Latin for Gardeners: October 2018

October’s Native Maryland Plant
Callicarpa americana (L.) (kal-lee-KAR-pah ah-mer-ih-KAY-nah)
Common Name: American Beautyberry


Remembering that this is the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)¹, you can help feed our winged-friends by planting this month’s plant:  Callicarpa americana.  This shrub has a berry that is simply hard to ignore – they are a bright, almost metallic purple and they stand out in the garden well into the wintering season.

This Coastal Plain shrub will attract pollinators in the spring and a variety of birds in late winter.  It is frequently planted in a conservation landscape because it provides both food and cover for birds.  The berries appear as clusters (cymes) and cling tightly to the sprawling woody branches.  This is a very adaptable shrub that can be pruned heavily and will recover in one season. For this reason, you can even grow it in a large pot and prune it to 6” in the spring – it flowers on new growth. Its beaded branches also make beautiful dry arrangements. Callicarpa spp. can also be planted as a vegetated buffer plant along streams and waterways – not in the water but along the stream where it will prevent erosion and add to the diversity of plants that support birds. If you’re able to visit the Howard County Conservancy this fall, you can see the unusual white variety of Callicarpa americana blooming now - Callicarpa americana var. lactea is in the lower garden to the left of the entrance. 


Callicarpa comes from two Greek words: callos meaning beauty and carpos, fruit – referring to its most distinguishing feature.  The specific epithet, americana, is Latin for “from the Americas”.

NOTE: You may have heard that American Beautyberry has been used as a folk remedy to prevent mosquito bites. In fact, a chemical isolated from Callicarpa spp. has been shown to act as a mosquito repellant; callicarpenal has been patented by the USDA Agriculture’s Research Service² and is used as a mosquito repellent.

~ Alison Milligan – MG/MN 2013
Master Watershed Steward Class 7

Steward Spotlight: Bob Keddell

Why did you become a Master Watershed Steward?
Environmental Education has always been a major part of my 40+ year education career.  I have enjoyed the privilege of helping youth and colleagues create State of Maryland Green School Status, fulfilled multiple Chesapeake Bay Trust Grants, participated in research with renowned Smithsonian Environmental Scientists in the local region as well as the country of Panama.  This was an opportunity to extend and improve my career emphasis.

 Bob Keddell and Class 10 Environmental Literacy Candidate Tatiana Klein

Bob Keddell and Class 10 Environmental Literacy Candidate Tatiana Klein

How did you hear about WSA?
My participation at organizations like the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education and other conferences have helped me become aware of highly active environmental organizations like WSA.

Why is restoring the waterways important to you?
My first response is that I have been in more streams with kids than I can recall or count.  Water is magic when working with youth rather it is in the great outdoors or with an aquarium in a school.  Water quality always takes center stage right alongside the quality of life and learning.

Why did you choose to focus on environmental literacy?
I am an educator first and foremost.  My career spans opportunities to work with thousands of “at risk” or kids who need to get outdoors to feel whole.  There are really two parts then to “environmental literacy”.  (1.) “Environment” or an ability to understand and appreciate ecosystems and (2.) An ability to act upon that knowledge to maintain all that one learns through civic engagement.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned during the certification course?
I have often worked with informal education organizations and their environmental missions.  It was good for me to see and appreciate individual citizens’ missions to make a difference.

What was your favorite aspect of the Master Watershed Steward certification course?
Working in a collegial team to complete the capstone requirements.

What advice do you have for our Class 11 Steward Candidates?
Jump in the water, the water is cool.

How do you plan to continue engaging the community in your environmental efforts?
I have currently named myself a post capstone project entitled “PROJECT INTERGROW”. Rather it is successful or not it will be worth the mission behind the project – to bring environmental education in meaningful hands on ways to minority populations in Inner Annapolis.

Remembering Kincey Potter


Along with most of the environmental community in Anne Arundel County, I am weeping at the loss of my dear friend Kincey Potter and simultaneously so thankful to have had her in my life.     

Kincey’s list of accomplishments and significant contributions to water quality in Anne Arundel County cannot be understated.  So many local organizations—South River Federation, Anne Arundel League of Conservation Voters, String of Pearls, Watershed Stewards Academy—have benefited from her tenacity, vision and leadership.  Kincey worked for years building political and popular support for a dedicated revenue stream for watershed restoration.  When the Watershed Protection and Restoration Fee was implemented in 2013, and later challenged in 2015, she worked hard to organize speakers for public hearings, sat down with elected officials to discuss details, and later, celebrated the accomplishments of this program.  You can read more here.


Kincey’s passion and tireless activism for clean water have had an impact on all the residents of Anne Arundel County.  But I also want to share a bit about what Kincey meant to me personally.   If you are lucky, you have in your life a person who tells it like it is, pushes you beyond your comfort zone and is 100% positive that you reach your goals.  Kincey was that person in my life. 

When I first shared the idea of WSA with Kincey back in 2007,  I was so excited about this new model to engage communities and thought it was just the right compliment to the work of great watershed organizations like South River Federation.  Kincey’s response was, “Well that sounds like a great idea, but you will never get people to commit to becoming Master Watershed Stewards.”  Nevertheless, Kincey rolled up her sleeves and jumped right in.  She served on the very first committees that designed the WSA Course and developed the Consortium of Support Professionals.   Her experience with organizational development made her an instrumental part of the first WSA Advisory Board and it was her signature that graced the incorporation paperwork when WSA became a 501 c 3 organization in 2010.   By the time the first class of Master Watershed Stewards graduated in 2010, she was hooked.  Here we are 10 years later, with over 200 Master Watershed Stewards who have dedicated themselves to making their communities healthier and their streams cleaner.  It is certainly not an understatement to say that WSA would not be what it is today, if not for Kincey. 

2011 Capstone presentation night 052.jpg

Starting a non-profit is hard work, and there were many bumps along the way.  Through it all, Kincey’s faith in WSA and her faith in me never waivered.    She was not deterred when a task seemed daunting, and never, ever gave up.   As the first WSA Board Development Chair, Kincey mentored our organization, and me in particular, through engaging individuals and corporations in the mission of WSA through financial support.  She led by example, she gave, and she invited others to give.  

Most of all, she admired the work of Watershed Stewards.  Kincey has always been an action-oriented leader, and firmly believed that less talk and more action, whether for in-ground projects or implementing strong environmental policies, is the winning formula.    I think this is why she resonated so strongly with WSA. 

This Sunday, WSA will celebrate our 10-Year Anniversary with a party at Mayo Beach Park.  I invite all who knew and loved Kincey to join us there for a special remembrance of this amazing woman.  Our Legacy of WSA commemoration will be held at 2 p.m. but please come before or stay later to enjoy an afternoon at one of Anne Arundel County’s most beautiful beaches.    Details and registration may be found at: 

And in Kincey’s honor, please join with me in taking action today: pick up some dog poop, talk to someone about stormwater, pull some invasive plants, give to your favorite environmental organization.  Kincey knew that all actions, big and small, can make a difference.  Join me in celebrating the memory of this amazing leader, mentor, and friend by taking action today!