Winter Plant Identification

minnesota-lady-slipper

Lady Slipper

Walking through our woods to practice tree & shrub bud ID several winters ago, I became curious about the dried up plants I spotted. Laziness was my real motivator. If I knew which plants were the “bad chaps”, I could bag and destroy their seed heads in winter and avoid the bigger job of dealing with an explosion of nasty  germinating weeds come spring and summer. Thus began my continuing journey of winter plant identification.

Not many really good books on winter plant ID seemed to be available when I was in the market. The books I came across included a limited number of species from our area in the Midwest. Nonetheless, I purchased two different books with hand sketches to get me started.

As a visual learner, I decided to take my own photos and then document the genus and species of each new native and non-native plant I was able to identify. Being a plant sleuth is a great way to learn species ID.

Cheryl Culbreth
Landscape-Restoration.com

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Buckthorn Workshop in Faribault at RBNC on 4-1-14

For anyone in SE Minnesota interested in control of buckthorn and other non-native plants plan on joining me at River Bend Nature Center in Faribault on the evening of April 1, 2014 for their Lectures in Nature series. I will be discussing management of buckthorn and other non-native invasive species as the first step to restore native woodland plant habitat. See details in the flyer below and be sure to pre-register through River Bend Nature Center in Faribault at rbnc.org or call 507-332-7151.

Buckthorn Blaster herbicide applicators and related products will be available for sale at this event.
RBNC Buckthorn Lecture 4-1-14 001

Posted in Buckthorn Control, Buckthorn Control Methods, Buckthorn Identification, Buckthorn Replacement Plants, Cut-stump buckthorn removal method, Habitat Restoration, How to Identify Buckthorn in Your Woodland, Invasive Species, Native Plant Species, Non native invasive plants, Winter Identification of Buckthorn | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Buckthorn Workshop in Faribault at RBNC on 4-1-14

Best method to deal with the berries of non-native invasive buckthorn?

In many old-growth buckthorn infestations, buckthorn berries have been dropping for years creating a significant seed bank that will germinate like crazy when the buckthorn canopy is removed and sunlight reaches the woodland understory (see NOTE below). Trying to haul … Continue reading

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Don’t Know – Don’t Plant! How Non-Native Invasive Plants Spread

Years ago my dear sister shared a plant with me that she uprooted her garden. “I don’t know what it is but it’s really pretty when the purple flowers bloom along the stalk”.  So I planted the specimen in my garden, anxious to have a variety of blooming plants for curb appeal. BIG mistake!
Photo of non-native Creeping or European Bellflower by Elizabeth J. Czarapata

Photo of non-native Creeping or European Bellflower by Elizabeth J. Czarapata

To this day I am still finding seedlings of Creeping/European bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides) popping up randomly far from the original planting site.  This non-native bellflower can be distinguished by blossoms that occur along only one side of the flowering stalk. Click on the scientific name above for a link to view detailed facts and photos on the WI DNR website.

Words of caution to garden by, be suspicious of accepting any plants offered for free unless you are 100% certain that you won’t cause the next non-native invasive plant to enter and infest our natural areas.  Well-meaning folks are more than happy to share plants that are growing crazy out of control and this should be your first inking of a potential problem. Do some investigating before planting and take if from me, if you Don’t Know – Don’t Plant!

I appreciated receiving and watching the link that follows. It is a short 3.5 minute video from the NY area sharing how burning bush (aka winged euonymus) may have innocently escaped cultivation and invaded native woodland habitats. Buckthorn, honeysuckle, barberry and many other non-native invasive plants have also infested natural areas across the country in a similar manner.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puJlpQHHCZA 

Help nature and plant only native, local origin plants on your property.

Cheryl Culbreth
Landscape Restoration, Inc.

Posted in Buckthorn Control, Buckthorn Replacement Plants, Habitat Restoration, Invasive Species, Native Plant Species, Native Woodland Plants, Non native invasive plants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another Good Reason to Get Rid of Buckthorn – Maple Syrup

This is the final outcome of our 2013 maple sap harvest:

Maple Syrup 2013

Maple Syrup 2013

Being able to harvest maple syrup is another good reason to control buckthorn in an oak-maple-basswood forest.

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Buckthorn Blasters Products for Sale in Plymouth, MN

The City of Plymouth (MN) is holding their annual Yard & Garden Expo this weekend, April 12 – 13, 2013. This is a really fun event with something for everyone. Get more details at their web site link:

http://www.plymouthmn.gov/index.aspx?page=542&recordid=1702

Be sure to stop by our booth, Landscape Restoration, Inc. to get free advice on controlling buckthorn, garlic mustard and other non-native invasive plants. Learn more about our native plants that are ideal to replace buckthorn. In addition, all of our products will be available for sale including the Buckthorn Blaster ($6) herbicide applicator for cut-stump treatment of buckthorn and other “stemmed” invasives such as honeysuckle, Canada thistle, purple loosestrife, etc., etc.

