Got Nature? Blog

In this episode of ID That Tree, meet the ash family, with specific focus on the white ash, which is typically found on higher and drier sites than its cohorts. This species, which is in trouble due to the emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle, features opposite leaf arrangement, compound leaves with seven to nine leaflets, and squatty terminal buds as well as a bud that dips down into the leaf scar, resembling a smiley face. The bark is gray and featured an interlacing network of ridges forming a diamond shape.

If you have any questions regarding wildlife, trees, forest management, wood products, natural resource planning or other natural resource topics, feel free to contact us by using our Ask an Expert web page.

ID That Tree, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), Purdue Extension-Entomology
A Woodland Management Moment, Playlist, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
Shrubs and Woody Vines of Indiana and the Midwest, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Native Trees of the Midwest, The Education Store
Investing in Indiana Woodlands, The Education Store
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store
White Ash, Native Trees of Indiana River Walk, Purdue Fort Wayne

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

Posted on September 2nd, 2021 in Forestry, Plants, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »

Purdue Landscape Report: Water covers approximately 71% of Earth’s surface, yet only 3% of the 326 million cubic miles of water on the planet is suitable for growing crops, such as trees. It can be said that water is the single most limiting ecological factor in tree growth and survival. It is a vital “nutrient” that must be available in adequate supply or plants decline and eventually die.

A graphic about how trees take in and use water.

How trees use water is essential to determine water needs.

Trees use or lose water by two separate processes. First, water is taken up by tree roots from the soil and evaporated through the pores or stomata on the surface of leaves. Transpiration is a physiological process responding to soil and atmospheric factors. It is a passive movement of water through the tree system which allows columns of water to move great heights. Water movement through a tree is controlled by the tug-of-war between water availability and water movement in soil versus water loss from leaves. For example, water movement in a ring porous tree like a red oak is 92 ft/hr, in a diffuse porous tree like a basswood is 11 ft/hr, and for a pine tree is 6 ft/hr. Trees can absorb between 10 and 150 gallons of water daily, yet of all the water absorbed by plants, less than 5% remains in the plant for growth. They rely on available water in the soil to “rehydrate” during the nighttime hours, replacing the water loss during the daytime hours.

The second process is the interception of water by the surfaces of leaves, branches and trunks during rainfall, and its following evaporation. Together, these two processes are often referred to as evapotranspiration. Both transpiration and evaporation are strongly affected by the amount of sunlight, the temperature and humidity of the air, as well as wind speed as trees turn water into mist when it releases nearly 95% of the water it absorbs.

Oak tree with water droplets on leaves.

Leaves intercept water to help with stormwater management and cooling.

Just why does a tree need water? Well, nearly every plant process such as photosynthesis, respiration and transpiration rely on water to function properly. Water is an essential element as important if not more than other nutrients because it is required to put all our other elements into a form usable by the plant. Almost all essential elements are ionic forms dissolved in water, giving them the ability to move to stems, branches, and leaves for energy.

The goal of proper tree management is to prevent or reduce the impacts of water loss. If adequate soil moisture is available, water loss will go unnoticed as it is replaced naturally. Typically, we experience prolonged dry periods without rain, resulting in drought. Drought conditions are the result of long periods of time without natural rainfall. During dry conditions, soil moisture content is reduced to the point where tree roots can no longer pull the water molecules from the soil. This results in responses from the plant such as wilting, early fall color, scorching and other symptoms. Anytime there is a week without significant rainfall of at least one inch, most likely trees will need some assistance from us to supply the much-needed water for a healthy tree.

Water Your Trees, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) Got Nature? blog
Summer Tree Care, Purdue Landscape Report
Drought? Don’t Forget the Trees!, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Extreme Heat, Purdue Extension – IN-PREPared
Drought Information​, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Planting Your Tree Part 1: Choosing Your Tree, Purdue Extension-FNR YouTube Channel
Tree Selection for the “Un-natural” Environment, The Education Store
Tree Pruning Essentials Video, Purdue Extension YouTube Channel
Tree Defect Identification, The Education Store
Surface Root Syndrome, The Education Store

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue Extension- Forestry and Natural Resources

Tilapia Publication PhotoDid you know that the majority of tilapia grown in the Midwest region of the United States are sold live in ethnic markets? And the majority of tilapia eaten in the United States are imported from Asia and Latin America?

Farmed tilapia is considered safe to eat. In fact, they are identified as a “Best Choice” fish for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and children according to the EPA and FDA.

This publication, “Tilapia Farmed Fish Fact Sheet“, is the third in a series of consumer guides that describe fish and shellfish farmed in the Midwest region of the United States. The fact sheet also includes culinary characteristics, cooking tips and a recipe for Sauteed Tilapia.

