Got Nature? Blog

This native tree comes with its own defense system in very large thorns on the stems and trunk. Meet the honey locust. Purdue Extension forester Lenny Farlee explains that large, long yellow seed pods that resemble bean pods, the option of single or doubly compound leaves on the same tree and smooth gray bark also help identify this species.

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.

Resources:
ID That Tree, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel
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

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


This native Indiana tree species is found in three southwestern counties near the lower Wabash River. It is often found in wet or ponded locations where there is standing water or high water tables. Meet water locust. It has large multi-pronged thorns and compound leaves like its cousin the honey locust, but can be differentiated by its location, its much smaller seed pods and its flattened thorns along the branches.

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.

Resources:
ID That Tree, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel
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

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


If you have ever noticed acorns so numerous that you could not take a step without crushing several, you may be asking the question, “why are there so many acorns?” Some answers to this question can be found in the physiology and ecology of trees and their relationship to wildlife. Oaks and several other tree species occasionally produce enormous crops of seed. This is called “masting” or “mast events”. These events are periodic. In the case of many oak species, a large mast event may happen every two to five years, depending on the species of oak and several other factors. Masting events may be preceded and followed by small or moderate acorn crops, or complete crop failures in some cases. Why does this irregular seed production happen? These events may be tied to several aspects of the life of oaks.Picture of immature acorns from a red oak

First, the production of a huge volume of a large seed like an acorn requires a lot of resources from the tree. This level of production may not be possible for the tree every year. Trees allocate energy to several different functions, so committing large amounts of energy to one area could mean deficits in others. This may mean there are advantages for the tree to produce occasional, rather than annual, mastings.

Second, weather does not always cooperate to provide the conditions for a bumper acorn crop. Unfavorable weather during pollination and seed development periods can result in reduced production of acorns. Late spring freezes, extremely high temperatures, summer droughts and other weather stresses can reduce acorn pollination and production.

Third, predation by seed-eaters like squirrels, deer, turkey and even weevil larvae can greatly reduce the number of viable acorns. It may take a very large acorn crop to have many acorns escape from the numerous species that depend on acorns for food.

Picture of chestnut oak acorns

This irregular cycle of large crops can be beneficial for the oaks by overwhelming the seed eaters. Populations of wildlife that depend on acorns may eat most of the seed during normal seed crops, but may not be able to utilize all the seed produced during a masting. This surplus seed is available produce the next generation of oak seedlings. 

However, some species will produce copious amounts of the mast if the developmental age of the tree is favorable, regardless of conditions. 

Acorn production can vary by species and individual trees across the oak family, but masting is a way this important group of trees can continue to be a part or our Midwestern landscape.

Resources:
Woodland Management Moment: Direct Seeding, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) YouTube Channel
Ask an Expert: Tree Selection and Planting, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) YouTube Channel
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Native Trees of the Midwest, The Education Store
Investing in Indiana Woodlands, The Education Store
Tree Pruning Essentials, The Education Store

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

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


Posted on September 28th, 2021 in Forests and Street Trees, Urban Forestry | No Comments »
Fig. 1 infected blue spruce tree.

Fig. 1. Severely infected tree showing the ‘purple-brown’ needle symptoms.

Purdue Landscape Report: Colorado blue spruce is not native to Indiana (no spruce is!), and it often suffers from environmental stresses such as drought, excessive heat, humidity, and compacted or heavy clay soils—making it an already poor choice for our landscape. If that weren’t enough, it also suffers from needle cast diseases. Needle cast is a generic term that refers to foliar diseases of coniferous plants that result in the defoliation (“casting off”) of needles. Needle casts vary by host, and severity is dependent upon the age of infected needles. Of all the foliar diseases affecting woody landscape plants and shrubs, needle casts are the most serious for the simple reason that coniferous plants do not have the ability to refoliate, or produce a second flush of needles from defoliated stems. Rhizosphaera needle cast is a fungal disease, caused by Rhizosphaera kalkhoffii that attacks the needles of Colorado blue spruce in the spring, as new needles emerge. However, infected needles often don’t show symptoms right away, and may take one to three years to develop. Infected needles later turn purple to brown and fall from the tree prematurely (Fig. 1), leaving the inner portion of the branch bare.

