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


Jennifer Koch, and other researchers with the U.S. Forest Service, has spent the last several years studying what are known as lingering ash – trees that have fared much better against the emerald ash borer. The invasive beetle, which came to North America from Asia about 20 years ago, has killed millions of ash trees around the Midwest.

Emerald Ash Borer

An adult emerald ash borer feeds off a leaf. (Purdue University Department of Entomology photo/John Obermeyer)

But for reasons that researchers are learning more about, some trees have survived.

Koch says they’ve identified at least two reasons why. Lingering ash seem to attract fewer hungry adult ash borers, which means they’re less likely to become homes to eggs. And when eggs do hatch on lingering ash trees, they tend to be smaller and have a higher mortality rate.

Those are extremely valuable characteristic for modern ash trees, so Koch is making sure they get passed on through cloning. Not genetic modification, but rather clonal duplicates of lingering ash literally cut from part of the parent tree.

Maybe most importantly, Koch says the cloned trees appear to be even more resistant to the ash borer. With their cloned trees healthy and growing, researchers are waiting on the next generation of seeds to see if they’re even more resistant than their cloned parents.

Koch says they plan to add more lingering ash seedlings into their on-site orchard this year. Ash trees planted from seed typically take seven to 10 years to begin giving off seeds of their own, so it could be another decade before Koch knows just how successful their ash tree breeding program can be.

See full article: Attack Of The Clones: Ohio Researchers Find New Hope For Fighting Ash Borer, WOSU Public Media

Resources:
Question: What options do we have to treat our ash trees against the Emerald Ash Borer?, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR
Invasive Pest Species: Tools for Staging and Managing EAB in the Urban Forest, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR
Emerald Ash Borer, Purdue Extension-Entomology
Emerald Ash Borer Cost Calculator – Purdue Extension Entomology

WOSU Radio, Columbus, Ohio


Purdue Rainscaping IdentityThe Purdue Rainscaping Education Program’s goal is to increase rainscaping in residential and small-scale public spaces. These workshops will teach master gardeners, landscape professionals, and agency staff how to promote community awareness and education for bioretention/rain garden planning, installation, and maintenance. This program provides the resources needed to share beautiful landscaping and management practices which aids in absorbing and redirecting stormwater.

Rainscaping Workshops:
Date and Time: May 15-16, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (EST)
Location: Purdue Extension-Johnson County Office, 484 N. Morton St., Franklin, IN, 46131
Contact The Education Store at (765) 494-6794 or edustore@purdue.edu to register

Date and Time: May 21-22, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (EST)
Day 1 Location: Purdue Extension-Steuben County Office, 317 S. Wayne St., Suite 1A. Angola, IN, 46703
Day 2 Location: Pokagon State Park- Trine State, Recreation Area, 145 West Feather Valley Road, Fremont, IN, 46737
Register Here

Date and Time: June 19-20, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (CST)
Location: Lake County Government Center, Purdue Extension-Lake County Office, 2291 N. Main St., Crown Point, IN, 46307
Register Here

Resources:
Purdue Rainscaping Education Program
Rainscaping Education, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources
Rainscaping Education – Program Impacts, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources
Rainscaping Podcast: Managing Water Around Our Homes, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources
How ‘rainscaping’ benefits water quality, WLFI TV-video

Kara Salazar, Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

 


dock on a pondLandowners with goals involving management of ponds for fishing, or managing wildlife for conservation and hunting, are invited to an upcoming educational event hosted by Purdue Extension in northeast Indiana. Topics will include managing ponds, fish habitat, fish stocking, managing harvest, managing field edges for wildlife, forest management for deer and turkey and cover crops as wildlife food plots. Speakers are: Dr. Mitchell Zischke, Purdue FNR clinical assistant professor of fisheries and aquatic sciences and Jarred Brooke, Purdue Extension FNR wildlife specialist.

Location: Northeast Purdue Agricultural Center, 4821 E 400 S, Columbia City, IN 46725

Date and Time: May 31st from 6:30PM to 9PM

Registration: Call John Woodmansee, extension educator – Whitley county, at 260-244-7615 to register by May 29th.

For details and directions, view the Pond and Wildlife Management Twilight Meeting Flyer.

Resources:
Wildlife and Flooding, Got Nature?, Purdue FNR-Extension
Preventing Wildlife Damage – Do You Need a Permit? The Education Store
The Basics of Managing Wildlife on Agricultural Lands​, The Education Store

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

Mitchell Zischke, Clinical Assistant Professor
Purdue 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


Prescribed fire is a great tool to improve the food and cover for a variety of wildlife species on your property. One of the most important aspects of using prescribed fire is making sure the fire is conducted safely. This point cannot be overstated, safe use of prescribed fire is paramount. Beyond taking the appropriate training courses or seeking help from a professional, one the most important aspects of safely conducting a prescribed fire is ensuring you have adequate firebreaks.

