Got Nature? Blog

If you’ve ever had to work on a tree leaf collection, no doubt you included a leaf from Indiana’s state tree. Also known as tulip poplar and yellow poplar, the tuliptree is actually not a poplar at all. It is a member of the magnolia family known botanically as Liriodendron tulipifera.

Indiana Tuliptree

A tuliptree, the state tree of Indiana.

The tuliptree is native to most of the eastern half of the United States and prefers rich, moist, well-drained, loamy soil. It is found throughout Indiana, but it is more prevalent in the southern two-thirds
of the state.

Its unusual flowers inspired the common name. The flowers are shaped much like a tulip with greenish-yellow petals blushed with orange on the inside. Because they generally are found high in the leaf canopy, the flowers often go unnoticed until they drop off after pollination. The leaves of this tree are also quite distinct — each one has a large, V-shaped notch at the tip.

Because tuliptrees transplant easily and grow fast, they are a popular choice for in home yards. But don’t be fooled by its small size in the nursery. Give a tuliptree plenty of room in your landscape plan. A tuliptree can reach as tall as 190 feet where it’s allowed to thrive, but it is more likely to reach 70 feet tall as a mature landscape specimen. Tuliptree is not without its share of pests and diseases. Among the most common are leaf spots, cankers, scale insects, and aphids….

For full article view “State tree a popular landscape choice,” Morning AgClips.

Related Resources:
Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs, The Education Store-Purdue Extension resource center
Tulip Poplar: Is Indiana’s State Tree a Protector for the Rare American Ginseng Plant?, GotNature?, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources

Rosie Lerner, Extension Consumer Horticulturist
Purdue University, Horticulture & Landscape Architecture


Trees offer many functional and aesthetic benefits, but one of the most common is shade. Because of this, one of the most important aspects of tree selection and planting is placement. Improper placement of trees can diminish the value of the tree on the site. The tree can actually become a liability if it conflicts with infrastructure or just does not providing any useful function at all. It’s important to consider and energy efficient design to obtain shade where it’s needed most such as south or west facing structures.Tree Shade

In this hemisphere, the sun is in the south and the source of cold weather is in the north. Whenever possible, place openings for sunlight and radiant heat primarily on the southern exposure, then on the west and east. For energy efficiency in winter, use the low arc of the sun to capture the maximum amount of warmth through east-, west-, and south-facing windows. Windows with a northern exposure are a source of cool air from prevailing winds during the hot months. So, give the north minimum exposure and maximum natural protection in the winter.

When selecting trees for energy efficiency, don’t plant evergreen trees near the house on southern exposures. Trees may provide some shade and screening but will also block out the warming effects of the sun during winter months. When choosing trees for shade and solar gain, choose larger, deciduous-canopy trees, which provide an advantage year-round. This means shade in the summer, blocking the sun’s energy. In the winter, after leaves have dropped, the sun’s energy can pass through the tree and into the window.

Tree Shade

Figure 1. Protection from the summer sun.

Select good quality trees from a reputable source that are suitable for your location. The old adage, “you get what you pay for” goes for nursery stock as well.  Correct placement is critical for an energy-efficient design and reduced maintenance as the tree grows and matures. Be certain the mature height and spread fit the location before purchase and planting the tree. This allows the tree freedom to spread into the design space naturally without excessive pruning needed to prevent conflicts with the home. However, the tree still must be close enough to the house for the canopy to provide shade. A good rule of thumb to begin placing the tree at least 20 feet from the house. For larger shade trees, you may need to plant as far as 40 feet from the house to insure room for growth (Figure 1).

Trees provide many benefits besides shade whichincludes cleaner air and increased property values. These ecosystem services are the reason why we plant trees, besides beautifying our landscape.

The functional benefits of shading help make homes energy-efficient by creating a cooling effect during the hot summer months and by allowing passive solar gain during cold winter months. However, proper selection and placement is critical to make the tree work for your site.  Choose wisely, plant properly.

Full article from Purdue Landscape Report.

