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Native Seed Cleaning Demonstration at Ion Exchange, Inc. “Native Seed & Plant Nursery”

Seed Cleaning is in full swing at Ion Exchange, Inc., “Native Seed & Plant Nursery

Fanning Mills are a Critical Element In Cleaning Native Seeds

There are many steps in the process of cleaning native seeds. Each step needs to be understood if you are interested in cleaning your own seed or if you are just curious.

The fanning mill is an old invention but most farmers owned fanning mills to clean their clover seed and oats. However, they are also very effective in eliminating chaff and unwanted weed seeds from native seeds. Usually there are two screens in the mill on a shaker. In older days they were hand cranked to operate but now we have electricity. In the beginning, only one screen was used at a time and held with both hands while shaking back and forth. If the holes were the correct size, the seed would fall through and leave the chaff on top of the screen. We started cleaning our seed this way until we were able to purchase an old 2B Clipper Fanning Mill.

seed1Clipper 2B Fanning Mill

Hand Operated Fanning Mill


Hand Screens



Take a look at a short video of one of our fanning mills.  

For All Your Native Wildflowers & Seeds Visit Our Website at Native Wildflowers & Seeds from Ion Exchange, Inc.



Featured Plant of the Week Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema Triphyllum)

Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema Triphyllum) – Very distinctive spathe (hooded floral leaf) being green or purple brown and often striped, it folds over and shelters the spadix. The flowers are very tiny and actually appear at the base of the spadix. The fruit of this species is every bit as striking as the “flower”; it is a cluster of scarlet berries visible above the woodland floor from a long way off. Jack-in-the-pulpits have both male and female parts, but if the plant is young or weak, only the male parts will be fertile. The female parts are fertile only on older, stronger plants.


The plant resembles a minister in an old fashioned pulpit. Reaches 1 to 3 feet and prefers richly-soiled woods and swamps; found throughout the entire central US and into the east to the Appalachians. It is becoming increasingly rare in some areas. Deer Resistent.

Araceae Family – “Jack-in-the-pulpit, Northern Jack-in-the-pulpit, Small Jack-in-the-pulpit, Swamp Jack-in-the-pulpit, Woodland Jack-in-the-pulpit, Indian Turnip, Green Dragon, Brown Dragon, Dragon Root, Dragonroot, Dragon Plant, Dragon Turnip, March Turnip, Meadow Turnip, Indian Turnip, Wild Turnip, Swamp Turnip, Pepper Turnip, Wild pepper, Starch Plant, Starchwort, Memory Root, American Arum, Thrice-leaved Arum, Devil’s Ear, Priest’s Pintle, Wake-robin, Bog Onion, Cuckoo Plant, Lords and Ladies”.

Arisaema from the Greek aris, a kind of arum and haema, meaning “blood”. Triphyllum is Latin meaning “three leaves”.

Another species that provided a multitude of uses to Native Americans and early settlers, Arisaema triphyllum is probably best remembered as a youthful dare. My first Boy Scout camping trip was highlighted by a challenge to taste the root juice and see if it was sweet or sour. It was, flat out, the hottest, stinging sensation my mouth has ever experienced. In fact, to this day, I still await my revenge on the perpetrator of this “hazing”. (The sensation was caused by the high concentration of calcium oxalate present in the root.)

Some Native Americans used this species to treat sore eyes, others to treat headache with an external application of the powdered root to the temples. It was also used broadly to treat snakebite, ringworm, stomach gas, rheumatism, asthma and many other disorders.

One central Iowa tribe (the Meskwaki) even used it in a form of “guerilla” warfare. Meat would be cooked with the root of Jack-in-the-pulpit, then left along a trail in hopes that their enemies would partake of it. If they did, the high concentration of calcium oxalate would sicken them, with death occasionally resulting.

Edible Uses:
Tuber – it must be thoroughly dried or cooked before being eaten. The roots can be cut into very thin slices and allowed to dry for several months, after which they are eaten like potato chips, crumbled to make a cereal or ground into a cocoa-flavoured powder for making biscuits, cakes etc. They can also be pounded into a powder, this is thern left to dry for several weeks when it becomes safe to use. The root is up to 5cm long and 2cm wide. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

Other Uses:
“A starch obtained from the roots is used as a stiffener for clothes. It is very harsh to the hands, causing blisters and swellings. The seeds have been used in rattles.”

