Category Archives: Plant Life of the MRG

Happy First Day of Spring from the MRG !

Daffodils emerge when we desperately need them!

Hardy Pollinator Flowers

In spite of the frost, there are still flowers in bloom mid-October: Sunflowers, Garlic Chives, Black-eyed Susans, and Asters, to name a few. Bees, wasps, and other pollinators continue to visit our MRG Pollinator Corridor, such as this bee on a Wood’s Pink Aster at Dysfuntion Junction. (Intersection of Mechanic, Mascoma, High streets.)

A Reminder!

June 2013 – The work had just begun. See how far we have come!

Test Your Botanical ID Skills

As you walk along the MRG, what do you notice? Learning the names of the life around us transforms the outdoors from a pastoral backdrop into a world of fascinating diversity, a parallel world of beings and relationships.

Mascoma River Greenway Plant Checklist

How many of these plants can you find along the MRG?


  • Red Oak
  • Maples – we have a few! Norway, Sugar, Red, Striped, & Box Elder
  • Beech
  • Elm
  • Basswood
  • Birch – we have a few!
  • Cottonwood
  • Aspen
  • Black walnut
  • Green ash
  • White ash
  • White pine
  • Hemlock
  • Willow
  • Sumac
  • Apple
  • Black cherry
  • Black locust
  • American hornbeam

Shrubs & woody vines

  • Witch hazel
  • Dogwoods – more than one species out there!
  • Elderberry
  • Grape
  • Flowering raspberry
  • Meadowsweet
  • Sweet-fern
  • Red baneberry
  • Blue cohosh
  • Blueberries 
  • Virginia creeper
  • Poison ivy

Herbaceous plants

  • Goldenrod
  • Jewelweed
  • Clover
  • Milkweed
  • Bee balm
  • Fleabane
  • Hemp dogbane
  • Yarrow
  • St. Johnswort
  • Common Mullein
  • Evening primrose
  • Queen Anne’s lace
  • Windflower
  • Day lilies
  • Meadow rue
  • Climbing nightshade
  • Common heal-alls!

Native plants are hosts to native species of caterpillars, which in turn feed the birds many of us love so much. The National Wildlife Federation has put together a tool that shows you the wildlife value of many of the plant species growing along the MRG. Check it out!

If you have a camera phone, try using iNaturalist or another app to help identify the plants you do not already know. Want a challenge? Find the pollinators!

Thanks to Sarah RIley for creating this list of some of the plant life of the greenway . . . and then there is fungi, moss, lichen . . . etc!

Test Your Wildflower ID Skills

(Thanks to Sarah Riley for these wonderful wildflower photos from early July on the MRG.)


Can you match the photo to the name of the flower?

These flowers include: St. John’s Wort, Queen Anne’ Lace, Climbing Nightshade, Fleabane, Yarrow, Red Clover, Crown Vetch, Jewelweed, Common Milkweed, and Chicory. Scroll down for answers below.




Answers: #1 Common Milkweed, #2 Fleabane, #3 Chicory, #4 St. John’s Wort, #5 Queen Anne’s Lace, #6 Crown Vetch, #7 Climbing Nightshade, #8 Jewelweed, #9 Yarrow, #10 Red Clover

New Life!

Alder Catkins – photo by Sarah Riley

Have you spotted new life on the MRG this Spring?

These flowers are Alder catkins with elongated male catkins on the same plant as shorter female catkins. They often emerge before leaves appear and are mainly wind-pollinated, but also visited by bees.

Garlic Mustard Squad!

Garlic Mustard, a real trouble-maker of a plant, is flowering in many areas of Lebanon. Be on the lookout for plants with 4 white petals

WHY  concern about this plant?

Native to Europe where it has many insect predators and diseases, it is only found there in small colonies.  Here, there are no insects that eat it and no disease to keep it in check.  It invades forests:  It disrupts forest ecosystems in several ways.  It has chemicals that are toxic to soil microbes and can greatly reduce propagation of native plants.  It can out-compete native plants and reduce biodiversity once it gets established.

It is a fierce competitor:  A single plant can produce hundreds of seeds.  It has no predators here.  It is a biennial and its seeds can be viable for 10 years. Once established, it is a long-term project to reduce it.  It is best to catch it early, before it turns into a long-term project.

WHAT can you do?

Learn to identify the plant (see link).  Help with pulling on your property and along road-sides in your neighborhood.

Pull the plant and put it in trash bags:  Be sure to pull from the base of the stalk and wiggle the plant so the entire white root comes up.  Be sure bags are tightly closed and properly disposed of.  Tell your neighbors and help organize socially distant community pulls (and tell us about them!) if you find larger colonies in your neighborhood.