To view other consumer guide publications and video resources, check out Purdue Extension’s The Education Store website.

Fish: Healthy Protein Handout, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Walleye Farmed Fish Fact Sheet, The Education Store
Yellow Perch Farmed Fish Fact Sheet, The Education Store
Salmon and Trout of the Great Lakes: A Visual Identification Guide, The Education Store
Eat Midwest Fish, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant online resource hub

Amy Shambach, Aquaculture Marketing Outreach Associate
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources



Posted on April 28th, 2020 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

While our FNR Purdue Extension specialists can’t be with you in person at workshops, meetings or in the field right now, they are still here to assist you. Don’t hesitate to reach out.

Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources,
Ask An Expert

Wendy Mayer, Communications Coordinator
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Diana Evans, Extension & Web Communications Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Expensive and complex equipment is often needed around homes.

Purdue Landscape Report: There are many different aspects of tree work which include a wide range of costs, but let’s start with the most common expense: tree removal. It can be difficult to understand why removing a tree can cost so much when the whole process seems as simple as “just cutting it down.” In reality, the work is usually much more involved than making a few cuts with a chain saw and then hauling it all away.

Complexity – Trees being removed often need to be cut apart in sections to avoid dropping the whole tree or large pieces onto the lawn or landscape or into the street. This is a safer approach and also prevents serious damage to the turf and landscape below. News reports are full of accidents involving untrained tree workers, or homeowners, attempting to cut down a tree without the knowledge of how the tree reacts to being cut. Usually, specialized equipment is needed, such as aerial lifts or cranes to access the tree safely. This equipment is costly to acquire and maintain. Some of the typical equipment such as these mentioned can cost more than some homes! Often, the use of this equipment involves setting up traffic control in busy streets where permits and additional flagging support are needed.

Difficult and dangerousTree work requires training and expertise for safe pruning and removals.Tree pruning and tree removal, is difficult and dangerous work. Also, there is a reason why the tree is being removed. Often it has been deemed high risk or presents a danger on the site. Tree crews are regularly asked to work on trees with compromised structure from storm damage or years of neglect. These compromised trees are often dead trees, which are particularly dangerous. A tree that has been dead for several years usually becomes brittle and inflexible. When you try to cut it down, controlling the direction of fall is a challenge and it will often shatter, throwing broken branches in an uncontrolled manner. Often, tree workers are in trees that have electrical conductors running through the branches. That risky situation should speak for itself.

Insurance, Licensing – Because tree work can be hazardous, qualified companies will have expensive liability insurance to protect the homeowner’s property, as well as workers’ compensation insurance to help cover injuries sustained by the crew, should they occur. You get what you pay for and this includes tree care as well! If you select a company that is less expensive, they may not carry insurance which leaves the tree owner at a high risk of having to pay damages several times the original job estimate, if something goes wrong. Always check with your tree care company to be sure they can validate proper insurance before starting tree work. This applies to any service company which may be used in and around your home or property.

Trained and Certified Workers – Its best to choose a tree care company where the crew has current industry credentials Large cranes may be required to safely remove the tree.and a history of training and experience. How do you know if a company’s staff is trained and experienced? Ask to see their credentials and look for programs such as the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist, or the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) Certified Treecare Safety Professional which are indicators of a professional business with the expertise to perform the work. Tree owners and managers have the option to interview two or three tree care companies before deciding about tree removal or other critical practices such as pruning. Ask to see a copy of the current insurance certificate as well as copies of the crew’s competency credentials. If a company representative hesitates to provide these documents or insists, they don’t need to “prove” themselves, find another company to perform the work. Ask for references. This is easy since often all that is needed is to drive by a location to see the quality of the pruning work or removal work completed.
Certified Arborists can provide the best care for your trees.
Find a professional – Also, to check for an ISA Certified Arborist in your area, visit the website then click on the link “Find an Arborist”. By entering your zip code, a list of credentialed arborists can be found nearest your location.

Tree care performed properly will be an investment in your property that, when done correctly, will give you valued returns for decades.

Mechanical Damage to Trees: Mowing and Maintenance Equipment, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Tree Appraisal and the Value of Trees, The Educational Store
Tree Pruning Essentials, video, The Education Store
Tree Pruning Essentials, The Education Store
Tree Selection for the “Un-natural” Environment, The Education Store

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

Purdue Landscape Report: When was the last time you really looked at your trees?  It’s all too easy to just trees, grasslandsenjoy their cool shade and the sound of their leaves, but if you don’t know what to look for you could miss deadly diseases or dastardly demons lurking in their leaves and branches. A quick check can help you stop a problem before it kills your tree or your local forest!

