The Long Travelers: Leaf-cutter Bees, Part II

Life travels, and a lot of it has made the journey to our backyard.  That includes Nadia and me–a few hundred miles from my point of origin for me and considerably more for Nadia.  Some of this life travels north to south and back each year and passes through on the way to grace us with its presence for a time, and some has meandered here haphazardly from far-off climes in all directions, welcome or not.  Some of it stays here pretty much all the time, but all of it has journeyed through vast distances of time and evolution, those other dimensions of change that we can only peruse indirectly and with awe.

Our last post described such a traveler: a Leaf-cutter Bee, Megachile mendica,    plying its trade and reproducing in our yard.

Megachile brevis or mendica

Leaf-cutter Bee (Megachile mendica) cutting leaf disk for nest cell.

Now this particular specimen probably didn’t travel far to get here, since both of these species are native to Missouri, but a little research led to the discovery of some immense journeying indeed.  Back into the mists of time.  Way off yonder to a continent that split apart long, long ago.  To a time and place where huge reptiles made the earth tremble and plants were just learning how to make flowers.

It is thought that bees originated around 125-150 million years ago in Cretaceous times, splitting off from wasps and chasing the promise of the rise of angiosperms, the flowering plants  (“Let’s hustle, guys!  New niche!  Snooze and lose!”)  and in turn fueling the rapid spread and diversification of these new and wondrous plants.  This event probably happened on the fabled continent of Gondwana, before it separated into the South American and African continental plates, and it left the world a very changed place.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e5/Laurasia-Gondwana.png/559px-Laurasia-Gondwana.png

Old Gondwanaland and Laurasia (From U.S. Geological Survey)

The group that eventually gave us our leaf-cutter seems to have been one of the earlier bee groups to develop—the Megachilidae, an event which some researchers believe happened about 126 million years ago (making the case for an earlier origin for bees proper than was originally thought).  But it was still quite a hike to get from down yonder in old Gondwana to our Missouri backyard.  How did they do it?  Possibly by developing the very behavior that they are named for—cutting leaves.  It seems that bees have been making nests and laying eggs in them for a very long time, but bees that simply dig holes, lay eggs and provision them tend to be restricted to areas where moisture is not a problem.  Exposure to moist conditions can result in microbes and fungi infecting the eggs, larvae and provisions, killing the young bees or reducing their chances of survival.  The meant that the safest places to reproduce were in very arid deserts with little chance of rainfall during breeding season.

But then, somewhere along the line, some bright bees came up with the strategy of lining their nests to protect their contents.  Some used  Dufour’s gland to coat the nest and/or its contents with antimicrobial and antifungal secretions and some got the bright idea of using foreign materials, such as mud, plant resins or, like our little friend, leaves (fossil evidence for that here).  They were off to the races after that: vast new areas were opened up for colonization by these clever pioneers, who could now waterproof their nests and guard against organisms that would attack them.  It was time to see the world!  Wherever flowering plants spread, the bees followed in a symbiotic frolic that we enjoy watching daily in our own yard, sitting outside our own lined cells (3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, etc.).

Fellow travelers, all of us.  And now our Leaf-cutter Bee has been joined by another immigrant–a Giant Resin Bee (Megachile sculpturalis) that has made the trip from Asia relatively recently, first being reported in this country from North Carolina in 1994.  This large interloper uses plant resins to line and seal its nests, instead of rolling segmented cigars to lay eggs in.  The result is the same.  The kids are snug as bugs in rugs.

Megachile sculpturalis.  Giant Resin Bee.

The Giant Resin Bee (Megachile sculpturalis) with a mouthful of resin for its nest in a dead tree.

Megachile sculpturalis nest

Capped nest of the Giant Resin Bee (Megachile sculpturalis)

There is one more twist in this story.  Bees had something in common with the dinosaurs, being present when a comet or asteroid bumped into what is now the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in the Cretaceous Extinction that wiped out maybe 75% of all the world’s species.  Fortunately, some bees, some flowering plants and at least one shy little mammal squeaked through, unlike the non-avian dinosaurs which soon thundered no more across the landscape.  If they hadn’t our world would be a vastly different place.

