Where did the Time Go?

I can’t believe that it is the end of my internship. So much has happened and I have learned so much and experienced things that I will remember for a lifetime. Spending time in the Black Hills and working with everyone in the Newcastle Field Office has been great. Getting to know the area and feeling like I have accomplished something is a great feeling.

It is starting to get cold with temperatures down in the teens, I would not want to have to work in it for long, so it is good that I have reached the end of the internship. The fall colors have been spectacular, and yes I was very surprised to find out that the Black Hills does have a peak season for fall foliage. The aspens and cottonwoods turned vibrant golds and yellows. Fall is also the the time for elk.

These are the things that I will miss, the constant views, the amazing wildlife and the vast open spaces. I just hope that my next destination will be as great as my summer in the Black Hills was.

Diverse experiences in a Distinct place…

Wildlife Tech: Matt Fountain setting up camera traps for bobcats... he's becoming the cat

Wildlife Tech, Matt Fountain, setting up camera traps for bobcats… he’s becoming the cat

Fisheries Intern Cacey Sylvester in his natural habitat among the fishes

Fisheries Intern, Cacey Sylvester, in his natural habitat among the fishes

Wildlife tech Quentin Parker as we hiked the northern portion of The Lost Coast booting hikers off the trail during a wildfire

Wildlife tech, Quentin Parker, as we hiked the northern portion of The Lost Coast booting hikers off the trail during a wildfire

Fellow CLM intern Kate McGrath on The Lost Coast as we surveyed for rare plant species

Fellow CLM intern, Kate McGrath, on The Lost Coast as we surveyed for rare plant species

Ready for whatever is next!

Ready for whatever is next!


I have been lucky enough to have many great internship experiences, both at school and since graduating. But none can compare to the experience I have had here at the Arcata Field Office. When I first found out that I was California bound, I was extremely nervous about the culture I would find. I was nervous about the fact that despite being hired as a Forestry Intern, I had taken no forestry classes and had no experience with forestry techniques. Luckily though, all of my fears were completely unfounded, for in Arcata I found not only a supportive community but also a supportive and quite frankly epically awesome work environment.

I have learned so much during my time here in Arcata! When I interviewed with my mentor, Dan Wooden, he had said that he really encourages his interns to go out and take on as many new learning opportunities that come and boy, did a lot come! From forestry to fisheries, from botany to wildlife I was all over the place, helping and contributing to projects small and large! This internship has been unlike any other for this reason, for while I focused on the forestry projects my mentor assigned I was able to simultaneously branch out and learn about the management of other resources.

While working for the Arcata FO I monitored a prairie restoration project, flagged and marked a unit for a commercial timber sale and Sudden Oak Death mitigation treatment, and initiated the transfer of over 3,000 forest stand data entries– from FORVIS a stand information system– to Excel so that now the information can be easily accessed and related into ArcMap. I helped the office prepare and execute a visit from the Secretary of the Interior and hiked the entirety of The Lost Coast while mapping rare/ invasive plants and when I had to as backpackers to leave the trail during the Horse fire. I hooted for spotted owls in Headwaters Reserve and collaborated with an HSU student on a bobcat inventory and identification project. I dove for steelhead along the Mattole River and helped remove pampas grass in the dunes. Every opportunity to learn I have grasped with eager and enthusiastic hands and with the support of my mentor and the rest of the Arcata team!

I leave this internship knowing that I have gained experiences that will better prepare me for whatever may come next (hopefully graduate school!) and that I have more than met the expectations of my mentor and peers. I have made many friends here in Arcata and it is through these friendships that I have had such a great experience!

Thank you to all of the people who allowed me to have such an enriching learning experience and to all who are thinking about applying to the Chicago Botanic Garden Conservation and Land Management Internship Program, DO IT!


All the best to my fellow CLM’ers and best of luck to future interns!

Till next time,

Stephanie B.

Fall Field Season in Lander


We have begun the count down into our last month here at the Lander BLM field office, but that doesn’t mean our workload has slowed down! We should have about 13 Seeds of Success collections by the end of our season, with currently two more late collections to still make. A good chunk of our remaining time will be spent organizing and sending off data and seed collections, something I know Erin and I are both looking forward to immensely. We are both the type of people who appreciate having a well-organized finished product and after all the work that has gone into making our seed collections this summer, I think it will be a rewarding product.

