Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea #)#)@)@ culpa, thanks to Mr. Acer

coarl berry twoSigh. For the second time since I’ve owned it the Acer that I am desperately trying to retire but having trouble not only with it but the NEW Asus whose touchpad isn’t working right, soooo.

Anyhow, the Acer started its “plugged in, not charging” routine and I spent most of the morning trying to figure that out. Important cause I have lots of files to transfer.

Disgusted, I just threw it in a corner and, of course, it started charging. That was this morning and I’m leaving it along hoping it charges fully to give me enough time to transfer all.

Anyhow, back to the refreshingly simple world of flowers. Autumn colors coming on and first among them is coralberry. I know of only one stand of them so I guard the location, but they are beauties.

Here’s the introduction to a piece I wrote on late fall/winter colors:


“Always maintain a kind of summer even in the middle of winter,” Henry David Thoreau said, and there are some local plants that are happy to oblige, by brightening the monochromatic landscape of winter with their brilliant color and finery. Here’s a look at a few.

CORAL BERRY: Also known as Indian Currant, this beauty turns brilliant red when other plants are losing their leaves, and it brightens the understory with its cluster of pinkish purple fruit all winter long. Cut branches make wonderful displays in the house during winter.

The berries are eaten primarily by overwintering robins and it is a favorite food plant of white-tailed deer.

And as every wild plant I’ve ever run across, it has medicinal uses. A decoction (boiling in water to extract the flavor or active component) of the inner bark or leaves has been used as a wash in the treatment of weak, inflamed or sore eyes. A cold decoction of the root bark has been used as an eye wash to treat sore eyes.

Coral berry can be grown as a hedge or informal screen. It is very tolerant of trimming. Plants have an extensive root system and, since they also sucker freely, they can be used for soil stabilization.



Nature takes a back seat today: I’m blowing my own horn.

I am very happy that my efforts to out the Times Leader for fudging their circulation statistics is getting some good coverage, well one piece of coverage right now: My piece on Penn Live today which got 7 comments in the first 31 minutes.

And, of course, just because of the kind of guy I am I made sure to instantly send it to the publisher and managing editor of the Times Leader as well as the executive editor of the Citizens’ Voice, chastising him for not running the piece when it was first offered to his editorial page editor. Maybe not the smartest move since I write for them but I’ve rarelyi been accused of being overly smart.

Anyhow, I’m happy. And the piece is going to run on the LuLac Political Letter. If I can whine enough to get it placed somewhere else, I certainly will.

About 69,300 results (1.20 seconds)



Tree of Heaven is Tree from Hell and a few close friends.

Starting to research a piece on the newest invasive plants and animals attacking us and ran across a piece I wrote about three years ago on some of our worse invasive. Pic is the dreaded tree from heaven. I have one growing now out of a storm gutter grate. These things are incredible, they can thrive anywhere….

heaven (682x1024)By Bob Quarteroni

You don’t need to scan the sky for signs of alien invaders.

Just look at your feet.

Alien plants — invasives from around the world — have transformed our environment, often outcompeting native plants in the struggle for space — and survival.

And it’s a huge problem. According to a report from Cornell University, “Invading non-indigenous species in the United States cause major environmental damages and losses adding up to more than $138 billion per year. There are approximately 50,000 foreign species and the number is increasing. About 42 percent of the species on (our) Threatened or Endangered species lists are at risk primarily because of non-indigenous species.”

Here’s a look at a few of our worst regional offenders.

  1. Japanese knotweed. Take a walk along the banks of the Susquehanna River in the Kirby Park natural area and you’ll see how knotweed has claimed massive amounts of the riverbank. And every year it gets worse.

Knotweed was introduced to the U.S. from Japan as an ornamental, for fodder and erosion control in the late 1800s. It now occurs in 40 states.

It spreads quickly, forming dense stands that exclude native vegetation. On riverbanks, it easily survives severe floods and rapidly recolonizes, usurping the role of native species.

This is one very bad boy: It can grow through walls, tarmac and concrete and can grow by up to four inches a day during the summer. It is listed as one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species. Mortgage lenders have even been known to refuse mortgages on properties which are affected by Japanese Knotweed.

It is tremendously difficult to control, much less eradicate. As Wallace Kaufman says in “Invasive Plants,” “Seedlings may be cut or pulled to exhaust the rhizome and kill the plants. This may take up to 10 years in a well-established stand.”

  1. Honeysuckle. Ah the sweet smell….and the sour result. Alien honeysuckles tend to leaf out earlier than many native honeysuckles and other shrubs and hold their leaves later into the fall, aiding in their takeover of the land formerly occupied by native plants.

