Category Archives: Nature

All about the natural world.

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
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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

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Enhanced Bird Feeding Station Video Using Dormant Native Plant Material

Enhanced Bird Feeding Station Video Using Dormant Native Plant Material


Earthyman explains about how to build an enhanced bird feeding station using dormant native plant material. Here he’s used White Wild Indigo (Baptisia leucantha) from Native Wildflowers and Seeds. http://www.nativewildflowersandseeds.com

News Release Global Great Backyard Bird Count Shatters Records

News Release Global Great Backyard Bird Count Shatters Records

February 21, 2013–From Antarctica to Afghanistan, bird watchers from 103 countries made history in the first global Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), February 15–18, 2013. In the largest worldwide bird count ever, bird watchers set new records, counting more than 25.5 million birds on 120,000+ checklists in four days—and recording 3,144 species, nearly one-third of the world’s total bird species. The data will continue to flow in until March 1.

Building on the success of the GBBC in the United States and Canada for the past 15 years, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Bird Studies Canada opened the count to the rest of the world for the first time this year, powered by eBird, a system that enables people to report birds globally in real-time and explore the results online. Bird watchers are invited to keep counting every day of the year at www.eBird.org.

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Common Redpoll by Missy Mandel, Ontario, 2013 GBBC

Cornell Lab director Dr. John Fitzpatrick says:
“This is a milestone for citizen science in so many respects—number of species, diversity of countries involved, total participants, and number of individual birds recorded. We hope this is just the start of something far larger, engaging the whole world in creating a detailed annual snapshot of how all our planet’s birds are faring as the years go by.”

Audubon Chief Scientist Gary Langham:
“People who care about birds can change the world,” said Audubon chief scientist Gary Langham. “That’s why this year’s record-setting global participation is so exciting. Technology has made it possible for people everywhere to unite around a shared love of birds and a commitment to protecting them.”

Other Key Preliminary Findings:
Top 5 Most Reported Species (reported on highest number of checklists): Northern Cardinal; Dark-eyed Junco; Mourning Dove; Downy Woodpecker; House Finch
Top 5 Most Common Birds (most individuals reported): Snow Goose; Canada Goose; Red-winged Blackbird; European Starling; American Coot
Finch Invasion: A massive number of northern finch species moved into the U.S. including the Common Redpoll, reported in a record 36 states. Scientists believe these periodic movements are related to natural fluctuations in crops of conifer cones and other seeds in Canada.
Hurricane Sandy: The weather system that caused Sandy’s landfall also blew some European birds to North America and evidence of this is still showing up in GBBC results. The colorful, crested Northern Lapwing was reported in Georgia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts during the GBBC.
GBBC First: A Red-flanked Bluetail has wintered at Queens Park, Vancouver, and was also reported for the GBBC’s first record ever. This British Columbia bird has been drawing bird watchers from all over the U.S. and Canada hoping to see this rarity. This little thrush is one of the only birds in the world with a striking blue tail and is native to Asia; the other GBBC report of this species this year was from Japan.
For more information, visit www.birdcount.org.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible in part thanks to founding sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

Contacts:

Pat Leonard, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 607-254-2137, pel27@cornell.edu

David J. Ringer, Director, Media Relations, National Audubon Society, Office 212-979-3062 / Mobile 601-642-7058, dringer@audubon.org

Dick Cannings, Bird Studies Canada, 250-493-3393 (Pacific Coast time), dcannings@birdscanada.org

Article From Great Backyard Birdcount Website

Restoring the Landscape with Native Plants Article Grass-carrying Wasps ~ Isodontia spp.

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Grass-carrying wasps are a flower-visiting solitary wasp, common in late summer and early fall. Because they are solitary-nesting, and not colonial like yellowjackets or hornets, they do not sting humans to defend their nests. It’s an important distinction to make with wasps in our landscapes, so many are solitary and not aggressive.

 

 

 

Bee2They perform important ecosystem services, pollinating the plants in our landscape, and preying on foliage eating insects, crickets and katydids in particular.

Females look for prey, stinging them several times to paralyze and immobilize them. They carry their prey back to their nests, which are preexisting cavities such as hollow stems or holes bored in wood.

 

Bee3 The prey are stocked for their developing larvae to feed upon. Using nearby grasses, nests are divided into sections with pieces of grass, they also close the end of nest with grass.

Bee4If you erect a mason bee nest board (board with nesting holes drilled in it), grass-carrying wasps will sometimes build nests in the cavities. Look for pieces of grass sticking out the ends of the board holes or plant stems.

I have several different variations of stem nests hung in the yard for solitary bees (and wasps), this one in particular has been utilized almost exclusively by grass-carrying wasps. Cup plant and pale Indian plantain stems work extremely well, both are hollow.