National Tree Check Month is the perfect time to make sure your tree is in tip-top shape! Our checklist will help you spot early warning signs of native pests and pathogens and invasive pests like Asian longhorned beetlespotted lanternfly, and sudden oak death. You can stop invasive pests in their tracks by reporting them if you see them.

Is your tree healthy and normal?
Start by making sure you know the type of tree you have. Is it a deciduous tree like an oak or maple? Or is it an evergreen that like a spruce or a pine? Don’t worry about exactly what species it is. It’s enough for you to have a general sense of what the tree should look like when it’s healthy.

Check the leaves

  • Are the leaves yellow, red or brown?
  • Are they spotted or discolored?
  • Do the leaves look distorted or disfigured?
  • Is there a sticky liquid on the leaves?
  • Do the leaves appear wet, or give off a foul odor?
  • Are leaves missing?
  • Are parts of the leaves chewed?

Check the trunk and branches

  • Are there holes or splits in the trunk or branches?
  • Is the bark peeling from a tree that shouldn’t shed its bark?
  • Are there tunnels or unusual patterns under the bark?
  • Is there sawdust on or under the tree?
  • Is there sap oozing down the tree?
  • Does the sap have a bad odor?
  • Do sticky drops fall on you when you stand under the tree? You might have spotted lanternfly. Please report it right away!

Now what? If you answered YES to any of the questions above, there’s a good chance something is wrong. To decide if and how you should treat or report the problem, you’ll need to have a tentative diagnosis. Luckily, there are many ways to get one!

Know the tree species? Use the Purdue Tree Doctor to get a diagnosis and a recommendation on whether treating or reporting is needed.  This app allows you to flip through photos of problem plagued leaves, branches and trunks to help you rapidly identify the problem.  If you have an invasive pest, it will guide you how to report it.

Don’t know the tree species and still need help? Reach out to local experts. We’re happy to help!

Confused but think something is TERRIBLY WRONG?  Contact Purdue’s Exotic Forest Pest Educatorreport online, or call 1-866-NOEXOTIC.

Trees and Storms, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Why Is My Tree Dying?, The Education Store
Caring for storm-damaged trees/How to Acidify Soil in the Yard, In the Grow, Purdue Extension
Tree Risk Management, The Education Store
Mechanical Damage to Trees: Mowing and Maintenance Equipment, The Education Store
Tree Installation: Process and Practices,  The Education Store
Tree Planting Part 1 & Tree Planting Part 2, videos, The Education Store

Cliff Sadof, Professor & Coordinator of Extension
Purdue University, Department of Entomology

Elizabeth Barnes, Exotic Forest Pest Educator
Purdue University, Department of Entomology

Posted on August 27th, 2018 in Forestry, Uncategorized, Wildlife | No Comments »

A color-banded loggerhead shrike found south of Goose Pond FWA in July 2017 successfully raised six young in Davies County this summer. Fledging six young is exceptional for shrikes, which on average fledge 2.6 per nesting attempt.

Loggerhead photo from IDNR

Loggerhead photo from IDNR

This female is even more special because she is the only one of 12 banded shrikes that hatched last year to be sighted back in Indiana this year. This summer she paired with a male shrike that did not nest in 2017, likely because there were no female shrikes left in his area after steep declines in this songbird’s population.

For more information view the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife, Loggerhead Shrike.

Birds and Residential Window Strikes: Tips for Prevention, Got Nature? blog post, Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR)
Learn How Forests are used by Birds, Got Nature? blog post, FNR
Managing Woodlands for Birds, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Breeding Birds and Forest Management: the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment and the Central Hardwoods Region, The Education Store

Article from MYDNR Email Newsletter, Indiana Department of 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,

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 precedence 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,

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,

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,

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 February 23rd, 2017 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

People need trees. When over 80% of the US population lives in the urban forest, it becomes increasingly more important for us to take positive action in protecting our trees. Read up on the New Year’s Resolutions for Community Tree Advocates to see how you can make a difference in your community to improve our urban forest and our quality of life.

Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces, The Education Store
Defining Rural Indiana – The First Step, The Education Store
Indiana Woodland Steward Winter 2016 Issue, IWS
Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment, Purdue University FNR
Indiana Information, Thousand Cankers Disease

Washington DNR Urban & Community Forestry News


Posted on October 10th, 2016 in Forestry, How To, Uncategorized, Wildlife | No Comments »

Every hunter knows the importance of acorns for game and non-game species alike. When acorns are plentiful it can alter the movements and patterns of game species and when acorns are absent wildlife must rely on alternative food sources to meet their nutritional needs during the fall, winter, and early spring. Knowing the importance of acorns to many wildlife species, it is beneficial to identify which trees are the most reliable and best producing in the woods.