Antelope Bitterbrush seed waiting to be shipped off to Bend, OR

Antelope Bitterbrush seed waiting to be shipped off to Bend, OR

Another item on our list of duties includes field monitoring as long as weather allows. We have been collecting rounds of stubble height data from key species in riparian areas in conjunction with some compliance monitoring to making sure the cattle are moved out of pastures during the appropriate time. In addition to compliance, stubble height standards for healthy riparian areas need to be met (and the sedges/grasses near springs should not being overgrazed to the point of being lost) to be able to allow future grazing. We have about eight sites we visit, all at various springs, spread out over a large allotment in the southern part of our field office.


A group of about 35 wild horses charged me in the field.

A group of about 35 wild horses charged me in the field.

We will also be continuing monitoring wild horse populations, concentrating on our next priority Horse Management Area (HMA) over the next few weeks. Since September, we have been monitoring horses in the northern HMA complex and for the next month will focus mostly on the largest southern HMA. This mostly entails driving out the HMA and scouting groups of horses. When we can, we try to get close enough to the herd for good quality photos and to collect accurate observation data. Horse monitoring has been an awesome experience over the last two months… literally filled with moments of awe. There are a few groups of horses we’ve been able to see more than once and really interact with. One day I went out in the field on my own to do some monitoring and came across a group of about 35 that we had seen on previous days. I parked my truck and skirted around the edge of a hill on foot, walking into the wind. I popped up on top of the slope about 200 yards from where they were grazing in a small basin. Unlike the other times we’d snuck up on a herd, when horses had taken off in the opposite direction, within about 30 seconds all the horses were running straight towards me. I stood there, letting it happen before I could really even think about what was happening and then they veered off to my right and came level on the hill with me. After I few moments of taking in the threat of me they took off again down the other side of the hill. It was wild.

In addition to monitoring and SOS data/seed collecting we also have various projects ranging from riparian restoration to fencing and flagging projects to making interpretive signs for a historic cultural site. Today we spent the day restoring a riparian area within an infamously controversial allotment within our field office. The allotment has been seriously overgrazed leading to all kinds of degradation, but today we had the chance to hopefully repair a small piece of that land. There are sections within the drainages of this allotment that have lost so much vegetation that erosion has become a big problem. Bare soil is eroding quickly creating head cuts in the riparian areas that are moving up the drainage with every big rain. We reseeded these and laid down matting over the head cut areas, which should allow vegetation to re-establish and stabilize the currently bare soil. And we expect there will be other projects like this that our co-workers in range department ask for our help with and that add great variety to our work weeks!

Let’s Get Down to Business

Cooler weather has finally arrived in Lander, WY. Many of our coworkers have been commenting on how unusual this fall weather has been. Apparently, by this time of the year there usually is 2-4 feet of snow! However, I am glad the snow has held off. This means we have the opportunity to do more field work and less office work. I enjoy field work very much, but with all of the field projects we are working on, our Seeds of Success data processing is getting put on the back burner. Emma and I have been antsy all of October to start getting SOS data processed and seeds sent out to the seed cleaning facility. Our Seeds of Success program has been a little hectic because our mentor took a job in Cheyenne earlier this month. She was promoted to the position of Wyoming state botanist, and we are very happy for her! So Emma and I are figuring things out on our own, with the help of our mentor’s very detailed instructions. We just started data processing this week, and we are realizing that it will be much more time consuming than we originally thought. Nevertheless, we are up for the challenge and enjoy being busy.

This month we completed three SOS collections. Fringed sage (Artemisia frigida), Wyoming Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp.wyomingensis), and Mountain Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp.vaseyana). The seeds from each of these three species were tiny, which made our seed counts a little time consuming. We were excited to find that we collected about 400,000 seeds from Wyoming Big Sagebrush, which far exceeds our minimum goal of 20,000.


Enjoying the view on the way out to collect Mountain Big Sagebrush. It’s amazing to see how fast the landscape changes

We are still working on wild horse monitoring in the field office. This month we finished the entire north complex, which consists of four HMAs (horse monitoring areas). In November we will start on the south complex and monitor there until we get snowed out. Horse monitoring has been one of my favorite activities. This month we stumbled upon a herd of more than 100 wild horses while monitoring, it was incredibly cool to see. We also got snowed on for the first time while we were horse monitoring at some higher elevations. The snow covered horses were really beautiful.


Scanning for horses with my binoculars


Horses in the snow in the Crooks Mountain HMA


We always make sure to wear our orange for safety during hunting season!

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GPS mapping the aspen stands.

