Plant Survey

Here we record plants found at Beacon Springs Farm. We expect our observations and identification to take many months, if not years. Last modified August 26, 2022.


American Crabapple (Malus coronaria)Also known as Wild Crabapple or Sweet Crabapple, it is a spreading tree native to the upper two-thirds of the Eastern United States, especially the Midwestern States. It is known for its very fragrant, white to white-pink blossoms.
American Elm (Ulmus americana)A deciduous hermaphroditic tree, commonly growing to more than 100 feet tall, supporting a high, spreading umbrella-like canopy, found in rich bottomlands, floodplains, stream banks, and swampy ground, although they also often thrive on hillsides, uplands and other well-drained soils. Leaves are alternate with double-serrate margins and oblique base. Flowers are small, purple-brown and, being wind-pollinated, apetalous. Leaves serve as food for the larvae of a number of species of Lepidoptera including the Eastern Comma, Question Mark, Mourning Cloak, Painted Lady and Red-spotted Purple, as well as such moths as the Columbian Silkmoth and Banded Tussock Moth.
Bitternut Hickory (Carya cordiformis)A medium-sized tree growing to 80 ft tall with a long, clear trunk and broad, spreading crown, found in low woods along streams and river bottoms and at the bases of moist slopes and cliffs. Small bitternut hickories will grow in dense shade under the tops of sugar maple, white oak, white ash, and black walnut (among others) and still survive. Leaves are alternate, pinnately compound, 6–12 inches long, with 7–9 elliptical, toothed leaflets. Flowers April–May; male and female flowers occur on the same tree: male catkins in threes, slightly hairy, 3–4 inches long; female catkins in ones or twos. Fruits September–October, solitary or paired nuts, nearly globe-shaped, covered by a thin yellow-green husk with yellow scales, partly winged along the lines where it splits. Many animals, such as squirrels, mice, and deer, consume them. Squirrels also nibble on the buds. Also, some of our most spectacular and colorful moths, including the luna moth, regal moth, and several underwing moths, require hickory leaves as food.
Black Willow (Salix nigra)A fast-growing tree, 10–60 ft., with an open crown often with several trunks growing out at angles from one root. Found in wet soil along streams and at the margins of ponds and lakes. Leaf blades up to 5 inches long, narrow and tapering to an elongate tip, margins finely serrate. Bright yellow-green twigs bear yellow-green catkins. Flowers inconspicuous, arranged in elongate clusters which appear in March and April; male and female flowers on separate trees. Seeds wind-borne on silky hairs. The bark is deeply furrowed. The bark, tender twigs and buds are food for browsers such as deer, rabbits and beaver. Early season harvest for songbirds, waterfowl and small mammals. Attracts birds , butterflies. It is a larval host for Mourning Cloak, Viceroy, Red-spotted Purple, Viceroy and Tiger Swallowtail butterflies.
Box Elder (Acer negundo)A native, fast-growing (35–60 ft) maple tree found on river floodplains and along lakeshores and streams, but also in young hardwood forests. Boxelder can grow in a wide variety of soil types and spreads fast, especially in fence rows, abandoned fields and vacant or disturbed urban lots. It is different from most maples because it has compound leaves with 3 to 5 leaflets, and because it is dioecious (having separate male and female trees). There are 285 species of Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) that depend on box elder to survive their caterpillar stage.
Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana)Native to Asia, the Callery pear was introduced to the United States in the early 1900s as rootstock for domesticated pears. Though tolerant of partial shade, they prefer full sun and are often found along roadsides, in old fields and hedgerows, and along forest edges. The white, five-petaled flowers are about 3⁄4–1 in. in diameter. The fruits are small and hard, almost woody, until softened by frost, after which they are readily taken by birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings. In summer, the shining foliage is dark green and very smooth, and in autumn the leaves commonly turn brilliant colors, ranging from yellow and orange to more commonly red, pink, purple, and bronze. Pear wood (of any species) is among the finest-textured of all fruitwoods. It is prized for making woodwind instruments, and pear veneer is used in fine furniture. Pear wood is also among those preferred for preparing woodcuts for printing.
Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)A deciduous woody shrub or small tree, 10-25 ft in height, found in dry open forests, alkaline fens, sunny open sites and alvar. In North America, it occurs in disturbed and undisturbed habitats including roadsides, old fields, prairie fens, savannas and a variety of woodlands. When young, it has multiple stems but with age it becomes a tree with a single trunk that may reach 10 in. in diameter. Leaves are simple and dark green, with toothed margins and 3 to 5 pairs of prominent leaf veins, which curve as they approach the leaf tip. The leaves are alternate, but some may appear opposite. Twigs often have thorns at their tips, between the terminal buds. Branches are dotted with light-colored vertical raised marks. Flowers are small, green-yellow, four-petaled, clustered along the stem. Male and female flowers are borne on separate shrubs. The fragrant flowers appear in May and June. Fruits are abundant, small and round, ripening from green to purplish black. They are only produced on female plants but have high germination rates.
Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)A large-canopied tree with upright limbs becoming arching at the tips creating a vase-shape outline. Grows to 100 ft. or more. Catkins appear before leaf emergence. Large, papery, toothed, triangular, medium-green leaves turn yellow in fall. Pendulous clusters of flowers without petals in late March and early April. Seeds wind-borne on a tuft of cottony hairs. Attracts birds and butterflies and is a larval host for Mourning Cloak, Red-spotted Purple, Viceroy and Tiger Swallowtail butterflies.
Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana)A densely branched, slow-growing evergreen coniferous tree that may never become more than a bush on poor soil, but ordinarily grows to 15 to 60 feet. It is commonly found in prairies or oak barrens, old pastures, or limestone hills, often along highways and near recent construction sites. Dioecious: male produces brown pollen-bearing cones/flowers on branch tips in late winter; females produce ¼-in blue fleshy berry-like cones in spring which mature in the fall, with 1–4 seeds per cone. Cedar waxwings and 50+ other bird species feed on the berries.
Paradise Apple (Malus pumila)Paradise apple is a small deciduous tree that reaches up to 50′ in height at maturity. The trunk is twisted. When grown in the open, the trunk divides near the ground into several major branches, and the crown is often as wide or wider than tall. When grown among other trees the trunk is taller and the crown is less spreading. It is found on roadsides, railroads, shores, fields and wooded areas. Native to eastern Europe, it was introduced to North America in colonial times where it was widely cultivated, occasionally escaping.
Prairie Crabapple (Malus ioensis)Native to the Midwest, prairie crabapple grows to 10-25' tall and wide. Habitats include open woodlands, savannas, thickets, woodland borders, prairies, semi-open areas along streams, edges of pastures and fields, fence rows, and powerline clearances in wooded areas. The nectar and pollen of the large flowers attract honeybees, bumblebees and other long-tongued bees. Other visitors of the flowers include smaller bees, butterflies and skippers. A variety of insects feed destructively on the foliage, fruit, flowers, wood and plant juices including leafhoppers and such several types of aphids. A number of moth larvae feed on various parts of the plant. Mammals that eat the fruits include the coyote, foxes, opossum, raccoon, skunks, groundhogs, squirrels and white-tailed deer. White-tailed deer also browse on the twigs and foliage, while the cottontail rabbit sometimes gnaws on the bark of saplings during the winter.
Red MapleNative to the eastern deciduous forest, red maples grow 60–90 meters in height. They tolerate a wide range of habitat conditions, doing well in sunny or shady spots, dry or wet soil, and high or low elevation. If the tree is placed in wet soil, it grows a short taproot and extensive lateral roots to soak up water at the surface; in dry sites, a long taproot and short lateral roots develop. As fast-growing generalists, red maples are one of the most abundant trees in the forest, even though they are highly susceptible to diseases and pests. After fires or hurricanes, when many trees are decimated, red maples spring up quickly and can become the dominant species. The extensive growth of this species is kept in check by moose, deer, and rabbits, which enjoy red maples as a favorite treat. Seeds (samaras) are often gobbled up by small mammals like squirrels and chipmunks.
Sweet Birch (Betula lenta)Conical in youth, the 50–75 ft. deciduous tree becomes ovoid to globular in maturity. Aromatic tree with rounded crown of spreading branches and odor of wintergreen in crushed twigs and foliage. Fall color is golden-yellow and the flower is a catkin that appears before leaf emergence. Birch oil, or oil of wintergreen, used to flavor medicines and candy, was once obtained from the bark and wood of young trees. It is a larval host plant for the Mourning Cloak and Dreamy Duskywing butterflies. Many moths also use sweet birch as a host plant. Its seeds are eaten by birds.
Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)Native to China; fast-growing, hardy, adaptable; able to tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. Willows provide shelter, food and nesting material for many birds.
White Ash (Fraxinus americana)White ash is a native, deciduous, long-lived tree, 60–70 ft tall. Leaves are compound, 8 to 15 inches in length, and usually have seven oval, entire leaflets. It is a pioneer species, characteristic of early and intermediate stages of succession. Although mature white ash is classified as shade intolerant, the seedlings are shade tolerant. White ash is an important source of browse and cover for livestock and wildlife including wood duck, northern bobwhite, purple finch, pine grosbeak, fox squirrel, and mice, and many other birds and small mammals. The bark of young trees is occasionally used as food by beaver, porcupine, and rabbits. White ash‘s ability to readily form trunk cavities if the top is broken make it highly valuable for primary cavity nesters such as red-headed, red-bellied, and pileated woodpeckers. Once the primary nest excavators have opened up the bole of the tree, it is excellent habitat for secondary nesters such as wood ducks, owls, nuthatches, and gray squirrels.


Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii)An erect, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub that can grow to 15–20 feet in height. It is able to grow in a range of conditions from full sun to full shade and wet to dry soils. It thrives in disturbed sites, including forest edges, woodlots, floodplains, old pastures, fields, and roadsides.
Asiatic Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)A perennial, deciduous, woody vine, inhabiting forests, forest edges, woodlands, old fields, beaches, and dunes. It aggressively chokes out other woody plants.
Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)An ornamental shrub first introduced to North America in the mid-1800s. Its silvery foliage, showy flowers, and colorful berries made it popular in landscaping; it was also planted extensively for a period of time in natural areas to provide erosion control, wind breaks, and wildlife food. The abundant fruit, readily dispersed by birds, is central to the spread of this species.
Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)A native, deciduous perennial shrub in the Roseaceae family, found along roadsides, in woodlands and disturbed areas. It is moderately resistant to damage from deer and provides excellent cover year round. Butterflies and other insects are attracted to the blooms and the fruits are eaten by songbirds, small mammals, foxes, raccoons and black bears. During the winter, birds and small mammals eat the seeds left from rotted fruit. White-tailed deer and rabbits browse the leaves.
Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa)Gray Dogwood are relatively small trees growing as tall as 15 ft. Flowers are creamy white, loose, and small, borne in flat topped clusters. The fruits are drupes that are borne in open clusters. Gray Dogwood is found in a variety of habitats including forests near rivers and streams, marshes and swamps, sandy oak and pine forests, fence-rows and borders of forests.
Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota)Queen Anne’s lace is a common sight in dry fields, roadside ditches and open areas. It is the European plant from which cultivated carrots were developed. It was brought to North America with the colonists as a medicinal plant and is now naturalized throughout the continent. It is a host plant for eastern black swallowtail caterpillars and many butterflies and adult bees and beneficial insects utilize the flower nectar.


Bristleleaf sedge (Carex eburnea)Found in mixed deciduous/conifer forest, particularly under and near cedars; adaptable to heat and drought.
Broadwing sedge (Carex alata)An Eastern United States native, it features narrow, grass-like green leaves growing in clumps or tussocks to 2.5' tall, in wet soils along streams or ponds.
Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea)Reed canary grass is a coarse, cool season perennial grass that grows 2-6 feet tall; it is one of the first grasses to sprout in the spring. It has been planted throughout the U.S. since the 1800s for forage and erosion control and grows in wetlands, ditch banks, moist fields and along roadsides. It can outcompete most native species in natural wetlands.
Tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa)From short tight green clumps, tufted hairgrass sends up tall golden seed heads, creating a fuzzy, impressionist appearance in late summer and fall landscapes. Beyond ornamental uses, it is a premier restoration species, tolerating partial shade, poorly drained sites, and even polluted soils and polluted air. It is widely distributed across the North American West, and in cool climate states, all the way East to New England. Across this range, caterpillars of dozens of species of butterflies feed on the foliage of this plant, especially skippers like the Juba skipper, a common Northwestern butterfly.


Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia)An herbaceous perennial found in prairies, open woodlands, woodland edges, savannas and wooded slopes along rivers or lakes. The flowers are not often visited by insects, but sometimes they attract bees, skippers, Syrphid flies and other insects. The caterpillars of many Fritillary butterflies feed on the foliage. The seeds attract ants, which are in part distributed by them. Various upland gamebirds and small mammals occasionally eat the seeds, including wild turkey, bobwhite, mourning dove and white-footed mouse. Wild turkeys also eat the leaves and fleshy roots. Mammalian herbivores occasionally eat the foliage, including the white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbit and livestock.
Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense)Canada thistle is native to Europe. It was introduced to North America in the 1600s, probably in agricultural seed shipments and is now widespread throughout the United States and Canada. It is found in a wide range of habitats, especially disturbed landscapes: roadsides, trails, natural areas, pastures, forest and field margins, mining locations, waste areas and unmaintained gravel pits.
Fragrant bedstraw (Galium triflorum)Also known as cudweed, it grows throughout the Northern Hemisphere. It creeps along the forest floor, with whorled leaves and single fruiting peduncles rising above basal rosettes. The entire vine does not feel very coarse, but it is rough enough to stick to clothing.
Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota)Queen Anne’s lace is a common sight in dry fields, roadside ditches and open areas. It is the European plant from which cultivated carrots were developed. It was brought to North America with the colonists as a medicinal plant and is now naturalized throughout the continent. It is a host plant for eastern black swallowtail caterpillars and many butterflies and adult bees and beneficial insects utilize the flower nectar.
Tall Goldenrod (Solidago altissima)Tall goldenrod is a member of the Asteraceae, the Sunflower family. It is an open land species generally found on drier soils, found in prairies and other grasslands, old fields, roadsides, savannas and woodlands, also occurring in forest openings. Bees, wasps, butterflies and beetles are strongly attracted to the flowers.
Wild Allium (Allium vineale)Wild allium has naturalized in much of the world including the eastern US. It can be found in disturbed areas, along roadsides, thickets, meadows, and woodlands spreading by seeds, aerial bulbils, and bulb offsets below ground.
White Avens (Geum canadense)White Avens is found in mesic deciduous woodlands, woodland borders, thickets, partially shaded seeps and fence rows with woody vegetation. The flowers attract various insects, including bees, wasps, flies and beetles.

Algae, fungi, mosses, ferns

Scurfy Twiglet (Tubaria furfuracea) Typically small, reddish brown, Scurfy Twiglet is found in scattered groups on twigs in and around wood debris. 1-4cm. Initially rounded/domed; later flattening out. Striate at edge; margin curling upwards/central depression with age. Ochre/rust brown fading to pale ochre/cream with age. Found on twigs, woody debris, chipping or mulch in gardens, deciduous woodland, hedgerows, autumn through winter.
Silvergreen Bryum Moss (Bryum argenteum)Bryum argenteum is easily recognizable with its typical moss growth pattern: low cylindrical shoots of compact tufts. Reproductive structures appear on stalks above the photosynthetic parts of the plant. It is found in urban areas between cracks on sidewalks, poor soil, and rocks. It can be found in more natural settings; however it has come to thrive better in anthropogenic habitats. Through the steady decay of older leafy shoots and rhizoids, it develops a soil that is rich in moisture-retaining humus underneath.
White cheese polypore (Tyromyces chioneus)Found across Asia, Europe and North America, it is a primary cause of white rot in various dead or dying hardwood trees.