Vinca plant (Invasive)
Image by Teresa Golden

Learn all about invasive plants from Kristopher Williams, Capital Region PRISM.

Episode 23: Invasive Plants (Part 1)

Join Kristopher Williams from the Capital Region PRISM to learn about invasive plants (Part 1), how they are managed, and what you can do to control their spread. Then Heidi Bock (Trekking the Trails)is back talking about the bees and butterflies you can find at the Greenport Public Conservation Area in Hudson, NY. Finally, Jean Thomas (It’s All Greek to Me) enlightens us on the history and meaning of the botanical names for popular plants like coneflower, hosta, daylily, peony and milkweed.

Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas

Guest: Kristopher Williams

Photo by: Teresa Golden

Production Support: Linda Aydlett and Teresa Golden


Invasive Plants:CAPITAL REGION PRISM - Home; Species of Concern - CAPITAL REGION PRISM ; CRISP (

Greenport Public Conservation Area (Trekking the Trails with Heidi Bock): Greenport – Columbia Land Conservancy ( ; A-2-3 Peonies.pmd (;

Botanical Names (It’s All Greek with Jean Thomas): Echinacea angustifolia (Coneflower) | North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox ( ; Hemerocallis (Day Lilies, Daylily, Day Lily) | North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox ( ; Hemerocallis fulva, Orange Daylily – Invasive Species ( ; Hosta (Hosta, Plantain Lily) | North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox ( ; A-2-3 Peonies.pmd (; Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) | North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox (

Transcript: ;

Welcome to Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. Our team's goal is to present science based information about gardening and all things nature in New York's Hudson Valley. Hosts Jean and Tim, along with team members, Teresa: and Linda, are Master Gardener Volunteers for New York's Columbia and Greene counties. So if you're interested in gardening or nature or nuggets of information about what's happening outside your door, settle in, enjoy the conversation. Whatever the season, we have something to say.

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Tim: Hi, and welcome to Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. I'm Tim Kennelty.

Jean: And I'm Jean Thomas.

Tim: Today we're starting something new from time to time, we have a guest and topic just too big to combine to our usual interview live, we decided to begin with what we call bonus episodes. These are back to back two part episodes on the same topic.

Jean: The inaugural topic is invasive plants. This interview simply couldn't be contained in one episode, and the content was too important to try to condense. We've already marked some other topics for this treatment, including things like invasive pests.

Tim: Today, our guest is Kristopher Williams, of the Capital Region PRISM, Jean.

Jean: And PRISM prism is, well there are eight sections of this throughout the entire state. And their job is to make and keep a scientific system recording all the invasive plants and animals. Today we're talking about the plant specifically.

Tim: Right and he's going to talk a little bit about the tier system which involves invasive plants that are well established and plants that are new to our area and how they prioritize those. So that should be really interesting. Expert and really knowledgeable about this. We had a great conversation with him. And also with us today's Heidi Bock. Heidi's back from the Land Conservancy, and she's going to talk about Greenport in Hudson.

Jean: Greenport public conservation.

Tim: Yeah, it's right in the heart of Hudson. And you know what they've done there. They've created this whole pollinator space, this habitat with host plants and nectar plants for pollinators.

Jean: And she uses words like lepidoptera.

Tim: I love lepidoptera. Great word, right? Yeah, it means it's the order that butterflies and moths are in. So she's gonna talk about a bunch of different butterflies and moths.

Jean: She also talks about some of the native bees you might see like mason bee,

Tim: Mason bees are cool. And so the butterfly she's going to talk about are black swallowtail and monarchs and hummingbird clearwing moths. Do you have this in your garden?

Jean: I do.

Tim: They're like the coolest right

Jean: They're in disguise.

Tim: Yeah, they kind of fade look like hummingbirds. And it's always a great sign of summer when you see.

Jean: The real trick of knowing them from hummingbirds?

Tim: What?

Jean: Count the number of legs.

Tim: And don't have too many cocktails.

Jean: Well, then you don't care.

Tim: So Jean, you also have another episode of It's All Greek to Me, right on perennials this week.

Jean: Yes. And while some people find the Latin names to be challenging, they usually describe the flower. Like echinacea is my favorite one. In this episode, we're talking about echinacea meaning like a hedgehog.

Tim: Yeah, Echinacea so look like hedgehog a little, don't they. The name means something.

Jean: But why do they call them that when there are no hedgehogs in this country?

