Nature Notes
Citizen Science

Citizen Science Needs You!Featured

cit·i·zen sci·ence


 1. the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists

Please check out “Resources” on the top bar for volunteer opportunities such as this one from Wild South.

This is a training event for those interested in helping restore Spruce-fir Forests through citizen science.

Saturday, March 31 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
160 Zillicoa Street, Asheville, NC 28801

Join Wild South and the USFWS as he guides you through the process of collecting data that will help us save Spruce-fir Forests in North Carolina. This project will gather data that is essential to understanding the health of Spruce-fir Forests across Western North Carolina and will help us set priorities for the restoration of the 2nd most endangered ecosystem in the United States.

This event will cover the use of two apps that will be needed to navigate to the focal areas and then collect data at those locations. You will learn how to use these two apps, what data will be collected, and how to collect those data accurately.

Event Details:
9:00 am – Meet at the USFWS office in the lobby
9:15 – 10:00 am – Project information and instructions on Apps
10:00 – 11:30 am – Field trip to nearby Spruce-Fir Forest for field data collection training
12:00 noon – return to USFWS office, Training Done!

Please email

Most of us carry our phones and use them as our camera while hiking and walking. Here is an easy way to help out! Contact for more information!

Birds, Inspiration

Photographer of the Month – Jonathan Marchal


Jonathan Marchal is the Youth Education Manager at The North Carolina Arboretum, a position that affords him many opportunities to enjoy the beauty and biodiversity of our mountains. He is also past president of the Environmental Educators of North Carolina, and an avid contributor to iNaturalist (in fact, most of the images included here are also observations he has submitted) and other citizen science projects. Jonathan is also a woodworker, and his wife Sarah raise their two children (Harper, 5 and Bruce, 3) in Black Mountain and enjoy frequent romps throughout Pisgah National Forest, the Blue Ridge Parkway and surrounding areas.


Spring Trees

Spring Trees by Scott Dean, Local Naturalist and photographer

Redbud Flower photo by Scott Dean

Sarvisberry photo by Scott Dean

Scott Dean, Local Naturalist and photographer

Some of my favorite things are the trees that flower in the Spring. The beauty of these trees is self-evident, but equally interesting and far less known are some of the stories and facts about them. Many of these stories concern the origin of common names and traditional uses of the trees. These stories represent a part of the heritage of our region. Sadly, as our “old timers” become fewer, this lore is in danger of being lost as well. Here are two of my favorite flowering trees.
While many people recognize the Redbud, Cercis canadensis, not many know that it is a member of the Pea family (Fabaceae) and has a flower that, except for the color, is identical to the flowers on a garden pea. This is one of the only species of trees in our region with flowers growing directly from the bark of the trunk and branches. The flowers can be eaten as a salad or fried in fritters. According to myth, Judas Iscariot hanged himself from a member of this genus, Cercis siliquasastrum, and the white flowers of all the trees in this genus turned red from shame.
One of our most gorgeous trees is the Downy Serviceberry, Amelanchier arborea which is a member of the Rose family (Rosaceae). An early Spring bloomer, this tree features white star-shaped flowers, each having five narrow petals on slender stalks. Found in dry or moist woods, this is a common tree throughout our region.
One common name was the “Sarvisberry.” The earliest settlers in the mountains associated its early blooming period with the easing of winter and improved travel conditions for the circuit-riding preachers. These preachers could then reach the remote communities to hold services (sarvices) such as weddings, funerals and baptisms. In the coastal region of the state, a close relative of the tree is called the Shadbush because its bloom coincides with the seasonal run of a fish called the Shad.
Another spring flowering tree is the Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida, with its’ distinctive 4 part blossom. The four “petals” are actually bracts, which subtend the flowers that grow in the cluster of small blossoms in the center. The maroon blotches at the tips of the bracts led to many regional old timers calling it the Easter Tree as those blotches were said to represent the wounds on Christ’s hands and feet from the crucifixion. An old, bluegrass gospel tune tells of how wood from a Dogwood was used to make the cross on which Jesus was nailed. During the time he was on the cross he sensed that the very wood was upset at being used in this fashion. His gift to the tree was that it would never grow large enough to be used so foully.

Dogwood Tree photo by Scott Dean

Spring is approaching, and a lot of interesting things are starting to happen. Birds are singing and pairing off for breeding season, wildflowers will soon be blooming, and the hills will be green before you know it. Now is a great time to start getting out and watching the progress of this annual awakening.
This article was originally published in the Friends of the WNC Nature Center newsletter, Vol. XXII, No. 2, April – May 2000

Dogwood photo by Scott Dean