The Deadliest Plant In North America

In 1992, a 23-year-old man and his 39-year-old brother were foraging for wild ginseng in Maine.  The younger brother harvested several plants from a swampy area and took three bites from the root of one plant.  The older brother took one bite from the same root.

Within three hours, the younger brother died.  The older brother lived, though not without experiencing seizures and delirium.

The offending plant, of course, was not wild ginseng.  It was water hemlock (Cicuta maculata). 

Water hemlock is considered the most toxic plant in North America.  Some sources even consider water hemlock to be the most toxic plant in the Northern Hemisphere.

As it turns out, water hemlock is not a single species.  Water hemlock represents multiple species that all contain a potent toxin.  This toxin disrupts the central nervous system and can lead to death if prompt treatment isn’t given.

I recently spent some time in the presence of two water hemlock species.  If you’re interested in learning how to identify these deadly plants, check out the new video!

Thanks for reading and watching, and thank you for your continued support!

-Adam Haritan

Is This Invasive Plant Killing Wetlands?

Menace.  Monster.  Barbarian.  Scourge.  Thug.  Outlaw.  Killer.

All these terms have been used in one publication or another to describe a single species whose common name is a bit less provocative.

Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria).

This showy plant was introduced to North America from Europe in the early 1800s.  Since then, purple loosestrife has spread itself far and wide across the North American continent.

Today, purple loosestrife is considered a noxious weed throughout many parts of North America.  The International Union for Conservation of Nature even lists purple loosestrife as one of the 100 worst invasive alien species in the world.

But not everyone agrees that this “purple menace” is a serious threat. 

Some researchers think that the problems associated with purple loosestrife invasion are exaggerated.  Some researchers even think that purple loosestrife invasion is associated with positive effects in North America.

Who are we to believe?  How can people be so divided over a single plant?  What does the research really say?  Is purple loosestrife a serious ecological threat or not? 

We explore the topic of purple loosestrife invasion in a brand new video.  If you are interested in learning more about this purported wetland killer, check it out!

Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!

-Adam Haritan

Foraging Wineberries — Delicious Wild Edible Fruits

What would summer be without a trip to the local berry patch?

In my neck of the woods and fields, it wouldn’t be summer at all.

Some of nature’s tastiest fruits — black raspberries, red raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries — ripen during the warmest days of the year.  A perfectly timed visit to a prime location can yield a berry bonanza.

One such prime location includes sunny openings within rich woods.  It is here where a particular kind of raspberry grows.  Known as wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius), this semi-recent newcomer to the North American continent produces delicious edible fruits that taste like tangy red raspberries.

During my latest visit to a local wineberry patch, I filmed a video in which I discuss the factors that contribute to the success of wineberry in North America, as well as tips for locating wild populations.

If you are interested in harvesting wineberries this year, check out the brand new video!

I was a recent guest on the WildFed Podcast hosted by Daniel Vitalis.  In this conversation, we chat about my favorite topic as of late:  trees.  You can listen to the interview through one of the following links:

Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!

-Adam Haritan

Wild Chamomile (Pineapple Weed) Keto Muffins w/ Cream Cheese Filling — Gather Victoria

OH, MY GODDESS – you’ve got to make these Wild Chamomile/ Pineapple Weed muffins! Their unique aromatic flavor ( a cross between zingy pineapple and soothing chamomile) just permeates these moist fragrant muffins which are made doubly scrumptious by the cream cheese filling. These are one of my favorite summer treats and my poor pre-diabetic…

Wild Chamomile (Pineapple Weed) Keto Muffins w/ Cream Cheese Filling — Gather Victoria

Learn To Identify 100 Trees In All Seasons

Greetings,

I am very excited to announce that registration for my brand new online course will be open on Monday, May 23rd.

Trees In All Seasons is a four-season online video course designed to help you successfully identify over 100 trees in every season — spring, summer, fall, and winter.  Additional topics that are featured in this course include tree ecology, physiology, anatomy, and taxonomy.

This course is presented entirely online and it features over 75 exclusive videos that lay the groundwork for successful tree identification.  If you are interested in identifying trees but are finding it difficult to learn through field guides and apps, consider enrolling as a student in Trees In All Seasons.  

Please note:  Trees In All Seasons will be open for registration for two weeks only from Monday, May 23rd to Monday, June 6th.  Upon registration, you have immediate access to all course content and you can watch the videos at your own pace.

To register for Trees In All Seasons, mark your calendar for Monday, May 23rd and visit this link.

All additional information (including course structure, outline, and cost) will be posted on Monday.

My good friend Aaron Watson recently invited me on to his podcast to discuss my work with Trees In All Seasons and Learn Your Land.  To learn more about the course, as well as my motives in creating the course, check out the recent interview:
Part 1
Part 2

I look forward to seeing you on Monday!
-Adam Haritan

How Do I Deal With Ticks?

Greetings,

Before I share a new video with you, I want to provide some exciting news regarding the upcoming online tree identification course. 

