An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

September 30, 2008

It's What's n' Yew

Today I had to spray some toxic chemicals on a few plants around the nursery, mostly to control some late season scale. As I was about to drench the Plum Yews (Cephlotaxus), a green vine caught my eye climbing up through the branches. I soon realized that it was no vine, but a Rough Green Snake. If I had to pick a favorite local serpent, it would be this one. Sure other snakes might be more powerful, larger or venomous, but I like this one precisely because it is not powerful, large or venomous, and if snakes could have a good disposition, this one does. Fortunately we were able to catch it for relocation before the spraying started. The Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus) is Virginia's only arboreal serpent. According to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, this snake is usually found in small trees, bushes, briar patches and vines, and it is particularly attracted to lush green vegetation overhanging streams. They can be well adapted to suburban and urban areas as long as there is plenty brush and vegetation. Green Snakes mainly eat grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, caterpillars, snails, slugs, and small frogs. The main threat to their existence is lack of, or destruction of, habitat, but I am sure that spraying chemicals such as I was about to do, kills off many of their food sources. However, I can't sell plants with scale, and such a paradox is my life. (Thanks do D.M. for her use as a hand model, maybe she has a future in wrist watch advertising)


  1. Better DM than me! lol I'm not fond of snakes even if they are have a good disposition. ;)

  2. What a pretty snake and so glad you saved it from the spraying.

  3. Very pretty, I'm sure, but on a sombre note:

    I do hope that you are as considerate to your customers as you are to said snake: You do it well out of hours and put signs up where and when you distributed those chemicals?

    Pesticides kill or damage immune systems. I know to my cost. The fact that it is out of doors doesn't mean it is safe or harmless to humans. And vapours hang about for quite a while.

  4. Les, what a beauty! And what a great shot. You should submit it to some snake lover site or competition. The contrast of texture is so striking.

    I think if I were that close to an unexpected snake, I’d be rather happy it weren’t “more powerful, larger or venomous” too. You sound so calm. I love snakes, but that would have made me jump. I’m glad you saved her. I had 2 pet snakes growing up.

    Too bad about your flooding below.

  5. Thanks to all of you for visiting an commenting.

    Joco, I only spray chemicals as a last resort when other efforts fail and it is either after hours or I rope off the affected areas.