Monthly Archives: January 2014

What is a Cedar?

    In my early career as a horticulturist, it often puzzled me why so many different trees that weren’t even closely related bore the common name “Cedar.” I found the answer several years ago while looking through a book about the world’s forests–Trees given the name cedar all share the feature of having aromatic wood. The resins and oils that give the wood its wonderful fragrance make these woods extremely resistant to insects and rot. Because of this property, all “cedars” have had an important role in the history and culture of people throughout the world.

True Cedars have needles.

True Cedars have needles.

The true cedars are in the Pine family and are represented by three main species: the Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica) native to Northern Africa; the Deodar Cedar (C. Deodara) native to the Himalayas; and the Cedar of Lebanon (C. libani) native to the Middle East. The Cedar of Lebanon is often referenced in ancient mythologies. King Gilgamesh (~2700 B.C), in an epic story, killed the guardian of the forest and chopped down a great Cedar Tree and then proceeded to plunder the whole forest! Cedar of Lebanon is also mentioned in the bible and was thought to have been used to build King Solomon’s Temple. The Egyptians used the resin and sawdust for mummification. Unfortunately, as in much of the old world, most of the forests were cut down long ago, leaving only a few remaining natural stands. Because of its slow growth, it is of little economic importance today, except as an ornamental tree. All of the true cedars have weeping forms that are very popular in the horticultural trade.

The Australian Red Cedar (Toona ciliata, syn. Cedrela sinensis) is not even a conifer but a deciduous flowering tree in the Mahogany family!

In the Redwood family is the Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica).

Most of the “Cedars” we are familiar with are in the Cypress family. One of the most well known is the Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana). It is a tree juniper and is used in making closets and cedar chests. The Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) is native to Oregon & California and has been used to make pencils.  In the False-cypress genus is the Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides), native to the east coast; and the Port Orford Cedar (C. lawsoniana, also known as Lawson Cypress) from Southern Oregon.   The most important “cedars” in our area are the Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) and the Alaska Yellow Cedar (Callitropsis nootkatensis)!

All the “cedars” are prized as ornamental trees. Although many are too large for a small yard, the different forms, growth habits, color variations, and textures of “cedars” make them a showpiece in any setting.

Climate

Elk in the Olympic RainforestClimate plays a major role in determining what plants can be found naturally or can survive in any location.  As children we learn that there are different types of habitats found throughout the world: deserts, grasslands, alpine meadows, tundra and various kinds of forests.  I used to wonder why conifers dominate our forests here in the Pacific Northwest.  In other areas of similar latitude– the eastern United States, Europe and Asia–deciduous forests predominate.  Evergreen coniferous forests are usually found at more northerly latitudes.

Most people believe that it rains in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest year-round, although it does rain much of the year, our great secret is that it is usually dry and sunny (but not too hot!) in July and August.  The weather patterns in the Pacific Northwest are influenced by its proximity to the Pacific Ocean.  Our maritime climate is characterized by relatively warm, wet winters and relatively cool, dry summers.  In the winter, warm, moist air from the southwest flows into the area, as the air cools, the moisture precipitates as rain (or snow if it gets cold enough).  In contrast, cool, dry air coming from the northwest, delivers little rain in summer.

Evergreen plants are able to grow whenever there is adequate water and favorable temperatures.  If it is too dry they close the small pores, stomates, on their leaves that allow gas exchange, halting photosynthesis.   Evergreen leaves are waxy and often small to minimize moisture loss through epidermal surfaces.  Dormancy can occur when it is either too cold or too dry.

In some parts of the world, such as Madagascar and Costa Rica, there are summer deciduous forests, where shrubs and trees lose their leaves in the summer! Our deciduous trees and shrubs prefer moister areas near streams and rivers.  If summer has been too dry, they too will start turning color early and start shedding leaves before fall has even arrived.

Many of our native evergreens, although adapted to wet winters, do not perform well with summer irrigation; examples include: Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii), Snowbrush, (Ceanothus velutinus), Hairy Manzanita, (Arctostaphylos columbiana), and Oregon Boxwood (Paxistima myrsinites).  Pacific Rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum) and Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium) can withstand some irrigation.