Take a walk along the shores of parts of Frances Slocum Park and just about all you’ll see is Morrow and Tartarian honeysuckle — both aliens — and dogwood lining the shores, to the exclusion of everything else

Additionally, researchers found increased nest predation of robins using alien honeysuckle as a result of plant structure which provides easy access to nests by predators such as snakes. While the fruits of exotic honeysuckles provide some nutrition for birds, they do not compare to the lipid-rich fruits of native species that provide greater energy to sustain migrating birds.

Amur honeysuckle, one of the invasives, was brought to a hothouse in Canada in 1896 because of its attractive flowers. For a time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture even promoted its use for wildlife and as a shelterbelt.

Since it’s so widespread, any control is problematic. In areas where control is possible, shrubs can be pulled or dug out of the ground repeatedly in spring and fall but it might take up to five years to take effect.

Native honeysuckles can be told from aliens by their stems. Natives are hollow while alien stems are a solid white pith.

  1. Ailanthus (Tree of Heaven)

Having tried to stop one ailanthus from growing near my house, I can testify how hard it is to kill the Tree of Hell. It was called Tree of Heaven in its native China because it grew out of rocks on mountain heights where other trees would not grow.

It is notorious for its ability to grow in hostile environment, from pavement cracks, to vacant urban lots to mounds of garbage. Its tenacity is such that in the best-selling “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” it is the symbol of a poor family’s hopes and aspirations.

It first reached the U.S. in Philadelphia in 1748, introduced by a gardener. Then nurseries on the East Coast sold it because it was pest free, grew quickly and, as we know all too well, will grow just about anywhere.

It’s so tenacious because it sends up many root sprouts, rapidly forming a dense colony and it releases chemicals from its roots that hinder the growth of other plants.

Eliminating it is difficult. It can also be dangerous. Its sap contains quassinoids, chemicals that have caused heart problems and blinding headaches in some people who don’t protect themselves from exposure when cutting or handling the trees, according to the Annals of Internal Medicine.

  1. Garlic Mustard.

This plant stinks in more than one way. Sure, it stinks when you crush its leaves.

But it also stinks because of its unique two-year lifecycle, which gives it a leg up over native plants.

Seedlings germinate in the spring and form into basal rosettes (pictured) by midsummer. Immature plants will overwinter as rosettes that stay green and continue to photosynthesize during periods when temperatures are above freezing – giving them a head start over native plants.

Along with that, it’s “allelopathic”: It releases chemicals that suppress native plants, especially spring wildflowers. It also inhibits the growth of fungi important to many native plants that use the fungi to obtain nourishment from the soil.

It was introduced to America by European settlers in the early 1800s as a food because of its availability in early spring and its high Vitamin A and C. Leaves were boiled in soups and eaten in salads.

Controlling it? Get ready for a war, not a single battle. According to Michigan State University’s Extension Service, “Any control method selected must be repeated for several years until residual seed from previous year’s plants has germinated. To a gardener, this could be a long time. Smaller garlic mustard infestations can be controlled with a watchful eye and rigorous hand pulling during spring before other vegetation greens up.”

  1. Purple loosestrife

How are you going to fight this?

According to “Invasive Plants,” “Loosestrife’s prolific seeding, its tolerance of a wide variety of water regimes and soils, its ability to produce as many as two million seedlings a season, and its reproduction from broken pieces has allowed it to spread across the continent and outcompete many natives.”

It’s also expanded to the retention basin outside my Swoyersville home, the site of the loosestrife photograph.

If you go into any damp areas around here — such as some of the sunny banks of the Susquehanna — you’ll be blinded by its purple blanketing of the landscape. In some places it has replaced 50 percent of the native species.

Purple loosestrife easily occupies new areas, creates narrow waterways and disrupts aquatic habitats. It also quickly eliminates native plants, such as cattail, which plays important role in the nesting of waterfowls.

Scientists believe that purple loosestrife conquers up to 100,000 acres of loosestrife-free wetlands in the United States every year.

An arrival from Europe in the ballast of European sailing ships, it arrived in colonial North America with the first settlers. Horticulturists later imported seeds for gardens. By the early 1800s it was so common some botanists considered it native.

Control it? Not likely: To date, no effective means exist to eliminate large, established stands of purple loosestrife.”




On this labor day, I celebrate MY six years of labor fighting the dreaded gill-over-the-ground

I know this pic is kind of hard to figure out, but it’s a solid mass of my mortal enemy, henbit, or gill-over-the-ground. When I bought my old miners’ house six years ago the lawn was 98 percent henbit, one percent crabgrass and one percent grass.
After six years of persistent pulling and grass seeding, I’ve reclaimed maybe 20 percent of the lawn, so if I can only live to 130 or so I can whip it.
for me, THIS is the invasive that I hate…..

henbit-2 henbit-2 henbit-3 henbit-5

Henbit Scouting and Prevention:

There are a few distinguishing features of Henbit. Their leaves grow opposite to one another with the upper leaves clasping to the square-like stems and have straight branching. A pink or purple cluster of flowers grows where the stem and leaf attach. When scouting for Henbit, it is most likely to be found in gardens, wastelands, ditches, and along roadsides. It stands about 6 inches tall and 1 foot or more across. The best way to prevent this pesky weed from growing on your property is to use pre-emergent herbicides before germination, which typically happens in September.

