Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Plant of the Week: Wild Hyacinth (Camassia scilloides)

This is one of the showy late spring woodland wildflowers that can form a large colony but is a great plant for attracting honeybees, bumblebees, Cuckoo bees and Halictid bees.  It is fairly easy to grow in the garden and reproduces primarily by seeds, and that is how it is often available at native plant nurseries. In early spring this perennial has basal leaves that look somewhat like a droopy grass or sedge leaf that can be 1 1/2' across.  When the flowering stalk appears, usually in early May, it grows to about 2' tall.  Leaves are flowering time are about 6" in length and they have a very prominent vein in the center.  The individual flowers have 6 tepals, 6 stamens, and a bright green ovary.  The leaves and plant will be gone in the garden by mid-summer with no signs the plant existed in the spring.  Each seed capsules has many dark black seeds and it takes years for the bulb to mature to produce a plant that will flower.It is like most native woodland flowers in that it likes loamy soil in shade to part-shade and moist soil conditions. Good companion plants would be things like ferns and waterleaf, particularly those with mottled leaves.  It can also work well with other later blooming species like wild geranium.  Deer will browse the basal leaves but typically do not heavily graze the more mature plants.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Plant of the Week: American Bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia)

This is a wonderful woodland small tree or large shrub that has interest in the spring with the white bell shaped flowers and in the fall when the fruits appear as papery thin inflated bladders that appear like Chinese lanterns.  Because of the wonderful seed capsules, branches and fruits make an interesting addition to dried flower arrangements.  In the spring, you often see tiger swallowtail butterflies nectaring on the blooms although it is a great pollinator plant as native bees and honeybees relish this as a mid-spring source of nectar.  I like this species because it is very drought tolerant and can tolerate heavy clay or rocky soils in addition to heavy shade conditions.  Thus it can be a great addition to the home landscape.  This native tree/shrub is a suckering species that rarely gets above 15' tall but can form a clump up to 15' in diameter under the proper conditions.  Furthermore it is a fast growing species. It has compound trifoliate (3 parted) leaves that are oval in shape.  It has no serious disease or insect problems and white-tailed deer prefer not to browse the leaves..

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Plant of the Week: Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

When used en masse at the edge of a woodland garden as a focal point or specimen tree, this early blooming small tree deserves to be in everyone's yard. Put some dogwoods or serviceberry (Juneberry, Sarvis), or even a Carolina Silverbell for an outstanding spring display that will draw you into the wild woodland garden.  This is generally, although not always, a multi-trunk small tree that can get 30' tall and is often found along roadsides, cut-over forests, as an understory tree, or as a street tree.  It is a legume and has the most beautiful purple to pink pea like flowers. This species has heart shaped to near circular leaves that turn yellow in the fall and the tree usually produces a large quantities of bean like seed pods.  It is very easy to grow in average soil in part-shade.  It can tolerate a wide range of soils except wet or poorly drained soils.  It is easy to grow and should be planted at a young age because it grows fast and has a tendency to not transplant well. Keeping the tree healthy, through pruning, watering and fertilization is essential because it is susceptible to canker, Japanese beetles, verticillium wilt, dieback, leaf spots, and mildew.  The genus comes from the Greek word kerkis which is in reference to the seed pods resembling a weaver’s shuttle.  There are a wide variety of cultivars available even a weeping type called 'whitewater.' 'Alba' has white flowers and 'Silver-cloud' has leaves variegated with cream. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Plant of the week Trout Lilies

The yellow (Erythronium americanum) and white (E. albidum) trout lilies are synonymous with early spring ephemeral woodland wildflowers.  These small (4 - 6" tall) members of the lily family can put on quite a show when a cluster of them in the garden is in full flower.  These lilies take seven years to mature and when mature have two mottled basal leaves.  The flowers have six tepals (three sepals and three petals) and open during the day (to the extent that they are recurved when fully open) and close at night (to protect the pollen on the showy reddish or yellow anthers.) These are deep rooted plants and roots can go 8" deep and you must have highly organic or sandy-loam soils for these species to thrive. This particular species does not do well when dug from the wild and transplanted to the garden, so the best method of obtaining them is from a native plant nursery.  Because these plants flower so early (often in March) the leaves disappear often by the first of May, which allows you the opportunity to put in another spring ephemeral species to take it's place for the remainder of the growing season. Trout lilies are often called fawn lilies (due to the mottled or spotted leaves and the appearance that resembles a fawn's ears) or dog-tooth violets because the corms supposedly resemble a dogs tooth and flowers look kind of like violets.  The name trout lily is given because of the mottled leaves and the appearance of the flowers during trout fishing season.  It is sometimes called adder's tongue because of the tongue-like flower shape of the flowering shoot as it emerges in the spring and resembles the open mouth of a snake. These plants are not pH sensitive and both species are found across the state of Kentucky and are common.  There are no serious disease or pest problems associated with this species.Supposedly the corm is edible and tastes like a cucumber.