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Remember: The Coming Riparian Buffer: Part 2

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Coming Riparian Buffer: Part 2

All descriptions come from the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.



Buttonbush is a large, multi-stemmed shrub that grows to a mature height of twelve feet. It has opposite, entire leaves 2-6 inches long and 1-3 inches wide. They are glabrous and green above. The flowers occur in dense, round, 1 inch diameter clusters which bloom from June to September. The seed matures in the round clusters that resemble those of the sycamore tree. This plant spreads by seed dispersal and resulting seedling establishment.

Silky Dogwood

Silky dogwood is a large shrub, often 6-10 feet in height. The growth habit is upright rounded, but where stems are in contact with the ground, roots are formed. This behavior creates thickets. Young dogwoods have bright red stems in the fall, winter and early spring, which turn reddish-brown in the summer. As the shrub matures, the stems turn reddish-brown year-round and later gray. Silky and redosier dogwood, though very similar, can be distinguished by their pith and fruit color. Silky dogwood has a brown pith in 1-2 year old stems, dark green ovate leaves, yellowish-white flowers which bloom in mid-June, and bluish colored fruit which matures in September. Redosier dogwood has a white pith, dark green ovate leaves, white flowers, and whitish colored fruit. There are approximately 12,000 seeds per pound.

Gray Dogwood

Cornus racemosa Lam, gray dogwood, is a thickly branched, slow growing dogwood seldom more than 6 feet high at maturity. Its flowers, which bloom in June or July, are white and loosely clustered, and its white fruit, which appears in September and October, is set off by bright red fruit-stalks. Its leaves are opposite, taper-pointed and oval

Red-Osier Dogwood

General: Dogwood Family (Cornaceae). Redosier dogwood is a woody deciduous shrub generally 1.4-6 m (4.6-20 ft) tall. The bark and twigs are reddish to purple and fairly smooth from autumn to late spring; after the leaves have fallen, the deep burgundy branches add color to the winter landscape. The bark, twigs, and leaves are bright green in spring through summer. The simple, opposite leaves are 5-10 cm (2-4 in) long, dark green above and hairy and lighter-colored below, with smooth margins, rounded bases, pointed tips, and falsely parallel veins. Flowering occurs from June to August. The inflorescence is a cyme, with 2-3 mm (0.08-0.12 in) white to cream-colored flowers. The white berries are smooth on the faces, furrowed on the sides.


Winterberry is an erect moderate sized shrub, growing to heights of 5 to 15 feet tall. The smooth bark of winterberry is gray to blackish, with knobby lenticels The dense branches of this shrub grow in a zigzag pattern with an upright spreading crown. The twigs are slender, with gray to gray-brown color and small buds.
The simple, smooth, obovate to oblong-ovate foliage is sharply double toothed, with medium fine texture. The deciduous leaves are arranged alternately along the stems. Each leaf is 1 1/2 to 4 inches long, with dark green summer color turning yellow in fall, then drop off by mid-October. Small, inconspicuous, axillary, greenish to yellowish-white flowers bloom from April to July, after leaves have emerged. Like most others in the holly genus, winterberry is dioecious. Three years after planting, pistillate flowers begin to emerge in small clusters plants and staminate flowers develop on male plants with up to twelve flowers in a cluster; only now can plant gender be determined. Scarlet red to orange, globular fruit mature by late summer, often remaining on the plant into mid-winter. The berry-like fruit is about 1/4 inch in diameter, occurring singlely or in pairs, each containing 3 to 5 small nutlets. There are an average of 92,000 seeds per pound.

Common Ninebark

Native shrubs growing 1-3 meters tall, sometimes tree-like, with wide-spreading, recurved branches, the twigs brown to yellowish, glabrous; bark brown to orangish, peeling into thin strips or broader sheets on larger trunks. Leaves are deciduous, alternate, simple, ovate to obovate or nearly round, 3-12 cm long, with 3(-5) shallow, palmate-veined lobes, basally truncate or cuneate, on petioles 1-3 cm long, glabrous above and mostly so beneath but sometimes with a sparse covering of stellate hairs beneath, with crenate or dentate margins. Inflorescence of numerous flowers found in rounded clusters 2.5-5 cm wide; flowers 7-10 mm wide, calyx cup-shaped, glabrous or with stellate hairs, 5-lobed; petals 5, white or pinkish; styles 5; stamens 30-40. Fruit is compressed but inflated, ovoid, 8-12 mm long, shiny, red at maturity, glabrous or hairy, with papery but firm walls, splitting along two sides, in clusters of (2-)3-5 per flower; seeds 2-4. The common name comes from the bark, which continually molts in thin strips, each time exposing a new layer of bark, as if it had “nine lives.” This species flowers in May-July and fruits in May-July.

There are more plants and wildflowers to come, check back tomorrow for a list of them as well as a look at the area as it is now. Once the spring arrives and this buffer begins to grow, all of the plants whose long descriptions I have listed here will be photographed and documented. Stay tuned.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I planted a riparian buffer along my sidewalks and driveway, the city of Allentown made me remove them under threats of fines.

February 15, 2010 at 2:20 PM  
Anonymous Capri said...

These posts needs pictures!

February 16, 2010 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

There will be pictures, once the plants start growing. I'm building anticipation here.

February 16, 2010 at 9:39 AM  

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