December 7, 2009

I haven't posted anything in a while. Unfortunately my internet situation is rather sparce so I have not been able to do much with the Botanical Society website.

Otherwise, all is going pretty well. I am currently working on grant applications for a project next summer. I'm going to be surveying the flora of Little Duck Island off the coast of Maine. I'll post more about this project later.

Happy Holidays to everyone! I'll be in good email/blog contact starting in January.

Peacful winter solstice,

November 13, 2009

New Website

I have been playing around with trying to generate an adequate website for the COA Botanical Society.

Here is a link to what I have so far.

I wish I could have more free time so that I could really get good at Adobe Golive, and be able to make the website fully modifiable that way.

This is what I have for now.

November 11, 2009

Botany Club: no meeting 6...

But this is all just for the build up that will lead to The Botany Club of COA: A place for plant enthusiasts of the MDI community to gather and enjoy botany through field excursions, Friends of the Herbarium meetings, potlucks, presentations, and other meaningful botanical events.

This is the preliminary, unrefined "mission" of the BCCOA. Maybe it should be called The COA Botanical Club? Please send me any suggestions!

Do not confuse this with the current botany club that has missed the past two meetings. This will hopefully become an official organization supported by COA and external donors that will also be open to the public. I have spoken to students and some faculty who have shown great interest for this.

I am currently working on designing a website that could hopefully be linked to the COA website. Will post more updates on this soon....

November 5, 2009

Botany Club: no meeting 5... But Wait!

Unfortunately, week 7 took its toll, and most of us could not make the trip to a bog, so meeting was canceled.

However, I have been hypothesising the idea of making the club a bigger, more official organisation. What if it was open to the entire MDI community? I will organise a meeting soon with anyone interested in really getting a serious botanical organisation going. It would be great for COA in terms of increasing botanical connections with students, but also great for locals that have an interest in botany. Let me know your thoughts!

October 25, 2009

Botany Club: meeting 3, 4

The Botany Club met today to work on American bittersweet baskets....  ...hmm  Maybe Celastrus scandens baskets sounds better.

Last week one of the club members led everyone to collect this vining plant. Today woven baskets were made. It is wonderful when win-win situations like this arrise: both clearing invasives, and making useful containers.

Plant Collecting Fun

I finally made some time to go plant collecting today. I was actually quite surprised by how many plants I was still able to find either in fruit or in flower. Some reading this may laugh, but it is Maine, and we have definitely had a few hardy frosts.

There is a small park accross the street from where I live. It is not a park in the traditional town-park sense. It is an open spruce/pine woodland that someone is somehow able to mow portions of. I heard rumor that some type of Drosera spp., an insectivorous plant also known as Sundew, was found in this park. I didn't believe this having always seen the park as a dry woodland. Today however, I ventured in, to my surprise finding a large acidic wetland!

Haven't found any Drosera spp. yet... kind of late in the season... I did however, collect some wetland sedges, rushes, and grasses. Look forward to keying them out... heh heh.

October 2, 2009

Elderberries, Cornelian cherries, and more...

The other day I had a wonderful gathering experience. It began with walking past a tree that I had walked past many times before, but this time I noticed some red fruit hanging off the branches. "Could it be?!" I thought. I had recently read about Cornelian cherries, but had never actually known to see one growing. Cornelian cherries (Cornus mas, unless the name has changed) are in the Dogwood (Cornaceae) family. They produce large, red, cherry-like fruit that each contain a large olive-like pit. Indeed I was right. I found two Cornelian cherry trees right in the middle of COA's campus. I collected at least a pound of these fruit and will post later about how I process them.

This led into collecting a few pounds of rose hips from Rosa rugosa, and Rosa canina, but will have to wait until a frost comes through in order to collect more. More on this later, but just know that rose hip jam is the BEST jam I have ever had, and not many people even know about it.

After that I thought I'd check on the Elderberries (Sambucus nigra, but will have to confirm) on campus. The ripe berries were weighing the branches down! I quickly got a pair of pruning shears, and fixed them to a long stick. Then I tied a rope to the handle, so that I could pull the rope, and thus use the shears from a distance. This was very helpful because most of the berries were very high up. Soon I had what must have been more than six pounds of berries.

