specifically : the season between winter and summer
comprising in the northern hemisphere usually the months of March, April and May
or, as reckoned astronomically, extending from the March equinox to the June solstice
Bringing Nature Home
Do you want to attract pollinators to your garden?
Are you interested in restoring native plants to your yard’s ecosystem?
Join our virtual presentation on Tuesday, April 12 at 7pm to explore the different requirements of prairie, woodland and wetland plants.
Learn how to source and maintain the best native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs and trees for your specific location.
Bring your questions – Q&A to follow!
David Eubanks has worked as a distinguished environmentalist, ecologist and native plant designer for 30 years throughout the Chicago region. He works one-on-one with clients to use native wildflowers, trees, shrubs and grasses that bring life and beauty to a landscape. Projects range from butterfly gardens to raingardens to native shorelines and prairies working with hundreds of clients across 500 acres of land and lakes owned by homeowners, government, civic land trusts, private institutions, corporations, homeowner associations and private estates.
Free virtual presentation in collaboration with the Barrington Area Library and Eubanks Environmental.
With the arrival of spring, we see flora (plants) sprouting up all around. BACT prioritizes native plants (April is National Native Plant Month) in all our preserves and we work hard to remove invasive species. But there are many nuances to the categories of plants. As we all move forward with our 2022 garden plans, let’s take a look at what’s growing.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service provides these definitions:
A plant that is a part of the balance of nature that has developed over hundreds or thousands of years in a particular region or ecosystem. Note: The word native should always be used with a geographic qualifier (native to the Midwest, for example). Only plants found in this country before European settlement are considered to be native to the United States.
A plant that is both non-native and able to establish on many sites, grow quickly and spread to the point of disrupting plant communities or ecosystems. Note: From the Presidential Executive Order 13112 (February 1999): ‘An invasive species is defined as a species that is 1) non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and 2) whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.’
A plant introduced with human help (intentionally or accidentally) to a new place or new type of habitat where it was not previously found. Note: Not all non-native plants are invasive. In fact, when many non-native plants are introduced to new places, they cannot reproduce or spread readily without continued human help (for example, many ornamental plants).
A non-native plant that does not need human help to reproduce and maintain itself over time in an area where it is not native. Note: Even though their offspring reproduce and spread naturally (without human help), naturalized plants do not, over time, become native members of the local plant community. Many naturalized plants are found primarily near human-dominated areas; and, sometimes, naturalized is used (confusingly) to refer specifically to naturally reproducing, non-native plants that do not invade areas dominated by native vegetation. However, since invasive plants also reproduce and spread without human help, they also are naturalized. Invasives are a small, troublesome sub-category of naturalized plants.
A plant not native to the continent on which it is now found. (Plants from Europe are exotic in North America; plants from North America are exotic in Japan.)
Common Usage – A weed is a plant (native or non-native) that is not valued in the place where it is growing. Note: This can be true of ANY plant! Definition – Any plant that poses a major threat to agriculture and/or natural ecosystems within the United States.
A plant not native to the portion of the continent where it is now found. (California Poppies in New England are an example of a translocated species.)
Opportunistic Native Plant
A native plant that is able to take advantage of disturbance to the soil or existing vegetation to spread quickly and out-compete the other plants on the disturbed site.
Common Usage – A plant that is particularly troublesome. Legal Context (Federal Plant Protection Act) – Any plant or plant product that can directly or indirectly injure or cause damage to crops (including nursery stock or plant products), livestock, poultry or other interests of agriculture, irrigation, navigation, the natural resources of the United States, the public health, or the environment. Note: USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) maintains a list of federally recognized noxious weeds. It is illegal to import Federally listed noxious weeds or transport them across state lines. Some states or counties maintain lists and have passed laws regarding responsibilities for their control. Illinois’ noxious weeds list.
Native to Europe, garlic mustard was first discovered in the US in 1868, in Long Island NY. It was cultivated for food and medicinal use. It has since spread across all of North America.
Garlic mustard is a biennial (flowers every two years) herb that grows 2- 6 feet tall. First year plants stay shorter with heart-shaped leaves. In the second year, the lower leaves are more triangular-shaped with scalloped edges. In spring, small four-petal white flowers appear clustered at the stem ends, followed by long, skinny seedpods that look like stems and turn brown in the fall.
This plant spreads by seed and can self-pollinate, helping it rapidly displace native species and even tree saplings along trails, in forests, on riverbanks and other areas. Garlic mustard also produces allelopathic compounds that can limit the seed germination of other species. It can tolerate deep shade because it emerges and blooms early, before the trees fully develop leaves. It has virtually no natural enemies in North America, herbivores and insects here do not eat it.
All parts of the plant, including the roots, give off a strong odor like garlic when crushed. This identifies it when comparing to similar-looking plants such as kidney leaf buttercup, henbit, creeping Charlie, violets, white avens, toothwort or sweet cicely.
Control: In small infestations, pull seedlings, rosettes or flowering plants prior to seed set (spring time – SOON!) – moist ground makes for an easier, complete pull. Do NOT compost. Dispose of in plastic bags in the trash – the plants can flower and produce seed even after being pulled! The primary goal is to prevent plants from producing seed so targeting the second-year plants is key. Monitor continually during the growing season every year. Chemical controls can be employed in heavy infestations.
Have you listened to BACT’s podcast yet? Visit our website Library and tune in!
Our most recent episode: “That’s NOT Dirt!”.Northern Illinois features many different variations of soil. How did it get there? What’s it made of? What is a soil series? Soil is NOT dirt – it is the key to life!
Watch for future episodes – up next: “Let’s Get Our Feet Wet”!
These podcasts are made possible through funding by the Barrington Area Community Foundation.
April brings to mind showers and flowers, the promise of renewal! April is National Volunteer Month. Volunteers are such an important backbone of BACT – without these passionate conservation advocates, our preserves would not have come as far as they have. THANK YOU ALL – for your boots on the ground, expertise and boundless stamina!
But wait, there’s more! April is also Global Citizen Science Month. Citizen scientists are volunteers from all walks of life that get involved in research by collecting data, analyzing results and helping solve scientific mysteries. Founded by SciStarter, there are projects for all ages to participate in! BACT citizen scientists have participated in Monarch Joint Venture, Riverwatch, Bud Burst and others during work days, internships and special programming.
Dark Sky Week falls in April every year. This movement strives to bring better lighting to communities around the world – light pollution affects all beings’ quality of life! It can disrupt migration, decrease reproduction and increase predation. Light pollution can also waste money and energy, contribute to climate change and block our view of the night sky. Learn more at idsw.darksky.org. They too have citizen science opportunities!
Upcoming BACT Events ~ Save these Dates!
April 12 ~ Bringing Nature Home ~ 7pm
Learn how to source and maintain
the best native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs and trees for your specific location.
Virtual Presentation in collaboration with the Barrington Area Library