Thursday, October 22, 2015

Nominate a Naturalist!

Nominate a Naturalist!*

"Thomas Say Awards Program 2016
Being an American naturalist during the eighteenth and nineteenth century required skill, intelligence, determination, support, and some luck. Self-taught naturalist Thomas Say (1787-1834), who identified more than 1,500 species of insects and animals unique to North America (including the coyote), was one of these brave naturalists who helped blaze a trail for future naturalists. This award program is named in his honor, as are numerous species such as Say's phoebe, Sayornis saya. He represents innovation, commitment, and a passion to contribute to science.

In the fourth year of this awards program, we strive to honor naturalists who have demonstrated the highest accomplishments of our profession and have inspired greater understanding, awareness, and stewardship of our natural resources. Nominees have to be NAI Interpretive Naturalist Section members. It does take a little time to prepare a good nomination and put it together with accurate information and clear details. However, the results last a lifetime. 

These awards of excellence not only provide much deserved recognition for our fellow section members, but they also bring to the attention of administrators that they have outstanding employees, whose abilities and talents are recognized by other outside professional individuals and organizations. And, at times, it helps sway agencies and their budgets to be able to send these award recipients to the conference to receive the award in front of their peers.

It is now YOUR turn to make the effort and nominate someone (or something). The awards for will be given during the section meeting at the NAI national conference in Corpus Christi, Texas, November 8-12, 2016

The award nomination information can be found at You don't have to wait until the deadline, which is July 1, 2016, send to Awards Chair Lori Spencer,  You can nominate someone or something today!"

*from the NAI Interpretive Naturalist Section publication The Naturalist

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Beech Drops (Epifagus virginiana)

Beech Drops (photo by Stan Malcolm, available at 

Plant Profile.− This month’s plant profile in a parasitic plant called Beech Drops (Epifagus virginiana). Beech Drops clump around beech trees, grow about six inches high, and look dead. They look dead because they lack leaves and chlorophyll, but luckily for Beech Drops, they do not need to make their own food because they can get nutrients and carbohydrates from the roots of Beech trees (Fagus grandifolia).

Beech Drops may not look impressive at first, but if you look closely you’ll find tiny pink flowers. The flowers near the base of the stem seem closed up tight. These flowers are known as cleistogamous and they are self-fertilizing. The flowers near the top of the plan are open. These flowers are chasmogamous and are fertilized by nearby plants. A recent study suggests that those chasmogamous flowers may actually be pollinated by ants!

While Beech Drops are fascinating in their own right, they also have been used medicinally for thousands of years. American Indians would steep the whole plant in hot water to great a tea to treat diarrhea, dysentery, mouth sores and a variety of other complaints. Some people have even used the plant as a poultice to treat wounds and arrest the on-set of gangrene.

Beech Drops are found across the eastern United States and Canada. They are also found in all three provinces of North Carolina, from the mountains to the coast.