Scientist requesting your help with elderberry study

By Joshua Neely

purple fruit on a plant

Elder fruit

I hope that you may be able to help me. I am seeking one or more populations of elder (Sambucus nigra or Sambucus canadensis) in the St. Louis/St. Charles area for an unfunded genetic study.

I welcome populations that are either cultivated or wild.

I have included pictures of elders (sometimes called elderberries) with fruit as well as the overall plant.

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New transplant (person) looking for new transplants (plants)

Non-native plants in April's yard before the make-overBy April Anderson

Here are 2 ‘before’ photos of my tiny backyard. Upon removing this excessive amount of ivy, I found oak, hackberry, and redbud saplings. From my former home in the Chicago area, I brought New England aster, butterfly weed, black-eyed Susan, zigzag goldenrod, rosin weed, Joe Pye weed, and marsh milkweed along with gifts of nodding wild onion, and prairie smoke.

Non-native vines in April's yard before the make-overThe neighbors here complain about deer, so I’m trying to make choices that will not be as attractive for browsing. I will post “after” photos once we get beyond the empty, crunchy stage. If you have native plants that need to be thinned, please let me know. I’m targeting part-sun plants that like sandy loam — in essence, dry shade. It will be fun to see what happens.

April, the new transplant!
E-mail April if you have plants to share.

Editor’s note: April, who was previously a member of the Northern Kane county Wild Ones chapter, recently moved to St. Louis. She says she’s eager to connect with a community of thinkers who share the environmental values she holds dear.

She is also looking for work in the field teaching others about nature, writing about nature, and providing sustainable designs. She has been a naturalist for over 20 years and an “Open Spaces” writer for Quintessential Barrington Magazine for about half this time. Read her article about monarch butterflies.

Fall learning opportunities

Before we know it, the growing season will start winding down. But there are still plenty of opportunities to learn about landscaping with native plants.

Powder Valley Nature Center

Floral Design with Widlflowers – Aug. 14
Native plants greatly benefit wildlife, but widflowers can also make beautiful floral arrangements. Learn about the native wildflowers in the garden at Powder Valley, and then learn simple tips and tricks about design before making your own arrangement to take home.
More information

Native Plant School

Scott Woodbury talks about groundcovers at the Native Plant School The Native Plant School, co-sponsored by St. Louis Wild Ones, has released their fall/winter classes. Click any title for more information:

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Local entry in the 2015 Wild Ones photo contest

By Dawn Weber

Wild Bergamot leaf with water drops from guttation

“Under Pressure” photo by Dawn Weber – click for a larger image

I have a photo in the Wild Ones 2015 photo contest. It’s in the Flora category, called “Under Pressure,” a photo of wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) guttation.

Guttation occurs when a plant has turned off its transpiration processes, usually at night, so excess moisture cannot evaporate from the surface of the leaf. Instead, root pressure will cause the moisture (along with other chemicals and sugars indigenous to the plant, known as xylem) to get pushed out through the leaf edges.

I took the picture on May 9th, just before heading out to the wildflower market at SNR. There was significant rain the day before, so the soil moisture levels were high, producing the right conditions. I discovered it by accident, looking around the garden in the morning, noticing that it looked different than just moisture on the leaf surface.

Wild Ones members can vote by logging into the national website.

My photo won the People’s Choice category in the Wild Ones photo contest. Thanks to everyone who voted! I received $50 in gift cards from Prairie Nursery (Wisconsin) and received a nice certificate. View all the winners.  
Thank you! Dawn

Upcoming learning opportunities

By Betty Struckhoff

Pagoda Dogwood BerriesHow lucky we are to live in the St. Louis area!  Here are some of the opportunities in the next six weeks to learn and experience more of the beauty of native landscaping.

June 4, 1 p.m. – Landscaping with Native Trees and Shrubs
Sunset Hills community center, 3939 S. Lindbergh, Sunset Hills, MO 63127
Presented by Betty Struckhoff. Free and open to the public. Read more.