Bee5Here’s a cross-section of one of those stems with the wasp larvae and stocked prey. In my yard, the grass-carrying wasps like to use little blue stem to seal off the cavities.

Bee6Look for grass-carrying wasps in late summer. In my yard, they like to visit stiff goldenrod, common boneset and pale Indian plantain flowers for nectar.

 

 

 

 

 

Article Posted From Restoring The Landscape Website

If You Are Interested In Purchasing Our Pollinator Seed Mix Please Visit Us At Our Website Native Wildflowers & Seeds From Ion Exchange, Inc.

 

 

Cedar Valley Home & Garden Article Going native: Start your own wildflower garden from scratch

Going native: Start your own wildflower garden from scratch

The coneflower is a given when compiling lists of popular wildflowers.

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This prairie plant is beloved for its easy-going nature and long-lasting daisy-like blossoms blooms. It attracts bees, butterflies and other insects into the garden, and it’s fun to watch goldfinches dangling upside down dining on seeds plucked from spent heads.

Narrow-leafed purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia) is an Iowa native, along with pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida) and purple conflower (Echinacea purpurea). A few areas of Iowa, mostly on our western edge, you’ll find the yellow prairie coneflower (Ratibida columnifera) and the grey-headed prairie coneflower (Ratibida pinnata).

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Black-eyed and brown-eyed Susans are prized, along with columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) with its cheerful red and yellow nodding blooms, wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) and butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). New England aster (Symphyotricum novae-angliae, previously Aster novae-angliae) is among my personal favorites, and the first type of aster I ever planted. Monarchs passing through my fall garden find it a valuable source of nectar (and a landing pad to rest).

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Search out a source for high-quality seeds and plants that are suited to your growing conditions — location, soil type, sun exposure, etc. The National Garden Bureau, which has declared 2013 the “Year of the Wildflower,” also suggests tracking down fact sheets and publications geared toward your geographic region, such as the Xerces Society (www.xerces.org) and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s extensive database that can be searched by state (www.wildflower.org). Iowa State University Extension also has good resources for wildflower information.

To create your own wildflower garden, follow these NGB suggestions:

1. Prepare the soil by removing weeds and other unwanted vegetation. If the soil is compacted, till lightly so the soil is loose and germinating seeds can put down roots. A bow rake is great for loosening the top layer of soil. Digging or roto-tilling too deep will bring up weed seeds and other plants that will need to be removed later to avoid competing with the wildflower seeds. While it may not be practical or necessary to amend the soil before planting wildflowers, you can add organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure before planting depending on the site.

2. Wildflower seed and seed mixes can be planted in either spring or fall. Spring rains help seeds germinate and plants get established before many weeds have a chance to grow. In cold climates, a dormant seeding of wildflowers can be done in the fall when temperatures are low enough that seed will not germinate until weather warms up the following spring, similar to what happens in nature. Some seeds, especially many of our native perennial wildflower species, need a chilling period to break their dormancy. This is provided naturally by the change in temperatures from winter into spring.

3. Scatter seeds by hand or with a small spreader. Seeds can be raked into the soil or lightly covered with soil. Water thoroughly right after planting and keep seeds and seedlings moist for about 4-6 weeks. Gradually reduce watering as seedlings develop. Identify and remove weed seedlings as soon as possible since they will compete with wildflowers for water, nutrients and space. For dormant seeding, watering after planting seeds is not necessary.

Care & feeding

Annual flowers are more abundant at first because they grow and flower quickly. Perennial plants will follow and eventually become established; many annual and perennial plants may reseed themselves.

Year one: Not all seeds will germinate right away, especially perennial wildflowers. Don’t be disappointed if there is no “instant” meadow. For more immediate results combine seeding wildflowers with planting a few container-grown plants. Plants will quickly get established and compete with weeds that may appear.

Identify and remove weeds when small to prevent spreading. Wildflowers may need additional water if rainfall is sparse, especially during extended heat spells. Avoid cutting flowers so they can seed and fill in the garden next year.

Year two: You’ll see new plants from seed that didn’t germinate the first year. Water if rainfall is inadequate, especially in spring or hot we ather. Remove weeds as they appear. As flowers become established, weeding will lessen. Fill in bare spots with seed or container-grown plants.

Year three and beyond: Minimal maintenance; remove weeds that may move in. Move plants that are too close or overcrowded and use them to fill in bare spots or sow more seeds. You may need to water if there is an extended period of heat. Fertilizing is generally not required.

In the garden setting, you can mulch around plants with compost or well-rotted manure. Mowing or cutting wildflowers to about 6 inches high will spread seeds and keep the garden looking neat. You can dig or rake the soil to regenerate a wildflower garden by improving contact between soil and seeds that have dropped to the ground.

Article Taken From Cedar Valley Home & Garden Website

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Wildflower of The Week: EUPATORIUM PURPUREUM | Sweet Joe Pye This Is a Great Wildflower & Did You Know Gardening Gone Wild Website Has Name This One a Top Perennial Plant for 2013!

