ISSN 1188-603X

No. 378 April 25, 2007 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2


From: Paul M. Catling, Biodiversity, National Program on Environmental Health, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Wm. Saunders Bldg., Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0C6 [ ]

Weeping forsythia, Forsythia suspensa (Thunb.) Vahl was found established without planting in three natural areas and in a vacant lot, all in the vicinity of Port Credit, Peel County, Ontario. These are the first records of this shrub growing without cultivation in Canada. A specimen voucher in Agriculture and Agri-food Canada collection in Ottawa (DAO) bears the following information: Rattray Marsh, W of Port Credit, 43.5140° N, 79.6086° W, 1 Jan. 2006, P.M. Catling s.n.

Also called Golden Bells, this early-blooming, yellow-flowered shrub is attractive, easy to grow and easy to propagate. As well as being a popular horticultural plant it is widely employed as a medicinal herb in China, where the fruits are known as the drug Lian-qiao, the same name being applied to the plant. It is used as a broad-spectrum antibiotic to treat fevers, urinary tract infections, and inflammatory conditions.

Weeping Forsythia is native to China. It was first described as Ligustrum suspensum by the Swedish botanist, Carl Peter Thunberg, in 1780. The name was transferred to the genus Forsythia (commemorating Scottish botanist William Forsyth (1737—1804), by the Danish botanist Martin Vahl (1749 — 1804) in 1804. The genus Forsythia (olive family - Oleaceae) contains 11 species, most of which occur in eastern Asia with six native to China (Mei-Chen et al. 1996) and one species from Albania in southeastern Europe. In Canada and most of the United States, the most frequently cultivated species of Forsythia are Green- stem Forsythia (also called Golden Bells, F. viridissima Lindl.) and its hybrid with F. suspensa called Border Forsythia (F. x intermedia Zabel). The three taxa mentioned above occur throughout the United States and Canada as cultivated plants. The only species of Forsythia known as an escape in Canada is Forsythia viridissima which has escaped in Ontario (Catling 1997, Newmaster et al. 1998, Kartesz & Meachum 1999).

Since the widely planted Forsythia x intermedia is a sterile hybrid, it does not escape. Weeping forsythia on the other hand has arching or pendulous branches that root at tips when they touch the ground. As a result it can spread locally without pollination or seed production. It is more likely to be spread through dumping of garden waste than many other invasive horticultural shrubs. Although it has some characteristics that make it a potentially dangerous as an invasive of natural habitats, it is conspicuous and thus more readily controlled. Since it is said to be attractive as browse to white-tailed deer, there may be some level of control where deer are present.

Although not previously reported as naturalized in Canada, it is naturalized in Illinois (McClain & Ebinger 1995). Weeping Forsythia is cold hardy north to zone 5b (see ) which includes much of the Carolinian zone of southern Ontario and also occurs over much of Nova Scotia and in southern British Columbia.

At all of the Ontario locations, young plants were developing from tips of branches of older plants but this was much more prevalent with some plants than others. Over 20 plants had developed from a single shrub on a vacant lot. In the wooded ravines in the region of Port Credit where Weeping Forsythia was found, the natural forest is largely Red Oak and White Pine with an understory of Witch Hazel. Although commonly cultivated and sometimes planted in natural areas, it is rare outside of gardens and only a few escaped plants have been observed at any location. Consequently it is not a problem in terms of competition with native vegetation at these sites, unlike several alien invasive woody plants and vines (including Acer ginnala Maxim., Euonymus alatus Sieb., Euonymus fortunei (Turcz.) Hand.-Mazz. var. radicans (Sieb ex Mic.) Rehd., Frangula alnus P. Mill., Hedera helix L., Ligustrum vulgare L., Lonicera tatarica L., Rhamnus cathartica L., and Viburnum lantana L.) that have invaded the same ravines and are displacing native plant species.

The green (when young) or pale brown (when older) branches have distinctive raised lenticels (small bumps) and opposite leaves. A key and nomenclatural summary follows.