Intro to oaks

White oak acorns

White oak acorns are clustered at the end of the branch – this year’s growth, like on this swamp white oak on the left. Whereas, red oak acorns are farther down the branch at the end of last year’s growth, like the northern red oak acorns on the right. (Photo by Brian MacGowan)

Oak trees in Indiana fall into 1 of 2 groups, white oak (e.g., white, swamp white, and chinkapin) or red oak (e.g., northern red, black, and pin). White oaks produce acorns in 1 growing season (acorns falling in 2016 are from flowers that were pollinated in the spring of 2016) and red oaks produce acorns in 2 growing seasons (acorns falling in 2016 are from flowers that were pollinated in the spring of 2015). This means a late frost in the spring may result in poor acorn production in white oaks in the fall of the same year, but will not influence red oak acorn production the same fall. However, a late frost in back-to-back years may result in a mast failure from both groups.

White oak acorns tend to be selected by wildlife more than red oak acorns because they contain less tannins resulting in a less bitter and more digestible acorn. Check out the Native Trees of the Midwest to learn more about oaks, their value for wildlife, and help you learn to identify different species.

Oak trees can be split into production groups based on their relative acorn production capabilities. Some individual oak trees are inherently poor producers and rarely produce acorns even in a bumper crop. Whereas other individuals are excellent producers and may produce acorns even in the poorest year. Research from the University of Tennessee reported poor mast producing trees represented 50% of white oaks in a stand and produced only 15% of the white oak acorn crop in a given year, whereas excellent producing trees represented 13% of white oaks, but produced 40% of the total white oak acorn production. When you included excellent and good producing white oaks together (31% of trees), they accounted for 67% of the total white oak acorn crop in a stand. This means a minority of the white oaks in a stand may produce a majority of the acorns!

Scouting oak trees
Understanding that some individual oak trees are poor producers, some are excellent, and some fall between poor and excellent, surveying oak trees can help identify important mast producing individuals. The late summer and early fall, just prior to or at the beginning of acorn drop, are perfect times to identify the best and worst producing oaks in your stand of timber. Scouting can be as formal as conducting a mast survey or as informal as taking mental notes of oak trees with heavy crops of acorns on the ground while you are walking to and from your tree stands in the fall. Either way, scouting oaks for acorn production capability can provide more information when determining where to hunt in the fall or which trees to retain and which trees to remove during a timber harvest. If wildlife management is an objective on your property, trees that you identify as the best acorn producers in the woods can be retained during a timber harvest, while poor producing trees can be removed with little detriment to overall acorn production. It is important to remember to retain a balance of oaks from both the red and white oak group, favoring red oak, to help safeguard against complete mast failures.

Forest management is insurance for mast failure

Poorly managed forest vs. managed forest with forage for wildlife.

The top photo is of a mature forest with very few canopy gaps resulting in very little cover or food for wildlife. The bottom picture is of a forest stand where undesirable trees have been girdled (tree on the right-hand side of picture) to increase light to the forest floor and where multiple prescribed fire have been conducted to increase forage production and cover.

Annual acorn production in a stand of oaks is highly variably and can be dependent on environmental conditions. For example, late frosts, poor pollination, and insect infestations all can be culprits for poor mast production across a stand of oaks. Because of these factors, white oaks tend to only produce reliably 2 out of every 5 years, meaning 3 out of 5 years (60%) there is poor mast production or a failed mast crop in white oaks. Red oaks may produce a good crop as frequently as 2 to 5 years, but only produce a bumper crop an average every 5 to 7 years.

The extreme variability in acorn production underscores the importance in considering alternative food sources for fall, winter, and early spring for wildlife. In most mature forests with few canopy gaps there could be as little as 50-100 lbs of deer selected forage per acre in the understory. However, with some management, like thinning and prescribed fire the amount of deer selected forage can be increased to almost 1000 lbs/ac! Additionally, forest management also increases the amount cover throughout the year for species like white-tailed deer, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, woodcock, and many forest songbirds. Contrary to popular belief, cover can be more of a limiting factor for many wildlife species compared to food availability. Forest management could include girdling undesirable trees to expand growing space for mast producing trees or conducting a timber harvest removing undesirable trees and poor producing oak trees while retaining good producing trees. For more information on conducting a timber harvest for wildlife on your property contact a professional wildlife biologist or professional forester in your area.

When spending time in the woods this fall, take the time to look up and down to see which oaks in your woods are the best producers.

Native Trees of the Midwest, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Masting Characteristics of White Oaks: Implications for Management, University of Tennessee
Survey Acorns Now to Improve Production, Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA)
Wildlife Biologists, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Find a Forester, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Enrichment Planting of Oaks, The Education Store
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store
The Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment: Indiana Forestry and Wildlife, The Education Store

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

Got Nature?