As the disease progresses, severely infected branches die, leaving the tree with a hollow or thin appearance (Fig. 2). The disease usually starts near the base of the tree where humidity levels are the highest, but continues to spread upward. As the disease continues, trees become unsightly and lose their value as a visual screen or privacy fence.

Fig. 2 Disease spreading up blue spruce tree.

Fig. 2. As the disease spreads up the tree, lower branches begin to die.

The Rhizosphaera pathogen sporulates in the spring (Fig. 3), which is the best time to control this disease. The fungal fruiting structures emerge on these needles and are usually large enough to be visible to the eye, with the fruiting structures appearing as rows of small dots running lengthwise along the white bands of the needles. In severe infections, trees may only have the current year’s needles remaining rather than the 5- to 7-year complement of needles a healthy spruce maintains. Destructive epidemics of needle casts or rusts are not uncommon, and develop under periods of extended leaf wetness. The after-affect of these epidemics can persist for several years. In the urban setting, needle casts are more of an endemic, as most conifers are ill-suited to the Midwest urban environment. Most conifers retain their needles for two to seven years. The length of time that a needle is retained depends on the species of coniferous plant and if the plant has been subjected to stress such as drought, flooding, salt damage, disease, or insect pest. Trees that lack the full complement of needles are stressed or undergoing pest attack. When attempting to determine the cause of needle drop, examine the branch carefully to determine if the problem is normal needle drop, the yearly occurance on normal needle shedding. The newest needles should not be affected and problems should not appear within the last two to three years of growth.

Managing Rhizosphaera: there are conifers that are more resistant to Rhizosphaera, and include white spruce (P. glauca) and its variant Black Hills spruce, both of which are intermediate in resistance. Norway spruce (P. abies) is highly resistant to this disease. Some Colorado blue spruce cultivars, like ‘Hoopsii,’ and ‘Fat Albert’ are reportedly more resistant to the disease.

Spectro-90, or copper-based fungicide, can protect new growth and prevent new infections; Concert II, Heritage, Pageant, and Trinity are labeled for use in commercial and residential landscapes, and nurseries, but data regarding their efficacy is lacking for this disease. Daconil Weatherstik is not labeled for blue spruce in the landscape but is still available for use in the nursery and for other landscape diseases.

Fig. 3. Closeup of fruiting bodies. Photo by Paul Bachi, UK.

Fig. 3. Closeup of fruiting bodies. Photo by Paul Bachi, UK.

It is important to protect new growth as it emerges no matter which fungicide you apply; fungicides should be applied when the new needles are half elongated (late April or early May) and again three to four weeks later, possibly with a third application if wet weather or growth persists. Rhizosphaera needle cast may be controlled in one year if fungicides are applied correctly. However, severely infected trees usually require two or more years of fungicideapplications. Even though fungicide application will effectively control this disease, reinfection may occur in subsequent years. Application to large trees requires special equipment to ensure adequate coverage. Read fungicide labels carefully and apply only as directed.

When planting new trees, consider planting Norway or white spruce, which are more resistant to Rhizosphaera. Other spruce, like Serbian, simply haven’t had widespread evaluation in the Midwest, so buyer beware! Properly spacing spruce trees will help reduce disease incidence. Spruce trees grow best in moderately moist, well-drained soils but can be planted in other soils if adequate moisture is available. Avoid heavy clay, as trees planted on these sites often suffer iron, magnesium, and manganese deficiency. Water newly planted trees, and water during drought periods to help maintain tree vigor and minimize stress. Stressed trees should also be mulched and fertilized as needed. Properly prune dead or severely infected branches during dry weather. If trees are severely infected, the lower whorl of branches may also be removed to help increase air circulation.

Article originally published by the Indian Nursery & Landscape Association Magazine, March/April 2018. www.inla1.org

Resources:
Needle cast in Colorado Blue Spruce, Purdue Landscape Report
Blue Spruce Update, Purdue Landscape Report
Why Spruce Trees Lose Their Needles, Purdue Extension
Blue Spruce Decline, Purdue Extension
Diseases Common in Blue Spruce, Purdue Extension
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Tree Planting and Urban Forestry Videos, Subscribe to our Purdue Extension-FNR YouTube Channel

Janna Beckerman, professor
Purdue Botany and Plant Pathology


Posted on September 28th, 2021 in Forestry, Forests and Street Trees, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »

On this edition of ID That Tree, Purdue Extension forester Lenny Farlee introduces you to one of our common bottomland trees, the Eastern Cottonwood. This tree stands out for its triangular or delta shaped leaves, often with prominent teeth along the edges, which extend from long flattened leaf stems. This native tree is named for its early season fruit, which is a little tuft of white hairs that holds a small seed that is produced in large quantities and often blown far from the parent tree.