After many years of diligent work, I’m happy to announce that the brand new course — Trees In All Seasons — will be released in May.  This online video course is designed to teach students how to confidently and successfully identify over 100 trees in every season — spring, summer, fall, and winter.  Additional topics that are featured in this course include taxonomy, ecology, physiology, and general natural history.

If you are interested in identifying trees but are finding it difficult to learn through field guides and apps, consider enrolling in Trees In All Seasons this May.  To receive updates regarding the initial release of the course, simply remain a subscriber to this newsletter.

And now on to the brand new video…

It’s no secret that I spend a lot of time in the woods.  It’s also no secret that the woods in which I spend my time harbor some of the most reviled organisms on Earth.

Ticks.

Because I share many of my outdoor adventures on video, and because I live in a state (Pennsylvania) whose Lyme disease cases are extraordinarily high, people naturally want to know how I deal with ticks. 

What precautions do I take?  What repellents do I recommend?  How much duct tape do I wrap around my socks?  What does diet have to do with all of this?

Questions regarding ticks are among the most common questions that I receive.  To compile my thoughts and concerns, I decided to film a video in which I discuss my 6-part strategy.

To learn how I deal with ticks, check out the brand new video!

In addition to harboring ticks, the woods in which I spend my time are home to beautiful wildflowers.  Pictured here are 15 wildflowers that blossom during the early weeks of spring in the northeastern United States.  Have you seen any of these flowers recently?  To view a larger image, check out the latest Instagram post.

Click to view post

Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!

-Adam Haritan

Dianthus – Herb of the Month – A Plant of Beauty and Meaning

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Maryann Readal

Photo of pinks, Dianthus caryophyllusDianthus is The Herb Society’s Herb of the Month for April. The timing is perfect as the weather is beginning to be spring-like, and these plants are now available in our garden shops. The Greek botanist, Theophrastus (371-287 BCE), is credited with giving these flowers their name. He combined the Greek word for dios, “divine,” with anthos, “flower” and came up with dianthus.Dianthus have been cultivated and bred for over 2,000 years, and many different colors and flower types have been developed along the way. With successive breeding, however, many of the cultivars have lost their native clove-like scent. 

The old-fashioned plant that our grandmothers called pinks, Dianthus plumarius, can be a perennial or an annual. It is a compact, evergreen, clove-scented, low-growing species of Dianthus. Like other Dianthus, it prefers an alkaline soil and plenty of sun. The perennial variety blooms later…

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National Herb Garden Announces Internship Opening for 2022-2023!

The Herb Society of America Blog

Whole View NHG 2006Are you interested in learning more about the herbal uses of plants from around the world? Are you ready to challenge your horticultural skills in a public garden setting? Are you enthusiastic about sharing that knowledge with people? Then, consider joining our team!

The National Herb Garden, located on the grounds of the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, DC, is looking to hire an intern to assist with all gardening tasks, including plant propagation, record keeping, and educational programming. This internship runs from April/May 2022 through spring of 2023. It is full-time, but part-time may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Schedule includes one weekend day August through October; the rest of the year, it is Monday through Friday. The position is open to U.S. citizens and is paid by stipend through The Herb Society of America. Housing is not provided. If you, or someone you know, is…

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HSA Webinar: Tea Gardening with Camellia sinensis

The Herb Society of America Blog

by Christine Parks

White flower and 2 green leaves in a white tea cup with a blue border, on a dark blue tableclothMany gardeners are surprised to learn that Camellia sinensis is the most popular camellia in the world. And most tea drinkers in the U.S. have no idea that tea is made from the leaves of a camellia. Like them, I enjoyed tea for decades without giving a second thought to its origin. All I knew was that Golden-tips came from Assam, Genmaicha from Japan, and Red Rose Tea from the grocery store. I got my daily dose of caffeine from coffee and drank as much herbal tea (tisanes) as traditional caffeinated teas. Flash forward 25 years, I’ve given up on coffee and become intimately involved with tea – a relationship grown, both literally and figuratively, through gardening.

Much has been written about herbal tea gardening. I have several of these books, along with various texts on herbal medicines, and an older favorite from my grandmother’s bookshelf, The…

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Know Your Tarragon – The Herb of the Month

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Maryann Readal

French tarragon in a potIt pays to pay attention to plant labels. Especially in the case of tarragon–especially if you are planning to use tarragon in your cooking. If you are growing tarragon for culinary purposes, be sure the label on the plant or seed that you buy says “French tarragon” or Artemisia dracunculus ‘Sativa’, to be sure. If the label says only “tarragon,” you may be purchasing Russian tarragon, which is not the tarragon you want for your roast chicken or béarnaise sauce. 

Tarragon, Artemisia dracunculus, is The Herb Society of America’s Herb of the Month for March. Read on for more information about the plants we call tarragon.

French tarragon — Artemisia dracunculus ‘Sativa’    

The botanical name for tarragon, Artemisia dracunculus, comes from the Latin word meaning “little dragon” or “snake.” It is thought that the plant was given this name because its roots…

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