Leaves of three, let it be… but leaves of three are not always a sign of danger!
There are many beneficial native plants with trifoliate leaves that are completely benign. Speaking of beneficial native plants, poison ivy IS extremely beneficial for wildlife. The flowers are visited by bees, the leaves are hosts for several moth caterpillars and browsed occasionally by mammals, and probably most importantly, the white berries feed dozens of bird species. Of course, the birds are then responsible for its wide distribution, much to the dismay of all who react to the irritating urushiol oil, present in all parts of the plant.
Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) can form a bush, creep along the ground, or grow as a climbing vine. It can be recognized by the glossy, toothed, trifoliate leaves. New growth sometimes has a reddish tinge. Fall coloring is often a brilliant orange. The vines are often covered in course hairs and aerial rootlets that allow them to cling to trees, fences, etc.
In and around Menard County we’re fortunate to have so many places to explore nature at a safe distances from fellow outdoor enthusiasts. Here’s a snapshot of a few places we’ve been visiting this month.
For Earth Day 2019, Menard County Trails & Greenways members filled more than a dozen bags with litter found along the Sangamon River in Petersburg’s Hurie Park. On Earth Day 2020, two Trails & Greenways members returned to Hurie Park and collected several more bags worth of litter.
What better way to celebrate Arbor Day than by planting a tree or two or more!
People often ask for help selecting a tree to plant at their home. My first bit of advice is always to choose something that is appropriate to the site, that will thrive for years to come. It is important to do some research and have a good understanding of a tree’s expected mature size, growth habits, and insect pest or disease concerns. Too often, we see trees that have been topped for line clearance—something that could have been avoided by selecting a smaller species! Continue reading “Happy Arbor Day”
On that note, the Native Plant Conservation Campaign has made available Douglas Tallamy’s video presentation of his latest book, Nature’s Best Hope. Tallamy is a leader in advancing our understanding of how individual homeowners can help local wildlife, support vital ecosystem services such a water purification, and fight climate change all by gardening with beautiful local natives!
We hope the video gives you inspiration as you plan your post-Covid-19 garden and landscaping projects! Enjoy! And, share!
While perusing Pinterest a while ago, I came across this great sign:
For a long time, the ideal garden plants were ones that were “pest resistant.” That often meant plants that were not native to our region, plants that had not evolved with our native insects and were less palatable to them. In recent years, concerns about plummeting insect populations and overall loss of biodiversity has led to a new garden ethic, a movement to use our gardens to support wildlife rather than repel it. Planting native plants is a very important part of this strategy and something I hope you will consider! Continue reading “If something is not eating your plants, then your garden is not part of the ecosystem!”
Menard County Trails & Greenways plans to honor the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, albeit a little differently than we had planned. While we won’t be able to physically gather as friends and neighbors to help clean up Menard County, we can come together in the same spirit, do some good work around (or even inside!) our homes, and share our efforts virtually.
Public health experts and government leaders are encouraging us to safely get outdoors, underscoring more than ever the importance of our natural world to our health and well-being. Let’s take a moment, however big or small, to return the favor.
Upland chorus frogs (Pseudacris feriarum) are a familiar sound in spring in Illinois. Heard now near woodland ponds such as in the video here, they can even be heard in roadside ditches. The occasional leopard frog can be heard among the chorus frogs, and soon we should be hearing the sweet melodic trill of the American toad.