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.

Resources:
ID That Tree, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel
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

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


Posted on September 24th, 2021 in Forestry, How To, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »

Hunters have been busy preparing food plots, hanging tree stands and working on their marksmanship skills in hopes for getting that buck of a lifetime.  The Indiana deer hunting season for 2021-2022 started September 15th and goes to January 31st.  As your hunting adventures begins, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) has the resources you need. You will find How-To videos that address how to score your white-tailed deer, age determination,  how to harvest  your deer and many other deer management resources. The FNR videos and publications will give you step-by step guidance on how to receive accurate measurements and share best data collection practices, along with sharing what materials are needed.Deer in forest with snow on the ground.

Here is a quick list of just a few of our resources for those deer hunting enthusiasts:
Ask an Expert: Wildlife Food Plots, video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) YouTube Channel
Handling Harvested Game: Episode 1, Field Dressing, video, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
Handling Harvested Game: Episode 2, Hanging & Skinning, video, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
Handling Harvested Game: Episode 3, Deboning, video, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
Handling Harvested Game: Episode 4, Cutting, Grinding & Packaging, video, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
Deer Harvest Data Collection, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – FNR
How to Score Your White-tailed Deer, video, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
White-Tailed Deer Post Harvest Collection, video, The Education Store
Age Determination in White-tailed Deer, video, The Education Store
Handling Harvested Deer Ask an Expert? video, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
How to Build a Plastic Mesh Deer Exclusion Fence, The Education Store
Bovine Tuberculosis in Wild White-tailed Deer, The Education Store
Woodland Stewardship for Landowners: Managing Deer Damage to Young Trees, video, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
Integrated Deer Management Project, Purdue FNR

For other hunting and trapping dates view the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife Department website. Enjoy and stay safe!

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

Rod Williams, Assistant Provost for Engagement/Professor of Wildlife Science
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Jarred Brooke, Wildlife Extension Specialist
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on September 23rd, 2021 in Forestry, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »

Prescribed or targeted grazing has been used on Western rangelands for many years to manage range weeds and is also used to reduce fuel and maintain fire breaks in high fire hazard areas. It has also been used in the south to help control kudzu.

In a recent study, Purdue Extension forester Ron Rathfon tested goat grazing as a method to control a continuous stand of mature, dense multiflora rose in the understory of one of the timber stands at the Southern Indiana Purdue Agricultural Center (SIPAC). After the steep slope resisted a few rounds of prescribed fire and conventional methods like cutting and spraying were deemed impractical due to the terrain and the thick growth of thorny rose, Rathfon decided to give the animals a try at reducing the invasive species.

Close Up of Goat

The results of Rathfon’s five-year experiment were recently published in the journal Restoration Ecology (Volume 29, Issue 4, May 2021) in an article titled “Effects of prescribed grazing by goats on non-native invasive shrubs and native plant species in a mixed hardwood forest.” Rathfon co-authored the publication with professor of forest ecology Dr. Mike Jenkins, and master’s degree alumna Skye Greenler.

“Although prescribed grazing is not new, no research has been published demonstrating its use for invasive brush species management in eastern hardwood forests and quantifying its impacts on native vegetation,” Rathfon explained. “The goal was to test the use of the goats to control invasive woody brush species as a first step in restoring degraded hardwood forests. I anticipated the goats would reduce understory plant cover. What I didn’t know is how long it would take or whether native vegetation would be more severely impacted than the targeted invasive plants.”

Rathfon and his cohorts varied the goat stocking rate (16 vs. 32-48 goats per acre) and also the number of times a plot was grazed during a growing season (once or twice). Goats were not left in the woods continuously throughout the growing season. When they consumed all green leaves, they were removed, to prevent serious long-term damage to the trees, which had occurred with past livestock grazing in woodlands.

