While considered agricultural pests, the giant and yellow foxtail grasses are a windfall to birds in winter. Often seen along roadsides and bordering cropland, the foxtails produce large seeds in copious amounts. They are an important winter food for many different bird species.
Is your bird feeder near the flower bed? It is believed that sunflower hulls can inhibit seed germination or plant growth including wilting, discoloration and death.
Every day 50 to 100 species of plants and animals become extinct as their habitat and human influences destroy them.
May is a good time to check the forest floor for wild geraniums, wild phlox and jack-in- the- pulpits.
Have you ever gotten into stinging nettles, which is also called “itch weed”? Nettles are an important food for several species of butterfly caterpillars.
Bothered by ragweed allergies? It is claimed that one ragweed plant can release a billion pollen grains over its bloom period! Can there be anything GOOD about ragweed? Yes, its seeds are winter food for many birds and the plants are eaten by the caterpillars of several butterflies and moths.
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is one of the latest blooming woody plants. It blooms in late fall and can hang onto its yellow sepals well through winter. Look for Witch Hazel, a small shrub, at Lowe-Volk Park and Sears Woods. It is found in both parks along the Sandusky River.
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant and grows on hardwood trees. It puts down roots right into the tree bark, drawing water and nutrients from its host. While host trees gain nothing from the partnership, they are rarely harmed by the mistletoe’s existence. Eastern wild mistletoe is common along the Ohio River from Marietta to Cincinnati. In fact, southern Ohio is on the northernmost edge of the mistletoe range.
An early spring walk in wet woods or bottom land might bring the intriguing sight of skunk cabbage growing while the snow around it has melted. The skunk cabbage has the ability to produce enough heat to melt the snow. This rare condition in plants is called thermogenesis.
Violets recruit the help of ants when it comes to seed dispersal. The flower produces an elaiosome which is attached to the seed. When the ants, being attracted to the elaiosome for its nutrient value, carry it back to the nest the seed is carried along. The colony eats the elaiosome and discards the seed unharmed.
If you are curious about how a community garden might look, stop by Unger Park on Nevada road where the OSU Extension has organized very impressive first year plots.
There are about 100 species of goldenrod that make up the genus Solidago. Goldenrod can be readily found in the meadows, pastures, roadsides and waste areas of Crawford County. Problably due to their bright, golden yellow flower heads that bloom in late summer, the goldenrod is often unfairly blamed for causing hay fever. Goldenrod pollen is too heavy and sticky to be blown far from the flowers and is thus mainly pollinated by insects.
Native sunflowers are a favorite food of goldfinches. Stop out at Unger Park to see them on top of a sunflower seed head digging out a tasty morsel.