Resources:
Tree Selection for the “Un-natural” Environment, The Education Store – Purdue Extension resource center
Planting Your Tree Part 1: Choosing Your Tree (Youtube video),  Purdue Extension-FNR
Tree Installation: Process and Practices , The Education Store
Tree Planting Part 2: Planting a Tree (Youtube video), Purdue Extension-FNR
Top 5 List for Tree Selection and Planting, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Mile-a-minute vine covering trees

(Figure 1) Mile-a-minute vine grows more than 25 feet in height in one growing season, overtopping shrubs, small trees and growing up forest edges.  Image by: USDA APHIS PPQ Archive, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

Preventing the establishment of new invasive species is priority number one and the best expenditure of limited resources in an invasive species management program. Next in priority is early detection of and rapid response (EDRR) to the first report of a new invasion. Stopping invasive species from entering or, next best, at their initial point of introduction saves the incalculable costs later-on associated with rapidly spreading, all-consuming invasive species populations. The verification of a report of mile-a-minute vine (Persicaria perfoliata) on a property in Monroe County, Indiana on May 14, 2018 sets a historical prescedence demonstrating a growing capability of detecting and reporting new invaders. The population was very small at this spot and had apparently been sprayed by a homeowner with herbicide, not necessarily to kill the mile-a-minute, but likely to kill the companion multiflora rose.

Our hope is that this is the only instance of mile-a-minute vine in Indiana. There is a significant probability that it is not! In the coming months, a more thorough survey of this property and surrounding area will be conducted to look for more of the vine. But now Indiana stands on high alert as natural resource professionals keep a look out for more of this highly-invasive pest. However, there are too few professionals with eyes on the landscape. The more eyes trained to identify the very distinct characteristics of mile-a-minute, the higher the chance of us catching it before it explodes across the landscape, wreaking havoc and mayhem in our forests and fields, wildlife habitat and mushroom hunting and birding grounds.

Mile-a-minute leaves

(Figure 2) The leaves are simple, alternate, light green and a nearly perfect triangle shape.  Image by: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

All landowners, land stewards, and nature lovers are needed to be additional eyes looking for this insidious threat this summer and in coming years. Please take a moment to learn its identifying characteristics. If you think you have found it, please report it on EDDMapS (Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System) or from your smart phone on the GLEDN (Great Lakes Early Detection Network) app. If you are unsure if you are correctly identifying it, please contact a forester or other natural resource professional for confirmation or just report it in EDDMapS or the GLEDN app, along with photos, and a professional in your area will verify its identification before it actually gets posted.

Mile-a-minute identification:

Mile-a-minute vine is a member of the buckwheat family, Polygonaceae. Although its common name exaggerates its growth potential, this annual vine can grow as much as 6 inches a day and can reach heights of more than 25 feet within the growing season. It forms very dense, tangled mats, growing over shrubs, small trees and up the sides of forest edges (Fig. 1). The leaves are simple, alternate, light green and a nearly perfect triangle shape (Fig. 2). The delicately narrow, green to red-tinted stems, and the petiole (leaf stem) and midrib on the underside of the leaves are armed with small, stiff, recurved barbs (Fig. 3). Small, cup- or saucer-shaped leaf structures, called ocreae, encircle the stem at each node (Fig. 4). Clusters of small white, rather inconspicuous, flowers emerge from the ocreae. Flowers develop into clusters of deep, iridescent blue berry-like fruits, approximately 5 mm in diameter, each fruit containing a single black or reddish-black hard seed, called an achene. Seeds are dispersed by birds and mammals, including chipmunks, squirrels and deer, which eat the fruit. Floodwaters facilitate long distance dispersal of seed.

Mile-a-minute fruit berries

(Figure 4) Small, cup- or saucer-shaped leaf structures, called ocreae, encircle the stem at each node. Flowers emerge from the ocreae and develop into clusters of deep, iridescent blueberry like fruits.  Image by: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Mile-a-minute thorns

(Figure 3) The delicately narrow, green to red-tinted stems, and the petiole (leaf stem) and midrib on the underside of the leaves are armed with small, stiff, recurved barbs.  Image by: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Resources:
Mile-a-MinuteVine, FNR-481-W, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Mile-a-minute vine: What you need to know about the plant that can grow 6 inches a day, Indianapolis Star
Invasive Species – Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Ask an Expert – Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources
Indiana Invasive Species Council – Includes: IDNR, Purdue Department of Entomology and Professional Partners
Great Lakes Early Detection Network App (GLEDN) – The Center for Invasive Species & Ecosystem Health

Ron Rathfon, Regional Extension Forester SIPAC
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on June 1st, 2018 in Gardening, How To, Plants | No Comments »

Choosing fruits and vegetables at the store is fast and easy but the task of fruit and vegetable selection can also be rewarding and a learning experience. There are a number of pick-your-own farms here in Indiana that allow you the freedom of choosing from a vast selection of produce freshly-picked from or still on the tree, vine, or bush. Several of these farms also boast gift shops where freshly-made pies and cakes can be purchased. Others offer a host of additional bonuses like tours, hayrides, and picnic areas. On those days when you want to commune with nature and “live” off of the land. Visit an IN farm and pick-your-own.

