Category Archives: Prairie Plants

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.

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
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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

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.

 

 

Photo Of The Week from The Prairie Ecologist Website Silphium Integrifolium | Rosinweed by Chris Helzer/The Nature Conservancy

It’s a tough time of year to be a wildflower photographer. The first spring flowers are still months away, and fall flowers are a distant memory. What’s a guy to do? Gotta make the best of things, I guess.

Here’s a shot from a few weeks ago when we still had snow on the ground.

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A frosty rosinweed seed head in winter prairie. Aurora, Nebraska.

Many wildflowers lose the majority of their flower parts as winter sets in, making them relatively uninteresting to photograph. Rosinweed (Silphium integrifolium) is an exception; while this one has lost its seeds, it has retained much of its characteristic shape, making it easy to identify and fun to photograph.

The frost doesn’t hurt either.

Article from The Prairie Ecologist Website

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Rosinweed In Full Bloom

To Purchase This Wildflower Please Visit Us At Native Wildflowers & Seeds From Ion Exchange, Inc.

President’s Day Special On Wildflowers, Prairie Plants at Native Wildflowers & Seeds from Ion Exchange, Inc.

President’s Day Special

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Get a jump start on your Spring Planting with our President’s Day Special. Contains 84 wildflower, prairie plants that will provide color throughout the seasons.

A special price for a special person.

The Package contains 7 each of the following species:

New England Aster
Anise Hyssop
Lanceleaf Coreopsis
Oxeye Sunflower
Sweet Black-eyed Susan
Rose Milkweed
Blue Vervain
Purple Coneflower
Pale Purple Coneflower
Yellow Coneflower
Canada Milkvetch
Wild Petunia

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

Featured Plant of the Week: Bidens Connata | Swamp Purplestem Beggartick

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Product Description

Swamp Purplestem (Bidens Connata) consists of flowers with ray florets absent. Base of flower with a circle of leaflike, elongate bracts. Seeds (achenes) with two barbs. Leaves undivided, elongate, heavily toothed, occurring in opposite pairs along the stem. Plant 1 to 6 feet in height.

Sun Exposure: Prairie
Soil Moisture: Wet, Wet Mesic
Bloom Time: Summer, Fall – August, September, October
Bloom Color: Yellow
Max Height: 4 Feet

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

 

Perennial Plant of the Week – Polygonatum Canaliculatum | Solomans Seal

 

Polygonatum Canaliculatum | Solomon’s Seal


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Product Description
“Solomon’s Seal, Conquer John, Sealwort”

Polygonatum comes from the Greek word meaning “with many knees”. This is most likely in reference to the bulbous, jointed rhizomes. Canaliculatum comes from the Latin for “channeled” or “with a long groove”. Some botanists and taxonomists divide this particular plant into three different species – P. canaliculatum, P. biflora and P. communtatum. The differences are difficult to tell without magnification..

The common name, Solomon’s seal derives from its rootstock that bears flat round scars which resemble the impression of a seal. Biblical King Solomon’s famous seal was a magical signet ring. A transverse cut on the root was once believed to reveal Hebrew characters left by King Solomon’s seal.

Since each year of growth leaves a new “seal” on the rhizome, you can estimate the age of a Solomon’s seal plant by counting the scars.

Even though the stems can easily reach 6 feet in length, the plant itself is generally 3 feet or less in height with the stems making long, sweeping arches. It’s found on rich woodland soils and occasionally in the open areas of cleared woodlands. It prefers cool moist soil but tolerates dry or damp once established. Green-white to white flowers bloom beneath the leaves from May through June. It is a rugged, deer resistant plant largely unbothered by disease.

The roots, berries and young shoots were once used a sources for food. The Iroquois actually cultivated Solomon’s Seal to use the roots for a dietary staple. The Chippewa believed ingesting the roots would aid in curing back pain and/or kidney problems. In order to achieve its full effect, they believed the medicinal rootstock needed to be saved in a pouch made of bear’s paws. The Meskwaki and Potawatami would place a small piece of root on burning coals to create fumes that could revive one from an unconcsious state. Early settlers used preparations of the root to treat hemorrhoids, arthritis, poison ivy, skin rashes and eczema. They also beleived that an extract from the root of P. canaliculatum would make freckles disappear or diminish.

Edible Uses: Unknown

Medicinal Uses: Unknown

Herbal Uses: Unknown

To Purchase Polygonatum Canaliculatum | Solomans Seal Click Here

To Purchase All Your Native Wildflowers & Prairie Plants Visit Us At Our Website Native Wildflowers & Seeds from Ion Exchange, Inc.

The Prairie Ecologist Photo of the Week – January 17, 2013

Ok, I know milkweed seeds have been done to death by photographers. I, personally, have somewhere around a zillion milkweed seed photos. But milkweed seeds in the winter? With hoar frost? And a snowy background? That’s just magic. How can I not photograph that?

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Frosty milkweed seeds and pods. The Leadership Center Prairie. Aurora, Nebraska.

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By Chris Helzer from The Prairie Ecologist Website

To Purchase All Your Native Wildflowers & Prairie Plants Visit Us At Our Website Native Wildflowers & Seeds from Ion Exchange, Inc.

 

The Prairie Ecologist Article: Lessons From a Project to Improve Prairie Quality – Part 2: Overseeding and Seedling Plugs

Last week, I posted a summary of some findings from a long project to enhance prairie habitat. I focused that post on the lessons we learned from the fire/grazing management portion of the project, including impacts on regal fritillary butterflies. This week, I’m looking at the other half of that project – overseeding and adding seedling plugs to our degraded prairies in order to increase plant diversity. As with last week, you can find all the gritty details, including graphs, tables, and more, by looking at our full final report.

