Sassafras in Springtime

May 7, 2021 / Comments Off on Sassafras in Springtime

At home colonizing old fields transitioning to woods, sassafras (Sassafras albidum) can be found around Nantucket, from the maturing forests of Squam to small, scattered stands in the Serengeti area of the Middle Moors, and miniature thicket forests in Tom Nevers, where they endure harsh winds and salt spray directly off the Atlantic. Perhaps best…

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Red Maple Tricks of the Trade

April 7, 2021 / Comments Off on Red Maple Tricks of the Trade

Red maple (Acer rubrum) is a common and widespread tree species that has grown only more abundant as North America’s forests have been repeatedly logged and forest composition has shifted with the deletion of once-common species like American elm (Ulmus americana) and American chestnut (Castanea dentata) which suffered near extinction in the wild due to…

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Winter Botany: Sneaky Photosynthesis

February 19, 2021 / Comments Off on Winter Botany: Sneaky Photosynthesis

One of the complaints people make during winter and early spring in New England is how much they miss the color of foliage and flowers from the warmer months. In past NCF Science blog articles we’ve explored some of Nantucket’s evergreens (such as pine, cedar, and American holly), looked at the underlying architecture and details…

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Red Cedar Juniper: Of Trees and Micro-habitats

January 6, 2021 / Comments Off on Red Cedar Juniper: Of Trees and Micro-habitats

Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) has become one of the dominant tree species of Nantucket’s open lands, increasingly abundant in our more recently abandoned farm fields. These areas that remain undeveloped are often managed with mowing to maintain open savannah-like habitats. While frequently called a cedar, this species is actually a member of the juniper…

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A Native Landscaping Makeover at NCF

November 12, 2020 / Comments Off on A Native Landscaping Makeover at NCF

2020 is clearly a year for change. Last fall, we could never have imagined the alterations that have occurred in our daily lives, jobs, and household routines. 2019 was the year we made big plans to update the landscaping around the Nantucket Conservation Foundation office at 118 Cliff Road. Why make the change, and why…

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Asters and Goldenrods: Fall Fireworks

October 2, 2020 / Comments Off on Asters and Goldenrods: Fall Fireworks

Summer may have officially ended, but there is still plenty to see in bloom around Nantucket. August through mid-October bring a roster of newly emerging late bloomers, with the fall asters and goldenrods taking center stage. These members of the Aster Family (Asteraceae, or Compositae), have flower heads that are composed of several to many…

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Not-So-Pretty-in-Pink: Spotted Knapweed on Nantucket

August 27, 2020 / Comments Off on Not-So-Pretty-in-Pink: Spotted Knapweed on Nantucket

You may have noticed NCF or other conservation organizations’ staff out working along Nantucket roadsides or bike path edges. In more typical years, the Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative’s Invasive Plant Species Committee organizes group digs, but with Covid-19, we are all out fighting the good fight separately and with the help of some dedicated solo volunteers.…

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Got Jumping Worms???

June 5, 2020 / Comments Off on Got Jumping Worms???

When most people think of earthworms, they probably picture them tunneling through compost or garden soil, turning old banana peels and yard waste into rich, dark soil. One such species is the nightcrawler, Lumbricus terrestris, often found on the surface of the lawn at night or coming up for air after a soaking rain. While…

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Meet the Mosses

April 24, 2020 / Comments Off on Meet the Mosses

There are different ways to go about enjoying mosses: from a distance they form a richly textured background in a forest, or a carpet across an abandoned sandy area, mixed with reindeer lichen. The color spectrum of mosses is heavy in the greens, but you can also find red or coral tinged mosses, or ones…

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Nantucket Winter Botany: The Little Green Guys

February 3, 2020 / Comments Off on Nantucket Winter Botany: The Little Green Guys

While Nantucket can’t usually lay claim to epic snowfalls and frigid temperatures, the colder months bring a chilly dormancy to most plants. Rather than expose their leaves to the freezing temperatures and desiccating salty winds, most of our plants and trees shed their leaves. Conifers such as pitch and Japanese pine, and red cedar with…

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