There are dozens of farms listed (http://www.pickyourown.org/IN.htm) on this site but more may exist. Do some internet searching to discover the location that best suits your needs and hopefully you will enjoy a number of meals fresh from the farm this year.

This harvest calendar will help inform you about produce likely to be available at a certain time.

Harvest Calendar

Please note that dates for Spring, Summer, and Fall may be flexible as seasons are typically based on the astronomical calendar, where rigid dates are assigned to the seasons (i.e. March 20th, 2018 = Spring in Indiana) based on the position of the Earth in relation to the sun, as opposed to the meteorological calendar, where actual weather conditions dictate crop growth. The easiest way to be assured that the produce you want to pick will be in season is to call the farm before your visit and use the calendar below as a general guide.

References:
2018 Seasons Calendar
Pick-Your-Own Farms in Indiana
Indiana Harvest Calendar

Other resources:
Fruit and Vegetable Care (place keyword in the search field ), The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Purdue Landscape Report, Purdue University
Tree Doctor, The Education Store
Calendar with Upcoming Workshops, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources

Shaneka Lawson, USDA Forest Service/HTIRC Research Plant Physiologist/Adjunct Assistant Professor
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Two important holidays that celebration our connection to nature fall in April. The first, Earth Day, falls on April 21st and marks the 48th anniversary of the day when millions of people initiated a peaceful protest to voice their views of the negative impacts of industrial development. Worldwide air pollution had led to birth defects in children and overuse of pesticides and other pollutants was causing catastrophic declines in biodiversity.earth day

The movement was quickly supported by Congress and President Nixon worked to create the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) along with many other environmentally friendly initiatives. Now a global holiday, billions of people across 192 countries take part in Earth Day showing their love of the planet by planting trees and flowers, contacting their congressperson and pledging to uphold more Eco-friendly practices.

On January 4, 1872, J. Sterling Morton, a journalist and later editor of a Nebraska newspaper was a great supporter of the environment with a healthy love of trees in arbor day foundationparticular. In a meeting with the state board of Agriculture J. Sterling Morton, proposed a tree-planting holiday to be called “Arbor Day” for April 10, 1872. Estimates state that greater than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the inaugural date. The success of the effort led the Nebraska governor (Robert W. Furnas) to make an official proclamation of the holiday on March 12, 1874. In 1885, Arbor Day was named a legal holiday and April 22 (J. Sterling Morton’s birthday) was deemed the permanent observance date. The success of the holiday spread nationwide as other states began holding their own Arbor Day celebrations and is now a well-celebrated holiday.

References:
Earth Day, PDF
‘Twas the Day Before Arbor Day, Got Nature?, Purdue FNR-Extension
Tree Planting Part 1: Choosing a Tree, The Education Store, Purdue Extension

Shaneka Lawson, USDA Forest Service/HTIRC Research Plant Physiologist/Adjunct Assistant Professor
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on February 16th, 2018 in Natural Resource Planning, Plants, Wildlife | No Comments »

FNR-548-WA new extension publication co-authored by Purdue Extension Wildlife Specialist, Jarred Brooke, and University of Tennessee Extension Wildlife Specialist, Dr. Craig Harper, provides landowners and land managers with practical recommendations to assist in the management and renovation of existing native-warm season grass stands for wildlife. The publication provides information on how to use various habitat management tools to fix common issues in planted native grass stands. The publication was produced in partnership with University of Tennessee Extension, Indiana DNR Fish & Wildlife Division, and the Indiana State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

The electronic copy of the publication is available to download for free from the Purdue Education Store. Printed copies are also available from the Education Store for $10.

Resources:
Sericea Lespedeza, Plague on the Prairie, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR
Prescribed fire: 6 things to consider before you ignite, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR
If Your Native Grasses Look Like This, It’s Time for Management, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR

Jarred Brooke, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


FNR-226-WSuccessfully starting a tree plantation involves several steps, ideally starting with preparation a year or more before the seedlings are planted. This updated publication with current resources titled Resources and Assistance Available for Planting Hardwood Seedlings, landowners can find valuable information about planting trees for conservation, such as resources, contact information, tools, professional advice and assistance and financial incentives.