Henbit Control:

If you missed the pre-emergent stage of the plants life, you can use a broadleaf post emergence herbicide such as Trimec or Weed-B-Gon. The most important part about keeping the plant in control after it has emerged is making sure you put the herbicide on before the Henbit flowers and releases its seeds. Putting mulch 3 inches deep on gardens is another great way to prevent Henbit from appearing.

Latin / Alternative Henbit names:

  • – Lamium amplexicaule L.
  • – Lamier amplexicaule
  • – Pian de poule

Additional Henbit Resources



Nuangola Bog gets some of the exposure it so clearly deserves.

Gave me the entire page in the Citizens’ Voice, Hazleton Standard-Speaker and Scranton Times-Tribune today. Don’t think they’ve done that before.

If you can get your hands on a hard copy, there’s four photos with the piece.

Photo attached here, of a pitcher plant, is by Wilkes senior Biology student Laura Solomon.laura

Nuangola bog providing real-world research – Sports – Citizens’ Voice

Bob Quarteroni, Correspondent / Published: September 2, 2018 … “Nuangola bog is a scrub-shrub wetland that occupies approximately 10 acres along the southern end of Lake Nuangola, in northern Luzerne County. The parcel is owned by

Jerusalem Artichoke and its important historical role

Got some good shots of Jerusalem Artichoke at the soccer fields yesterday so I thought I’d unearth this piece about “Plants in History” which details the story of the Jerusalem Artichoke.jerusalem

Plants in history – Sports – Citizens’ Voice

Oct 15, 2015 – By Bob Quarteroni. Correspondent. “The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes,” wrote Arthur Conan Doyle 

Emerald Ash Borer just one of tsunami of invasives threatening us

I’ve proposed a piece on all the “new” invasives threatening our environment to my editor so digging out some old piecs like this one on the dreaded emerald ash borer.

By Bob Quarteroni

“Insects all business all the time,” David Foster Wallace said,” and we’re finding out just how right he was.
For the insects, there’s no such thing as play; It’s always the serious business of eating, eating, eating.
Turns out we’re in extra innings and the ultimate icon of the national pastime is in big – make that bug – trouble.
Can it survive? Let’s look at the combatants.
In one corner, weighing in at about 1/30th of an ounce, is the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive insect that hitched a ride on – what else – wooden packing material – from Asia into Michigan in 2002.
The EAB loves ash trees, in fact it loves them to death, and it started doing that so effectively that it had munched its way into the Commonwealth by 2007. In exactly a decade, it was chewing away in all 67 counties.
Nobody knows how many millions of ash trees it has killed but it is so widespread that the ash tree is likely to suffer the same fate as the magnificent American chestnut after the ravages of the chestnut blight: “effective extinction,” defined by Wikipedia as “the reduction of a species to such low abundance that…it no longer interacts significantly with other species.”
Bullseye in all this is that beloved icon: The Louisville Slugger, the official bat of Major League Baseball, which has been made exclusively from white ash trees from the strip of land straddling northern Pennsylvania and southern New York known as the Hardwood Belt since 1884.
That was when Hillerich & Bradsby Co. started making superior bats from the wood of the white ash tree, which is unmatched in its ability to not crack under strain.
“The bottom line is that those forests that Louisville Slugger uses to harvest ash and make high-quality bats are being devastated by emerald ash borer over time,” a company spokesman said.
The holy grail aspect of the Slugger cannon be underestimated. Space doesn’t permit even a cursory list of its central spot in baseball but one example is enlightening.
According to Wikipedia, “New York Yankee Derek Jeter used the P72 Louisville Slugger for every at bat in his 20 MLB seasons, with over 12,500 plate appearances.”
According to the Slugger history website, “Louisville Slugger has sold north of 100 million bats – making it, without question, the most popular bat brand in history.”
Especially popular, unfortunately, with the EAB.
So what’s being done to fight this? Well, Pennsylvania has an EAB management plan for communities that is so minimal in scope that it’s not likely to have much impact.
“I still think there’s a lot of ash left, but it’s inevitable — eventually, it seems like all the ash is going to be gone,” Michael Jacobson, professor of forest resources at Penn State, said. “We just haven’t found a way to control it economically.”
As ash is imperiled, major-league baseball players have turned to bats made of maple since 2001, when San Francisco Giants left fielder Barry Bonds used one in breaking the season home run record.
There’s only one problem here: The Asian longhorned beetle.
According to the Nature Conservancy, “It kills a wide variety of hardwood trees, especially maples, elms, willows, and birches.”
So, say bad things about them, but one thing is sure: Aluminum bats are immune to insects.

.borer pic

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