Got Nature? Blog

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

 


Woodland Steward PublicationTake a look at the recent Indiana Woodland Steward Newsletter, a resource that’s full of a variety of valuable information to foresters, woodland owners, timber marketing specialists and any woodland enthusiasts. This issue includes topics such as a forest management, what private woodland owners are doing about invasive plants, the threat of callery pears, as well as much more.

Check out this IWS Newsletter  to stay current in the world of forestry, and feel free to browse archived articles dating back to 1992 for more information.

Resources:
Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment, Purdue University FNR
Fertilizing, Pruning, and Thinning Hardwood Plantations, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
TCD-Black Walnut Trees, Thousand Cankers Disease
Environmental and Management Injury in Hardwood Tree Plantations, The Education Store, Purdue Extension

The Indiana Woodland Steward Institute is an entity made from 11 organizations within the state including Purdue University, Indiana DNR, and Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association that works to promote best usage practices of Indiana’s woodland resources through their Woodland Steward publication.

Brian MacGowan, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Department of Forestry & Natural Resources, Purdue University

Dan Shaver, Project Director and Forester
The Nature Conservancy


Costs and Returns of Producing Hops in Established Tree PlantationsRapid growth in the craft brewing industry has created an opportunity for Hoosier farmers to start growing hops. Hops are the female flowers (also called cones) from the hop plant (Humulus lupulus). This high-value, perennial crop is used to flavor and stabilize beer. Now available in a free download is a new publication with a study focusing on growing hops along the fence lines of newly established forest stands. This publication titled Costs and Returns of Producing Hops in Established Tree Plantations is the first of two publications that analyzes the economic opportunities in forest farming for Indiana forest plantation owners. The economic analysis presented in this article is developed for two hops varieties, ‘Cascade’ and ‘Comet’, based on marketability and presumed adaption to low sunlight, respectively.

Additional Resources:
Costs and Returns of Producing Wild-Simulated Ginseng in Established Tree Plantations, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store
The Nature of Teaching, Lesson Plans K-12, Purdue Extension
Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment – Sustaining Our Oak-Hickory Forests, The Education Store
Tree Pruning: What Do Trees Think?, The Education Store

Kim Ha, Research Assistant
Purdue Agricultural Economics

Other contributing authors: Dr. Shadi Atallah, Tamara Benjamin, Dr. Lori Hoagland, Lenny Farlee and Dr. Keith Woeste.


Purdue zipTrips are virtual electronic field trips provided by Purdue for students to get a glimpse into what makes Purdue one of the leading universities in the nation. Students engage with Purdue faculty and scientists through a live webcast, while traveling on a “virtual electronic field trip” of labs, greenhouses, and other interesting Purdue facilities. After each live event, the webcast is archived and can be viewed online. ZipTrips covers a variety of topics, including genetics, nutrition, diseases, climate change, plants, veterinary and more. Purdue FNR Dr. Jeff Dukes and Dr. Mike Jenkins are featured in the video above for zipTrips. Other members of Purdue FNR’s staff that have appeared on Purdue zipTrips are Dr. Rod Williams, Brian MacGowan and Dr. Marisol Sepulveda.

Classrooms all over the world have enjoyed zipTrips. Rated as one of their favorite episodes is the “We’re All Animals” showing a Purdue Veterinary Medicine equine lab with the horse “Whitey” exercising on the large treadmill. Sign up for zipTrips to have access to future trips, past trips and online resources.

Past zipTrips featuring FNR Faculty:
Plant Science: The Green Machine – Youtube, Purdue Agriculture
“It’s a Gene Thing!” – Youtube, Purdue Agriculture
A Week of Scientists – Youtube, Purdue Agriculture

Other Resources:
Past zipTrips Playlist – Youtube, Purdue Agriculture
Boiler Bytes – Purdue
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources’ Playlist – Youtube, Purdue Agriculture

Purdue Agriculture

 


Bagworm caterpillar.The evergreen bagworm, as its name implies, is well known for its ability to defoliate evergreen trees and shrubs like spruce, arborvitae, fir, junipers and pine. When given a chance, it will also feed on deciduous trees like maples, honeylocust, and crabapples. In late May and early June bagworms hatch from eggs that overwinter in the bag of their mother. When young bagworms begin feeding on broadleaved plants the caterpillars are too small to feed all the way through, so they leave circular patterns of skeletonization. Bagworms can be easily controlled with a spray application of spinosad (Conserve, or Fertilome borer and bagworm killer), or Bacillus thuringiensis (Dipel). More control options are available on the Purdue Tree Doctor App, purdueplantdoctor.com.

View this video located on the Purdue Plant Doctor App Suite Facebook page to watch a young bagworm caterpillar poke its head out of its silken bag to feed on a maple leaf. The young caterpillar scrapes the leaf surface to feed, and cuts bits of green tissue and glues it on its back. At the end of the video it sticks out its legs and flips the entire bag over to hide from the lights.

Resources:
Purdue Plant Doctor App Suite, Purdue Extension-Entomology
Landscape & Oranmentals-Bagworms, The Education Store
Upcoming Workshops, Purdue Extension-Forestry & Natural Resources
Ask An Expert, Purdue Extension-Forestry & Natural Resources

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

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

Author:
Cliff Sadof, Professor
Purdue University Department of Entomology


Students in Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) continue to volunteer for Hands of the Future, Inc., a non-profit program whose mission is to help educate children about the outdoors and natural resources. As this program continues to grow, one of their dreams has been to find woods to create a children’s forest. To have a natural site that has been embellished upon with children’s needs in mind and to encourage outdoor play and adventures.