Firebreaks can serve multiple purposes related to the safe use of prescribed fire, and can provide additional food and cover for wildlife. The main purpose of firebreaks is to stop the fire from escaping the burn unit, but they also can provide quick and easy movement around the burn unit, help reduce the amount of people required for the burn, and can make igniting the fire safer. Here are a few examples of different types of firebreaks.

Logging Road

This logging road is a good example of an exisitng road that can be used as a firebreak.

Existing roads
Existing roads, whether they are paved, gravel, dirt, or logging roads, can serve as outstanding firebreaks, plus they require very little work to prepare prior to a burn. These are also one of the cheapest options for firebreaks. If you are using gravel, dirt, or logging roads as firebreaks, you need to make sure there is not excessive vegetation or leaf litter in the road. Too much vegetation
on the firebreak could lead to an escape.

Streams, creeks, or other bodies of water
Another cheap and easy option for firebreaks is to use existing streams, river, or bodies of water. If you are using water features as a firebreak, here are some things to consider: is the stream or river wide enough to stop the fire from escaping and can people helping with the fire move easily around, across, or through the stream or river to access various part of the burn unit or to stop an escaped fire?

Crop fields
Crop fields with cool-season grains (wheat, oats, rye) or cover crops can serve as a great firebreak. Crop fields with only soybean or corn stubble should be used with caution, as fire may creep through a field with excessive stubble. For fields with crop stubble, planting the edge of the field in a cool-season crop (wheat, clover, oats, etc.), disking the edge of the field, or wetting the crop stubble are all steps that can used to improve the field as a firebreak

Leaf-Blown Firebreak

This leaf-blown firebreak was only 3-4 feet wide, but it easily stopped the fire in this situation.

Leaf-blown firebreaks
If you are burning in the woods, using a leaf blower to remove leaf litter and expose bare mineral soil is a quick and easy way to create a firebreak. These firebreaks do not need to be as wide as those in an old field or native grass stand because the flame length when burning in the woods is typically much shorter than burning in a field.

Disked firebreaks for multiple purposes
Disking or tilling to expose bare mineral soil is an extremely effective method of creating a firebreak. These breaks can also provide food and/or cover for various wildlife species if managed correctly. Disking the firebreak and then letting the firebreak remain fallow during the growing season creates outstanding cover for brooding turkeys, pheasants, and quail.

You can also plant the firebreaks after disking to create a food plot for various wildlife species. If you disk the firebreaks in the fall and plan to burn in the spring, you can plant the firebreaks with a mix of wheat and crimson clover or a mix of perennial clovers to create a great food plot for deer and turkey. You can also plant the firebreaks with millet, grain sorghum, or sunflowers after you have burned the field in the spring.

Fire creeping

If you use mowed firebreaks you run the risk of fire creeping across the firebreak and escaping, especially if there is too much thatch in the firebreak.

My absolute favorite multiple purpose firebreak is one that is disked in Aug-Sep, planted to winter wheat (40-60 lbs/ac), and then left to remain fallow after the wheat has produced seed. This firebreak effectively stops fire, provide green browse from the fall through the spring, provides seed during the early summer, and provides excellent brood cover throughout the summer and early fall. This is truly an all-in-one firebreak.

Mowed grass firebreak
Mowed grass firebreaks are not ideal, but they can be used in certain situations. If mowed firebreaks are used, you must be sure that there is not excessive thatch built up in the break. Too much thatch will allow the fire to creep across the break and potentially escape. Even on firebreaks without excessive thatch, using water to create a “wet” firebreak is recommended.

No matter which type of firebreak you choose to use, taking the time to make sure the firebreak is adequately installed and is sufficient to stop the fire from escaping will help make the burn safer and will create less headaches for you when conducting the burn.

Additional Resources:
Firebreaks for Prescribed Burning, Oklahoma State University Extension
Prescribed fire: 6 things to consider before you ignite, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR,
On-line Basic Prescribed Fire Training, Extension, USDA and NIFA
Publications Focus on Plan, Safety of Prescribed Burns, Iowa State Extension,
eFIRE, North Carolina State Extension
Renovating native warm-season grass stands for wildlife: A Land Manager’s Guide, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Calibrating a No-Till Drill for Conservation Plantings and Wildlife Food Plots, The Education Store

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


It’s that time of year again. The desperate rush to find the ‘perfect’ tree for your annual year-end celebration is very real. Unfortunately, you chose a tree last year that died within a month and was disappointingly dull. This year, you are going to do your homework to find the best tree available.

Home preparations:

  1. Tree Location: Select an area out of direct sunlight and away from the heating vents in your house for the tree. Excessive sunlight and heat will cause your tree to fade and dry out more quickly.
  2. Ceiling height: Measure your ceiling heights and take into account the height of your tree stand and the tree topper or you’ll have to make excessive cuts in your tree to adjust for the differences. Write down these measurements.
  3. Tree shape: Visualize the shape of the tree that best fits the space you have available (tall and thin, short and broad) and keep that in mind. Certain tree types are more expensive therefore knowing your budget will help ensure you purchase the perfect tree for your household. Measure the width of the space and write down these measurements.
  4. Tree stand: Anticipate needing to support your tree stand and acquire a piece of plywood that you can bolt the stand to keep it level. Measure the inside diameter of the tree stand and write down the measurements.