Evergreen Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum) and Salal (Gaultheria shallon) are the dominate undergrowth shrubs in our second-growth conifer forests.  They are both outstanding plants for the landscape that are adapted to our dry summers; with beautiful evergreen leaves prized by the florist industry and berries prized by people and wildlife.

Dry summers can cause severe plant stress.  Newly planted landscapes are especially vulnerable.  It is a common site to see dead plants in new landscapes that were not irrigated sufficiently.  If you plant in July and August, it is important that the new plants are watered adequately but not overwatered!  Any plants that were grown in a greenhouse or shadier locations will need to be “hardened off” before planting.  This is done by exposing them incrementally to outdoor temperatures and increasing light levels a few weeks before planting.  “Sun leaves” need to replace ”shade leaves,” which will be burn in the hot sun.

The end of summer or beginning of fall is a good time to start planning new landscapes, so that you are ready to start planting as soon as there is regular rainfall. Trees and shrubs planted in fall and winter have a better chance of survival because they are able to grow roots into surrounding soil using stored food reserves.  But remember, even natives may need supplemental irrigation the first couple of summers!

Western Red Cedar, Thuja plicata

Western Red Cedar                                                         The Cypress Family–Cupressaceae

 Thuja plicata Donn ex D. Don

(THOO-yuh   ply-KAY-tuh)

My cat Silky at the top of a Western Red Cedar

My cat Silky at the top of a Western Red Cedar

Names:   Western Red Cedar is also known as Giant Arborvitae.  Arborvitae literally means “tree of life.”  Plicata means plaited or folded like a fan; referring to how the leaves are folded and compressed next to the tree’s branchlets.

Relationships:  It is one of only four species in this genus; two are from eastern Asia. The American Arborvitae or Northern White Cedar, Thuja occidentalis is native to the northeastern United States and eastern Canada and has several cultivated varieties, with columnar forms that make good screens and smaller “globe” forms that are good for foundation plantings. Many different types of trees are called “Cedars” see the article on What is a Cedar? for more information.

Distribution of Western Red Cedar from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution of Western Red Cedar from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution:  Western Red Cedar grows from southeast Alaska to northern California and east to northwestern Montana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The largest Western Red Cedar is near Lake Quinault in the Olympic Rainforest. Only about a 2 foot wide strip is still alive.

The largest Western Red Cedar is near Lake Quinault in the Olympic Rainforest. Only about a 2 foot wide strip is still alive.

Growth: Western Red Cedars typically grow to 120-150 feet (35-45m); the tallest today are about 200 feet (60m) tall. The widest are about 19 feet (6m) in diameter. These giants are found mostly in the old-growth coastal rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver Island.  Some may be 1400 years old or older.

Wetland designation: FAC, Facultative, it is equally likely to occur in wetlands or non-wetlands.

Largest Western Red Cedar

 

 

 

 

 

Cedar bark in vertical stripes of red & gray.

Cedar bark in vertical stripes of red & gray.

 

Scale-like leaves are tightly compressed against the branchlets.

Scale-like leaves are tightly compressed against the branchlets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diagnostic Characters: Western Red Cedar is easily recognized by its reddish or gray fibrous bark.  The scale-like leaves are pressed tightly to stems, having the appearance of flattened braids in lacy sprays.  The foliage has a sweet chamomile or tansy odor when crushed.  Cinnamon-brown cones are small and elongated and stay attached to branches for a long period of time.  Large branches emerge from the main trunk and droop downward, turning up at the ends.

 

 Western Red Cedar, Thuja plicataIn the landscape: Trees can be planted singly or in groves.  They look best when lower branches are allowed to spread, drooping down to the ground and arching back up again.  Western Red Cedar prefers moist to wet soils.

 

Persistent woody cones of Western Red Cedar

Persistent woody cones of Western Red Cedar.

