Plant Identification

by Scott Smith

I wish that I was better at plant identification. If you put me in the middle of a traditional perennial bed I can probably name 95% of what’s there, but ask me to identify native plants, or trees and shrubs (native or not) and I’m a little lost. I have a hard time remembering that the stand of trees planted to the north of our house are poplars, I didn’t recognize a bush planted in front of the house as a lilac until it finally grew back enough to produce a spectacular show this spring, and I’m still not sure whether or not my little plum trees are American Plums or Sand Plums.

We have a little bush planted amongst the pine trees on the south edge of our property along our driveway. I keep wondering what it is and whether or not I should get rid of it or add more. I was just perusing The Native Plant Nursery and I may have found my answer: Red-Osier Dogwood. Not everything matches though. I haven’t noticed any white or blue berries on the bush, but it has not flowered heavily. My mystery bush also does not have flaming red bark in the winter, but it does not have ideal conditions if it is a Red-Osier. I read on Wikipedia that the wild varieties do not have the vibrant coloration in shaded areas. I’ve been considering branching up the maple tree that sits on the neighboring (empty) property in order to give my pines room to grow. Maybe it will also give the bush more sun, more water and more color.