Another project we are still working on is aspen stand delineation near South Pass. This is another project that needs to be finished before the snow flies, especially because this project area is at a higher elevation. So Emma and I continue to flag aspen stands and record the area and locations with our GPS. The work up here is pretty cold, but there are amazing views.

We are also working a little bit with the archeologists at Castle Gardens petroglyph site. Castle Gardens is an area in our field office where ancient native people etched petroglyph drawings into the soft rock. The BLM wants people to respect and understand this ancient site. To help with this, the BLM is installing gravel walking paths and interpretive signs. The hope is that once people can see and understand the importance and history of sites like these, there will not be as much vandalism. The Castle Gardens site previously had been vandalized in many places, but the BLM hired a rock art expert to fix much of the vandalism.  Emma and I are helping write some of the interpretive signs dealing with botany. We will have a sign identifying common plants in the area depending on season, and a sign explaining how native people used the plants in the past.


Castle Gardens Site


Petroglyph at Castle Gardens. This one is called “The Lightning Man”.

Only one more month to go in the Lander Field Office! We still have 2 seed collections left to make, and many other projects to finish up. November is going to be a busy month, but I’m excited. We’ll see how much we can get done before the snow.

Until next time,

Erin, Lander Field Office, BLM- Wyoming

Adios Alturas


Time truly flies when you are having fun. I can’t believe this is my last day of the internship.


Since we had already met and exceeded our office seed collection expectations we have been doing a bunch of other cool stuff. We started doing raptor surveys. I was not knowledgeable about raptors of the area; actually I knew nothing in general about birds of this side of the world. The raptor survey consisted of spending 4 hours of bird watching in the same site and another 3-4 hours looking for nests around the area. Since birds love mornings we had to brace ourselves and be out in the field by 6:30 AM to make sure to start our counting would start at 8:00 AM. My body required lots of coffee to accomplish this task. But it was actually really rewarding seeing a Northern Harrier and even a Bald Eagle. The best days of my work were invested in doing this type of job. Eagle Lake interns joined us for a few raptors survey which made it even more fun and more efficient since we managed to cover a larger area.


Bird watching at Day Pit

Another really interesting work I got to participate in was the pika blitz. Marian (a Cedarville intern) and myself took a one-day training with the folks from Department of Wildlife of Nevada. I had always assumed that pikas would be found only in places of 7,000 ft.or higher elevation. Wrong! We were in Massacre Rim at 5,700 ft. and we were lucky to find so many fresh scat and lots of hay piles. Yes, pikas like cold weather, but since they lived on rocky mountain sides the bottom of the rocks maintains a cold temperature (even though on the outside it gets hotter). This helps them colonize lower elevations sites. The pika survey consisted of looking for fresh scat or fresh hay pile (mostly scat, since we have to take samples and mark GPS point on very single fresh scat we found).


Pika scat

This past weekend Nate and I helped with the archaeology day.  I went out in the field with Aimee (an archaeologist) to collect some plants that were used by the Native Americans of the area. We were in charge of the ethnobotany table so we had samples of some plants and lichens. Aimee created really cool signs with the information. Although the archaeology day was sabotaged by a huge rain cloud and we did not get as many visitors as we were expecting, I really enjoy learning about the uses of the many plants we encountered. We also got to help build the wickiup made out of tule, willow twigs, effort and love.


Jenna, Devon, Nate, and I


Moving to Alturas for these 5 months has helped me grow in so many personal and professional areas. This was my first time living on my own. I’ve realized that solitude is not always as sad and that cooking is definitely not as hard. Living by myself and having only a bike to move around the town was a beautiful experience.  I was lucky to make friends with interns from others offices around. We were able to travel around northern California, and even visit Oregon and L.A.

Living in such a small town allows you to easily build friendships. People are very nice and polite (which was really weird for me since I come from an urban background).  Everyone says hi and smiles at you every time you pass by. It was funny seeing people react to my ID and they would ask “What the heck are you doing here?”. People are extremely nice, approachable, and hospitable. I hope to make a lot of their behaviors my own. Although I was complaining about how small this town was and that there was nothing to do, now I know I will miss this environment of peacefulness.

I think the best aspect of my internship was that we were able to do more than just seed collecting. We have been able to help with utilization surveys, do plant inventories, raptor surveys, pika surveys, and even archaeology surveys. Also, we got to collaborate with other BLM offices. This gave me a great hands-on idea of the valuable work a BLM office does and how a botanist can be part of this effort. I’m happy to say that my flora knowledge has expanded in many ways. I feel really comfortable with my plant id skills on the northeast of California.

