Pollinator's Perspective

Category Archives: Pollinators Perspective

Which is Your Favorite Shade of Yellow?

I would imagine if I had been an art major in school, or even took some illustration classes I might be able to explain the difference between “warm” colors and “cool” ones- or pastel colors versus hot colors.  But none the less I have to admit “Yellow” is one of my favorite colors for a native landscape.  After all, yellow shows up from miles away!  I cannot possibly imagine what a field of Lanceleaf Coreopsis looks like to pollinators and birds.  In my head I think all of the Goldfinches punching in a GPS location of the blooming Coreopsis- why?  Because all Finches love Coreopsis seed!

The Missouri Primrose is an incredible native, growing in beds and bluffs,  hillsides and glades.  Its soft yellow flowers open wide and brighten any niche in which they grow.  The seed of the Primrose?  That is the worthy subject of another blog- wait till you see the pictures!

Until then,,,When the world wearies, and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the Garden.

The Monarchs Are Back!

Spring is an exciting time of year. The flowers are blooming, the trees are leafing out, and the birds are singing. Also, the monarch butterflies are back!  April is a little early for Monarchs, but this year they have arrived a little early.  The ones we are seeing now with faded bedraggled wings flew here all the way from Mexico to lay their eggs.  Monarchs migrate every fall to Mexico to overwinter in the mountains of Morelia and return to the United States when temperatures warm in the spring. Luckily, the milkweed here in Missouri is sprouting too. Milkweed leaves are the only food eaten by monarch caterpillars.  Recently, at a client’s home, we saw a monarch butterfly that had migrated from Mexico laying her eggs on a butterfly milkweed that was barely an inch tall.  She could tell what it was even though we couldn’t! We also found eggs on a common milkweed at St. Clare Hospital. We are hoping this bodes well for monarch populations, which have been declining in recent years.

  

Managed Burning

 

Burning is a natural process in Missouri ecosystems and can also be used as a management tool. Native Missouri plants are adapted to burning and will respond positively. The soil is warmed, and nutrients are quickly returned to the system. The native plants respond with vigorous growth. Winter is the safest and best time to conduct a prescribed burn, for people and ecosystems. Cold weather insures that wildlife is still hibernating, not nesting and that tender spring growth has not emerged. We always ensure a well behaved fire by only burning in sites with good fire lines and favorable weather conditions. Burning can also be used to kill invasive species such as bush honeysuckle and undesirable natives such as eastern red cedar that are not adapted to fire. We have had great success with using burning as a management tool to encourage natives, and our customers are very happy with our results.

What is the Prettiest Plant in the Winter?

 

Ilex decidua is a Missouri native, deciduous holly that is commonly called possum haw. It occurs on limestone glades and bluffs, along streams in wet woods, and in lowland valleys, sloughs and swamps. An upright shrub with a spreading, rounded crown which typically grows 7-15′ tall in cultivation (to 30′ in the wild). Obovate, narrow, glossy, dark green leaves (2-3″ long) turn a dull purplish green to yellow in autumn. The whitish flowers of both male and female plants are relatively inconspicuous. Pollinated female flowers give way to orange-red berries which ripen in September and persist throughout the winter until mid-March when new growth begins. Birds, deer and a variety of small mammals (including opossums as the common name suggests) are attracted to the fruit.

We took these pictures during the last ice storm in Saint Louis and wanted to share them with you.  Some people think native plants have to be durable but maybe not attractive.  Well, you certainly can see, the possum haw is just breathtaking.  It is a beautiful, durable plant all year, but in the winter it is a real standout – especially with a coating of ice over the bright red berries.  We hope you enjoy these pictures and decide that Missouri native plants might be the perfect plants for your next landscaping project.

Missouri Department of Conservation: Powder Valley Honeysuckle control

Bush honeysuckles will invade a wide variety of natural communities with or without previous disturbances. Affected natural communities can include: lake and stream banks, marsh, fens, sedge meadow, wet and dry prairies, savannas, floodplain and upland forests and woodlands.  It is becoming a major problem in the State of Missouri and is spreading rapidly.  The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is serious about getting honeysuckle under control.

Bush honeysuckle leaves appear early in the spring and remain late into fall, giving them a competitive advantage over native plants. They form a thick understory that limits sunlight to native plants inhibiting seedling establishment and forest regeneration. They also compete for soil moisture, nutrients, and may produce a chemical that inhibits native plant growth. All species of honeysuckle also spread from the roots, resulting in the ability to further dominate an area. Bush honeysuckles compete with native plants for pollinators, resulting in fewer seeds set on native species. Unlike native shrubs, the fruits of exotic bush honeysuckles are carbohydrate rich and do not provide migrating birds with the high-fat content needed for long flights

Native Landscape Solutions, Inc. has been providing non-native invasive plant control to MDC for quite a few years now.  We have sprayed 100 acres at MDC’s beautiful Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center with excellent results.  We will be at it again soon to control new growth, spraying approximately 75 acres.  As the large swaths of honeysuckle are controlled, it allows more light and moisture for the native plants.  We are doing our part to help native plants thrive.

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