KEY TO SPECIES (derived from Bailey 1949 and Rehder 1937)

1a. Branches hollow between the nodes ........ F. suspensa
1b. Branches with pith .................................... 2

2a. Leaves simple; branches upright ........ F. viridissima
2b. Leaves simple or three-lobed; branches upright or arching 
    ....................................... F. x intermedia


Forsythia suspensa (Thunb.) Vahl, Enum. Pl. 1: 39. 1804.

Ligustrum suspensum Thunb., Nova Acta Soc. Scientiarum Upsaliensis 3: 209. 1780.
Syringa suspensa (Thunb.) Thunb., Syst. Veg. (Ed. 14) 57. 1784
Forsythia fortunei Lindl., Gardener’s Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette 1864: 412. 1864.
Forsythia sieboldii Dipp., Handb. Laubholzk. I 109 fig. 63. 1889.
Rangium suspensum (Thunb.) Ohwi, Acta Phytotax.Geobot. 1 (2): 140. 1932.

A number of forms and varieties have been described. The most distinctive of these is f. pubescens Rehder (Plantae Wilsonianae 1(2): 302. 1912) which has the young bracts and leaves pubescent. Others include: var. variegata Butz (f. aureo-variegata Koehne.) with leaves variegated with yellow; var. decipiens Koehne with solitary deep yellow flowers and pedicels 1-2 cm; and var. atrocaulis Rehder with young growth purplish; and var. latifolia Rehder with broad leaves. Two escaped Canadian plants are referable to var. fortunei (Lindl.) Rehder with branches upright and arching and leaves often three-lobed, and four are referable to var. suspensa with branches pendulous and trailing and leaves mostly simple. Varieties are not recognized in some of the most recent taxonomic treatments (Mei-Chen et al. 1996).


Bailey, L.H. 1949.
Manual of cultivated plants. MacMillan Company, New York. 1116 p.
Catling, P.M. 1997.
The problem of invading alien trees and shrubs: some observations in Ontario and a Canadian Checklist. Canadian Field-Naturalist 111: 338-342.
Kartesz, J.T. & C.A. Meachum. 1999.
Synthesis of the North American flora. Version 1.0. Biota of North America Program, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
McClain, W. & J. Ebinger. 1995.
Naturalized Forsythia suspensa (Thunb.) Vahl in Illinois. Trans. Illinois State Academy of Sciences 88(3,4): 119-121.
Mei-Chen, C., Q. Liang-quing, & Peter S. Green. 1996.
Oleaceae. Pp. 272-319 in Zheng-yi, W. & P.H. Raven. Flora of China, Myrsinaceae through Loganiaceae. Vol. 15. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri. 387 p.
Newmaster, S. G., A. Lehela, P.W.C. Uhlig, S. McMurray, & M.J. Oldham. 1998.
Ontario plant list. Ontario Forest Research Institute, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario), Forest Research Information Paper 123.
Rehder, A. 1937.
Manual of cultivated trees and shrubs hardy in North America. MacMillan Company, New York. 930 p.


From: Frank Lomer, Honourary Research Associate, UBC Herbarium, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC []

Parapholis incurva (L.) C.E. Hubbard Curved Hardgrass; Sickle grass

Parapholis is a genus of six species native to Europe and Asia. (Worley 2007) Two species have been introduced in North America: P. strigosa (Dummort.) C.E. Hubbard and P. incurva. Both are weedy, salt-tolerant annuals with an unusual (for us)spike-like inflorescence with sunken spikelets that are embedded in the rachis concavities.

They can be found in seaside sites such as salt marshes, muddy to sandy spits and disturbed trampled shorelines. Parapholis strigosa occurs in California while P. incurva is more widespread, occurring across North America and now around the world. In our area it is most often found in coastal sites from California north to Washington and now British Columbia.

Parapholis incurva is among the oddest looking of grasses that can be found in here because of its curved and pointed spikes up to more than 10 cm long that sprout out from just about every node of this spreading little plant. The effect is rather un-grasslike - more like a wad of dried seaweed or spilled noodles when it is bleached by the sun.

