Squirrels and native plants

If you notice clumps of leaves falling off your trees you could be witnessing squirrel damage. Squirrels cut the small twigs off of trees as they feed on the sapwood, causing this damage. Normally this activity does not weaken the health of a tree.

This year nearly 300 private citizens paid for gypsy moth suppression on their forest treating nearly 6,000 acres.

A native plant is one that exists naturally in our area, one that was here before Europeans came to these shores. A cultivar is created by taking a plant that occurs in nature and making changes in order to develop a new variety. Plants with certain qualities are crossed with another plant possessing other qualities; a different color, stronger stems, longer bloom time, more compact plants, etc. The cultivar will be named on the plant tag, such as Rudbeckia fulgida “Goldsturm,” Goldsturm being the cultivar of this coneflower. Sometimes the beneficial pollen or nectar of the original plant is lost in the cultivation. This can result in plants that look good, but have little wildlife value. If you see cultivars of native plants in a nursery, a park or a neighbor’s yard and want to plant for wildlife, look and see if bees and other insects are visiting the plant.

Are ginkgo trees native? No, not to Maryland, but they were once found on this continent. Most descriptions of the tree say it is native to Asia. Ginkgo trees belong to one of the oldest tree species on earth (Ginkgo biloba), dating back 150 million years. They were once native to Washington but later became extinct in North America. There is a petrified ginkgo forest in Washington state, the remains of a pre-ice age forest. Specimens cultivated in Chinese ornamental gardens were later reintroduced around the world.

You can learn a lot about the environment in Frederick County by searching out these local web sites: Frederick County Forest Conservancy District Board, Catoctin Forest Alliance, Monocacy-Catoctin Watershed Alliance .

Nature Notes for 7/19/2009