 Help pull on the Mascoma River Greenway and Northern Rail Trail!
For the next two weeks, the City will have signs describing Garlic Mustard and bags for disposing of the plants (no trash please!) at a couple of locations on each of these popular public paths. Please stop and pull when you can, bag the pulled plants, and leave the bag, securely closed, for the next volunteer. Thanks to the Rec & Parks Department and DPW for coordinating disposal of full bags of Garlic Mustard. Please help by moving only securely tied & full bags to the trailhead of the rail trail (near CCBA) or to the MRG parking lot at Slayton Hill/Mascoma St so they can be picked up. Email me if bags need replacing.

Report locations where you find Garlic Mustard (better yet, where you pull it!): there are many reporting apps these days:

try iNaturalist or  EDDMaps.

With thanks to The Hanover Biodiversity Committee for permission to use their text and links.

Thanks and stay well,

Sarah Riley <>

Lebanon Conservation Commission

The plan:

Sunday, May 17th – Saturday, May 30th

Task: Pull the Garlic Mustard 2nd year growth

Drop off locations/Pick Up:

  • Slayton Underpass Parking Lot – Picked Up Monday/Friday – Recreation
  • Alice Peck Day Parking Lot – Picked up Monday/Friday – Recreation
  • Northern Rail Trail Head (by CCBA)  Picked up Thursday – Landfill

Pollinator Corridor Plans

Have you noticed these signs and new plantings along the MRG?

Upper Valley residents are becoming aware of the risks associated with pollinator collapse and are responding by planting organic native perennial flowers, shrubs, and trees to provide food and habitat for pollinators and other creatures, as well as enhanced environment for humans.

There is a plan for a pollinator corridor along the MRG. With funding from the Robert F. Church Charitable Trust, we have begun to create what will be a string of pollinator gardens, fruit trees, and berry bushes for bees, butterflies, birds, and even hungry humans. Check out our new Pollinator Corridor Page at this site and start looking for pollinators along the Mascoma River Greenway. Some of our new gardens will not hit their stride for a year or two but look for the Milkweeds (Common and Butterfly), Purple Coneflowers, Black-eyed Susans, Liatris, Anise Hyssop, New England Asters, Yarrow, Bee Balm, Borage, Coreopsis, Goldenrod, and other flowering pollinator plants as they emerge. If you get a good photo of bees, butterflies, or hummingbirds enjoying the new plantings, please share to the Lebanon Photo Gallery!

I spy with my little eye three busy pollinators on the MRG milkweed!

New Life along the MRG

Thanks to Ellen Shaw for sending a few photos of wildflowers in bloom along the trail this week!







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And, with all the rain, a powerful Mascoma River.




MRG Pollinator Planting Plan – Phase 1

There is a plan afoot to create a pollinator corridor along the MRG. We have funds from the Robert F. Church Charitable Trust to plant native organic flowering perennials, fruit trees and shrubs (apple trees, blueberry bushes, elderberries, hazelberts, etc) along the MRG to enhance habitat for pollinators and other creatures, including hungry humans. Today was a reconnaissance mission with a knowledgeable team from Upper Valley Apple Corps and MRG Pollinator Corridor co-chairs Sarah Riley and Pat McGovern. The focus was the western end of the MRG starting at the Price Chopper parking lot access. Three spots were identified as possible planting zones.

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Site 1 at the intersection of the paved MRG with the western end of the unpaved loop path that runs along the river. It is open to the sun and would be great place for an apple tree and blueberry bushes.


Site 2 Along the unpaved loop path, a possible site for a number of elderberry bushes.


Site 3 the picnic table site by the umbrella sculpture, a fruit or nut tree to provide shade for picnickers?

This spring we plan to plant native organic perennials along the MRG and plant trees and shrubs in the Fall . . . unless we can figure a plan for frequent waterings of the new trees throughout the summer

It was a wet day and we appreciated the hardiness of the Upper Valley Apple Corps crew, Cat, Kye, Zea, and Jesse, who were willing to show up and offer advice in spite of the weather. They were all impressed with the MRG, a natural treasure hidden behind the Miracle Mile plaza.


Sarah Riley and Pat McGovern with Apple Corps crew members Zea, Cat, Kye,  and Jesse.

P.S.  Spotted along the way were lots of bloodroot in flower, coltsfoot, ramps (wild leeks) and dandelion greens. Canada geese were in and along the banks of the Mascoma River . .  .   and lots of litter!  We hope Saturday’s Clean-up Day will inspire some Lebanon residents to head to the MRG to check out the raging river, the bloodroot, and help clean up the litter!