It favours bare muddy, sandy or stoney trampled places along the fringes of seaside vegetation bordering estuaries, lagoons or salt marshes.

The only known site for this species in BC is Piper's Lagoon Park, Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, where it forms a dense band along a compacted sandy path just above the high tide zone. It was also observed in a small patch in sand on the opposite side of the lagoon. It seems rather a harmless component of the upper fringe of the tidal shore. It is to be expected elsewhere in similar habitats on Vancouver Island and SW BC.

A specimen will be deposited at the UBC herbarium and 6 duplicates to other herbaria.

Parapholis incurva (L.) C.E. Hubbard British Columbia, Vancouver Island, Nanaimo, Piper's Lagoon Park, SE shore, N of parking area. 49 deg 13.467' N 123 deg 56.885' W Common along sandy path below elevated path, in compacted sand above Distichlis spicata zone. With Festuca rubra, Grindelia sp. Collected by Frank Lomer 6008 15 June, 2006

Schedonnardus paniculatus (Nutt.) Trel. Tumblegrass.

Schedonnardus is a native North American genus that has just one species. It ranges across the Great Plains from Canada south to Mexico. It is a somewhat weedy perennial that has been found outside of its native range as far away as Argentina (Snow 2002). Like Parapholis, it has one-flowered spikelets embedded in one side of the rachis, but instead of a single curving spike, the rachis branches in a raceme-like inflorescence. It is quite unlike any other grass species normally found in BC. Hitchcock and Cronquist (1973) gives the height as 15-30 cm, Snow (2003) says 5-50 cm for this species. The plants I found were small; the tallest 15 cm and the shortest less than 2 cm. Most plants were between 5 and 10 cm tall. Tumblegrass is known from Alberta and Montana, but had not been recorded from the west side of the Continental Divide this far north.

A small population of Schedonnardus comprised of perhaps less than 150 plants in about a 1 x 20 meter patch was found in BC about 23 km due north of the Montana border and about 55 km due west of the Alberta border. The area was open cleared rangeland of ponderosa pine and the plants were found on the old remnants of a deteriorated pebbly roadbed just off a gravel road.

The small plants appeared to be annual with small shallow roots, but on closer inspection proved to be clumped with the dense remains of old leafy sheaths at the clustered culm bases on some plants. They formed more or less flattened mats of a glaucous blue colour and had spreading culms that curved stiffly upward in few-branched inflorescence, rather like crabgrass (Digitaria sp.). Very inconspicuous among other weedy species: Bromus tectorum, Apera interrupta, Potentilla argentea, Plantago patagonica and Matricaria discoidea.

Given the native range of this species, its weedy nature, and the unnatural weedy habitat, it seems certainly to be introduced at this site. Sought but not seen in the surrounding area including a wide search in the nearby grassland meadow which was formed by clearcutting.

A specimen will be deposited at the UBC herbarium and a duplicate at the Royal British Columbia Museum (V) in Victoria, British Columbia. Schedonnardus paniculatus (Nutt.) Trel. British Columbia, 10.3 km south of Elko from railroa bridge. Cutts Road, N side, 100 m east of Hwy 93 49 deg 12' 56" N. 115 deg 09' 15" W. Dry pebbly track ruts heading north from Cutts Rd. Rather dense small patches in a very limited area. Collected by Frank Lomer 5966 5 June, 2006

Literature Cited

Hitchcock, C.L. & A. Cronquist. 1973.
Flora of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA.
Snow, N. 2003.
17.40 Schedonnardus Steud. Pp. 228-230. In: Flora North America Editorial Committee, eds. Flora of North America North of Mexico: Vol. 25. Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, part 2. New York and Oxford.
Worley, T. 2007.
14.38 Parapholis C.E. Hubb. Pp. 687-688. In: Flora North America Editorial Committee, eds. Flora of North America North of Mexico: Vol. 24. Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, part 1. New York and Oxford.