Tim: You have to go to Europe to see the Hedgehog, right. And also, a lot of times it's about the name of the botanist or person who found that flower or plant.

Jean: Oh I love the gossip. Hosta's named after a guy named Thomas Hast.

Tim: There you go.

Jean: Before that it was named Funkia after a guy named Funk.

Tim: And I know you love gossip. So it is it's usually there's usually history behind these names. It's where the plants from, it's who found it, or it's what it looks like, right. So it's pretty logical.

Jean: It's pretty logical.

Tim: And if you can't pronounce the latin name, which is always my issue, you can even go online and listen to the pronunciation so...

Jean: Or do what I do.

Tim: What's that?

Jean: Fake it.

Tim: There is no excuse for that.

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Jean: Welcome to Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. I'm Jean Thomas.

Tim: And I'm Tim Kennelty.

Jean: Our conversation today is with Kristopher Williams, PRISM Coordinator for the Capitol Region. Welcome, Kristopher.

Kristopher: Good morning, everyone. Thank you for having me.

Jean: So for those unfamiliar with the New York State PRISM system, not prison system, can you tell us a little about its history, how it was created? What areas are covered?

Kristopher: Yeah. Let me just start by saying that the Capital Region PRISM Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management is one of eight PRISMs found throughout New York State. The PRISMs are fully funded by the New York State DEC. And each one of us has a different host in a different region. I know a little bit more locally, you guys are actually a little bit closer to the CRISP, the Catskill Regional Invasive Species PRISM which is close by but there are eight of them. And we didn't all come online at the same time. The Adirondack PRISM, APPIP, the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, it's a lot of words..

Tim: APPIP, I like that.

Kristopher: They have been around for over 20 years. And throughout time, the the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has fully funded the PRISMs and the value is tremendous, and helping protect our ecosystems across the state. On a larger scale, our state is doing fairly well at being progressive and this type of conservation management practices.

Kristopher: What is PRISM stand for>

Kristopher: The Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Mnagement.

Tim: Perfect.

Kristopher: And that's the key, is the partnership. And I think we'll talk about that today.

Tim: Yeah, absolutely. And you do a lot. I know we've worked together before and but you have a really small staff. So can you tell us kind of like what's your typical day? What's what are your responsibilities? And what key responsibilities? What do you do on a day?

Kristopher: All right, sure, Tim, first, I'd like to say that, generally speaking that most of the PRISMs, like ours have a similar structure. There's a lead coordinator, myself, typically, there's an aquatics coordinator, who handles the invasives in our waterways, and then there's a terrestrial coordinator. And then there's an educator. And that makes up the four core members of a PRISM. And then outside of that, we also hire seasonal workers, our PRISM, we have a watercraft steward inspection program, and we also bring in seasonal technicians. So in the summer, we bloom up our staff to help combat some of these issues that we have on a regional scale. So in terms of a typical day, we operate out of a strategic plan, which we have a steering committee that has helped craft that we're currently redoing our strategic plan. It's a five year plan. And then what we do out of that plan is, each year, we do an annual work plan. And we set up our work efforts, what we're doing for the year, we prioritize a lot of our work regionally in those four different baskets, like education, and outreach, we have early detection and rapid response. We have information sharing and communication and a host of other deliverables that we deliver on our contract with the New York State DEC. And so we have a nice work plan where we have that all divided out and it's based on priority, what's the most important thing that we need to address first. Our prioritization for our work plan is also guided by we have a conservation committee, we have an aquatics committee, we have a steering committee, and they're composed these committees of regional experts. And we get a lot of feedback on our work that we're going to do for the year from them. And then we implement it throughout the year.


So that's why the word partnership comes in, I guess, right, or the beginnings of the word partnership.

Kristopher: It is the beginnings, our partnership is always growing and always changing. So we have what I would call our strategic partners. These are entities that could be not for profits, private parks and preserve could even be municipalities or academic institutions that are core to the deliverables of the PRISM. Meaning they are working with us on an annual basis or a yearly basis, year after year. And then we have like informal partners who come and go that may have a small problem or are seeking advice or a consultation, or just they want an outreach event, or they would like us to help them with how to solve a problem. So we have a host of partners. We do have a partner list on our website. I think we've had like in the last five years that we've worked with over 70 different partners. But again, we have strategic partners, and we cover 11 counties. And so we have more active partners in different regions, sometimes based on population size. So it is a network and we work more intimately with certain partners than others.

Jean: Okay, so you got this little bitty team in these 11 counties and 875 partners, how do you get anything done besides going to meetings?

