It’s hoped the Empire State Native Pollinator Survey 2017-2021 will provide the foundation for future pollinator research and conservation efforts. [Read more…] about Dire News In New York’s First-Ever Pollinator Distribution Survey
Why do we hate lions? For reasons that are beyond any logic I can see, we have been convinced that dandelions are posies non grata in our landscapes. Yet they are a critical food source for native pollinators, vitamin-packed culinary delights, and multi-purpose herbal remedies. I’d say that’s not bad for a “weed.”
In fact, dandelion is so well-respected that it bears the Latin name Taraxicum officinale, roughly meaning “the official remedy for all disorders.” It has many reported health benefits, including as a liver support, for alleviating kidney and bladder stones, and as a poultice for boils. I don’t pretend to know every past and present medicinal use of the plant, and I recommend consulting an herbalist, as well as your doctor, before trying to treat yourself. [Read more…] about In Praise of Dandelions
Have you spotted some of spring’s first wildflowers in the forest? This is the time when the famously fleeting flowers called spring ephemerals bloom – but only for a brief period of time. [Read more…] about Ephemeral Wildflowers: Brief Beauties of the Forest Floor
Every spring, after the last of winter’s snow has completely melted and as I start the wonderful, dirty work of turning the soil of my vegetable beds, I find myself gazing often to the just-greening-up ground beneath the old apple tree behind the garden.
It’s a rather unruly tree, sprouted at some point from the fallen-over trunk of its ancestor apple tree. And beneath its sprawling branches, every year, blooms a patch of bloodroot. [Read more…] about Signs of Spring: Bloodroot Blooms
First domesticated in Central Asia some six-thousand years ago by ancient cultures looking for the best way to ruin shirts, mustard has evolved from zesty warm to blistering hot to the point that it’s now being developed as an ultra-low emission jet fuel.
Given the large size of the mustard or Brassica family – some 3,000 strong, according to Cornell University – it’s no surprise that it comprises historic food crops, showy flowers, noxious invasive weeds, and more. [Read more…] about Mustard Power: An Historic Food Crop
As I stroll through the cemetery near my home on a snowy day, splashes of golden orange, bright as daylilies in July, pop from the gray stones. These patches are elegant sunburst lichens, which provide a vibrant example of just how colorful lichens can be. Lichens come in a wonderful range of colors, from the subtle pale green of old man’s beard to the brilliant yellow of goldspeck lichens. While these colors can be beautiful, they are also useful, as the pigments block harmful ultraviolet rays, allow lichens to absorb light as heat, and protect them from harmful microbes. [Read more…] about Colorful Lichens
Some beneficial wild plants suffer from reputation: To nettle someone means to annoy them, and nettle plants are in fact covered with hollow micro-spikes that inject a skin irritant. But nettles are also an early-spring cooked green par excellence.
Other plants are victims of poor branding. Critical to the survival of monarch butterflies, milkweed is delicious when cooked. Jewelweed, native to wetlands, contains a sap which counteracts poison ivy, and its orange or yellow orchid-like flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Yet both plants have names which define them as undesirable. [Read more…] about Wildflower Public Relations Failures
The deep purple caught my eye, an unexpected color amid the autumn-hued palette of gold, red, and orange. I stooped to look more closely, thinking perhaps someone had dropped some manmade thing on this grassy, well-traveled path along a hardwood stand. But, no, it was a flower, its summery-colored petals closed up tightly, like a new tulip bud in springtime. [Read more…] about Gentian Wildflowers Add Purply-blue to Autumn’s Palette
With their marvelous interpretive-dance routines, complex social life, and delicious honey, honeybees are widely respected, but they’re anything but sweet to wild pollinators. In fact, a surfeit of honeybees is a big threat to our native bees and butterflies. [Read more…] about Honey Bee Keepers, Curb Your Enthusiasm
To quote the French dramatist Jean Giradoux, “The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life.” Flowering plants fill our summer fields and gardens, bring bright spots of color to our woods, and – since their arrival on the scene some 130 million years ago – have evolved along with animal life to become an essential part of the food web. [Read more…] about Flower Color: A Science Primer