Descendants of all of them, echoes of cosmic events and epic history, now share our backyard, carrying on as best we can, journeying on to wherever and whatever is ahead, all connected forward and back.

Life travels.

Posted in Insects, Musings, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cutting-up in Columbia: Leaf-cutter Bees in the Yard

One of the joys of yard-watching in our urban wilderness is that you never know what you might find and where curiosity might take you.  One fine summer day as I patrolled our domain, camera in hand, I came across this:

_DSC3105Followed shortly by finding the little cut-up that was responsible:

Megachile brevis/Megachile mendica

A Leaf-cutter Bee (Megachile mendica) on a Desmodium leaf.

And so, I was witnessing my first ever leaf-cutter bee at work, busily cutting disks of Desmodium and rushing them off to I knew not where.  Now these are gentlebees and not excitable, so I was able to photograph several sequences of disk cutting at very close range while being politely ignored.

(The bee was later identified as Megachile mendica with the kind assistance of Mike Arduser, naturalist with the Missouri Dept. of Conservation, with later confirmation from Dr. John Ascher on the invaluable site BugGuide.  And you thought a Megachile was a giant jalapeno…)

_DSC3120_DSC3121_DSC3122_DSC3123_DSC3124_DSC3125_DSC3126The speed of the work was surprising, with the bee cutting a complete disk in about 5-10 seconds, then flying off with it firmly grasped in its feet.  I’m sure that takes practice, but this bee had it down cold.  Where it was going was a mystery for a while, because it didn’t tarry for questions.

It wasn’t until later that we noticed that some holes we had drilled in a dead snag standing in our backyard were finally being used:

Megachile brevis nest

Leaf-cutter Bee nest in dead maple. Megachile mendica. July 11, 2014.

 

And, finally, success!

Negachile brevis nest.

Empty nest!  Larvae emerged!  July 31, 2014.

Now this is good news, because native bees like our Megachile are becoming increasingly important as honeybees continue to decline.  Leaf-cutter bees are efficient pollinators, with up to 242 species known in North America and, according to Mike Arduser (personal communication), 27 reported from Missouri.   We’ll take all the help we can get.

From the images above, it’s obvious how these bees got their nickname.  They cut and use these little leaf (and flower petal) plugs to fold into cells that get stuffed into suitable cavities in wood, plant stems or even in the ground.  Then they are provisioned with a mixture of pollen, flower nectar and mom’s patented antifungal/antibacterial saliva, followed by the laying of an egg in each cell.  These cells are often in rows, forming structures that look something like a hand-rolled cigar.

Leaf-cutter Bees and Nests

Public domain image from Lydekker, R. 1879 The Royal Natural History. Volume 6. Frederick Warne and Co.                (from www.archive.org

Some people consider these bees to be pests, since they “disfigure” foliage in their landscapes, but we encourage them, along with all other native bees, by providing nesting habitat and lots of nectar and pollen sources for them.  You can, too, by planting a variety of nativeplants to keep blooms going all season long, providing a supply of suitable stems for bees to bore into and lay eggs, making nesting boxes for them and/or drilling holes in suitable stumps and snags, and by leaving patches of bare soil for the ground-nesting bees (spare the mulch, save the bees!).

The holes I drilled in our dead maple used by our leaf-cutter were about a quarter-inch in diameter, but we had a selection of sizes available.  (Larger ones were used by another bee—see our next post, coming soon.)  For plant stems, we simply leave plants such as cup plant and other large-stemmed natives standing after they die and clean them up the following spring after (we hope) the larvae have hatched out.  This also provides winter cover for other wildlife that it just won’t find in a golf-course yard.

