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

Bee1

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

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Featured Plant of the Week AMORPHA FRUTICOSA | False Indigo

AMORPHA FRUTICOSA | False Indigo

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Product Description
False Indigo (Amorpha Fruiticosa) is common in moist prairie thickets and along streams and rivers in prairies throughout the Tallgrass Region. Not as common east of Illinois. Large, bushy shrubs can reach 10 feet, generally 5 to 6 feet. Blooms from late spring to midsummer. Also known as Desert False Indigo, Indigobush, and Indigo Bush.

Amorpha from the Greek amorphos meaning “without shape” which refers to the flower having only one petal. Legume.

Plant Family: Fabaceae

Sun Exposure Savanna, Prairie
Soil Moisture Mesic, Wet Mesic, Dry Mesic
Bloom Time Late Spring, Summer
June, July, August
Bloom Color Purple
Max. Height 10 Feet
Wetland Code FACW+
Germ Code C(10), I
Seeds Per Packet 100
Seeds Per Ounce 3,700

Edible Uses: The crushed fruit is used as a condiment.

Medicinal Uses: No known medicinal uses reported.

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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

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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

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

bidens_connata__82916__33519.1336784694.1280.1280

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

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Native Wildflowers & Seeds from Ion Exchange, Inc.

 

News Release: Great Backyard Bird Count Goes Global Feb. 15-18

Bird watchers worldwide invited to participate online

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February 5, 2013—For the first time, anyone anywhere in the world with Internet access can participate in the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) February 15-18. Participants simply watch birds at any location for at least 15 minutes, tally the numbers of each species they see, and report their tallies online at www.BirdCount.org. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada.

This year, anyone visiting the GBBC website will be able to see bird observations pouring in from around the world and contribute their own tallies. Global participation will be made possible thanks to eBird, a real-time online checklist program that the Cornell Lab and Audubon are integrating into the GBBC for the first time this year. The GBBC is open to anyone of any skill level and welcomes bird observations from any location, including backyards, national parks, gardens, wetlands, and urban landscapes. The four-day count typically receives sightings from tens of thousands of people reporting more than 600 bird species in the United States and Canada alone.

“We’re eager to see how many of the world’s 10,240 bird species will be reported during the count this year,” said Cornell Lab director John Fitzpatrick. “We’re looking forward to this historic snapshot of birds that that will be reported from around the world. We need as many people as possible to help build the wealth of data that scientists need to track the health of bird populations through time.”

Participants will be able to view what others are seeing on interactive maps and contribute their tallies for ongoing bird research and conservation efforts. For the first time, participants will also be able to upload their counts from the field using the eBird BirdLog app for Apple or Android smartphones. To celebrate the new global reach of the count, developers of the eBird BirdLog app are offering regional versions of the app for just 99 cents through February 18. Learn more

Just how big is this year’s irruption of northern finches and other species such as the Red-breasted Nuthatch? GBBC reports will help define the answer. Photo by Christine Haines, 2012 GBBC. “This count is so much fun because anyone can take part, whether you are an expert, novice, or feeder watcher,” said Gary Langham, Audubon’s Chief Scientist. “Invite new birders to join and share the experience. Once you get involved, you can continue with eBird year round.”

“The popularity of the Great Backyard Bird Count grows each year,” said Dick Cannings, Senior Projects Officer at Bird Studies Canada, “and with the new features, participation will be even more exciting.”

Participating is easy. To learn more about how to join the count, get bird ID tips, plus downloadable instructions, web buttons, and flyers, visit www.BirdCount.org. The count also includes a photo contest and a prize drawing for participants who enter at least one bird checklist online. Portions of the GBBC site are also now available in Spanish at www.ContandoAves.org.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

 

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

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