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Old 04-17-2012, 07:37 PM   #41
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Yes, thanks for the interesting information.

I knew it as "alternate-leaf dogwood" before I came across the name "pagoda dogwood", so I never assumed it wasn't native. I can easily see why you'd think that.

I still wonder why Polemonium reptans is called "Greek valerian"...that always made me second guess whether or not it was native.
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Old 04-17-2012, 07:41 PM   #42
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I also didn't know that about the name pigeon-wood and about the passenger pigeon. I wonder what other species the passenger pigeon may have utilized? It is an interesting thing to think about.
Yes, that is interesting. I'd like to think the information is out there somewhere.
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:11 AM   #43
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For years I thought the Pagoda was from Japan due to the name. It's name before the nursery industry changed it, Probably for marketing was Pigeon-wood. After doing a little research they were common trees in the Appalachian mountain range. The name Pigeon-wood was given by the settlers since they were a favorite food tree for the now extinct Passenger Pigeon
Thanks sprucetree - I didn't know any of this (in fact, I didn't realize that pagoda dogwood and alternate leaf dogwood were the same plant!). I think this is a very interesting lesson in why common names are tricky - especially since we are all (even us savvy native gardeners!) such suckers for language. Landscapers changed the name of Cornus alternifolia to pagoda dogwood probably to suggest exotic landscapes - a plus for conventional gardeners, and a minus for us WG's.

Another native with a marketing problem is Paxistima canbyi. It's common name is Rat stripper (try googling THAT - some VEERRY interesting random stuff comes up) - goodness knows who came up with that and why. It turns out to be a perfectly nice evergreen groundcover that likes calcerous soils.

Sara Stein used to come up with her own common names for things when she didn't like the conventional ones. She particularly disliked things being called "false" this or that - as if the plant was trying to impersonate something else. I remember she called "false Solomon's seal" (Smilacina racemosa) "Solomon's plume" instead, because of the shape of its flowers. Much nicer and more descriptive.

I think it's poignant that c. alternifolia was Pigeon-wood for its favor by the passenger pigeon and that's the common name I'll try to use from now on. Maybe it will remind me why I'm planting these things in the first place.
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Old 04-18-2012, 12:42 PM   #44
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I think it's poignant that c. alternifolia was Pigeon-wood for its favor by the passenger pigeon and that's the common name I'll try to use from now on. Maybe it will remind me why I'm planting these things in the first place.
Well that's what we'll call it then but it's doubtful it will catch on, As soon as you said pigeonwood most people out side of bird watchers and native gardeners would associate c. alternifolia with attracting the Rock Pigeons that have invaded cities and suburbs. Which is sad because the Rock Pigeon won't go near a tree, They originally made their nests on rocky cliffs and will roost on power lines, fences, buildings, and commonly make their nests on awnings. If I recall most birds don't have bladders [except maybe vultures which urinate down their legs to cool themselves and kill bacteria] ...This means that bird droppings would be high in nitrogen due to their in-ability to urinate. So since the pigeonwood has a horizontal branching pattern the birds using it for a perch the soil would collect more than it's fair share of bird droppings along with all the nutrients. I'm reading Tallamey right now and haven't come across many authors that natives do best in high humus soils, After all we struggle to get the natives established in soil that's probably lacking in humus and much thinner than the forest and prairie soil that had generations of birds, buffalo, elk, and deer building it up.
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Old 04-18-2012, 03:45 PM   #45
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I think it's poignant that c. alternifolia was Pigeon-wood for its favor by the passenger pigeon and that's the common name I'll try to use from now on. Maybe it will remind me why I'm planting these things in the first place.

Wow is that a powerful statement.
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Old 04-18-2012, 03:48 PM   #46
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...vultures...urinate down their legs to cool themselves and kill bacteria...
I always learn so much from all of you out there. Thanks, sprucetree.
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Old 04-18-2012, 04:38 PM   #47
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Papercarver, I just saw Paxistima canbyi for the first time recently, at the Maine Botanical Gardens (I posted a photo of it in the thread "Rocky coast of Maine"). I was intrigued by it. Do you grow it? It looked as though it had flower buds held tightly against the stems, or were they berries? It actually looked like a great ground cover.
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Old 04-20-2012, 01:14 PM   #48
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Papercarver, I just saw Paxistima canbyi for the first time recently, at the Maine Botanical Gardens (I posted a photo of it in the thread "Rocky coast of Maine"). I was intrigued by it. Do you grow it? It looked as though it had flower buds held tightly against the stems, or were they berries? It actually looked like a great ground cover.
I'm tempted to try it in a garden I'm designing for someone else, but I'm a bit worried about the "prefers calciferous soils" bit: everywhere around me is pretty acidic, so I'm wondering how it will do. Does anyone else out there have experience growing this plant?
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Old 04-20-2012, 01:15 PM   #49
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Wow is that a powerful statement.
Thanks dap! Didn't mean to be powerful - just felt ashamed about what happened to the pigeons.
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Old 04-20-2012, 01:43 PM   #50
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I'm tempted to try it in a garden I'm designing for someone else, but I'm a bit worried about the "prefers calciferous soils" bit: everywhere around me is pretty acidic, so I'm wondering how it will do. Does anyone else out there have experience growing this plant?
I hope you decide to try it, papercarver, as I am interested in trying it myself. If I can find a source for it I will do so. It would be good to compare notes. Maybe we should contact the Maine Botanical Gardens to see what they have to say about it. Hmmm...
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