I will definitely miss this place… the good friends I made…the office workers.

My favorite site of Alturas office was Fitzhugh creek.


Fitzhuhg creek

One of my favorite trips from this internship was visiting Crater Lake with Lillie (an Eagle Lake intern). This has been the most beautiful view I have ever seen…the clear blue water…the island within the crater…it was just so amazing. I definitely have to return.

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Crater Lake, Oregon

One last thought: I would like to thank my mentor (Mike Dolan) for sharing all his knowledge and to this amazing program for allowing me explore a hidden and beautiful part of California.

Jaileen Merced

Alturas Field Office

The End of Fire Monitoring

With a sigh of relief, post-fire monitoring for our crew finally came to an end when I finished and closed the final report. The field monitoring portion had ended a couple of weeks before, and since then we had been trudging through data entry and report compiling. For me at least, “trudging” is putting it lightly. I seek out jobs with strong field components for a reason, and working 10 hours a day on a computer is really not my thing. I know data reports are crucial components to the whole process, and I am grateful to be a part of it: learning, contributing, chiseling away at my character building, etc… but future cubicle mates be warned, grumpiness may ensue (keep snacks handy).

Let us reminisce:

long poles!

Hauling gear back from a site early in the season

For our last fire monitoring field day, our dwindling crew set out to tackle the Spring fire. It was a cool and very windy day. As you can see in the photo, I was a little chilled.IMG_20150915_122631672

It was an easy plot to monitor, and an uncomfortable hike in. This was due to the overwhelming amount of cheatgrass. Unfortunately, our monitoring job is easier when there is less plant diversity, and the cheatgrass gets in my socks and drives me crazy (see Ode to Cheatgrass).

Fortunately, we had the Halloween tree to protect us from the cheatgrass…


And loving, charred trees…













On to other projects!


Carson City, BLM



Final Reflections from Southern New Mexico…

Alas, it seems that Jeanne and I’s tenure as CLM interns is finally coming to an end.  Overall, it has been a wonderful experience.  We have had the chance to see places in our expansive district that very few have set eyes upon.  Our fearless leader, Patrick, has proven himself a reluctant but well suited mentor.  We got to see petroglyphs, ruins, and a wide variety of plants.  In botany, my experience has been that there is no end to the learning.  There are always more plants to know, love, identify, and dissect.  Sometimes we’d stumble upon a rare or locally rare plant that I’d never encountered before to which I would react with glee, which I would then enthusiastically photograph.  And of course, since Patrick is among the best botanists west of the Mississippi, there were always opportunities to learn and identify unknown species.  A few new species (well, new to me) included Wright’s Dutchman’s Pipe, Echinomastus intertextus, Erioneuron spp.,  Thymophylla aurea, Haplophyton crooksii, Evolvulus alsinioides, and many others.  We got to see an abundance of wildlife; coyotes, two species of rattlesnakes, tarantulas, kangaroo rats, packrats, coyotes, pronghorn sheep, roadrunners, sandhill cranes, oryx, a plethora of insects, arachnids, and cows, and cows, and more cows.


~Co-intern Jeanne and I standing at the edge of Kilbourned Hole….


~Evolvulus alsinioides, just a cute plant I hadn’t seen before in the Florida Mts….DSCF4539

~Haplophyton crooksii, a rare plant in New Mexico.  Also hadn’t seen it before.  Also Floridas….


~Aristolochia wrightii, Wright’s Dutchmans Pipe. A cool rare plant in its own right being feasted upon by some exotic caterpillary things….


We spent many hours hunting down the elusive and rare Nightblooming Cereus.  We were able to form a conclusion based on our observations and past observations that the cactus behaves a lot like many other desert species (although it’s a bit unusual for cacti) in that it periodically dies back to the tuberous root, and then periodically resurrects.  As such, even though it continues to be a rare species, it doesn’t seem to be quite as rare in our district as previously thought.  It’s also just plain hard to spot.  It grows inside nurse shrubs and spends most of the time just looking like a dead stick.  Although the flowers are spectacular I hear.  You would be lucky to see them as they only flower for one or two nights a year.  I haven’t.  Yet.

DSCF3516 PEGRG 2 dpm

~Peniocereus greggii var. greggii.  Night Blooming cereus.  A big concern for the BLM in our district….

One highlight of the internship was two trips we took out to Lower Gila Box.  Trust me when I say that a visit to a riparian area on BLM land in Southern New Mexico is a thing to be cherished!  Aside from the very cool Native American archaeology we encountered, there is a hopeful reclamation story as well. Since riparian species of trees and shrubs tend to be short lived (cottonwoods and willows) the establishment of seedlings is important to maintain the overstory.  Until the early 90’s, cattle were allowed to graze along the Gila River in this area.  The cows ate the sapplings so the overstory was decimated.  But then the Lower Gila Box was excluded from grazing and the cottonwoods, willows, and sycamores have come back happy and healthy.  The LCDO office has been taking periodic photo points since the exclusion and it is quite a thing to see the resilience of Mother Nature.


~Lower Gila Box, lush, recovered, and happy…


~Some petroglyphs from Lower Gila Box..


~A granary from Lower Gila Box.  It’s in a cliff face looking down into a steep crevice.  Could be a thousand years old, but I wouldn’t know….

We spent a lot of time and brainpower locating, monitoring, and assessing phenology of target collection species.  We were forced to think differently.  In other natural sciences such as geology, phenology doesn’t matter so much.  A rock is the same rock whether it’s January or June.  Not so with plants.  We had to keep regular tabs on a variety of potential collection sites to catch them at just the right moment when they had produced adequate mature seed but before a gust or a storm dispersed them into oblivion.  Sometimes it’s a delicate gambit.  Furthermore, we found that among grasses, just because a species produces inflorescences, there is no guarantee that actual viable seed was set.  We found multiple populations of Setaria leucopila (plains bristle grass) but only at the last site did we find that it had actually producing viable see.  Even then, it was only producing seed at a rate of about 1 per 8 florets.  Nonetheless, our population was dense enough to complete a collection.  We were wanting to make collections of blue grama and black grama, but neither of them seemed to want to produce viable fruit at all this year in our district.  Down here in the deep Chihuahuan desert, we are very much at the mercy of precipitation patterns.  It was a strange year in that regard.  We had a lot of rain early in the summer but not a lot of great rain when we normally have monsoon season in early August.  And of course, our district is large enough where some regions got way above average rain while others remained deep in drought.


~Emory globemallow.  One of our collections…


~Baielya multiradiata; A happy field of Desert Marigold.  We made multiple collections of it.

As you might expect, we had the most success in regions of our district that had been blessed by good precipitation this year.  We tried to stick to our initial target list, but we had to adjust according to what we were finding, and what we simply happened to stumble upon.  We made a lot of good collections that weren’t on the initial target list but that still make good candidates given the stated goals of the SOS program.  There was one site in particular that turned out to be an exceptionally good collection site.  At Goat Mountain Allotment we collected Machaeranthera tanacetifolia, Panicum obtusum, Verbesina encelioides, Chloris virgata, Bahia dissecta, Bahia absinthifolia, Baileya multiradiata, and Sanvitalia abertii.  Not bad for a single location!  In any case, we were able to surpass our goal of 35 collections with 38 collections for the season.  And, there is a decent chance we will make one final collection on our last day.


~One of many cute and irritable rattlers we stumbled upon….


Furthermore, we were lucky to get the opportunity to improve our GIS skills.  For my Masters project I got to be somewhat familiar with QGIS but at the BLM office we got some good experience with ArcGIS.  We also got a taste of relevant policy commonly used around the office.  The work culture at the office was a pleasant surprise.  I immediately noticed a distinct lack of tension or drama in the office.  This was a sharp contrast to my experiences in graduate school, where there is a universal and palpable sense of quiet panic and pressure.  Academia is for workaholics.  I loved the feeling that I was actually done when I left work without some guilty pang somewhere in my psyche telling me I should be grading papers or working on a manuscript until 2 am.  And my God, comp time is such a wonderful, wonderful thing.  We would often put in very long days but we were also able to take a fair number of 3 day weekends.

We got to sit in on a number of NEPA meetings, a process that is both complicated and necessary for any biologist interested in a job that interacts with the government or in contracting with entities that need to comply with government environmental and reclamation policy.  Although my cublicle at the office didn’t have windows, I had the best views in the house most days because we spent a majority of our time outside anyway.

Jeanne and I gave a presentation to our office about the Seeds of Success program and why it is important.  I think it was well received overall because we got compliments from people in the office that I know can be harsh critics.  This is good because we worked very hard at putting it together.  After it was over, I was sad to realize that our time at the office is coming to an end very quickly.

Unfortunately, I don’t know exactly what the future holds for me but there are, at least, opportunities out there.  It makes me anxious sometimes to not know what is next, but I’m getting used to uncertainty and I realize that sooner or later some sort of stability will happen if I can just keep my head down and do a job as well as I can wherever I find myself.  But working as a CLM intern has been an unforgettable and priceless learning experience.  Much thanks to Krissa, I hope for nothing but the best for my CLM compatriots out there and I hope you never lose the passion that got you into this game from the beginning.  Nature is awesome.

Best wishes to you all,

David Morin

Las Cruces District Office of the BLM


~Pectis papposa, Lemoncillo.  We made a collection of this plant.  Perhaps the most lovely smelling of any plant I know.  Definitely top 5.  It smells like a mixture of lemon, anise, and bubble gum.  It sounds weird, but it’s actually quite pleasant….



Seed Castle

One of the great things about the Eugene BLM office is the amount of collaboration that goes on between our office and other nearby agencies, conservation groups, universities, and community members. I truly believe that this level of collaboration, and sharing of resources is vital to successful restoration now and in the future. Over the past few weeks, I got a chance to see this collaboration in action.


Lomatium nudicaule

Instead of office work, I got to work in collaboration with the City of Eugene to help create a handful of native seed mixes for use on several nearby restoration sites, and an ongoing research project at the University of Oregon. Two other women and I spent 3 days measuring and mixing this commonwealth of seeds for dispersal on wetlands and upland habitats all across West Eugene.


The Seed Castle

The so called Seed Castle, where we did our mixing, is a dilapidated old wooden warehouse in the middle of an industrial park. From the outside you would never guess that within it’s aging walls are hundreds upon hundreds of pounds of native graminoid and wildflower seeds.


With a stockpile of seeds this large, it’s hard not to appreciate the sheer magnitude of kick-ass native plant potential in this one room. Even with my limited experience growing and collecting native seed, I was awe-struck by not only the volume of seeds, but also the diversity of species. There is something truly amazing about being elbow deep in a bag full of Lomatium nudicaule seed that made the journey all the way from wild collection in a nearby remnant prairie, into a seed increase bed at a local native plant nursery, through an intense cleaning process, and finally back into the hands of the ecologists and botanists who will plant them into the threatened habitats they started in.

Ponies and Opuntia

As October comes to an end, we are collecting more seeds than ever before as we continue to travel the east coast. On our last trip, my crew member and I made 37 collections! Space in the seed room is getting a bit tight.


Seed room at NCBG

We had the opportunity to collect some really awesome things, like Opuntia humifusa, prickly pear!


Opuntia humifusa from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, MD

And we got a closer look at the wild ponies of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.


Pony at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

We spent most of the time on the coast, so the sites were all amazing.


Horns Point Laboratory, MD


Mason Neck State Park, VA


Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, VA

Since the days are getting shorter, we get to see the sun both rise and set, and they have been spectacular!


Sunrise at Virginia Beach


Sunset at Mason Neck State Park, VA


Sunset at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, VA




A Chill in the Air

Fall has arrived, and so have the collections we’ve been waiting so long to make! We first saw Baccharis halimifolia start to flower 6-8 weeks ago, but just last week we were able to make our first – and second – and third collection with ease. This species produces wind-dispersed seeds, which is definitely evident when you shake the shrub and watch the seeds drift through the air, blanketing everything in white.

Baccharis halimifolia

Another long-awaited collecting was Helenium autumnale, common sneezeweed, which we first saw doing its thing at the start of September. The notched petals of the ray flowers on this wetland species are a dead giveaway. That, and the fact that we found it first among Lobelia cardinalis made for a gorgeous scene around my partner Maggie and me.

Helenium autumnale

Rhexia has also been on our radar for some time now. Probably longer than the Baccharis, since the showy pinkish-purple flowers have been visible from yards away for the majority of our time in this internship. The capsules, however, are my favorite part. They’re shaped like little vases, and when not filled with insects and their excrement, are full of the tiniest, tan-colored seeds that resemble miniature kidney beans.


And of course I can’t forget to mention Juniperus virginiana! Now is the perfect time of year to collect their fruits, as they are a vibrant blue color, not often seen in nature, and stand out among the green backdrop of foliage. They even smell nice! Some of the trees we found were up to 40 feet tall! Standing between these trees I felt almost as though I were in a Bob Ross painting! How many people can say that about their jobs?Juniperus virginiana

Last, but certainly my favorite, was Diospyros virginiana, Persimmon. We finally found a population large enough to collect from, and boy did we! You won’t hear us complaining about cleaning this collection! I see Persimmon Pudding in our future!

Diospyros virginiana

Until next time…