Our Buckthorn Field ID Guide to assist with identification of native vesus non-native shrubs will be on sale for only $1o. Also available will be Buckthorn Blaster replacement applicator tips, concentrated Mark-It Blue Landscape dye and 18% glyphosate herbicide in a 3-pack of six ounce containers. More information about our buckthorn control products can be found at our website www.landscape-restoration.com, or call Cheryl at 612-590-9395.

Cheryl Culbreth
Landscape Restoration, Inc.

 

Posted in Biological control of garlic mustard, Buckthorn Control, Buckthorn Control Methods, Buckthorn Identification, Buckthorn Replacement Plants, Canada Thistle control, Cut-stump buckthorn removal method, Garlic Mustard, Garlic mustard control options, Habitat Restoration, Invasive Species, Native Plant Species, Non native invasive plants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Black Knot Fungus Looks Like a Burned Marshmallow on a Twig

While walking through a woodland, have you ever noticed the occasional black stuff on twigs that resembles burned marshmallows? A fellow master naturalist suggested the black stuff looks like scat on a stick.  The black stuff is neither of these but rather a fungus called “black knot”. Black knot fungus grows on species in the Prunus genus which would include our native black cherry, choke-cherry, pin cherry, American wild plum and a few others.

Black knot fungus. Copyright 2011 Landscape Restoration Inc.

By properly pruning away and removing the fungal growth, plants typically recover from black knot fungus if treatment occurs early enough. If you decide to prune black knot fungus from your cherry or American wild plums trees and shrubs, here are some tips that I found to be helpful:
1. Prune in dry weather, preferably during winter.
2. Don’t leave the black growths in the woodland. Place them directly into a bag after pruning and then burn or keep bagged and place in your garbage.
3. Prune 3 – 6″ below the fungal growth or until the pith of the branch is clear without dark spots. Prune the infected branch to a point where the fungus is no longer visible to avoid return of the black knot fungus.
4. When you are through pruning, clean pruning blades with rubbing alcohol to avoid spreading spores during future use.
5. If you are still with me, check out this video of me pruning black knot in my woodland.

The good news is that there is a bit of a silver lining to finding black knot fungus. Buckthorn resembles plants in the Prunus genus but buckthorn is not susceptible to black knot. Therefore, if you do find black knot on woodland shrubs or small trees you have certainly found a native plant that is valuable to native wildlife.

Get outside today and notice something interesting about nature. Nurture a native tree and kill buckthorn!

Cheryl Culbreth
Landscape Restoration, Inc.

Posted in Black knot fungus removal, Buckthorn Control, Buckthorn Identification, Buckthorn Replacement Plants, Habitat Restoration, How to Identify Buckthorn in Your Woodland, Native Plant Species, native species, Native Woodland Plants, Non native invasive plants, Winter Identification of Buckthorn | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Buckthorn Removal in Minnesota

It seems to me that many folks removing buckthorn are not aware of how to effectively and economically apply herbicide. Often with the cut-stump method, the entire stump is painted or sprayed with herbicide when only buckthorn’s cambium layer is affected by herbicide application. The cambium is a microscopic tree layer that sits just inside the inner bark. In the photo below, I illustrated the herbicide treatment area with blue paint. Notice the black arrow pointing to a barely visible line denoting the location of the cambium layer.

Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc. Cut-stump herbicide treatment area.

Only the outer circumference of freshly cut stumps, where the cambium layer is located, needs to be treated with herbicide.  Some older herbicide labels recommend drilling holes in the middle of the trunk and pouring in herbicide – egad! Since this area is the dead heartwood responsible only for holding the tree upright, I wonder why this application would be suggested. Hmmm . . . perhaps a financial motivation on the part of the manufacturer? Back to the point that only the cambium is responsible for drawing down and storing energy into buckthorn’s root structure. When herbicide is applied to the cambium layer it hitches a ride downward to kill the buckthorn root structure and avoid regrowth. You can save time and money by limiting herbicide application to the cambium, not the whole stump.

Another factor affecting my successful buckthorn removal is the herbicide’s active ingredient. I prefer to use a herbicide containing 18-20% glyphosate as the active ingredient. (The reasons I prefer to cut-stump treat buckthorn with glyphosate will be saved for a future blog segment. Something to look forward to!) Glyphosate is sold under various brand names but the most common is Roundup. Whether purchasing Roundup or a generic brand, I check the manufacturer’s product label in the bottom right corner of the herbicide container for the product’s Active Ingredients.

buck5

Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc. Herbicide label – active ingredient listing

For cut-stump treatment of buckthorn, I want the active ingredient to be glyphosate at 18% to 20% as shown in the photo at right. I use this concentration as is to fill my Buckthorn Blaster applicator and apply herbicide. The 4-ounce Buckthorn Blaster easily keeps me going for 4 to 6 hours of woodland fun. Buckthorn Blasters can be purchased online at www.landscape-restoration.com.

