Pollinator's Perspective

Category Archives: Pollinators Perspective

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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Beautiful 2 Year Old Wildflower Prairie At Eberwein Park

 

Eberwein Park opened in the City of Chesterfield on September 1, 2011.  There is a dog park  within the 18-acre Eberwein Park, at Old Baxter Road and Highcroft Drive, and it has proven to be very popular with residents.  Chesterfield is committed to sustainability and being friendly to the environment and decided that installing native plantings to the park would be a good ecological choice.   Almost two years ago, Native Landscape Solutions, Inc. was hired to clean up a one acre site and to seed a native wildflower prairie.  Establishing a prairie requires special knowledge, equipment and skilled employees – all trademarks of Native Landscape Solutions, Inc.  We have posted a picture of the prairie that was taken recently and it is easy to see how beautiful it is already.  It takes new prairies three or four years to really get going and we are proud of the rapid development of this project.  We are maintaining the prairie with a custom stewardship program that allows the good plants to thrive while minimizing problems with weedy, invasive plants.  Next time you are in the area, stop by and enjoy beautiful Eberwein Park.IMG_0873

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