 

Phenology: Bloom Period:  Mid-spring; Mid-April is typical, but may range from March-June (earlier in southern coastal areas; later at high elevations, interior and northern stands). Cones mature in August; seeds are dispersed September through November.

Propagation:  Seeds of Western Red Cedar do not require a stratification period, however, a stratification period at 40ºF (4ºC) for 60 days may aid germination in dormant seeds.  Seeds may remain viable for 7 years stored dry at 0º F (-18ºC).  Germination rates vary from 34-90%.  Seeds should not be covered; they germinate on the surface of the soil.  Heel cuttings (cuttings where a small piece of older wood is retained at the base) are best taken July-September.  Rooting is most successful when cuttings are treated with 2000ppm IBA, stuck in a sand-perlite or peat-perlite media and overwintered in a cold frame.  Western Red Cedar may also be propagated by layering, which often occurs naturally in the wild.   Seedlings and naturally layered cedars are easily transplanted.

A "Culturally modified" Western Red Cedar on the Makah Indian Reservation

A “Culturally modified” Western Red Cedar on the Makah Indian Reservation

Use by People: Western Red Cedar was the most important tree to native people.  For them it really was the “tree of life.”  Native people rarely felled cedars; instead they used fallen logs or split off boards from standing trees. The decay resistant wood of these trees was used for building long houses, totem poles, canoes, cradles, and many kinds of tools and other items. Women collected the bark by making a horizontal cut in the bark, prying it up and pulling out away from the tree, leaving a long wedge-shaped scar.  Some of these “culturally modified trees” can still be found along hiking trails.  The bark was shredded, woven and made into clothing, mats and other items.  The limbs of cedar trees were twisted into rope.  Baskets were made from the roots.

A bailer & berry picking basket from the Cathlapotle Plankhouse located on the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

A bailer & berry picking basket from the Cathlapotle Plankhouse located on the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

 

Western Red Cedar is still an important timber tree today although the second-growth wood is not as resistant to decay, as was the old-growth wood.   The production of Cedar shakes and shingles was a big business in the last century, but has declined due to limited availability of old-growth wood and building codes designed to reduce the risk of loss due to fire.   Western Red Cedar is still frequently used for interior and exterior siding, decks, fencing, other outdoor structures and furniture.

Western Red Cedar stumphouse at Guillemot Cove Nature Preserve in Seabeck

Western Red Cedar stumphouse at Guillemot Cove Nature Preserve in Seabeck.

Use by Wildlife: Western Red Cedar provides cover for several wildlife species.  The seeds may be eaten by Pine Siskins.  Deer and elk eat the foliage and twigs.  Small mammals use cavities in Western Red Cedars for dens; birds use cavities for nests.

 

 

 

An old Cedar growing within the trunk of an older burned out stump with typical swooping branches

An old Cedar growing within the trunk of an older burned out stump with typical swooping branches.

 

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Natural Resources Canada

Gymnosperm Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Silvics of North America

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet + Landowner Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

National Register of Big Trees

Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii

Douglas Fir                                                                The Pine Family–Pinaceae

Pseudotsuga menziesii  (Mirb.) FrancoDouglas Fir tree, Pseudotsuga menzisii

(soo-doe-TSOO-guh    men-ZEE-zee-i)

Names:   Douglas Fir is named after naturalists, David Douglas and Archibald Menzies.  The genus name, Pseudotsuga literally means “false hemlock.”  It was once known as P. taxifolia (meaning yew-leaved).

Relationships:    It is one of only five species in its genus. Three species from Asia and the other, Big Cone Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga macrocarpa has a limited distribution in Southern California.

Distribution of Douglas Fir from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution of Douglas Fir from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution:    Our Douglas Fir grows from sea level to subalpine mountain sites and has a large distribution from Western Canada down the Pacific coast to central California, and from the Canadian Rockies south to isolated communities in Mexico

Old Growth Douglas Fir in the Olympic Rainforest

Old Growth Douglas Fir in the Olympic Rainforest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growth:   Douglas Fir grows rapidly, especially when young.  It typically grows 200 to 240 feet (60-75m) tall. The tallest Douglas firs today are just over 300 feet (90m); historically Doug firs may have attained a height of 400 feet (120m); taller than today’s redwoods!  In cultivation, they easily reach 40-80’ (12-24m)

Damage caused by a lightening strike on Douglas Fir.