Product Description
Sweet Joe Pye Weed, Boneset, Gravel-root, Hempweed, Jopi Root, Jopi Weed, Kidney Root, King-of-the-Meadow, Queen-of-the-Meadow, Marsh Milkweed, Motherwort, Quillwort, Skunk Weed, Stink Trumpet Weed, Quillwort and others”

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Greek, from the name of the King of Pontus, Eupator and the Latin purpureum for “purple”.

Found throughout the Tallgrass Region at the edge of wet places where woodlands open into thickets and marshes. Blooms from July through September on erect stems to ten feet tall. Occasionally, the green stem is mottled with purple that shades to a deep purple at the leaf joints. When crushed or dried, the stem and leaves give off a vanilla-like odor. Flowers are tiny and grow in dome-like clusters up 8 inches across. Flowers are creamy white to pale pink or pale purple. Short petals and long stamens give them a frilly appearance

The astute reader will note that both E. maculatum and E. purpureum are called Joe Pye Weed. The main difference is in the flower heads with E. purpureum being more dome-shaped.

This plant is one of the great stories in Native American medicine. It is named after the east coast Native American, Joe Pye, a member of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who used the plant to cure fevers. It is still used in parts of Appalachia to treat urinary disorders. Some mothers bathed their fretful children in a tea made from Joe Pye Weed to calm them down and bring on a restful sleep. Meskwaki men would nibble the leaves of this plant to ensure success while wooing chosen tribal maidens. We cannot report on the success of this particular usage.

Edible Uses: The roots have been burnt and their ashes used as salt to flavour foods.

Medicinal Uses: Gravel root was used by the native N. American Indians as a diaphoretic to induce perspiration and break a fever. The plant was quickly adopted by the white settlers and still finds a use in modern herbalism. The whole plant, but especially the root, is astringent, diuretic, nervine and tonic. It works particularly on the genito-urinary system and the uterus. Especially valuable as a diuretic and stimulant, as well as an astringent tonic, a tea made from the roots and leaves has been used to eliminate stones from the urinary tract, to treat urinary incontinence in children, cystitis, urethritis, impotence etc. It is also said to be helpful in treating rheumatism and gout by increasing the removal of waste from the kidneys. The leaves and flowering stems are harvested in the summer before the buds open and are dried for later use. The roots are harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.

Other Uses: The stems have been used as straws.

The fruits yield a pink or red textile dye.

Herbal Uses: Unknown

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Plant of the Week from Ion Exchange, Inc. ECHINACEA PALLIDA | Pale Purple Coneflower

Echinacea from the Greek word for “sea urchin” or “hedgehog” referring to the spiny chaff at the center of these flowers. Pallida is from the latin word for “pale”.

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Perennial; reaches 2 to 3 feet; leaves are mostly basal and elongated ovals up to 7 inches long. Single, pale purple flowers top a stem with a few stiff hairs and few leaves. Favors open prairies and dry open woods of the Tallgrass region; occasionally found along undisturbed roadsides. Blooms from May to July.

Native Americans of the Plains are said to have used Echinacea for more medicinal purposes than any other plant group. The root (chewed or brewed in a tea) was used for snakebites, spider bites, cancers, toothaches, burns, hard-to-heal sores, colds and flu. Current science confirms a cortisone-like activity as well as insecticidal, bactericidal and immuno-stimulant activites. It is still considered a nonspecific immune system stimulant. There are over 300 pharmaceutical preparations made in Germany including extracts, salves and tinctures used for wounds, herpes, sores, canker sores and throat infections. It’s also a preventative for colds and flu. An old folk remedy claims success as a treatment for brown recluse spider bites, but it is not known how the plant was prepared for this remedy.

Edible Uses: Unknown

Medicinal Uses: Plants in this genus were probably the most frequently used of N. American Indian herbal remedies, though this species is considered to be less active than E. angustifolim. They had a very wide range of applications and many of these uses have been confirmed by modern science. The plant has a general stimulatory effect on the immune system and is widely used in modern herbal treatments. There has been some doubt over the ability of the body to absorb the medicinally active ingredients orally (intravenous injections being considered the only effective way to administer the plant), but recent research has demonstrated significant absorption from orally administered applications. In Germany over 200 pharmaceutical preparations are made from Echinacea. The roots and the whole plant are considered particularly beneficial in the treatment of sores, wounds, burns etc, possessing cortisone-like and antibacterial activity. The plant was used by N. American Indians as a universal application to treat the bites and stings of all types of insects. An infusion of the plant was also used to treat snakebites.

The plant is adaptogen, alterative, antiseptic, depurative, diaphoretic, digestive, sialagogue. It is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.

Herbal Uses: Unknown

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