The students plan on transforming 18.8 acres of idle woods into Zonda’s Children’s Forest. The children’s forest will be composed of six main areas:

  1. A children’s garden, equipped with a greenhouse and kitchen, thChildren climbing on tree, Hands of the Futureat’ll allow children to learn how to properly grow and cook food.
  2. An enclosed area dedicated to allowing children having fun and safe adventures.
  3. A viewing area for butterflies, birds and other organisms of the wild, allowing children to easily enjoy the life of the forest.
  4. A maze designed by sunflowers, where children can have fun and do problem-solving, while close to nature.
  5. A walk dedicated to viewing the owls and other organisms composing the forest.
  6. Another enclosed area of the woods for adventures; However, it’ll also contain tree houses, bridges and other fun additions for the children.

Donations:
Donations to help make Zonda’s Children’s Forest a reality can be made here. They have six months to raise $235,000 in order to purchase the woods.

Volunteers & Interns:
Older students and adults can apply to be a volunteer. Volunteers are always appreciated, no past experience necessary. If you love nature and kids you will enjoy this program. Internships are available for college students, contact Zonda Bryant.

Resources:
Hands of the Future, Inc.
Junior Nature Club

Zonda Bryant, Director
765.366.9126
director@hands-future.org

 


Check out the new publication entitled Benefits of Connecting with Nature now available in The Education Store!Benefits of Connecting with Nature, FNR-539-W

Times are constantly changing with the growth and integration of technology within society. As we become more and more reliant on technology for information and entertainment, we seem to be detached from many vital aspects of our world. People, especially children, are losing their touch with the outdoors. Recent reports show that children ages 6–11 spend an average of 28 hours per week watching television. The average amount of time children spent using mobile devices tripled between 2011–2013.

Natural environments have positive impacts on people’s mental health and well-being. Studies consistently show that natural settings link to much stronger developmental benefits for children.

This unit will help teachers explore student’s relationship between nature and mental health. It contains four 30-40 minutes activities: Emotion Vocabulary Exploration, Guided Imagery, Creative Writing and Exploring Nature with your Senses.

Resources:
The Nature of Teaching – Purdue Extension
Got Nature – Podcast, The Education Store
Appreciating Reptiles and Amphibians in Nature –The Education Store
Frogs and Toads of Indiana – The Education Store

Molly Hunt, Extension Educator, Delaware County
Purdue University Extension Health and Human Sciences

Katie Zuber, Extension Educator, Lawrence, Jackson, Monroe and Brown County
Purdue University Extension Health and Human Sciences

Lindsey Pedigo, Extension Educator, Howard County
Purdue University Extension Health and Human Sciences

Rod N Williams, Associate Head of Extension & Associate Professor of Wildlife Science
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

 


In Tennessee, magnolia and the highly invasive ornamental pear trees are in full bloom. In New Jersey, crocuses and buttercups are vibrant spectacles of color. Here in Indiana, flowering dogwood, pawpaw, and red oak have responded to an early spring with a burst of blooms as well. This vibrant display is the result of a mild winter. Unfortunately, there is a downside. A sudden cold freeze after this swathe of warm weather could severely damage blossoms, buds, and significantly reduce yields in fruit and nut trees.

Pear tree.

Blooms on pear tree.

Magnolia tree.

Blooms on magnolia tree.

Crocus flowers

Crocus blooms.

Ranunculus flowers

Buttercup blooms.

Growth of a tree or flower is the result of the weather and the perpetuation of its natural growth cycle. To store sufficient resources for the following year, trees use the winter season as an opportunity to shuttle nutrients to their roots. With cold temperatures keeping pests at bay, fewer nutrient resources are needed for defense and maintenance. These nutrients will be shuttled to the branches the following spring to support the growth of buds and blossoms. Interruption in the storage process caused by early spring conditions interferes with nutrient supplies and kickstarts the growing cycle again.

Nutrients once slated for root storage are now being sent to the branches to begin fruit and bud production despite having fewer resources in storage than usual. A freeze that occurs after leaves and buds begin to appear will damage the new growth and likely delay flowering and fruiting until much later in the year when surfeit energy is available to support a second growth effort. While trees are usually able to leaf out a second time, there are often more issues with low yield and early leaf drop.

Pawpaw tree with blooms.

Pawpaw

Dogwood tree with blooms.

Dogwood

Red oak tree.

Red oak

Also, insect pests, usually subdued by cold winter temperatures are likely to be out much earlier than usual and with greater numbers. This increase in insect presence does not necessarily bode well for plant pollinator populations. If, for example, a tree flowers earlier than honeybee populations are available, then it is possible that those trees will go unpollinated. Also, if other pollinators are also unavailable, there will be no fruits the following year on that tree.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, planthardiness.ars.usda.gov.

Ultimately, the state of our seed, fruit, and nut production depends on two major events; pollination and lack of a cold freeze. If we see a sudden cold snap that damages the trees and eliminates pollinators, then next spring will be a time of sorrow rather than an exciting start to the growing season. The dramatic shifts in weather temperatures over the last decade have led the Department of Agriculture to reevaluate and reassess plant hardiness zones. For the first time in thirty years, an updated map with new zones has now been created, USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

Resources:
Purdue Plant Doctor App, Purdue Extension
Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory, Purdue Agriculture
Planting & Transplanting Landscape Trees and Shrubs, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Tree Planting Part 1: Choosing a Tree – video, The Education Store
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store

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

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


Got Nature?

Recent Posts

Archives