Resources:
Ordering Seedlings from the State Forest Nursery System, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR
Instructions for Ordering Tree Seedlings – Indiana DNR Division of Forestry
Importance of Hardwood Tree Planting – The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Forest Improvement Handbook – The Education Store
Designing Hardwood Tree Plantings for Wildlife – The Education Store

Lenny D Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Tree Planted in BackyardSpring and Fall is prime time for improving your property with new trees. They provide many benefits which everyone can share. Trees mean more attractive landscapes, lower energy bills and a healthier environment. However, just planting a tree without some thought and planning can create a liability rather than an asset to your site. Wise planning is essential to ensure the new trees meet your design needs and functional solutions as well. Follow these basic tips to get your tree started right and make it a long-lasting sustainable planting. For more information, download the free publication Tree Installation: Process and Practice.

Right Tree-Right Place.
Location, location, location! Planning before planting can help ensure that the right tree is planted in the right place. Proper tree selection and placement enhances your property value, prevents costly and sometimes unsightly maintenance with trimming, and lowers the risk of damage to your home and property. In some instances, trees are the innocent victim of poor planting locations and must be removed. Always allow room for growth! Also, consider native trees or those trees with fewer pests which can attack your tree. Large trees include Kentucky Coffeetree, Bur Oak and Hardy Rubber Tree. Medium-sized trees can include Japanese Pagoda Tree, Sourwood, Katsura Tree and Golden Raintree. Finally, for areas with less room, consider Serviceberry, Ironwood, Amur Maackia or Hop Tree. These are just a few of the many trees which can be chosen for your situation.

Look Up, Look Down, and Look All Around!
Regardless if the planting is in the front yard or the back yard of the home or business, be sure there will be no interference with utilities; Call 811 before you dig. It will prevent costly mistakes and maybe a life. In addition, if the tree is going to be planted along the street, typically, there is an ordinance requiring a permit to plant in the right of way. This helps Urban Forestry administration keep up the street tree inventory and allows the ISA Certified Arborists on staff a chance to offer free advice to help in the planting decisions.

It Comes from Good Stock…
Choose the tree twice, meaning get the right species for your location; then, make an informed choice on the nursery stock. Be sure the function of the tree is understood and choose the right tree for the location. Shade? Flowers? Screening? Sound Barrier? Trees can be used as tools to work for you on the site. “You get what you pay for” applies to nursery stock as well. Purchase plant material from a reputable source and get a professional opinion on the tree species for your application. One hint, if it is a fast growing tree, it probably won’t last long. See our video for tree selection tips.

This Hole is a Home!
It is a permanent home for the trees… understand the planting site prior to planting. Determine soil type and pH, drainage and exposure to the sun. If the tree isn’t naturally suited to the planting place, it doesn’t have a chance. Planting depth is a major tree planting concern. Be sure to find the “root flare” when establishing the final grade of the tree. Drainage is crucial to survival. Use the two-hour test. Dig the hole, fill it with water. If the hole is empty upon returning, there is suitable drainage for any tree. Plant the tree properly and at the proper depth, you only get one chance… Don’t dig a $10 hole for a $100 tree. See our video on tree planting tips.

Keep Good Care of the Investment.
Once the tree is in the ground, take good care of it. At least an inch of water per week to keep it growing vigorously, apply clean, hardwood mulch on the root zone to keep soils cool and moist, but never exceed three inches in depth. Remember to remove any tags on the tree and don’t forget to remove the twine from around the trunk. Don’t worry about the fertilizer at planting time, wait until next year, after the tree has gotten settled in to its new home. Enjoy your new addition to the home and landscape!

Resources:
Tree Selection for the “Un-natural” Environment, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Tree Support Systems, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Planting Your Tree Part 1: Choosing Your Tree, video, The Education Store, Purdue Extension

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on September 25th, 2017 in Forestry, Invasive Plant Species, Plants, Woodlands | No Comments »

Sericea lespedeza, invasive plant speciesSericea lespedeza is arguably one of the most problematic invasive species of old fields, prairies and other early successional areas managed for wildlife. Sericea lespedeza is a perennial legume native to eastern Asia that was originally promoted for erosion control, cattle forage, cover and food for wildlife. But as with many plant introductions during the early and mid-19th century (e.g., multiflora rose, autumn olive, and bush honeysuckle), the original beliefs – while well intentioned – were ill fated and short-sided. Sericea has become invasive, is considered noxious in many states, and can be found from Massachusetts to Nebraska and from Florida to Ontario.