Kristopher: Oh, yeah, meetings. So when the actual season starts from basically May to October, it's we're out in the field and we're working with partners. In the offseason. What I like to say is early winter and late winter, it's a lot of planning and collaboration with our partners and going through and seeking out opportunities for areas that we need to address. So if we identify a problem with certain invasives on like public lands or public parks or public forest, we're addressing them through our team, and then tackling them. Where we get difficulty with managing invasives. It's on private lands. And so sometimes we reach out to people or partners, and let them know what's going on or try to assist them. And not every not every time to success, nine out of 10 times we might reach out to people. And there might be that, okay, yeah, I'm interested. But it's not really something that I want to get involved with, because I don't have the time or resources. But other times you do have people that are very invested. And so when you find that your work plan in your prioritizations of your work, plan, align with other people, it's a win, it works. So there's a lot of collaboration and planning going in the offseason, and then delivering on those items for early identification or control measures in the actual season.

Tim: And you've been banding around the word invasives, and we do too, can you give us you'd like your definition of what an invasive species is?

Kristopher: There's a lot to this. First off, non-native plants are non-native animals that cause harm to the environment, harm to human health or our economy, are considered invasive species. The other component is that not all invasives are created equally. And the New York State has delineated through prohibited and regulated species that are all high threat. These have had biological assessments that are plants or animals that are really aggressive. So we focus on those,. There are other invasives that they're just not as aggressive. You know, they might be ranked with a threat ranking, as we call it, that they're moderate or low level concern, and they don't cause that much damage. They're still invasive, but they're not what we'd call the high threat.

Tim: Can you give us examples of those two categories?

Kristopher: I'll go with an aquatic species, Eurasian water milfoil that has a threat ranking a biological, non-native plant assessment of it's in the upper 90s. Okay, so it's a really, really aggressive plant. It's found in almost a whole water bodies in New York. And it kind of just lives in that you know, the littoral zone, where the light can penetrate into the surface of the water, and it pushes out the native flora and fauna. On the terrestrial side, people know what Kudzu is. Kudzu is not really found up north, but it can be found in the southern part of the state, it's a really aggressive plant high threat, that would have a score in the upper 90s, almost to 100. And then we have this little plant called periwinkle or Vinca, right, which is also invasive that has a moderate level threat ranking of around 50. And the two plants are much different. Kudzu can spread by seed, it's really aggressive. It grows fast, outcompetes the natives, it's just a really aggressive plant. Where periwinkle, it doesn't seed, so it doesn't spread.It doesn't have that distribution dispersibility as fast, so it's not much of a threat. So they are ranked in terms of their threat. And that's how we, that's one of the ways that we manage these plants is we try to go for the high threat species first. But the second part is, we can't get every plant. So we rank them into these tiers. And what I mean by tiers is, if it's common and widespread, we're going to label that invasive plant as a tier four plant, meaning that they're found all over the state, every ecological niche, you can imagine, think of all common read the Phragmites. You see on the three, tier four plant highly aggressive, high threat found everywhere, it would be cost prohibitive for us to try and manage that plant, you know, we could tackle it, it's probably going to come back because it's across the road on the other side. It's all over the state.

Tim: So for a plant like that it's a lower priority, because it's just ubiquitous. Is that what you're saying?

Kristopher: Yeah, and one of the ways we treat tier four plants, not that they're not manageable, is instead of thinking them as like, let's eradicate this from the continent or from the state or from the region. It's more of a suppression, or an exclusion, especially if it's encroaching on a habitat that has endangered species, species of concern or critical habitat we're trying to protect. And we actually manage a population of phragmites. With Moreau State Park, there's a beautiful little pristine lake called Lake Bonita. And there's a little patch of it no more than 10 by 10 square feet. And it's not found anywhere else in that region. So it was easy enough for us to manage to exclude and remove it from that ecologically sensitive parcel. But on the background like across the state, it's not it's not wise to get into that type of work with a tier four plant, right?

Jean: Okay, so a tier four plant has 100 grade, it's perfect.

Tim: Not perfect.

Jean: As an invader it is. Now the Vinca is 50, it's half as threatening. Why is Vinca, which is very pretty. I'm sorry,..

Tim: Jean always thinks invasives are pretty.

Jean: I'm always seduced by the pretty ones, why is it that's invasive? Why is it dangerous?