June 6St. Louis Urban Gardening Symposium
Brightside St. Louis’ Demonstration Garden
Here are the topics to choose from:
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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.

The Chickadee’s Guide to Gardening

Entomologist and wildlife ecologist Doug Tallamy is at his best in a recent OpEd piece in the New York Times entitled, The Chickadee’s Guide to Gardening: In Your Garden, Choose Plants That Help the Environment.

Courtney Wotherspoon drawing of a bird in a tangle of plants

Image by Courtney Wotherspoon

OXFORD, Pa. — I GREW up thinking little of plants. I was interested in snakes and turtles, then insects and, eventually, birds. Now I like plants. But I still like the life they create even more.

Plants are as close to biological miracles as a scientist could dare admit. After all, they allow us, and nearly every other species, to eat sunlight, by creating the nourishment that drives food webs on this planet. As if that weren’t enough, plants also produce oxygen, build topsoil and hold it in place, prevent floods, sequester carbon dioxide, buffer extreme weather and clean our water. Considering all this, you might think we gardeners would value plants for what they do. Instead, we value them for what they look like.

When we design our home landscapes, too many of us choose beautiful plants from all over the world, without considering their ability to support life within our local ecosystems.

Last summer I did a simple experiment at home to measure just how different the plants we use for landscaping can be in supporting local animals. I compared a young white oak in my yard with one of the Bradford pears in my neighbor’s yard. Both trees are the same size, but Bradford pears are ornamentals from Asia, while white oaks are native to eastern North America. I walked around each tree and counted the caterpillars on their leaves at head height. I found 410 caterpillars on the white oak (comprising 19 different species), and only one caterpillar (an inchworm) on the Bradford pear.

Was this a fluke? Hardly. The next day I repeated my survey on a different white oak and Bradford pear. This time I found 233 caterpillars on the white oak (comprising 15 species) and, again, only one on the Bradford pear.

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Restoration Underway at Creve Coeur Lake Park

Aerial map of the Mallard Lake restoration projectLate last year St. Louis Wild Ones agreed to be listed as a partner on St. Louis Audubon’s application for a Missouri Department of Conservation Community Conservation Grant for a project in Creve Coeur Park. In November, Audubon received word that the project had been selected for funding to the sum of $20,000.

Additionally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is assisting through the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program with a goal to connect urban residents with nature. Funds will be used to convert turf to prairie and reconstruct woodland habitat near Mallard Lake in Creve Coeur Park. Mallard Lake is located south of Page Avenue and east of Creve Coeur Mill Road.

Volunteers needed
The public can assist with the project
at two upcoming community volunteer days to remove invasive bush honeysuckle on March 14 and April 11 near Mallard Lake, from 9 a.m. to noon. Volunteers will meet on the north side of the Lakehouse Restaurant (Google map). All ages are welcome, but those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. All tools and supplies will be provided. Registration is encouraged, but not required. To register, contact Mitch Leachman at or (314) 599-7390. Continue reading

Big city habitat

Kids looking at pond water with microscopes and magnifying glassesBy Betty Struckhoff

Watching kids find little critters in pond water, some of them using a microscope, all under the helpful eyes of a docent made me think I could have been at Shaw Nature Reserve. But I was in the middle of London, one of the biggest, most densely populated cities on the planet, at the Wildlife Garden of the Natural History Museum. What a surprise to find acres of native English plants representing eight different habitats in the British Isles.

Map of Wildlife Garden London Museum of Natural History

Map of the Wildlife Garden

The Wildlife Garden opened in 1995 and represents the museum’s first living exhibit. Over 2,300 species of plants and animals have been identified there.

Wildlife Garden at Longon Museum of Natural History

Wildlife Garden at the London Museum of Natural History

Maybe the next time I go to London, I’ll visit the River of Flowers. It is under development and will include 10 locations along the Thames River planted in wildflowers.

What fun to know that other parts of the world are also learning to appreciate the beauty and diversity of native plants!