Full Article >>>

Resources:
What are invasive species and why should I care?, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources Blog
Invasive Plant Series: Swallow-worts, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Mile-a-Minute Vine, The Education Store
Planting Forest Trees and Shrubs in Indiana, The Education Store
Invasive Species Playlist, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel

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


Posted on September 23rd, 2021 in How To, Wildlife | No Comments »
Vulture Tagged J17Pat Zollner, professor of wildlife science, and doctoral student Marian Wahl are researching black vultures in Indiana in order to better understand vulture ecology as well as to develop methods to mitigate future harm to Indiana and Kentucky livestock.

In addition to looking to see what causes some black vulture to become aggressive predators of livestock, instead of simply scavengers, the research group also is looking to learn signs that can determine whether an animal has been killed by vultures or simply scavenged.

For their knowledge of and research on black vultures, Zollner and Wahl were interviewed by the New York Times for its article “Black Vulture Attacks on Animals May Be Increasing.”

Marian Wahl Measuring

“What is totally unknown in Indiana and most places is how often this (predation) happens,” Zollner said. “Addressing that gap is one of the goals of our research.”

More on Zollner and Wahl’s black vulture research and how you can help by either taking an online survey or donating calves believed to have been killed by black vultures can be found in “Citizen Participation Needed in Black Vulture Research.”

Some of the group’s research efforts were recently featured in a pictorial titled “A Day on the SIPAC Farm.” See Wahl, Zollner and undergraduate students Gabrielle Dennis and Danielle Jones in action in the photo feature by Tom Campbell.

This article is also shared on Forestry & Natural Resources News area.

Resources:
Citizen Participation Needed in Black Vulture Research, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) Blog
Black Vulture Research, Perry County News & March Edition of Beef Monthly
Black Vulture Ecology and Human-Wildlife Conflicts, Purdue FNR, Dr. Pat Zollner’s Website
Livestock, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center

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


Posted on September 23rd, 2021 in Wildlife | No Comments »
Turkey flock walking on grass. Turkey photo courtesy of Jerry Johnson. IN DNR.

Turkey photo courtesy of Jerry Johnson.

Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife Facebook: Thank you turkey brood reporters! With your help, we were able to obtain more than 5,100 turkey brood observations in Indiana. This will allow us to complete the first-ever regional analysis of turkey production by region. Observational data aligned very closely with available turkey habitat (forested areas shaded in green). Check out our maps below for a comparison!

Learn more about the turkey brood survey: on.IN.gov/turkeybrood. Want to help turkeys on your property? Check out our recommended habitat management strategies: http://wildlife.IN.gov/land…/wildlife-habitat-fact-sheets/.
Turkey brood maps, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Turkey brood map, observational data, IN DNR, Division of Fish and Wildlife
Resources:
Four Simple Steps, Help Indiana DNR Estimate Wild Turkey Populations, Purdue Extension – Forestry & Natural Resources
Why Count Turkeys?, Indiana DNR
Truths and Myths about Wild Turkey, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Wildlife, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store

 


Several things come into play when it comes to determining the colors that we find on leaves of our trees. As our days get shorter and our nights get longer there is a chemical change that happens in the tree. In this video Lenny Farlee talks about the several pigments that are found in trees and what changes from summer to fall that brings us the bright colors on leaves.

Resources:
When and where Indiana’s fall leaves will be at their peak across the state, Indy Star
Why Fall Color is Sometimes a Dud, Purdue Landscape Report
U.S. Forest Service Website and Hotline, Highlight Fall Colors on National Forests
ID That Tree Fall Color: Sugar Maple, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel, ID That Tree Playlist
ID That Tree Fall Color Edition: Black Gum, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel, ID That Tree Playlist
ID That Tree Fall Color Edition: Shagbark Hickory, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel, ID That Tree Playlist
ID That Tree Fall Color Edition: Virginia Creeper, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel, ID That Tree Playlist
ID That Tree Fall Color Edition: Winged Sumac, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel, ID That Tree Playlist
Autumn Highlights Tour – South Campus, Purdue Arboretum Explorer
Why Leaves Change Color – the Physiological Basis, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center

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


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