Damage caused by a lightening strike on Douglas Fir.

Habitat:    Douglas Firs grow in moist to extremely dry sites.  In ecological terms they are considered both early-successional (they are one of the first trees to colonize an area after a disturbance) and late-successional (they often occur in old-growth forests, just because they live so long– up to 1300 years!). Douglas Fir is a primary component of moist forests in the Western Hemlock ecological zone.  Infrequent, widespread, stand-replacing fires, (usually caused by lightening strikes) naturally occur at perhaps 400- to 500-year intervals.

Wetland designation: FACU, Facultative upland, it usually occurs in non-wetland but is occasionally found in wetlands.

 

Diagnostic Characters:   Douglas firs are easy to recognize by their “groovy” bark, pointed buds, and cones with 3-pronged bracts.  Young trunks or branches often have “resin blisters,” that are easily ruptured; this sticky pitch is very difficult to wash off your hands!

Groovy Bark of Douglas Fir

Groovy Bark of Douglas Fir

 

"Pointy" buds of Douglas Fir

“Pointy” buds of Douglas Fir

 

 

 

 

 

 

Douglas Fir in winter

Douglas Fir in winter

 

 

In the landscape:  Douglas fir is a majestic tree.  It will grow in extremely dry to moist sites.  When growing in a container, it is often spindly and not very attractive, but once it is planted in the ground, out in the open, it will quickly develop into the familiar, pyramidal Christmas tree shape.  On the down side, it is often the bane of golf course and park workers after a windstorm.  Because it is a fast growing tree, the new wood is relatively weak, and broken branches fall to the ground and must be picked up before grass can be mowed.  For the same reason you may wish to avoid planting it next to buildings and other highly maintained areas such as courtyards and thoroughfares.

Douglas fir trees grow with a “central leader.”  This is what forms the single trunk. As with most conifers, it is important never to “top” these trees.  In young trees, it is possible to prune or train damaged or disfigured trees so that they have only one leader.  Trees that are allowed to have more than one leader, besides being unsightly, will have a weak point where the two leaders emerged; creating a likely spot for a future break.

Male & female cones

Male & female cones

Phenology: Bloom Period:   March-June, earlier in southern coastal areas, later at high elevations, interior and northern stands. Cones mature in mid to late September, seeds are dispersed soon after.

Propagation: Seeds of Douglas Fir have about a 40% germination rate with a stratification period at 40ºF (4ºC) for 60 days.  Seeds remain viable 1-2 years.  Volunteers in the landscape may easily be transplanted.

Use by People: The Douglas fir is the most important timber tree in the United States.  It is used for dimensional lumber, plywood and many other building materials as well as paper products.  It was mostly used for firewood by native peoples but the wood was also used for tools such as spear and harpoon shafts. Today it is still commonly used for firewood and is well known as a popular Christmas tree.–See Selecting a Christmas Tree on my sister website, habitathorticulturepnw.com !

Use by Wildlife: Douglas Squirrels and other rodents eat the small, winged seeds found inside Douglas Fir cones.  Pine Siskins and Crossbills and other birds also eat the seeds.  Browsers, such as White-tailed Deer will eat the foliage and twigs in the winter.  The needles and male cones are an important winter food for Blue Grouse

  The Mouse and the Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir cone with 3-pronged bracts

Douglas Fir cone with 3-pronged bracts

There are two versions of a Native American Myth relating the story of a frightened mouse looking for someplace to hide.  In one version the mouse is trying to evade a fox, in the other the mouse is trying to escape a forest fire.  In both versions, the mouse tries to hide in a Douglas Fir cone.  The mouse was successful in evading the danger in both stories.  To this day, when you look closely at a Douglas Fir cone, the mouse’s back legs and tail are still visible beneath the cone’s scales!

 Links:

USDA Plants Database

Natural Resources Canada

Gymnosperm Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Silvics of North America

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet + Landowner Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

National Register of Big Trees

Tallest Douglas Firs, Historical accounts

Native Plant Propagation

Seed collection and preparation:  Seeds should be collected at the appropriate time, when pods, cones or fruit have ripened sufficiently.  Pods, capsules or cones can be collected just before seeds are released– further drying will often cause them to open so the seeds are easily shaken out and collected.  If the seed capsules are already open and still contain seeds, the seeds can be shaken into a bag.  The preparation of seeds contained in fruit is more time-consuming.  The fruit needs to be macerated (softened and mashed).  Sometimes it helps to allow the fruit to begin to rot in a bag or to soak in water.  To extract the seeds from the fruit, gently mash the fruit to separate the pulp from the seeds in a bowl of water.  Most viable seeds will sink to the bottom and can be separated by swirling the pulp and water mixture and successive decantations, leaving the seeds on the bottom of the bowl.  Some seeds, such as Salal, will float and even resist the surface tension of the water, and need to be skimmed off the surface of the water.  (Sometimes it is easier just to mash the fruit and spread it, pulp and all, onto the growing media.)  For some species, seeds from fruit should not be allowed to dry out but should be planted immediately or stratified as necessary.  For plants that produce nuts, such as hazelnut, it is often difficult to find ripe nuts before squirrels or other animals.  Sometimes nuts are produced that have no viable seed inside, therefore, before going to the trouble of planting these, the nuts should pass the “float test.”  After placing the nuts in a pail of water, only plant the ones that sink to the bottom.  You may crack a few open to check to make sure the test worked properly.

    Propagation of Native Plants:  Native plants may be propagated by seed or by different methods of asexual propagation.  A little bit of research on each species ensures the greatest success, by learning and using methods that have been successful by others.

Seed propagation is the preferred method to ensure genetic variability, or when greater numbers are desired.  Many seeds, however, are not ready to germinate directly after ripening on the mother plant.  They often need to go through chemical or physical changes before they are able to grow.

Stratification: Many of our native plant seeds need to go through a cold period before they will germinate.  Some need a warm period prior to the cold period.  This kind of seed treatment is called stratification from the Latin “to layer.”  The easiest way to stratify seeds is simply to mimic the conditions the seed would encounter in nature.   For many plants, simply sowing the seeds in the fall and leaving them out through the winter will work.  If you need to, you can stratify seeds by placing them in a moist media, in an open bag (they need oxygen!), in a refrigerator for the appropriate amount of time.

Scarification:  Some seeds have a very hard seed coat that prevents them from absorbing water or oxygen.  In nature, these seeds would go through a process that would break through this hard seed coat.  Often seeds that are contained in a fruit would pass through the digestive system of an animal.  Some seeds, where forest fires are common, need heat to melt resins to be released from their cone or they need to be burned slightly to weaken the hard seed coat. The word scarify, means “to scratch” in Latin.  To mechanically scarify seeds, you can rub them with sand paper, notch them with a file, or crack them with a hammer, being careful not to damage the embryo.  Seeds are also sometimes scarified by soaking them in acid or hot water.

Asexual propagation:  The most common method of asexual propagation is by stem cuttings.  Cuttings may be dipped in a hormone treatment such as IBA (indolebutyric acid) to aid in rooting and then stuck (right side up!) in an appropriate media, such as sand, peat moss, vermiculite, perlite or regular potting soil.  More difficult plants may be propagated by layering; where a branch that is still attached to the tree or shrub is bent down, and covered with soil to encourage root growth. Wounding by scarring or notching the bark prior to burial may aid this process.  Plants that produce many stems may simply be dug up and divided as long as each piece has sufficient roots to sustain it.

All of these propagation methods require the appropriate temperature, moisture and light levels.  Misting and bottom heat may be beneficial.

Seeds that you have sown may need to be protected from foraging rodents and birds.  Covering them with a floating row cover may help discourage the birds and keep out weed seeds too, but it may be necessary to set out traps or bait, to protect them from rodents.  Emerging seedlings and cuttings may also need protection from slugs and rabbits.

Growing new plants that will enhance your landscape or revegetate natural areas is very rewarding.  Especially when you can watch the plants grow through the years!  Unfortunately, I do not get to see many of the plants that I grow at the nursery mature; but I have the satisfaction of knowing they are helping to improve the ecology of our region by providing food and cover for wildlife, helping to combat pollution by filtering our watersheds and reducing global warming by sequestering CO2!

Native Plant Basics

What is a native plant?  Native plants are plants that grew naturally in a region prior to possible introduction by settlers during territorial expansion.  They were not brought here from other countries or regions either intentionally or accidentally.  Depending on the scope of the discussion native plants can have a wide definition, including the entire United States or a narrower one including only those native to a particular region.  For our purposes, we will concentrate mostly on those native to the northern Pacific Coast from sea level to the Cascade Mountain Range (northern Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and southern Alaska).

Why landscape with native plants?  Native plants are better adapted to soils and climate.  They usually require less irrigation and less maintenance.  With some exceptions, native plants have fewer disease problems.  Native plants attract native wildlife.  Insects and other invertebrate pests become less of a control problem if there are enough birds, bats and snakes in your habitat to keep them under control.  Native groundcovers can discourage the spread of invasive weeds.  A natural landscape can also be left alone to regenerate itself through natural systems of pollination, seed dispersal and germination. Native Plants visually “fit” better in local landscapes than exotics; and can be used to create enchanting, woodland landscapes.  Many are very attractive.  Some native plants, such as the Red-Flowering Currant, have been reintroduced after cultivated varieties were developed in Europe.

If your goal is to improve the ecology of your landscape, then a large percentage, at least 80% or more, of it should be natives.  It only makes sense to provide the food, cover and nesting plants with which local animals have co-evolved.  Although some exotic plants may be highly attractive to animals, they are the “candy” that can be useful to entice them to check out your habitat.  Whereas, the native plants are the “staples” that will keep the animals coming back or staying, including your habitat as part of their territory!  You do not need to be a purist and can enjoy a few of your favorite exotics as long as they are not invasive or will otherwise ultimately cause problems.  I usually like to plant my summer annuals in containers so they remain separate and easier to maintain.

Purchasing Native Plants:  Many retail nurseries now sell some native plants, but they are often limited in the quantity and species available.  It is best to find a nursery that specializes in growing and selling native plants.  Because some native plants do not transplant well, you will have better success with smaller plants that have been grown in containers.  A list of native plant nurseries is included in the appendices.  Many nurseries have websites where they post what they grow and what is currently available, but it is best to call first to verify availability.  A reputable nursery will only sell container-grown materials or will let you know if the plants were wild-collected legally with a permit.  Many county conservation districts hold annual native plant sales, where larger quantities of small bareroot plants can be obtained relatively inexpensively.

Collecting Plants in the Wild: Before collecting plants in the wild it is important to get permission from the owners of the property.  Plant collecting in National Parks is strictly prohibited (permits are issued only for educational or research purposes).  In National Forests, you need to check with the local ranger to find out what can be collected and whether you need a permit.  State parks generally have strict guidelines that, for the most part, only allow plant removal for maintenance purposes.  Whenever collecting in the wild, it is important to be conscientious and only collect where large populations exist and collect only what you can use.  The collecting of seeds or cuttings for propagation is preferred over digging the entire plant.  Some plants, such as most of our native orchids, are better left alone.  Because of complex symbiotic or semi-parasitic relationships, these plants will not survive transplantation.  The best places to collect native plants are sites that are soon to be cleared for development.  There are native plant salvage organizations that use volunteers to go in and rescue plants from these sites.  It is a good way to claim some plants for your own landscape!