One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Recognize these?

Give us a guess in the comments, and we’ll be back to confirm!


These leaves are similar to maple leaves, but clearly maples don’t have berries. This is often called wild grape, a vine that tends to grow up trees, or grow up with trees, and flourishing their canopies. This vine is on a pine tree.

While we squirrels may appreciate the handy way the vine brings the grape fruits up to us, a vine growing a tree isn’t always good for the tree. It can overshadow the tree’s leaves and the extra weight is hard for a tree to support. Because of this, grape vines are often considered invasive, even though this is a native plant.

Now for a confession: We squirrels thought this was a native wild grape. But after consulting with Ms. Flora, we have learned it isn’t. Those pretty blue berries are the give away. They aren’t unripe grape fruits; that is what the fruits look like on a grape look-alike. (And we were caught by it, too!) This is a species native to China, Japan and other Asian countries known as Porcelain Berry, Amur Peppervine or sometimes just creeper. Ampelopsis glandulosa actually is invasive and we recommend that you do not eat them!


One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Do you recognize this plant in full fall bloom?

Hint: It’s now four feet tall after its summer’s growth.

Give us a guess in the comments!


We had a correct guess today–this is Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis.

It is the wild relative of the garden annual plant Impatients that you humans buy for your shady yards. But guess what? The wild jewelweed seeds prolifically enough that it should come back every year–if your ground is moist and the light is set-shady.

The beautiful orange flowers are visited by many insects, and while nUtmeg and I were out, a pair of hummingbirds!

As our commenter mentioned, jewelweed has many uses. The Native Americans knew that crushing the leaves and stems and applying the juice would relive the itch of poison ivy and nettles, which happens to be found in moist areas as well, so should be handy. The sap also can be used as an anti-fungal.

Please note that we are squirrels and this folklore is not intended to be medical advice!

Check out more about Jewelweed on the US Forest Service page.


Fall is upon us…

With the dry weather and slightly cooler temperatures in our suburban neighborhood of Washington, D.C. we squirrels feel that fall has descended. After all, it’s only a few more days until the autumnal equinox!

The fall plants like this Wingstem are certainly showing off and putting their last efforts at getting their seeds developed. Good for them, and the bees, too!