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


Posted on June 11th, 2018 in Alert, Got Nature for Kids, How To, Safety, Wildlife | No Comments »

If you care about wild animals, let them be wild. Most young wild animals you encounter are not orphaned. What may seem like an abandoned animal is normal behavior for most wildlife, to avoid predators. Picking up a wild animal you think is orphaned or abandoned is unnecessary and can be harmful to the animal or you.

DeerIf you find a wild animal that is truly abandoned, sick or injured, here is what you can do:

  • Leave it alone, in its natural environment. Don’t turn wildlife into pets.
  • Call a licensed wild animal rehabilitator who is trained in caring for wild animals.
  • If the animal is sick or severely injured, call a licensed veterinarian.

Resources:
Mammals of Indiana, J.O. Whitker and R.E. Mumford
Common Indiana Mammals, The Nature of Teaching, The Education Store-Purdue Extension’s resource center
Orphaned and Injured Animals, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)

MyDNR Indiana’s Outdoor News, Indiana Department of 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


Mile-a-minute vine covering trees

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

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

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

Mile-a-minute leaves

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

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

Mile-a-minute identification:

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

Mile-a-minute fruit berries

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

Mile-a-minute thorns

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Harvest Calendar

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

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

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

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


Posted on May 30th, 2018 in Got Nature for Kids, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »

Question: This little guy lives around our house. We see him almost daily. Do you know what he is? Salamander? Skink? Lizard?

The animal pictured is both a lizard and a skink – specifically, a Common Five-lined Skink. More than 1,200 species of skinks are distributed worldwide. Most are medium-sized lizards with body lengths typically ranging 4-12 centimeters. Skinks are active and alert lizards covered with smooth overlapping scales on the sides and back.

Common Five-lined Skinks are usually 5-7 centimeters in body length(12-21 cm total length) and have smooth overlapping scales. Their heads are distinct from their necks and ear openings are smaller than the eyes. Physical characteristics of Common Five-lined Skinks vary by sex and age.  Juveniles have bright blue tails and shiny black bodies marked with five yellow longitudinal stripes. Adult males are uniformly brown and develop wider heads, with red to orange coloration on the snout and jaws. Very faint stripes also might be visible on some adult males. Adult females have brownish bodies marked with five yellowish to cream longitudinal stripes and sometimes have a hint of bluish tail.

Throughout most of Indiana, Common Five-lined Skinks are a common species of open woodlands and edges where stumps, logs, woody debris, and rock piles are present.  Porches and rock cover around homes and driveways offer good habitat for these lizards. Areas like these offer hiding places, areas to bask in the sun, and food. Most activity occurs on or near the ground, although they occasionally will climb trees. Their active season extends from April to October. Five-lined Skinks actively pursue a variety of invertebrates including insects, spiders and millipedes.

Resources:
Snakes and Lizards of Indiana, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
How can I tell if a snake is venomous,  Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources

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


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

 


Posted on April 30th, 2018 in Forestry, Safety, Urban Forestry, Woodlands | No Comments »

Person raking the firebreak where fire did creep away from the burn area.

This annual membership meeting is designed to bring together individuals, organizations, land managers, private landowners, contractors, and agencies that have an interest in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of prescribed fires in Indiana. The purpose of the annual meeting is to develop synergy within the prescribed fire community.

Location: IN-DNR Fire Headquarters, 6220 Forest Road, Martinsville, IN 46151

Date and Time: May 30th, 2018 from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM EST

Free Registration: Indiana Prescribed Fire Council Annual Meeting Registration link

Resources:
Prescribed fire: 6 things to consider before you ignite, Got Nature?, Purdue-FNR Extension
Indiana DNR Prescribed Fire Factsheet (pdf), Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Indiana DNR State Parks Prescribed Fire, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Indiana Woodland Steward Fire and Woodlands, Indiana Woodland Steward

Chad Bladow, Indiana Fire Program
The National Wildfire Coordinating Group

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


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