Now that you know my tips to save time and money at buckthorn removal, don’t let your door knob hit you in the rear as you rush outside to eradicate buckthorn. Happy buckthorn busting:)

NOTE: I store my herbicide in an area protected from freezing during winter so the effectiveness will not be diminished.

Cheryl Culbreth
Landscape Restoration, Inc.

 

Posted in Buckthorn Control, Buckthorn Control Methods, Cut-stump buckthorn removal method, Habitat Restoration, How to Identify Buckthorn in Your Woodland, Invasive Species, Non native invasive plants, Winter Identification of Buckthorn | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Buckthorn Replacement & Ground Cover

The fall colors of many native woodland plants are beginning to peak and native woodbine and Virginia creeper are no exception. It may be fun to compare their fall color in the photos below to photos taken earlier this season in our 6-27-12 blog article, “What’s that Plant in My Woodland“.

Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc. Woodbine climbing along a small tree.

2012 Copyright Landscape Restoration, Inc. "Virginia creeper as a ground cover in fall"

Virginia creeper and woodbine are almost in full fall color in these photos. Virginia creeper and woodbine provide a great native vining ground cover and also climb fences, trees and other nearby structures. Unlike wild grape, these vines are gentle climbers and will rarely choke out shrubs and trees.

Woodbine and Virginia creeper produce native edible berries for our native birds that are a great food alternative to buckthorn berries. Consider doing a frill cut to your larger buckthorn and then encourage these native vines to use the dead buckthorn as a natural trellis. This is a great option to keep your privacy and stop buckthorn berry production.

Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc. Woodbine decorating my chicken pen.Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc. Allow native vines to use a dead tree as a natural trellis.

 

 

If you are feeling a little creative, the vines of the less desirable native river grape plant can be pruned from the woods and wound around your porch railing as a decorative accent or wound into a wreath base to decorate for fall and hang on your front door. Go outside and have fun with the natives!

Cheryl Culbreth
Landscape Restoration, Inc.

Posted in Buckthorn Control, Buckthorn Control Methods, Buckthorn Replacement Plants, Habitat Restoration, Native Plant Species, native species, Native vines to replace buckthorn removal site, Native woodland ground covers, Native Woodland Plants, Photos of blooming native MN plants, Vining species | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Identify Buckthorn in Your Woodland

The cooler temperatures of fall make it a great season to work on removing buckthorn. Many of our native trees and shrubs change leaf color and begin dropping their leaves in fall. This provides the buckthorn novice with better odds to correctly identify buckthorn compared to the valuable native trees and shrubs we want to keep and protect.

If you would like to improve your ability to confidently identify buckthorn, use these key common buckthorn leaf characteristics:

Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc. “Common Bucktorn Leaf”

1.  Notice the indented mid-vein of the buckthorn leaf which runs from the leaf bottom to the leaf tip. Common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) will have 3 or 4 upward curving veins on each side of the mid-vein. This is the most important feature to find but must be combined with the following additional leaf characteristics.
2. The leaf shape is typically a oval – wider across the leaf center.
3. The leaf margin or edges of the leaf are slightly serrated or toothed.
4. The leaf remains green in the fall.

Common buckthorn berries are only found on mature female buckthorn plants and will look like this in the fall:

Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc. “Common Buckthorn Berry”

1. Berries of common buckthorn become purple to purple-black in late summer to early fall. Each berry contain 3 to 4 seeds which remain viable in the soil for at least 5 years after dropping from the buckthorn plant or birds who eat the berries. Some buckthorn trees produce thousand of berries per season. You can do the math and understand why buckthorn becomes invasive in a short time span and remains a problem even after the mature trees are removed.
2. The stem of each common buckthorn berry attaches directly to the twig. Berries of native species like choke-cherry, black cherry, nannyberry, etc. form a group and this group is then attached to the twig by one stem.

Now that you are on your way to becoming an expert at identifying common buckthorn in the fall, refer to my blog “Buckthorn – is it a Problem on Your Property” dated 2/15/12 too learn about winter bud identification of buckthorn when the leaves are gone.Go outside today and start getting rid of non-native & invasive common buckthorn. Remember to check out our Buckthorn Blaster herbicide applicator product for cut-stump treatment of buckthorn found under the PRODUCTS tab at www.landscape-restoration.com.

Cheryl Culbreth
Landscape Restoration, Inc.

 

Posted in Buckthorn Berry Characteristics, Buckthorn Control, Buckthorn Identification, Buckthorn Leaf Characteristics, Common Buckthorn Leaf Characteristics, Habitat Restoration, How to Identify Buckthorn in Your Woodland, Invasive Species, Native Plant Species, native species, Non native invasive plants, Winter Identification of Buckthorn | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment