Can you guess this month’s natural wonder?
Need trees and shrubs for your landscape? Go native with MDC! Native trees and shrubs can help improve wildlife habitat and soil and water conservation while also improving the appearance and value of private property.
The George O. White State Forest Nursery near Licking offers a variety of low-cost native tree and shrub seedlings for reforestation, windbreaks, erosion control, wildlife food and cover, and other purposes. The nursery provides mainly 1-year-old, bare-root seedlings with sizes varying by species. Seedling varieties include: pine, bald cypress, cottonwood, black walnut, hickory, oak, pecan, persimmon, river birch, maple, willow, sycamore, blackberry, buttonbush, deciduous holly, redbud, ninebark, spicebush, elderberry, sumac, wild plum, and others.
Seedlings are available in bundles of 10 or increments of 25 per species. Prices range from 22–90 cents per seedling. Sales tax of 6.1 percent will be added to orders unless tax exempt. There is an $8 handling charge for each order. Receive a 15 percent discount up to $20 off seedling orders with a Heritage Card, Permit Card, or Conservation ID number.
Learn more and place orders through the 2019-2020 Seedling Order Form. Find it at MDC regional offices and nature centers, online at mdc.mo.gov/seedlings, or by contacting the State Forest Nursery at 573-674-3229 or StateForestNursery@mdc. mo.gov. Place orders now through April 15, 2020. Orders will be shipped or can be picked up at the nursery near Licking from February through May.
Sandhill cranes, rare migrants in Missouri, occasionally stop in this fly-over state to forage in agriculture crop fields, open grassy areas, and marshes. Most winter in Texas, Mexico, and southern Florida. As their population continues to grow in the upper Midwest, we may see more of this species of conservation concern. To discover more about sandhill cranes, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/ZQt.
Send it to AskMDC@mdc.mo.gov or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.
Q: Twice in a week’s time, I have found bats in my driveway, which is shaded by huge maples. When I touched a stick to the bat, it grabbed on ever so slightly. I placed it in a tree, but I found it on the ground again the next day. Could these bats be leaf-dwellers, knocked out of the trees by high winds?
A. The species you’ve encountered are likely to be eastern red bats (Lasiurus borealis), a common “tree bat” species. Other tree bats include the hoary bat and the silverhaired bat. Tree bats roost in trees year-round, in contrast to other North American bats, which use caves in winter.
Tree bats are also known to migrate between winter and summer locations. Even though these species are migrating, they hibernate in winter to save energy during cold, wet conditions. They cannot move quickly, defend themselves, or fly when hibernating. They’ll appear close to dead, will be cool to the touch, and their movements will be very slow and weak. It often takes them 5 to 10 minutes to become active.
It is likely these individuals were knocked or blown from their roosts and may have been injured in the process. After being grounded, they may not have been able to make their way back to the roost. You did all you could in placing it on a tree trunk where it might safely recover. It was likely a natural death and nothing to be concerned about.
This species is camouflaged to blend in with fall leaves. It is likely that, if the death occurred anywhere other than your driveway, you might not have noticed, as they blend in well with fallen leaves. It should be noted that live red bats also may be encountered in leaf litter during cold spells and can be seen flying out of leaf litter during early spring burns.
Q: I planted milkweed seedlings last year, but none of them bloomed. I’ve purchased seeds for the upcoming season, but I need advice before I plant them?
A. Planting these seeds directly into bare soil is a good option. Site preparation — to ensure the area is weed-free — is imperative. If you plan to sow the seeds into an existing flower bed, make sure that all tough, perennial vegetation is eradicated and treat the area with extensive weeding and raking so the seeds have a chance to germinate. Broadcast the seeds onto the soil surface during the winter — January and February are prime months. Aim for 24 seeds per square foot. Tossing the seed on top of the snow is also a good technique. To ensure germination, press the seed into the soil. You can do this with your feet. Select your location carefully to allow young plants at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. During the first growing season, young plants need full sunlight to grow strong. Learn to identify the seedlings and keep the beds weeded to allow the seedlings to grow.
Patience will be your watchword. Remember, these plants are investing in long-term survival, not a rapid flush of growth and flowering just to make seed and die like annuals. It’s not unusual for native forb seedlings to grow a few inches above ground, as well as more than a foot below ground, in their first year. It takes a couple of years for seedlings to bloom.
Once established, these milkweeds will provide flowers for you and our native pollinators for decades to come. For more information on homegrown milkweeds, including how to germinate them in pots, visit mdc.mo.gov/conmag/2016/01/
Q: Could you identify these berries?
A. This is possum haw, also known as deciduous holly (Ilex decidua). Usually this Missouri native is a shrub with a spreading, open crown, but it also can be a small tree.
With its bright, red berries, possum haw is eye-catching in autumn and winter. The berries appear in September and October and tend to be about ¼ inch in size — either solitary or three together. Possum haw is “dioecious,” which means there are separate male and female plants. For the best show of berries, plant female specimens, with at least one male to ensure pollination takes place. Though the berries are considered poisonous to humans, many birds and mammals eat them, and deer browse the twigs.
