this photo are what’s left of some Smooth Sandwort (Minuartia groenlandica ssp. glabra).  Compare that photo to the better looking one taken in May.  On December 12th, I noted 9 new patches on state-owned conservation land in Charlestown.   

Earlier this year I had surveyed the two previously documented locations of this “regionally rare” plant.  I noted that they grow on sunny, exposed ledge in that area.  Its bright green stems and pretty, white flowers look out of place growing among the lichens on the dry rocks. 

Looking at aerial photos, and even driving down the road, I could see several similar spots.  Nearly all of them had the plants.  Thirty locations have been found so far.

Even though it’s 27 degrees, there is still some good plant hunting to be done.


Posted December 8, 2009 from DMcG

Rock SpikemossIn response to your September 11 posting, I am submitting another finding for Selaginella rupestris.This patch is in North Smithfield growing in soil on a ledge of soft black rock.  The ledge is virtually encrusted with a variety of mosses and lichens.



Posted December 1, 2009 from DMcG

Hartford Climbing FernToday I stumbled upon some Hartford Ferns (Lygodium palmatum) in Burrillville.  It is a species of "concern" in our state. They were growing beside the floodplain of a small stream.  It was a nice, healthy patch of about a 1,000 plants.  I have seen several other populations and it seems to me this fern is always in the company of Pitch Pine, club mosses and Royal Fern.

Cuckoo-flowersCuckoo-fkower foliageIn early May I saw these pretty white Cuckoo flowers at the edge of the Blackstone River.  It was the first time I'd ever seen it and have not found any since.  I believe it to be Cardamine pratensis L. var. palustris.  It is not a listed plant. The Vascular Flora of Rhode Island describes it as native, but lacks a herbarium specimen or other formal documentation.  Thus, its status is undetermined.  I'd like to know if anyone has seen the plant elsewhere?

You can e-mail Doug at
and we'll forward it to him.