Kristopher: So it has a lower threat ranking. And it is found to everywhere. So it's a tier four plant, it's found everywhere, but it has a lower threat ranking. And it just doesn't have that same level of aggressiveness. It's not, doesn't seed so it doesn't spread by like birds eating the seeds, and then you know, defecating them all over the place. And it's not seeding, so they're not getting into the waterways. So most of the time Vinca escapes from intentional plantings. And what I've seen in my own experience is, you might have like an old homestead where it was planted like 40 50, 60 years ago, and it's spread into the forest and naturalized into the forest. And it takes up like, you know, 10 or 15 acres. The problem is that it shades out the understory seedlings of the trees that you want to regenerate. But again, it's on such a small scale, it takes decades to get these larger populations. It's just not as high a threat. So we wouldn't prioritize that. Now, if we were working in an area with another species that was high threat. And something we call a tier two species. I might remove that if it was in the same area. But again, not the highest threat, not the greatest risk.

Tim: Though, as a listener. I mean, I'm sure there's people who have Vinca in their garden, I do, would you recommend removing it or trying to remove it.

Kristopher: So as a conservationist that's fighting invasive species, I always recommend for the removal of non native species and planting natives. So in my yard or with a homeowner, I actually will tell them that you might want to if I can convince them to stop the ornamentals, and they have their place and there's nothing wrong with ornamentals, it's just that there needs to be that awareness. Like, okay, if I'm bringing in a non-native plant, does it have the likelihood to become invasive? And if so, maybe that's something I shouldn't use, right? Then what do you do when you have invasives? And you realize that it's on your property, you might want to consider, okay, time energy effort, what can I do? Are there more aggressive plants that I need to look at before I get rid of the Vinca? Or maybe I have all the resources? And yeah, I can I can get rid of this Vinca. And I think what happens sometimes is people don't realize they, they'll go out and do some weeding, they'll remove a plant, and then it comes back the next season. Well, I tried. Well, that's not how that works. It's a basic maintenance schedule, it sometimes takes two or three seasons of actively, four or five, six times a year trying to pull, grub and remove these plants. So there's an investment there, and I would recommend yes to a homeowner, you might want to think about some different ground cover.

Tim: But back to me, me, me, so if I if I had bush honeysuckle, and Autumn all of and Vinca, you'd probably be recommending that I get rid of the first two, right? As much as possible.

Kristopher: Yes.,

Tim: Yeah. Because they're there, they spread much more rapidly. They're probably more destructive. Right? So you're basically making prioritizations. And you're on property as well.

Kristopher: Yeah. And that's a really good conservation term to use is how do I prioritize my work efforts, and you have to have justifications on what you're doing. And I think the worst mistake for homeowners, they go out and they recognize they have that actualization, that oh, maybe all these invasive plants that I have on my property aren't good. And I should start to remove them because it's hard from a social perspective, that people love that burning bush. They love the little Vinca it's a cute plant. I agree. I mean, a lot of the ornamental invasives are here because they're, they're one they're very showy.

Tim: Right, like Japanese knotweed. Right. It was beautiful. That's why people brought it here, right?

Kristopher: Yeah, the flowers, people like that. And in a lot of these other invasive plants, they tend to have the ability to be very showy. They're early bloomers. They're resistant to drought. They're resistant to too much water there there generalist over really poor sight condition.

Tim: That sounds so good, doesn't it? That's why Jean likes them. Right. Yeah. Yeah, but they're bad. They're really bad. Right? Yeah.

Kristopher: And I think it's really hard from the homeowners perspective, to realize like, well, I have my burning bush here that when you want to miss, it has beautiful fall colors, but people don't realize if they're not getting deep into the environment, and you go out into that forest habitat and you see 10, 15 acres of winged euonymus, the burning bush growing, they don't make that connection that it's a problem.

Tim: A problem because it's not, it's not really supporting any insects or birds or anything else, because it's not from here, right.

Kristopher: Oh, this is a great opportunity. Thanks, Tim, for bringing this up. So I'm assuming a lot of people that are gonna be listening this podcast are probably gardeners. You're right. Let me just start with saying that these plants are not native to this continent. So they haven't co evolved with all the flora and fauna over millennia. And so you'll get your local like insects or arthropods. They might climb on that plant, they might nibble on it. But they don't really they don't really use it. You know, I've done some reading where some of the insects might not have the digestive enzymes to break down some of the chemical components in these plants, the pollinators, especially the pollinators, it's the same situation. They just don't know how to react to the plant, they don't recognize the flower or the fluorescence, they may not have the ability to really get a good nutritional meal off of it in some cases. From my perspective, I have a nice little lot that is surrounded by forever wild property. And I have native gardens that I have planted on my property. There are some ornamentals, they are not invasive. But it is like the tale of two cities. When I sit out there and my garden, and I have my tea, my coffee in the morning, I love doing that, especially with these longer daylight hours, right. We're all hungry for that.

