Cup plant’s overwintering residents

By Cori Westcott
for Bring Conservation Home

Bring Conservation Home logoSomeone told me
It’s all happening at the zoo
I do believe it
I do believe it’s true – from Paul Simon’s At the Zoo, 1968


Cup plant sweat bee

Cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum) and sweat bee

When I think of the potential for a bustling natural winter community that may be happening in stems of my cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum) during the winter, Simon’s song cycles through my mind.

Wisconsin entomologist Andrew H. Williams collected (1996) and identified (1997) more than twenty species of insects and spiders overwintering in Silphium perfoliatum stems. In February, Mr. Williams sent a copy of his table on discovered insect and spider collections from cup plant stems in Grant County, Wisconsin to me upon request. He graciously has given me permission to share his findings with you.

Mr. Williams’ findings are listed by taxon. I’ve done a little research to further identify the insects and glean any special behavior to pass along. I’m about to share some intriguing behavior of the cup plant’s winter residents in a rapid-fire style Mr. Simon used in describing the zoo’s citizen’s. Cue Simon’s song…

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The buckeye and the slender-leaved false foxglove

By Cori Westcott of Bring Conservation Home

Buckeye caterpillar

Buckeye caterpillar – Photo by Dr. James C. Trager

While enjoying the expansive vista of a prairie, my eye stopped upon a strange looking little creature just beyond the boardwalk. A buckeye (Junonia coenia) caterpillar was dining upon a slender-leaved false foxglove (Agalinus tenuifolia), formerly a Gerardia.

The false foxglove flowers from August to October and was in the middle of its flowering time. Its pink, tubular-shaped bloom has five petals. Like its name, the leaves are indeed very slender.

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A Case for Pussytoes

By Dawn Weber

American Lady butterfly on Prairie Pussytoes

American Lady butterfly on Prairie Pussytoes – photo by Dawn Weber

Pussytoes is a low-growing native groundcover with understated spring blooms and silvery-green leaves that resemble the soft pads of a cat’s paw. Field or prairie pussytoes, botanically named Antennaria neglecta, are native to the north east and north central US as well as much of Canada. Just a few inches tall, they appreciate full sun to light shade, and dry to average soil.

Without a doubt, there are showier native plants. So why make room in your garden for this unassuming little plant? Because pussytoes is one of the host plants for the American Lady butterfly.

American Lady butterflies need pussytoes. Tiny just-hatched caterpillars cannot travel very far for food, so the female butterfly lays her eggs on a host plant that the new caterpillars can eat.

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Talking Natives at Sugar Creek Gardens

By Betty Struckhoff

Two people at table with native plant resources

Meg Bergen and Linda Tatum ready to talk natives at Sugar Creek Gardens

On Saturday, April 11, seven Wild Ones members enjoyed talking with customers at Sugar Creek Gardens in Kirkwood, our newest Wild Ones business member in St. Louis.

My favorite conversation was with a young man who has recently purchased a home in nearby Rock Hill. He remembers his late grandfather’s interest in gardening, and plans to carry the tradition forward using mostly natives and maybe creating a rain garden.

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St. Louis Native Plant Garden Tour – Registration is open!

Flyer for the first St. Louis native plant garden tour

Click to view the full flyer

Registration is now open for the St. Louis Native Plant Garden Tour on Saturday, June 20 from 9 AM to 3 PM.

Take a self-guided tour of 10 residential native plant gardens in central St. Louis County. Various locations in Brentwood, Clayton, Glendale, Kirkwood, Webster Groves and more.

  • Sun, shade, butterflies, birds, dry sites and wet
  • Traditional and natural designs
  • Take pictures and ask questions

Cost: $20 per person. Proceeds benefit the tour organizers: St. Louis Audubon’s Bring Conservation Home program and Wild Ones – St. Louis Chapter

Registration for this year’s event is closed. Stay tuned for information about next year’s tour.

Native Days at Sugar Creek Gardens – April 7-10

Sugar Creek talks & events

Click for a listing of Sugar Creek talks & events

By Betty Struckhoff

Spring is in the air and our spirits turn to digging in the dirt. Sugar Creek Gardens in Kirkwood wants to help fire our imaginations and supply some planting material.

Ann Lapides at Sugar Creek has noted surging demand for native plants from her customers, and is responding by stocking plenty of Missouri natives this spring. Check out some of their offerings. She has asked WIld Ones to help further educate her customers, and we have responded. Here are some upcoming events: Continue reading

Opportunities wasted and opportunities seized

By Betty Struckhoff

Fall scene with Hickory, Red Maple, Paw Paw and Serviceberry

Fall colors

I’m not a native plant purist, but one thought often enters my head when I see a vast expanse of mown grass while driving on a highway: What a wasted opportunity!

My yard has grass, but only enough to give a sense of order and to preserve a hill for occasional sledding. The rest is a continual work in progress, initially inspired by the woods I grew up around and later by things I learned from Wild Ones members and others.

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Another chance to see the Leahys’ yard

May 2014 meeting

Wild Ones meeting at the Leahys’ – photo by Dave Tylka

By Sue Leahy

When invitations came my way toward the end of last year to host a Wild Ones meeting and be on the Master Gardener tour, I decided that since we were going to “spruce up” the gardens for these tours that I would host an open house for the public as well. This would give me a chance to help educate about and promote the use of natives in landscaping and providing habitat for birds, bees and butterflies.

Thus, there will be a public open house at my place on Sunday afternoon, September 14. There will be some habitat advisors from the St. Louis Audubon Society’s Bring Conservation Home program available to help educate. Wild Ones members are more than welcome and feel free to bring a friend or spread the word. The more the merrier!

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Fran Glass’ yard gets Platinum certification from STL Audubon

By Mitch Leachman

Fran Glass stands in her yard of native plants with a sign proclaiming her Bring Conservation Home Platinum certification - the highest level.The St. Louis Audubon Society’s Bring Conservation Home program was created in 2012. It gives individual landowners in the St. Louis region specific advice on how to create bird- and pollinator-friendly habitat in their own yards. A number of the program’s volunteer Habitat Advisors are Wild Ones members, and the St. Louis Chapter has been a partner organization since the program kickoff.

Bring Conservation Home has been wildly successful, with nearly 350 landscapes surveyed representing over 200 acres of potential new habitat. 80 owners have been recognized for their conservation practices with one of three certification levels. Fran entered an elite group earlier this month by achieving Platinum certification, the highest level. Her company includes Wild Ones’ own Bill Hoss, and native plant enthusiast, author and educator Dave Tylka.

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Restoration field day – Matson Hill Park

By Kathryn Jepsen

Beautiful green mayapples under a canopy of tall, slender trees

A free, informative field day for land managers, land owners and other resource professionals interested in woodland restoration.

See first-hand what Missouri Master Naturalists, St. Charles County Parks and Recreation, and their partners are doing to restore the county’s woodland and prairie communities. Learn about the resources available to bring similar projects to your own region, including those from project partner Missouri Department of Conservation.

In this free field day, you’ll see the results of an earlier project on once-degraded woodlands. And you’ll witness the ongoing work that’s taking place to restore 62 acres of woodland and 11 acres of prairie by Missouri Master Naturalist volunteers and the staff of St. Charles County Parks and Recreation, along with partner organizations University Extension Education Foundation, Forest and Woodland Association of Missouri, and Missouri Department of Conservation.

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