Here are 3 problems with sericea and 3 tools for control.

Problems:

  1. Sericea is adapted to a wide variety of conditions: sericea is able to tolerant and thrive in acidic soils with relatively low soil fertility and is also drought tolerant. These factors combined with allopathic chemicals makes sericea extremely competitive causing sericea to quickly invade and overtake early successional areas displacing many native species.
  2. Sericea produces an abundance of seed: one sericea plant is able to produce more than 1000 seeds and seeds are thought to be viable for up to 20 years in the seedbank. Sericea was initially thought to provide an abundance of seed valuable to wildlife including northern bobwhite. However, the seed cannot be digested by most wildlife, thus it provides no nutritional benefits and bobwhite can actually starve by consuming only sericea seed. Research in Kansas also reported a higher percentage of sericea seed germinated after passing through the digestive system of bobwhite compared to unconsumed seed.
  3. Sericea responds prolifically following spring fires: fire is the most effective way to manage early successional vegetation. However, fire during the dormant season seems to only anger sericea and exacerbate the problem. Fire scarifies sericea seed and seedling density is increased following spring fires.

Control:Sericea lespedeza in grasslands, invasive plant species

  1. Herbicide: triclopyr (32 oz/acre), triclopyr + fluroxypyr (1.5 pt/acre), or glyphosate (1-2 qt/acre) can be used to effectively control sericea in early successional areas from June through July when sericea is 12-18 inches tall. Metsulfuron methyl (1 oz/ac) provides effective control when applied to sericea during flowering (Aug-Sep).
  2. Prescribed fire: while prescribed fire during the dormant season enhances sericea germination, fire during the late-growing season (July-Sep) can reduce sericea seed production and can decrease sericea survival. However, fire alone may not be enough to control sericea long term.
  3. Herbicide + Prescribed Fire: sericea can be controlled with herbicide during the growing season. This can be followed up with a late-growing season fire to consume any sericea not killed by the herbicide and reduce sericea seed production. The following summer herbicide can be used again to kill any new sericea seedlings or plants that have resprouted from rhizomes.

If you find sericea in fields that you manage, working quickly to stop seed production and kill the existing plants will be the most effective way to control an invasion.

Web Resources:
Herbicides to control sericea lespedeza, Southeastern Asosciation of Fish & Wildlife Agencies
Effects of Growing-Season Prescribed Burning on Vigor of Sericea Lespedeza in the Kansas Flint Hills: I. Suppression of Seed Production and Canopy Dominance, Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station Research Reports

Other Resources:
If Your Native Grasses Look Like This, It’s Time for Management, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR
Invasive plants: impact on environment and people, The Education Store, Purdue Extension

Jarred Brooke, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on August 4th, 2017 in Christmas Trees, Plants | No Comments »

Seedlings​Indiana landowners have access to high quality, inexpensive trees and shrubs for conservation plantings through the DNR Division of Forestry nursery program. Order forms are now available on the Division of Forestry web page.

You may also be able to access hard-copy order forms at your local Purdue Cooperative Extension Service or Soil and Water Conservation District office. Submit your order form to the state nursery system prior to October 2, 2017 for the best chance to get the seedlings you need. The nursery will start processing orders on October 3rd and some species tend to sell out quickly. Orders will be accepted from October 3, 2017 to May 1, 2018. Seedlings will be available for pickup at the nursery or delivery for an additional fee in the Spring of 2018.

Seedlings from the DNR Division of Forestry Nursery program are for conservation plantings in Indiana. Private nurseries are also available to provide seedlings for conservation and other types of plantings, like Christmas trees or landscaping. For a listing of private nurseries and the products they offer, visit the National Nursery and Seed Directory.

Resources:
Instructions for Ordering Tree Seedlings – Indiana DNR Division of Forestry
National Nursery and Seed Directory – USDA Forest Service
Web Soil Survey – USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Importance of Hardwood Tree Planting – The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Designing Hardwood Tree Plantings for Wildlife – The Education Store
Got Nature? – Purdue Forestry & Natural Resources

Lenny D Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

 


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