Tim: And looking for the pollinators.

Kristopher: Yeah, so we go out, I go outside, and I sit down, and I'll watch these plants bloom, the native plants that I've put into the my gardens. And then next time I'll see these ornamental species I have, and I can literally see a plethora of different species, dozens and dozens of different bees, mimics, and other arthropods, butterflies on the native plants. And then right next to it, I might see them land on the flower to an ornamental, they might check it out for two or three seconds, but there's only one or two on there. And it's side by side. And you can see the it's a very concrete observation, to see the ecological function that native plants provide. Versus ornamentals.

Tim: If you plan it, they will come right kind of that's what I always say.

Jean: And you don't just see the difference. You hear it?

Tim: Yeah, yeah.

Jean: My garden sings to me. It's great.

Tim: And so I know you come on our podcasts and talk about this, which is great. But I assume you have education programs, because what you're saying makes total sense. And I always say like, you can make a difference as a gardener. If you're thoughtful and think about what you're planting, you can absolutely make a difference. And in collectively we can make a difference. So so how do we get the word out on something like that?

Kristopher: Well, there's a couple of things. Our education outreach program, we do focus on certain things. We do Master Gardener trainings, quite often we do Master Forest Owner. But we also have calls to action from people in the public. And we'll honor those requests. And sometimes it's simple things like tabling events or county fairs. We do also programming, we host events, sometimes we co host events. We're currently starting to get booked up. So at this point, any new buddy that comes on I try to encourage them to do it on their own.

Tim: Kristopher, thanks so much for joining us today to share your knowledge about this important topic. We hope you'll join us again soon to talk about invasive pests like spotted lantern fly that we haven't talked about today.

Jean: Thank you.

Kristopher: Thank you very much.

You're listening to Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley.

Stay tuned for Trekking the Trails.

Heidi: Welcome back to Trekking the Trails. I'm Heidi Bock, Director of Land Stewardship and Community Partnerships with the Columbia Land Conservancy. This month we'll be visiting Greenport Conservation Area, a 700 acre property on Jocelyn Boulevard in Greenport, just outside the City of Hudson. This site has nearly eight miles of trail and takes you through open meadows and mixed forests to find stunning Hudson River and Catskill views. For this trek will stay along the Access for All Trail, which is about one mile of packed stone, and we will go by an enclosed pollinator habitat restoration project and out into a meadow where we'll look for some of the pollinators that depend on the native plants that grow here. We will link to some great identification resources for you in the show notes.

Heidi: To start we're going to look for the black swallowtail. This is a fairly common large butterfly that is mostly black from above, and has a yellow band that parallels a row of yellow spots along the edge of their wings. They can have up to a four inch wingspan and are often found visiting a wide range of flowers, including milkweed, clover and thistle. Their caterpillars favorite members of the carrot family, including Queen Anne's Lace, Wild Parsnip and Angelica. Next we'll move on to the monarch butterfly. These familiar large orange and black butterflies are the mascot for the Greenport Conservation area. They can have up to four inch wingspan and can be found visiting most flowers found here, including the asters and golden rods. While commonly seen as butterflies, their caterpillars only feed on milkweed which has become a challenge with habitat loss along their migration route.

Heidi: Next we'll move on to Mason bees. These are small solitary bees and are very important pollinators. They get their name from the way in which they construct their nests in hollow plant stems, cavities or dead wood. They seal off the cells where they lay their eggs with a mortar like application of mud. There are 25 species of these small energetic bees in New York State. They are small to medium in size, typically metallic blue or blue black in color with a relatively large head. They are a very effective pollinator with two or three females pollinating a mature apple tree. And they don't sting.

Heidi: Next we have hummingbird clearwing moths. These are rather large moths that are often mistaken for tiny hummingbirds. As their name implies, they feed on the nectar of flowers and in flight, their wings create a soft buzzing, similar to a hummingbird. They are about one to one and a half inches long, with a heavy body that is olive green on the back and a red, brown abdomen. They have long front wings that are clear with a black or brown border. You'll often find them feeding on monarda.