At home, I froze the Cornelian cherries and Rose hips, but boiled the Elderberries with a bit of honey and water, until it reduced to about half of the full pot. Then I strained them by squeezing the berry paste in a cloth. The left over mush I spread in a pan, and dried to a sort of fruit leather consistency. I had never tried that before, but both the syrup and leather turned out amazing!!!

Have to go now, but more on this later.

Botany Club: meeting 2

The Botany Club at COA has met for the second time on Tuesday evening. We spent time learning about the greenhouse on campus and seeing all the cool plants there. We tasted some Stevia, and were quite stricken with its overwhelming sweetness. Also part of the meeting, we checked out the herbarium on campus. I mentioned that I would be more than willing to teach anyone about how to collect, press, and mount plants for the herbarium, or even for their own personal collection. I believe there are few things more fun, peaceful, and rewarding, than collecting, pressing, identifying, and mounting plants.
Attendance was great, and I am looking forward to the botanical enthusiasm new students are bringing to COA.

September 25, 2009

COA's Unofficial Botany Club

As of yesterday, the Unofficial Botany Club at College of the Atlantic has had their first meeting this fall. It is a club dedicated to fulfilling students' goals of learning about plants. Topics will include things from basic plant collection and pressing, to medicinal and edible plant uses, to botanical outings such as field trips to local bogs. I will update the blog with the cool things we end up doing.

September 16, 2009

Willow Bark?

I hope I don't make a habit out of posting only when I am sick, but yet again I have a cold. I've been
drinking various teas, but I just got some dried White Willow bark (Salix alba) from the local healthfood store. I've heard that willow bark contains Salicin, which Salicylic acid and Aspirin come from. I'm curious to see its effects on me. I was feeling a bit feverish, and now a bit better. Does that mean it worked? I will continue making tea with it, and will let you know.

September 8, 2009

Mullein Tea

Today I yet again experienced the anti-sore-throat properties of Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus). I collected quite a bunch in Missouri, and hung the leaves to dry. The underside of the bunk above mine looked like a tobacco barn with all the leaves hanging to dry!

I was feeling a little rusty in my throat today, and quickly made myself some tea. My throat felt better within an hour of drinking it. I had recently read that it is important to strain the tea through cheese cloth to prevent the hairs on the leaves from irritating your throat. I've never had that problem before, but of course now that I read it, I began to have this problem. Indeed small particles of the leaves would go down my throat and get stuck, causing an annoying irritation. I just drank some water and it went away.

I think Mullein tea has a good flavor.

September 1, 2009

First Fall Harvest

Today I harvested a bunch of Common Plantain (Plantago major) and some needles from a cut-down Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus). Last year in chemistry class we analyzed the Vitamin-C content of various foods. It turned out that one cup of White Pine-needle tea made by boiling roughly a bundle of needles one inch in diameter for a minute or so, yielded as much Vitamin-C as a 1000mg tablet. This was more than 200 times the Vitamin-C content of cheap orange juice.

I plan on saving these needles so that I can have C tea through the winter without having to collect needles early in the morning. For those that have never had pine-needle tea, it is quite a treat. Sweetened with a bit of honey, pine-needle tea has a very pleasant taste. From my experience, I have not come upon the turpentiney taste or smell commonly associated with pines.


A really good friend told me about the "Label" feature. Every plant post will have two labels. One will be "Medicinal", "Edible", etc. and the other will be the plant name. On the right side of the page, all of the labels will be listed alphabetically, and you can just click to see whichever posts contain the label you licked on.

August 30, 2009

No database

I haven't found how to do a database-type thing on blogger. That's ok though. I think I will just post things as they come up.
Also, I want encourage comments so that this blog becomes an open discussion sort of like a forum.


August 26, 2009


This is my new blog. I will be keeping this as an ongoing account of interactions with my plant buddies. My goal (if I can figure out how to do this on Blogger) is to have a database of plants that I've encountered and have anything meaningful to say about. Anything from an easy way that I've found to identify it, to my experiences using the plant medicinally, edibley, or in other ways such as making "primitive" tools.
Besides this I will also occasionally post stories about my botanical adventures. For those of you new to me, I just finished a botanical internship in the Ozark mountains of Missouri. Here is the blog that went with that:

For now I will be attempting to unearth blogger's potentials.