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Maximilian sunflower is one of the species we’ve found easiest to establish in degraded prairies. (These particular sunflowers are for illustration only – not from an overseeded site.)

During the five years of the project, we overseeded approximately 500 acres of prairie – focusing mostly on degraded remnant (unplowed) prairies that were missing many characteristic prairie wildflower species. We harvested our own seed from nearby sites, and broadcast it on degraded prairies right after burning them. The prairies were managed with patch-burn grazing, so cattle grazed those burned areas intensively for the remainder of the first growing season and then focused their grazing elsewhere in subsequent years. To measure success of the seedings, I used replicated plots to count the number of new plants that established from seed. Most of the seedings included multiple seeding rates, so I was able to look at the effect of seeding rate on establishment.

In addition to overseeding, we raised and transplanted more than 800 prairie and wetland seedlings into seven different sites, and added several hundred more seedlings to our nursery beds for seed production. Most transplanting was done in the late spring, and plants were watered on the day of transplanting but afterward. We marked (GPS and flags)and attempted to re-locate seedling plugs to evaluate survival, but that didn’t work out very well, and we didn’t find a lot of the plants we’d plugged in. Some of those plants surely died (which prevented us from finding them), but for others, flags disappeared and GPS points weren’t accurate enough to lead us to the small plants we thought were probably there. We did find some, but our estimates of success are pretty fuzzy.

We learned two major lessons from this portion of the project:

1. Overseeding after a burn in a patch-burn grazed prairie can re-establish at least some missing plant species, but the use of a high seeding rate is important.

2. Overseeding seems to be more cost effective than seedlings, assuming abundant seed can be obtained relatively cheaply.

In tallgrass prairies further to the east of us, people have had pretty good, if inconsistent, luck with overseeding prairies without necessarily having to suppress the vigor of surrounding vegetation. We’ve tried that here, and have seen very low success, maybe because our drier climate (25 inches of precipitation per year) increases competition for moisture? Regardless, our best results have come from seeding after a burn – for good seed/soil contact – followed by grazing of the dominant grasses that appear to be the primary competition for new seedlings. Patch-burn grazing works well, but we’ve also had good luck in the past by just grazing intensively for a month or so after seeding, and then pulling the cattle out.

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Trails from our ATV and broadcast seeder in recently burned prairie. Broadcasting after a burn helps get the seed/soil contact we need. Experiments with light harrowing as a way to get even more soil contact haven’t shown any obvious results. Note the absolute straight lines I made as I planted this site…

Seeding rate was very important. We started by seeding at about the same rate as we use when we converting cropland to high-diversity prairie – about 1-2 lbs of bulk forb seed per acre. As the project went on, we went as high as 8 lbs, and continued to see better results. At least in our prairies, seeding smaller areas with more seed seems to be more effective than spreading limited seed over large areas.

Because others have incorporated light tillage or harrowing to suppress competition and increase seed/soil contact, we tried some of that as well, but our results were mixed. Some tilled plots showed very high establishment, but others showed less than non-tilled plots. We did find that when we tilled a few inches deep, we didn’t seem to kill any plant species – remembering that these are degraded sites already. I would definitely not recommend that others try tillage on a large scale, but in small plots within degraded grasslands, it’d probably be worth some more experimenting. We had a beautiful set of replicated tilled plots that I hoped would clarify the situation in 2012, but the severe drought overwhelmed that attempt.

Even at our highest seeding rates of 8 bulk pounds of forb seed per acre, the density of established plants was relatively low (in our best sites, we established around 150 new plants per acre) but hopefully high enough to create self-sustaining populations that will grow over time. The plant species that established most readily included:

Maximilian sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani)
Sawtooth sunflower (Helianthus grosseserratus)
Stiff sunflower (Helianthus pauciflorus)
Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis)
Entire-leaf rosinweed (Silphium integrifolium)
Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Purple & white prairie clover (Dalea purpurea and D. candida)
Canada milkvetch (Astragalus canadensis) – in some sites
Illinois tickclover (Desmodium illinoense) – in some sites
In terms of seedlings, we have found that most prairie plants are easily grown in greenhouse situations (with some exceptions) but that some take more than a year to germinate, and then perhaps a full year or more to grow large enough to transplant. When we planted the seedlings into prairies, we clumped them together in groups of 5-10 plants to help form populations that could cross pollinate, and to make it easier to find at least one of the plants we’d put in.

TNC greenhouse Platte River Prairies.

Compass plant seedlings and others in our greenhouse.

We had success with seeding plugs in some situations – particularly in terms of getting wetland sedge species established in restored wetlands – but transplant survival in degraded mesic prairies was mixed at best. Most of our transplanting was done in the late spring, as we hoped to synchronize our planting with the wettest time of the year, but we may experiment with more fall planting in the future. We felt that many of our seedlings may have died because they weren’t in the appropriate soil conditions, which we had to guess at since there were no existing populations of most of the species we were transplanting. Broadcasting seed is probably a better way to match up appropriate plant species with their specific microhabitat requirements.

In our situation, it appears that overseeding is a cheaper and more efficient way to increase plant diversity in degraded prairies. Of course, one big reason it makes sense for us is that we have existing capacity for large-scale seed harvest. If enhancement of degraded prairies is a high priority for a landowner or land management entity, it might make sense to build their own seed harvest capacity. That doesn’t necessarily mean large investments in equipment or people, though a pull-behind seed stripper or combine can be a nice way to harvest large amounts of seed quickly. Large amounts of wildflower seed can also be harvested by hand (our typical method) if you are efficient and organized.

By Chris Helzer from The Prairie Ecologist Website

For All Your Native Wildflowers & Seeds Visit Us At Our Website Native Wildflowers & Seeds From Ion Exchange, Inc.