Category Archives: Native Plants

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

References 
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

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Featured Plant of the Week: OENOTHERA PILOSELLA | Prairie Sundrops

OENOTHERA PILOSELLA | Prairie Sundrops

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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

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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

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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

 

Beguilding Beetls in the Wildflife Garden Article by Heather Holm from Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens

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Beetles are a very diverse insect order and many beetles are frequent flower visitors; they are pollinators, beneficial insects predating on problem insect populations such as aphids, as well as parasitoids of other flower visitors. See similar posts about Fantastic Flies and Wonderful Wasps
The two most common flower visitors are soldier beetles (Cantharidae family) and long-horned beetles (Cerambycidae family). Beetles visit flowers to feed on pollen and nectar. Some have hairs on their tongue tip that act like pollen brushes, but typically they use their mandibles for chewing pollen grains.

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Beetle Life Cycles and the Greater Food Web – It’s All Connected
Many beetle larvae are wood-boring, feeding on wood fibers or the fungus that inhabits decaying wood. By leaving dead standing trees (snags), or downed tree logs on the ground (nurse logs) in your landscape, you are providing valuable habitat for beetle larvae and the birds who feed on the larvae such as woodpeckers. Many native bee species use the abandoned wood burrows made by beetle larvae as nesting sites. Some examples include leafcutter bees, Megachile spp., mason bees, Osmia spp. and carpenter bees, Xylocopa spp.
Banded Longhorn Beetles, Typocerus velutinus

Banded Longhorn Beetles, Typocerus velutinus
Common on coneflowers, this beetle feeds on pollen and nectar, their larvae are wood-boring.

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Beetles can sometimes be destructive; some are not delicate flower visitors by any means, their mandibles chew on flower parts and foliage causing damage in some cases. For example, these blister beetles, Lytta sayi, are destructive feeders on legume flowers such as wild white indigo, Baptisia alba.

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Many flower visiting beetles have hairy bodies where pollen grains attach aiding in the pollination of flowers. They often show a preference for white, cream or green colored flowers, with a strong, fruity or fermenting odor. The hard wings (elytra) provide some protection to beetles while they visit flowers. They are not easily scared off by other flower-visiting insects and will spend several minutes on a flower feeding on floral resources.

Locust Borer Beetle, Megacyllene robiniae
Locust borer beetles feed on pollen and are found on many goldenrod species in late summer. A possible survival strategy is to mimic wasps with black and yellow coloring, a good bird deterrent. The larvae of this beetle excavate tunnels in the wood of black locust trees (Robinia pseudoacacia).

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Blister Beetles, Nemognatha spp.
These blister beetles are common on black-eyed susans, often feeding on nectar. They have strange looking mouthparts consisting of long maxillae that they use to suck nectar, they can also feed on pollen with their mandibles. Females lay their eggs on flowers, when the larvae hatch, they attach themselves to visiting bees and are carried back to the bee nests. The beetle larvae kill the bee larvae and consume the bee provisions of pollen and nectar.

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Fire-Colored Beetles, Pedilus spp.
Fire-colored beetles are common flower-visitors in the spring. Larvae feed on fungi in decaying wood. Look for these beetles on flowers near woods often where blister beetles occur. Male fire-colored beetles will climb onto blister beetles, prompting them to release cantharidin, a defensive chemical. The male fire-colored beetles then lick the cantharidin off the blister beetle and use the chemical to attract females. When the male beetles mate with females, the cantharidin is transferred to the female. Her eggs are coated with cantharidin which helps protect them from predation.

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PREDATION (BENEFICIAL INSECTS)

Soldier Beetles, Family Cantharidae
Soldier beetles visit flowers for pollen and nectar, they are very common in mid- to late-summer.Their narrow head, thorax, and maxillary tongue allow them to access flower nectar in fairly deep flower corollas.Considered a beneficial insect, soldier beetle larvae feed on aphids, fly larvae, small caterpillars, beetle larvae and grasshopper eggs. Some adults in this family also feed on aphids. One defense mechanism of soldier beetles is to secrete a chemical compound so they are unpalatable to predators.

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Ladybird Beetles, Cycloneda spp.
Both adults and larvae feed on soft-bodied insects (mainly aphids) and are utilized in the biological control of aphids. Females can consume hundreds of aphids before laying eggs. These beetles overwinter in groupings as adults and emerge in spring. Look for ladybird beetle eggs laid near aphid clusters, often under the flowerheads.

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Wedge Shaped Beetle, Macrosiagon limbatum
A distinctive, triangular-shaped small beetle. Both male and female wedge-shaped beetles are found on native plants visited by wasps (and bees), where the female lays her eggs on the foliage. When an egg hatches the tiny first stage larva attaches itself to a visiting wasp or bee. The host carries it back to its nest where the beetle larva burrow into the host larva and live as an internal parasite.The developing wedge-shaped beetle larva continues to consume its host from the inside and eventually emerges from the host body. It then proceeds to feed on the host from the outside until the host dies.

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Tiphiid Wasp, Myzinum spp.
These wasps visit late summer natives for nectar. Males have a menacing looking ‘pseudostinger’ on the end of their abdomen. Females burrow into the ground and lay their eggs on scarab beetle grubs which their larvae consume as they develop.

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Milkweed Leaf Beetle, Labidomera clivicollis
Milkweed leaf beetles are one of several beetles who specialize feeding on the foliage of milkweed (Asclepias) plants. Overwintering adults emerge in early spring. Females typically lay their eggs on the underside of milkweed leaves; look for bright red to orange egg clusters. Larvae hatch and develop in several instar stages during the summer months and feed on milkweed flowers and foliage. Adults are again active in the fall preparing to overwinter.

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