To Purchase This Native Wildflower Visit Us At
Native Wildflowers & Seeds from
Ion Exchange, Inc.
“helping you create your own natural beauty”

Howard Bright “AKA”Earthyman Comments on the Wild Geranium Pollinators & Floral Visitors Article

We always wait until we can see the seeds turning black and before the triggers are set in the seed dispersal mechanism. If the seeds are showing on to of the triggers, it’s too risky to try and collect them as they will be shot off into space by these strong catapults. If you are able to collect them just before this happens, you can also collect the ones that are a bit greenish too. After collecting, spread them out in a dry place and cover with a sheet to keep them from ejecting into the room and spread all around. Take a look at this video on you tube 

Pic1Like many spring-flowering native plants, wild geranium flowers have the ability to self-pollinate when no pollinators are present. However, the flower matures to ensure cross-pollination when insects are present, with the row of outer anthers developing on the first or second day after the flowers open, followed by the inner row on the second or third day. The stigma becomes receptive after the anthers have dehisced on the third or forth day.

Bees, flies and beetles visit the flower for nectar and pollen. Nectar is secreted from five glands located between the stamens and sepals. In a study by Bertin et al, bees visiting for nectar were responsible for depositing more pollen than pollen collecting bees. Larger bees such as bumble bees and mason bees are considered effective pollinators because pollen brushed onto the underside of their abdomen contacts the stigma. Smaller bees are able to circle around the base of the stamens feeding on nectar without coming into contact with pollen from the anthers above.

Wild geranium flowers are over one inch in width and extremely showy. Dark lines on the flowers act as nectar guides, showing pollinators the location of the nectaries at the base of the stamens.


Small Carpenter Bees, Ceratinaspp.
Smaller bee species circle the base of the flower seeking out nectar without coming in contact with the anthers and stigmas above.


Cuckoo Bees, Nomada spp. 

Wild geranium is a nectar source for this cuckoo bee in early spring. Female Nomada bees lay their eggs in the nests of ground nesting native bees, especially mining bees (Andrena spp.). The cuckoo bee eggs hatch and the larvae kills the host bee larvae and consumes the provisions provided by the host. Nomada bees are reddish-brown to black with yellow or white markings.


Mason Bees Osmia spp.
Mason bees visit wild geranium for both pollen and nectar. Females land on top of the anthers gathering them together with her legs. Pollen is brushed onto the pollen-collecting hairs on the underside of the abdomen. Wild geranium is an important source of pollen and nectar for mason bees, it flowers when females are provisioning their nests.


Sweat Bees Halictus spp.
Sweat bees visit the flowers to feed on nectar.


Fruitworm Beetles Byturus unicolor
Long, dense hairs cover the elytra of these beetles where pollen grains attach. Adults emerge from the soil in early spring, feed on host plants (raspberries, blackberries and avens), mate, then lay eggs. Larvae burrow into the flower buds and fruit of the host species and buds drop off or decay. Fruit becomes misshapen and ‘wormy’. Look for adult beetles feeding on the pollen of woodland natives in early spring such as Viriginia waterleaf and wild geranium.

Bertin, R. I., & Sholes, O. D. (1993). Weather, pollination and the phenology of Geranium maculatum. American Midland Naturalist, 52-66. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2426435

Willson, M. F., Miller, L. J., & Rathcke, B. J. (1979). Floral display in Phlox and Geranium: adaptive aspects. Evolution, 52-63. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2407365

Article From Restoring The Landscape Website

To Purchase Wild Geranium Please Visit Our Website at Native Wildflowers & Seeds from Ion Exchange, Inc.

Wildflowers threatened by “safe” levels of nitrogen pollution Article

Mothers Garden

By Jaymi Heimbuch
from Treehugger Website

Wildflower season will be here before we know it and with it a new understanding of how we are affecting spring foliage. New science shows that even “safe” levels of nitrogen pollution — pollution caused by the agricultural industry through nitrogen fertilizers — have ill effects on wildflowers. While the fertilizer is a boon for farmers looking to boost crop yields, it has incredibly disastrous effects in other ecosystems, most noticeable in the gulf where agricultural run-off has triggered massive marine dead zones. And on land, wildflowers are also suffering a blow.

The Ecologist reports that a new paper written by Dr Richard Payne and Professor Nancy Dise, of Manchester Metropolitan University, and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looks at 100 plant species in 153 grassland sites across Europe and examines their reactions to nitrogen deposition.

