Word of the Week: Lichen

lichen [ lahy-kuhn ] noun: a complex life form that is a symbiotic union of two separate life forms, a fungus and an alga


A variety of crustose and foliose lichens colonize the trunk and branches of Amelanchier arborea (downy serviceberry) in the Sunny Garden in Bon Air Park, Arlington, Virginia. In this case, their presence was symptomatic of an unhealthy tree that was later removed.
Photo © Mary Free

There are about 3,600 known species of lichens in North America. A lichen anchors itself to a substrate like a rock or tree with mostly non-penetrating fungal filaments called rhizines or a central peg-like extension from its thallus (body) called a holdfast. Lichens appear on healthy trees, but also can be symptomatic of a tree under stress or in decline when other signs such as dying foliage are present. Continue reading

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FERN: Dryopteris marginalis (Marginal Wood Fern)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

New Fact Sheet!

Found in woodlands and on rocky slopes and ledges, evergreen Marginal Wood Fern provides year round interest. It is monomorphic so its fronds are virtually the same size and shape, whether or not their undersides bear sori, the spore-producing receptacles. Sori placement along the pinnule margins give rise to the species epithet and common name.

Learn more . . .

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Building Your Soil

Climate-Conscious Gardening

Join Master Gardeners in the Arlington/Alexandria unit of Virginia Cooperative Extension in a series of monthly articles in 2021 as we explore the topic of climate change and practical actions individuals can take in their home landscapes in response. 

By Elaine Mills, Extension Master Gardener

In February, we discussed garden practices that could directly help to mitigate the effects of climate change. This month, we consider a set of adaptive strategies that gardeners can take to improve their soil.

According to Dr. Sara Via, Climate Extension Specialist at the University of Maryland, maintaining the health of our soil is the primary strategy for climate resilience. As the second largest ecosystem after the world’s oceans, soil not only provides physical support of our plants, but also is crucial in the cycling of water and nutrients. In addition, it provides habitat for a multitude of living things, including beneficial microbes that develop special relationships with plants. Continue reading

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Between the Rows – March 2021 Edition

Welcome Veggie Gardeners!
Check out the March 2021 edition of BTR!

  • March To-Do List
  • Now is the time to plant your cool weather garden.
  • Friends of Urban Agriculture 2021 Spring Garden Kickoff
  • Beating the Bugs: Pests of Cool Season Plants: Lettuce, Radish, Leafy Greens
  • News from the  Organic Vegetable Garden 
Illustration © Melissa Joskow

Previous garden guides are available at Between the Rows.

VCE and MGNV support local gardeners with a host of resources, including free classes, plant clinics and this newsletter.

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TREE: Acer rubrum (Red Maple)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

The Red Maple tolerates the widest variety of soil conditions of any North American forest species.  Its leaves turn brilliant scarlet, orange, and yellow in the fall, making it a popular ornamental tree. Learn more  . . .

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