From: Joseph Arnett [] and Janice Miller []

Florence Caplow and Janice Miller produced a report titled Southwestern Washington Prairies: using GIS to find remnant rairies and rare plant habitat and the Washington Natural Heritage Program has posted it on line on our publications page at:


More than 99% of the grasslands of southwestern Washington (Clark, Lewis, and Cowlitz Counties) have been converted to agriculture and other uses. Remnant grasslands of southwestern Washington support, or did support, four federally listed species and two federal Species of Concern: Nelson's checker-mallow (Sidalcea nelsoniana), Bradshaw's lomatium (Lomatium bradshawii [Rose ex Mathias] Mathias & Constance), Kincaid's lupine (Lupinus sulphureus subsp. kincaidii [Smith] C.L. Hitchc.), golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta Greenm.), pale larkspur (Delphinium leucophaeum Greene), and thin-leaved peavine (Lathyrus holochlorus [Piper] C.L. Hitchc.). These grassland areas (“prairies”) also support 12 other species of plants that are considered rare in Washington State.

GIS analysis produced a list of potential prairie areas which were used as a basis for reconnaissance fieldwork in the summer of 2004. We performed an initial reconnaissance in thirty-two separate prairie areas in Lewis, Cowlitz, and Clark counties. Bicycle surveys were used in portions of the area. Nine prairies supported no visible native prairie vegetation. Twenty-three prairies had at least some remnant prairie species, generally along the roadsides. Ten populations of five rare species were found in the course of the survey, including two new populations of Kincaid’s lupine. Most of the populations were found on roadsides or along fencerows.

For other on-line publications see

announcing: Environmental Disasters, Natural Recovery and Human Responses available April, 2007


Roger del Moral (University of Washington)& Lawrence R. Walker (University of Nevada, Las Vegas). 2007.
Environmental Disasters, Natural Recovery and Human Responses. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, New York. 220 p. ISBN-13: 9780521677660 (softcover); ISBN-13: 9780521860345 (hardcover). Price: US$130.00 (hard cover); US$48.00 (softcover)

Natural disasters destroy more property and kill more people with each passing year. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, landslides, fires and other natural events are becoming more frequent and their consequences more devastating. Del Moral and Walker provide a comprehensive summary of the diverse ways in which natural disasters disrupt humanity and how humans cope. Burgeoning human numbers, shrinking resources and intensification of the consequences of natural disasters have produced a global crisis of unparalleled proportions. Through this detailed study, the authors provide a template to improve restoration to show how relatively simple approaches can enhance both human well-being and that of the other species on the planet. They demonstrate that we no longer have the luxury to let damaged landscapes recover by natural processes and argue for the development of the political will to act to return lands damaged by natural and human forces to productivity. This book will appeal to ecologists, land managers and planners, decision makers, and to anyone curious about the world and how natural disasters continue to shape civilizations. This book developed from the authors' strong interests in the mechanisms of primary succession and how understanding these mechanisms can be used to enhance the quality of life across the planet.

Contents: Preface; Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction; 2. Natural disturbances - synergistic interactions with humans; 3. Infertile and unstable habitats; 4. Infertile and stable habitats; 5. Fertile and unstable habitats; 6. Fertile and stable habitats; 7. The lessons learned; Glossary; Illustration credits; Further reading; Index.

ROGER DEL MORAL is Professor of Biology at the University of Washington. His research includes the mechanisms of vegetation response to disturbances caused by volcanoes, glaciers, grazing and urbanization. He has practiced wetland restoration for over 20 years and has experience with dune and subalpine meadow restoration. He has studied volcanoes on four continents, including detailed studies of Mount St. Helens that started in 1980.

LAWRENCE R. WALKER is Professor of Biology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His research focuses on ecological plant succession and the theoretical and practical lessons for restoration. His research in succession and restoration has encompassed work on volcanoes, dunes, glacial moraines, floodplains, landslides, cliffs, hurricanes, reservoir drawdown zones, abandoned roads and mine tailings.


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