The scientists found that many species, particularly wildflowers such as creeping buttercup, harebell, yarrow, and autumn hawkbit, were much less abundant in areas with high nitrogen levels, such as central Britain, the Netherlands, northern Germany and Brittany. But particularly surprising was the discovery that many species declined at very low levels of pollution, often below the legally-recognised ‘safe’ level.

The findings show that even relatively “clean sites” far away from the source of pollution are still negatively affected, with a reduced abundance of some plant species. And this is no small issue. According to The Ecologist, “The scale of the problem is huge. It has been estimated nitrogen pollution costs the countries of the European Union alone up to €320 billion a year– but progress in tackling it has been limited… Nitrogen fertilizers are essential to feeding the world’s population but we can try to reduce the amount we use and the amount we lose into the environment.”

While more attention is paid to the marine ecosystems impacted by nitrogen pollution, the study shows that an equal amount needs to be paid to the damages caused by the pollution to ecosystems on land — from tropical rainforests to wildflower fields.

For All Your Native Wildflowers & Seeds Please Visit Our Website at Native Wildflowers & Seeds from Ion Exchange, Inc.



Do’s and Don’ts for Erosion Control Article with a Preface from Howard Bright of Ion Exchange, Inc. aka: Earthyman

In controlling erosion, one must start looking to the headwaters of the watershed. Sheet and rill erosion are the major contributor to siltation of our rivers. Even gently sloping land can have severe erosion if the surface is not protected by a vegetative umbrella. Native grasses are the ultimate solution to these two types of erosion.  It’s too late if we are already in the river up to our knees in mud and looking for a solution after the fact.  Always look upstream first and then work your way down the watershed taking care of erosion problems on your way to the main river or watercourse.

Howard Bright, President Ion Exchange, Inc.
Native Wildflowers & Seeds from Ion Exchange, Inc.

Here’s the Complete Article “Do’s and Don’ts for Erosion Control”

By Susan Boyd
Shoreline Management Ranger, J. Strom Thurmond Lake

Did you know that silting can reduce the long-term depth of your cove? Silting is a natural process caused by soil erosion. Our shoreline management team is here to help permit holders and adjacent property owners resolve these issues within the laws and regulations that apply. Here’s a list of Do’s and Don’ts for how you can control erosion and prevent silting in your cove.


1. Reduce the potential for erosion by maintaining vegetated buffers around properties and bodies of water. While grassed lawns may help hold soil in place, trees, shrubs and native herbaceous plants can significantly slow the rate of erosion, as well as benefit native wildlife. (Herbaceous plants are fleshy, herb-like plants, many of which die back during the winter. They can be annuals, biennials or perennials).
2. If erosion gullies begin to develop, placing natural, woody debris in the gullies can slow the flow of water, subsequently slowing the rate of erosion. On public land, however, only dead, fallen vegetation originating on public land can be placed in gullies and ditches. Woody debris and materials from private land cannot be placed on public land. All material placed in gullies should be placed in such a manner to slow erosion, but not creating a large mound or pile.
3. Installing waterbars, drains and other diversionary measures on private land can re-direct water away from gullies and dissipate the flow of water, reducing the potential for further erosion and soil loss. Diversionary measures should be placed on private land.
4. If clearing private land adjacent to waterbodies or public land, utilize silt fences and other erosion control measures, and always obtain the necessary state and local soil erosion control permits for land-disturbing and construction activities.
5. If soil erosion has already occurred along the shoreline, it is possible to limit the extent of the erosion by stabilizing the existing shoreline. Permits can be obtained from the Corps of Engineers to place rip-rap, natural stone, and/or bioengineered materials along eroded shoreline to stabilize the shoreline and reduce the potential for future erosion.
6. If silt has accumulated in coves and along the shoreline, adjacent property owners can obtain permits from the Corps of Engineers to excavate the accumulated silt and restore natural depths within the cove.


1. Don’t place non-natural materials and debris in gullies and ditches. Placing non-natural materials (including treated wood) in gullies can constitute illegal disposal of waste materials and can result in water and soil pollution and contamination as materials decompose.
2. Don’t plant non-native plants and trees to control erosion. When possible on private land, always try to plant native vegetation. Many non-native plants, including the ornamentals commonly found in gardens and landscaping, can be invasive and can negatively impact natural plant and animal communities. Invasive species often out-compete and choke out native plants and trees. Only native vegetation may be planted on public land and must be approved by the Corps of Engineers.
3. Don’t clearcut buffers along streams, waterways and waterbodies. Vegetated buffers naturally slow the flow of water and reduce erosion and siltation within waterbodies.
4. Don’t conduct any shoreline stabilization, excavation or install soil erosion control measures on public land without the appropriate permits and approvals. Always contact your shoreline ranger or nearest Corps office prior to activities on public land. While many options are available for controlling erosion and removing silt from coves, all actions on public land require approval and permits.

