Tuesday, July 24, 2018


The genus name honors John Tradescant (1570-1638) and his son John Tradescant (1608-1662), botanists and successive gardeners to Charles I of England.

Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana) is native wildflower.  A herbaceous plant that grows up to three feet tall.  Noted for its three-petaled violet-blue flowers with six contrasting yellow stamens which grow in terminal clusters.  The flowers open a few at a time and for only one day.  The root system is thick, fleshy, and fibrous, sending off occasional offshoots nearby. Spidewort thrives in thickets, meadows, roadsides and woodland borders.

While the flowers are beautiful, spiderwort can take over a flower bed.  Spiderwort is difficult control because of its large root crown which provides energy for regrowth.  In small areas and hand removal is the best method of control.

Tradescantia virginiana

Additional Information

Tradescantia virginiana - Missouri Botanical Garden

Virginia Spiderwort -USDA Nation Resources Conservation Service

The Collectors: Tradescants

Spiderwort spreading and could become a hay field pest - University of Florida

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

New Pest on the Rise - Spotted Lanterfly

The Spotted Lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (White) is neither fly nor a month. The Spotted Lanternfly is a native insect of China, India and Vietnam and an invasive planthopper.  At first, the spotted lanterfly had only been found in Berks County, Pennsylvania.  Recently, individuals have been found in Virginia, New York and Delaware.

The spotted lanternfly has been reported from over 70 species of plants, including the following:
  • Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) (preferred host)
  • Apple (Malus spp.)
  • Plum, cherry, peach, apricot (Prunus spp.)
  • Grape (Vitis spp.)
  • Pine (Pinus spp.
Adults are 1 inch long and ½ inch wide at rest. The forewing is gray with black spots of varying sizes and the wing tips have black spots outlined in gray. Hind wings have contrasting patches of red and black with a white band. The legs and head are black, and the abdomen is yellow with black bands. Early immature stages are black with white spots. By the last immature stage they develop red patches in addition to the black color with white spots. This is the last immature stage before they mature into an adult.  Immature insect and adults are visually striking when the bright red of the hind wings is exposed.

Photo courtesy of Lawrence Beringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
Adult Spotted Lanternfly (bugwood.org)
Adults feed by puncturing the plant tissue to feed on sap.  The feeding damage can cause sap to run down the surface of the plant and encourages the growth of sooty mold which leaves dark streaks on the trunks of trees.
If you think you have seen or collected a Spotted Lanternfly please report it to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and the Department of Entomology at the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences by emailing slanternfly@njaes.rutgers.edu.

Additional Information

Spotted Lanterfly - New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station

Spotted Lanterfly - Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

Tree of Heaven - Invasive Exotic Plants of the Southeast - NC State University

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Winter Weeds Part 1- Annual Bluegrass

Annual bluegrass (Poa annua) is one of the most common winter weeds in the United States.  It looks similar to Kentucky bluegrass, but is a lighter shade of green and has shallower roots.  When the weather get warm, it dies off, leaving brown patches in the affected area. 

Affected Area

Keys to Identification
  • Annual bluegrass grows 2 to 8 inches tall when unmowed.
  • It is tolerant of mowing heights typical for home lawns.
  • The grass has a lighter green color (sometimes described as “apple green”) than other cool-season turfgrasses.
  • Annual bluegrass has flattened sheaths that are bent at the base and often rooted at the lower sheath joint.
  • Mature leaf blades are often rippled part way down and vary from 1 to 3 inches in length.
  • Leaf blades end with boat-shaped leaf tips.
  • The inflorescence (flowering structure) is a terminal panicle that varies from 1⁄2 to 4 inches in length.
  • The majority of annual bluegrass seedheads are formed in spring (April to June).

Annual bluegrass seed heads.
Millie Davenport, © 2010, HGIC, Clemson Extension

Ripples on leaf.
UMassAmhurst Extension Program

In small landscape beds, annual bluegrass can be hand dug or controlled with an herbicide.  It is best to prevent the spread of annual bluegrass by maintaining optimum cultural conditions and using a 3-inch mulch layer to block weed development. Once annual bluegrass has made its way into a landscape bed, an herbicide may be necessary if hand pulling or hoeing is not practical.

Whenever using pesticides, always read and follow labeled directions or have pesticides professionally applied by a licensed pesticide applicator.

Additional Information

Annual Bluegrass - University of California - IPM

Annual and Roughstalk Bluegrass Management for New Jersey Home Lawns - Rutgers University

Which is it, Annual Bluegrass or Kentucky Bluegrass? - Purdue University

Poa L. - USDA Information

Turfgrass Morphology - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County hosting “Pollinator Victory Garden” Workshop

Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County is hosting “The Pollinator Victory Garden: Winning the War on Pollinator Decline” on Wednesday, June 8 from 5:30 to p.m., rain or shine, at Rutgers Cooperative Extension, 355 Court House – South Dennis Road, Cape May Court House, New Jersey.
Participants will learn how to attract an array of pollinators, what plants they eat, how to provide them with shelter, and how to help win the war on pollinator decline.

For more information click here .