Friday, May 27, 2011

Plants grown from seed Spring 2011

Weather and the recent sewer work have caused havoc in the garden but we are beginning to recover. Two areas have been completely replanted and the third ,hopefully will be done this weekend. The rain garden plants have all returned as well as the nearby,slow to emerge scurfy pea,which I was afraid had been lost.
All of the seedlings that were still in pots over the winter have grown big enough to be transplanted into gallon sized pots or put into the ground. I love starting native prairie plants from seed then watching them grow.

This first picture is switchgrass / Panicum virgatum. Very easy to grow from seed and a fast growing plant.

Here are a few prairie dropseed and rough blazing star just planted from pots last week. Both were from seed I started last year using winter sowing in milk jugs 2009-2010.

A rough blazing star and a pale purple coneflower/Echinacea pallida, somehow in the same pot.

More seedlings started last year.

This is one of four clumps of prairie dropseed started from seed about 4-5 years ago. The small clumps in picture above came from seed from these plants.

Northern bedstraw returned. This is the third year. Hoping for flowers and seed this year.

Canadian hawkweed will be huge this year. I will be collecting seeds for a long time as it flowers over several weeks.

And last but most important,finally signs of the scurfy pea. I am so grateful not to have lost this plant. Next weekend I will be picking up a few more to make sure there is plenty of pollen to transfer between plants when they finally start to flower. I did not start these last three plants from seed but was given them as very tiny seedlings to grow and collect seed from, to be seeded into restored prairie at Spring Creek.
Native Seed Gardeners

Scurfy Pea Illinois Wildflowers

Cultivation: The preference is full sun, dry conditions, and soil that contains gravelly material, a little sand, or clay-loam. New plants can be started from seeds, but growth and development are slow. Established plants don't produce foliage until rather late in the spring, but they develop quickly thereafter from the nutrients inside their taproots. Resistance to drought is excellent.

Faunal Associations: The flowers are pollinated primarily by small to medium-sized bees, including the Digger bee Svastra obliqua, the Plasterer bee Colletes willistoni, and the Dagger bee Calliopsis andreniformis. These bees are attracted to the nectar of the flowers. Some grasshoppers eat the foliage, including Melanoplus femurrubrum (Red-Legged Grasshopper), Melanoplus foedus (Striped Sand Grasshopper), and Melanoplus packardii (Packard's Grasshopper). The caterpillars of the flower moth Schinia jaguarina feed on the developing seedpods, while the leaf beetle Luperosoma parallelum feeds on the foliage. The foliage of Scurfy Pea is occasionally browsed by White-Tailed Deer and Cottontail Rabbits, even though it has been reported to be mildly toxic to livestock. It is possible that some upland gamebirds and granivorous songbirds eat the seeds, but records about this are lacking.

Scurfy Pea
Psoralidium tenuiflorum
Bean family (Fabaceae)

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Papaipema Moths

Everyone loves the beautiful( very evident by its daytime activity) butterfly. Few think about conservation efforts for the less evident night flying moths.
So let us look at a group of moths that are prairie plant host specific.

Each species of papaipema moth tends to be specific to a different host or group of host plants.
There are many, but to name a few there is ...
Papaipema beeriana / Blazing star borer
Papaipema eryngii / rattlesnakemaster,Eryngium yuccafolium borer
Papaipema cerussata / Ironweed borer
Papaipema nebris / Common stalk borer ,small grains grasses and corn
Considered a pest but with little economic significance.

In the literature available it says that for many of these moths habitat seems to be nearly as important as host plant. That is because these prairie plants that provide food for the larval stage are habitat specific. Undisturbed prairie is hard to come by these days. But the moths can be introduced to restored or reconstructed prairie and do quite well.

Will these moths frequent our prairie plants in the garden? A few liatris or rattlesnake master may not a habitat make. But if(as stated in some sources) as few as 100 plants can make a difference, then a few wildlife gardeners and maybe an enlightened park district in the neighborhood planting in prairie style, should do something. It seems to work with butterflies.

There is more to wildlife gardening than growing plants. One must learn to leave protected places for different stages of insect life. The more we know about the life cycle of each member of a habitat community the more useful our garden becomes to the wildlife we cherish. This actually turns out to be less work, as the one thing we can do most often is disturb less.


MSU edu Papaipema beeriana pdf

Forest Service US Blazing star moth pdf

Forest Service US Eryngium root borer pdf

Illinois wildflowers ironweed

The caterpillars of various moths feed on Vernonia spp. (Ironweeds),
particularly the pith of their stems and their roots. These species include Carmenta bassiformis (Eupatorium Borer Moth),
Papaipema cerussata (Ironweed Borer Moth), Papaipema limpida (another Ironweed Borer Moth), Perigea xanthioides (Red Groundling),
Polygrammodes flavidalis (Pyralid Moth sp.), and Polygrammodes langdonalis (Pyralid Moth sp.).