You can find these trees scattered south of the Missouri River and in the counties along the Mississippi River. Possum haw prefers moist, acidic, organic soils and grows in a variety of habitats, including dolomite glades, rocky upland open woods, and low, wet woods along streams. You can plant them near your raingarden for winter interest and to attract birds. homegrown-milkweeds.
Shortleaf Pine Tree Bark
The shortleaf pine tree (Pinus echninata) is the only pine species native to Missouri. It’s common in the Ozarks but can be planted elsewhere. The shortleaf pine’s bark is thick, reddish-brown to nearly black, and broken into large, irregular, scaly plates. In theearly 20th century, these trees provided numerous railroad ties to the nation’s growing transportation network. Today, the wood is used for exterior and interior finishing as well as pulpwood.
Derek Cole, Jackson County Conservation Agent
As you prepare for opening day of firearms deer season — Nov. 16 — make yourself familiar with this year’s changes. Here are just a few. First, again this season, MDC has established a chronic wasting disease management zone. If you harvest a deer in the zone opening weekend, you must present your deer at a sampling station. Second, the antler-point restriction has been reinstated in designated counties. Under this restriction, only bucks with at least four points on one side may be harvested. Third, an adult no longer needs a permit when accompanying a youth hunter (ages 6–15) Nov. 2–3. For more information on these and other changes for the 2019–2020 deer season, check out the 2019 Fall Deer & Turkey booklet, available where permits are sold or online at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZMP.
Spotlight on people and partners
by Larry Archer
Like many farmers in north-central Missouri, David Williams and his son, Lance, grow corn, beans, and wheat on their 11,000 acres in southeast Livingston County. What sets the third and fourth-generation farmers apart is the approximately 250 acres of wetlands that they also maintain, providing habitat not only for migrating waterfowl, but numerous other species that rely on wetlands for survival. Over the years, they have installed 16 water-control structures that aid in flooding and draining fields to maintain wetlands.
“They’ve always had a real strong interest in waterfowl hunting and wetlands,” said Private Lands Conservationist Scott Roy. “What makes David kind of unique from your typical farmer is that he understands the value of wetlands not only from the wildlife perspective, but from what they can do from the land management aspect as well. He’s very meticulous with his wetland management.” In addition to working with MDC, the Williamses work with other government agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, and not-for-profit organizations such as Ducks Unlimited for financial and technical assistance.
Not only do David and Lance manage the water on their wetlands, but they also take on additional projects to make their property more attractive to waterfowl. “We also do things like put up wood duck nests and goose tubs for them to hatch in,” David said. “I think last spring we had 21 tubs out for the geese. I don’t know how many young ones we raised, but I know it was probably 70 or 80.”
What’s your conservation superpower?
The Missouri Conservation Commission recognizes citizens who make outstanding contributions to Missouri conservation and is seeking nominations for its Master Conservationist Award and the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame.
The Master Conservationist Award honors living or deceased citizens while the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame recognizes deceased individuals. Those who can be considered for either honor must be:
The nomination form deadline for both is Monday, Dec. 9.
Anyone can submit nominations and should include a statement describing the nominee’s accomplishments and a brief biography. A screening committee meets annually to consider nominees, with the Conservation Commission providing final approval.
MDC’s online Nature Shop makes holiday shopping a breeze for anyone interested in nature-themed gifts. Offerings include the ever-popular Natural Events Calendar, a variety of books, and more for all ages. For more information, visit mdcnatureshop.com.
Holiday shoppers can also skip retail stores and visit one of MDC’s nature centers around the state, located in Kirkwood, Cape Girardeau, Springfield, Kansas City, Blue Springs, and Jefferson City, for an array of reasonably priced, nature-themed holiday gifts.
Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish, so give the gift of hunting and fishing permits. Buy them from vendors around the state, online at mdc.mo.gov/buypermits, or through our free mobile apps, MO Hunting and MO Fishing, available for download through Google Play for Android devices or the App Store for Apple devices.
Keep in touch with the year’s seasonal changes. Each month offers a reminder of the state’s natural treasures, and daily notes keep you posted on what’s blooming or nesting. 01-0363 — $9
Whether you hunt, fish, or forage, you’ll enjoy this collection of more than 100 delicious, kitchen tested recipes featuring Missouri’s game, fish, nuts, fruits, and mushrooms. 01-0297 — $16
Trees of Missouri describes 174 native and nonnative tree species found in Missouri. Visual organization of species by leaf arrangement and shape makes field ID easy. 01-0092 — $8
A must-have for nature lovers, mushroom enthusiasts, and cooks. Detailed descriptions of 102 species and tips for finding, gathering, preparing, and preserving wild mushrooms are included. 01-0294 — $16
This eye-popping guide of 50 cool bugs in Missouri makes learning about insects fun. Perfect for kids, families, teachers, and gardeners. 01-0025 — $8.95
Anyone fascinated with animals that hop, crawl, or slither across Missouri will love this book featuring 50 salamanders, toads, frogs, turtles, lizards, and snakes. 01-0293 — $8.95
Order yours today at mdcnatureshop.com or call toll-free 877-521-8632 Applicable tax, shipping & handling costs will apply
Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Art Director - Cliff White
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler