With love, from the Mojave Desert. Meet the Amargosa niterwort

by Naomi Fraga When I first heard about Plant Love Stories, I had one thought. Must follow! I am a plant nut. Everyone who knows me knows it, and I can’t even try to hide it. I wanted to contribute, but I had a huge dilemma. Which plant love story do I tell?! I have so many, and when it comes to plants, my love travels far and wide. So I narrowed it down to tell the tale of my current love affair. Here is my love story with the one, the only, Amargosa niterwort (Nitrophila mohavensis). The Amargosa niterwort is a rare plant in the goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae) and it has a lot of special requirements. It lives on salt flats near Death Valley, in one of the hottest driest places on earth,

A Triad Romance

by Charles W. Bier I don’t know when I first began to really know trees. As a youngster, I was literally a snake-in-my-pocket sort of kid. Yeah, could not get enough snakes in my life. I was blooming as a broader young naturalist in my later elementary years, and I do remember leading a walk for a small group of people on some open land near where I grew up north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On that walk I remember being asked the identity of a smooth, light grey barked tree in the forest. I didn’t know the answer, but I told them it was paper birch. But in fact it was American beech. Occasionally you have to watch out for what naturalists are telling you, as they will make up facts to

Pokeberry sprouts for dinner

by Cheryl Moorhead Stone My grandmother, Grammy, was a back-to-the-earth hippie decades before the actual movement started in the 1960s. She and my grandfather, Grampy (Grumpy may have been more apt), moved to their cottage in Western Pennsylvania each year on Memorial Day. They lived there until Labor Day when they reluctantly headed back to the Locust Street house in town. The cabin was small and rustic. A well on the hill above the cabin provided cold water to the kitchen faucet. The walls of the kitchen were covered in newsprint and the cast iron wood stove was used for cooking, regardless of outside temperature. There was no bathroom. Instead, the outhouse served that purpose and wa

Katherine Loves Catharanthus

by Katherine Wagner-Reiss Ever since I was a young Girl Scout, I’ve loved trees and flowers, but working and raising a family kept me too busy to study them in depth. After I retired, I earned my Certificate in Botany from the New York Botanical Garden. Now, I share my interest by giving botanical tours, writing botanical blogs, and teaching local classes for seniors in my community. I have a somewhat unique perspective in that I love plant names as much as I love plants themselves! For instance, take Catharanthus roseus. “Cathar” means pure (shoutout to all of us Catharines of various spelling permutations !), “anthus” means flowered and “roseus” means rose–colored. The common name is also