Choosing a tree farm:

  1. Buy from a local farm if at all possible. These trees are bred to be hardy and to remain fresh longer.

Bring to the farm:

  1. List of required measurements for your perfect tree.
  2. A large unbreakable ornament to view branch spacing (ensures your ornaments will hang straight).
  3. Measuring tape to measure prospective trees before getting them home.
  4. Thick gloves for handling your tree as the needles may be sharp and the bark rough on your bare hands.
  5. An old blanket that can cover the truck bed or car roof to protect it from sap.
  6. Rope, twine, bungee cords, and twist ties to secure the tree to the car if these items are not provided by the tree farm.

Species selection:

  1. Each tree species is different so careful selection is important: Soft needle species (pines, firs) are best for homes with small children while hard needle species (spruce) are the adult choice.
  2. Firs often have shorter needles, strong stems, and well-spaced branches making it easier to hang lights and decorations.Needle Charcteristics Table*click image to enlarge

At the tree farm:

  1. Check freshness: Bend a needle with your fingers (firs snap, pines ben).
  2. Gentle run your hand over the branch from inside to out or if possible, gently bounce the tree on the cut end. If a few interior needles come off, it is probably fresh; if many exterior needles fall off, choose a different tree.
  3. Remove and crush a few needles in your hand, if there is little scent choose another tree.
  4. The tree should have even coloration 360° around and needles should be fresh (shiny, green) and not old (dried out, brown).

When you and your tree get home:

  1. Protect Your Floor– Place a plastic or other waterproof covering on the floor where your tree will stand so you don’t ruin the carpet or get watermarks on hardwood flooring.
  2. Put down waterproof coverings or plastic sheeting under the tree skirt to prevent ruining the carpet or hardwood floor if water is spilled.
  3. Make a fresh cut at the base of the tree, take off ½” from the base so that tree can absorb more water (slows needle drop and helps maintain tree color) and immediately place the tree upright in the stand with lukewarm water.
  4. Trim any low-hanging branches that hit furniture or are too thin for ornaments parallel to the floor. Keep them in a bucket of water before using as decorations.
  5. Secure your tree to the wall or heavy furniture if you have pets and children that could knock it over or heavy ornaments that may sway the tree.
  6. Ensure that your tree stand always has water in it.
  7. Take a photo of your tree when set up and secured as a reminder for the following year.

After the holidays:

  1. Recycle your tree through your local waste management company.
  2. Trees can also be chipped for mulch. Never burn your tree because of the likelihood of starting a fire.

Examples of holiday tree types:

Examples of holiday tree types*click image to enlarge

Resources:
Which Real Indiana Christmas Tree Will You Select? – Got Nature?, Purdue FNR-Extension
Living Christmas Trees For The Holidays and Beyond, The Education Store
Tips for First-Time Buyers of Real Christmas Trees, The Education Store
Growing Christmas Trees, The Education Store

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


The bright, crisp colors of summer begin to fade with the arrival of fall, revealing a riot of new colors on our foliage. These colors range from vivid reds and golds to deep oranges and browns before finally falling from the trees. For decades, travelers have chased the rainbow of colors across the United States in hopes of taking breathtaking photos or just for personal gratification.

Weather conditions throughout the year contribute to autumn colors but the primary driving factor is day length. Numerous warm, sunny days and cool evenings seem to be the harbingers of the best fall colors. Idyllic weather conditions allow trees to produce significantly higher volumes of sugar in leaves and the cool nights slow sugar export.

Surplus leaf sugars stimulate anthocyanin (red and purple) pigment production. Carotenoid (yellow and gold) pigment levels tend to remain steady throughout the growing season though masked by chlorophyll until autumn. Chlorophyll In addition to sunshine, soil moisture also contributes to leaf color. Predictors of vibrant fall color: spring (warm, wet); summer (warm/hot with sufficient rain); fall (warm sunny days, cool nights). Delayed spring showers or an extended summer drought can delay fall color for weeks.

2017 GotNature Fall Color Fig 1a

Color change is initiated in the northeastern United States before continuing southward and can be species-specific. Aspens and hickories (primarily bronze, gold, and yellow), dogwood and oaks (ranging from deep red to dark brown), and maples (most often bright red to yellow-orange) represent the wide range of hues. In contrast, some species (elm) rarely exhibit any fall color. The map below, currently pinpointed to November 5th, can be used to visualize progression of fall color nationwide. For details of fall color across the nation, a fall color hotline 1-800-354-4595 has been created by the Forest Service to give travelers updates.

Fall foliage prediction act, smokymountains.com.

References:
Figure 1- Fall leaf photo
Figure 2- Fall foliage prediction act, smokymountains.com

Resources:
Autumn Leaves – what influences the color? – Got Nature?, Purdue FNR-Extension
Why Leaves Change Color, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Why Leaves Change Color, USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area

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


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