Heidi: All of these pollinators need nectar, and it is important to have a variety for them to choose from if you want to attract them at home. For more than 30 years, the Columbia Land Conservancy has worked to inspire our community to more deeply connect with respect and protect the natural world. We collaborate with partners and volunteers to improve the health of the land, ensure a thriving farm economy, create environmental education opportunities, provide access to the outdoors and support municipal leaders and conservation minded decision making. To learn more visit CLC or find us on Facebook and Instagram.

You're listening to Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley.

Stay tuned for It's all Greek to Me.

Jean: Hello, I'm Jean Thomas. Welcome to It's All Greek to Me. Today I'm going to take a look at some of our most beloved garden perennials. Let's go in alphabetical order in Latin. So, echinacea leads the parade today. The most commonly known of the nine species is the Echinacea Purpurea or Purple coneflower, which by the way, has been hybridized into a multitude of other colors. We already know that purpura means purple, but the genus name echinacea means like a hedgehog, because the spiny seed heads that make up the cone supposedly look like a hedgehog. At first I thought it was a bad choice in names because naming a plant native to North America after an animal not native to North America seemed, well, silly. But then I looked up the Latin name for porcupine, the closest native animal to a hedgehog name. The name might have turned out to be Arizona Purpurea, so maybe we're okay in the first place.

Jean: Next is Hemerocallis. Literally translated from the Greek as beauty, callus, for a day, hemera. This is the fancy name for a familiar day lily which name echoes the fact that each flower on the plant blooms for only a single day. lists 20 species of day lily. They hybridize easily so there are 1000s of varieties. The common roadside daylily, aka ditch lily is Hemerocallis fulva, fulva meaning orangey red or tawny. This Asian invader plant is beautiful in big masses alongside the road and one of the easiest plants to grow in almost any conditions. This plant also inspires one of my pet peeves. This roadside flower is not a Tiger Lily, although lots of people call it that. I wouldn't mind except there is an actual Tiger Lily which is a true Lily growing from a bulb and it's one of my very favorites among the lilies.

Jean: Our next familiar garden friend is the Hosta This is another plant that's easy to hybridize. So it has 1000s of varieties developed in its 70 species. In 1812, the genus was named in honor of Thomas Nicholaus Houst, an Austrian botanist. Then, in 1817, somebody else renamed the plant funkia, in honor of Heinrich Christian Funk, a Prussian botanist. Then in 1905, the International botanical Congress reinstated the Hosta name. You may still hear some traditionalists referred to funkia but more often in Europe than the States.

Jean: The next beauty in our parade of flowers is the wonderful peony. The Chinese have been cultivating the peony for over 4,000 years and it name means queen of flowers in Chinese. And there are many Chinese legends about an empress who gave the flower its name. There is a Greek legend referring to the word peony. Sometimes it's spelled in the old fashioned way p-a-e-o-n-y, which may account for some folks calling it piney. The plant has always been known for its medicinal properties. So when the Greek god Pan, physician to the gods, cured Pluto and got all kinds of praise, he became the target of his mentor, Asclepias who was jealous, so Zeus rescued him by turning him into a peony flower. This is the one I like best. Although there's another one where a nymph named Peonia got turned into a flower, by Aphrodite, out of spite when Apollo took an interest. We gardeners got the best of the deal though. Peony's is one of the most beautiful and long lived of all the garden flowers.

Jean: Oh, here's an aside. I know some of you will have noticed the name Asclepias from the story. This is the name given the milkweed plant by Linnaeus to honor the Greek god of healing. The genus includes the Common Milkweed Asclepias syriaca, as well as several other butterfly weeds. And Linnaeus goofed when he gave it the species name Syriaca because he thought the plant only came from Syria, but it's native to the Americas as well as Africa. Of the 73 species of milkweed, in North America, monarchs use about thirty. Well, that's about all I have time for today. Next time we'll talk about Phlox and Rudbeckia both prairie natives.

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That concludes another episode of Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. We'd like to thank Sandra Linnell and Devin Connolly from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene counties for production support. And a special thank you to our listeners for joining us on this episode of Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. You can find links to any of the topics mentioned in this episode at our website at Comments and suggestions for future topics may be directed to us at or on the CCE Master Gardener Volunteers of Columbia and Greene County's Facebook page. For more information about Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene counties, visit our website at CCE Columbia or visit us in Hudson or in Acra. Cornell Cooperative Extension provides equal programming and employment opportunities.

Last updated June 30, 2022