For more information regarding shoreline management at Thurmond Lake, please contact the Thurmond Operation Project Manager’s Office toll free at 1-800-533-3478 or email us at CESAS-OP-T@usace.army.mil. For information on Hartwell Lake, please contact the Hartwell Operations Project Manager’s Office toll free at 1-888-893-0678 or email CESAS-OP-H@usace.army.mil.

Article from Balancing The Basin Website
US Army Corps of Engineers *Savannah District

Featured Plant of the Week: OENOTHERA PILOSELLA | Prairie Sundrops



Product Description: Prairie Sundrops are bushy plants that have flower clusters or hairy buds atop hairy stems. Flowers are bright yellow, 2″ wide and have four large petals, large showy stamens, and fine white or transparent lines that radiate outward from the center of the flower.

Sun Exposure: Prairie, Savanna; Soil Moisture: Wet Mesic, Dry Mesic; Bloom Time: Summer, Fall; Bloom Color: Yellow; Max Height: 2 Feet.

To Purchase OENOTHERA PILOSELLA | Prairie Sundrops Please Visit Our Website At Native Wildflowers & Seeds from Ion Exchange, Inc.

Featured Plant of the Week SILENE REGIA | Royal Catchfly

SILENE REGIA | Royal Catchfly


Royal catchfly can reach 4 feet tall and with brilliant scarlet flowers blooming from June to September it can be spotted from a long way off. Stems are usually unbranched below the flowers and feels hairy and slightly clammy to the touch. Becoming less frequent but locally abundant in some mesic prairies and oak savannas. Very scattered in the southern ranges of the Tallgrass prairie region.

Sun Exposure: Prairie, Savanna
Soil Moisture: Mesic, Dry Mesic
Bloom Time: Summer (July, August)
Bloom Color: Red
Max Height: 4 Feet
Wetland Code: UPL
Germ Code: C(60)
Seeds Per Ounce: 23,000

To Purchase This Native Wildflower Please Visit Our Website At Native Wildflowers & Seeds from Ion Exchange, Inc.


Ohio Spiderwort – Tradescantia Ohioensis Video from Earthyman

Earthyman shows Ohio Spiderwort – Tradescantia ohioensis blooming at Ion Exchange native seed and plant nursery. Spiderwort blooms in June and may bloom again in the fall.

Slender, erect stems, often with a purple tinge. Flowers are blue to purple, occasionally white and appear in dense clusters at the tops of the stems. Leaves are long and quite like those of an Iris. Found in dry to mesic praires and savannas and along roadsides and railroads. Relatively common to all but the northwest portions of the Tallgrass biome.

Seeds and plants and be purchased our Website Native Wildflowers & Seeds


House “Sodsaver” Measure Would Protect Native Prairie Habitat

Protect Our Prairies Act would limit taxpayer-funded incentives to destroy native grasslands

02-14-2013 // Aviva Glaser

Representatives Noem (R-SD) and Walz (D-MN) today introduced legislation to save America’s grasslands through a national sodsaver provision. The Protect Our Prairies Act, which has the support of eight bipartisan co-sponsors, is common-sense legislation that would reduce taxpayer-funded incentives to destroy vital grassland resources.

Aviva Glaser, Legislative Representative for Agriculture Policy at National Wildlife Federation, said today:

America is at risk of losing one our most iconic ecosystems. Native prairies, along with the wildlife that are dependent upon them, are disappearing at an alarming rate. The Protect Our Prairies Act will help protect this vital resource by promoting management practices that conserve native grasslands.

“Without a national sodsaver provision, we will continue to see native prairie habitats converted to cropland, despite the fact that this vulnerable land is often marginal, highly erodible, or prone to flooding. It’s time we get rid of the perverse incentives that encourage farmers to destroy native prairie for marginal financial gain.

“With this legislation we can protect vital habitat for declining wildlife and save taxpayer dollars while ensuring that some the riskiest land for crop production is kept in grazing use. It is critical that the House Agriculture Committee include this national sodsaver provision in the 2013 Farm Bill.”

Link to The National Wildlife Federation