Dead trees, dry, bare ground and brittle plant stems poking up through the snow may not fit everyone’s idea of a beautiful yard, especially in the city.  But nearly fifteen years of observing our little patch of Columbia have taught us that all these fit into the larger matrix of how life works around here, with very real connections to other places and times.  We’ll never figure it all out, but the web reveals its connecting strands a little at a time.  We’ll follow a couple of these threads a little farther in the next post.

Stay tuned!

 

 

Posted in Insects, Musings, Photography, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

More Caterpillar Creepies

Our backyard has many amazing things, but this one had me puzzled for quite awhile.  However, I think I may have found the answer to what exactly this is:

Braconid wasp cocoons

Braconid wasp cocoon mass

Until I sat down and really looked at this carefully, I thought it was a cocoon.  When I magnified the image it was quickly apparent that it was many cocoons crocheted together into a dangling mass.  After some extended searching, BugGuide again came to the rescue.  Not only did they provide a solid lead to the identity of these little Q-tip wannabes, but one commenter came up with this link to a video.  (Viewer discretion advised.)

It appears that an unfortunate caterpillar was parasitized by wasps which laid eggs on or in it, which happily developed into larvae inside the caterpillar, but carefully avoided killing it.  Then they cut their way out, paralyzing the caterpillar temporarily, and entering their own cocoon stage.  However, they may not have been done with their host just yet.  In some cases, the parasites somehow have enough control over the host’s behavior to force it to cover the wasp larvae with a protective layer of silk and even physically defend the mass of cocoons from attack by other wasps, until the host dies.

Consider this “Gruesome caterpillar stories: Vol. 2″.

Life ain’t easy out there, folks.

Posted in Insects, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Death on a Milkweed

Walking out of our yard today to walk Bonita the Beagle, I glanced quickly over a few young milkweeds growing on our curb next to the street.  Something under one of the leaves caught my eye.  This, to be exact:

Podisus maculiventris

Spined Soldier Bug nymph eating Monarch Butterfly caterpillar

Bonita the Beagle was visibly miffed at being dragged back into the house and stashed in the foyer while I grabbed a camera and rushed back out to record this unusual (to me) life and death drama.  At first I was convinced that this was some kind of a small weevil feeding on this young monarch caterpillar.  Later on, after the heat of the battle had faded and I had time to scour the internet, I’m pretty darned sure that this is the nymph of Spined Soldier Bug (Podisus maculiventris).

Podisus maculiventris

Spined Soldier Bug nymph (Podisus maculiventris)

Judging from the 2-3 millimeter size and the coloration and patterns, I suspect it is a 2nd instar (to see more stages, go here).

These little munchers seem to be pretty voracious in all their stages and are found pretty much all over the U.S. and up into Canada, but I had never seen one doing this before.  Keep in mind that this tiny bug is bearing the entire weight of the relatively huge caterpillar by its mouth parts, probably slurping that poor thing up like a malted milk shake while it’s doing it.  Yum.

Podisus maculiventris

Spined Soldier Bug nymphcarrying Monarch Butterfly caterpillar down milkweed stem

Too bad in a way.  Monarchs don’t need any more enemies these days, but nature is what it is.  In our yard, it’s pretty much what it wants to be.

Oh, yeah.  Bonita the Beagle got to resume her walk a little later.  She seems to have forgiven me.

 

Posted in Insects, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Forest Unseen: A Book Review

Where backyards are concerned, size really doesn’t matter.  Even a square meter can yield a world of insight.

David Haskell’s wonderful award-winning book, The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature (Penguin Books, 2012), begins its preface with a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks painstakingly creating a “mandala” of colored sand, carefully observed by a group of college undergraduates as part of their first laboratory session in an ecology course.  The wonderfully intricate mandala (a word we become very familiar with in the course of this book) is constructed with infinite skill and patience by the monks over days, even weeks, only to be swept away upon completion.

Why go to all the trouble?  And why would this traditional and esoteric practice be fodder for a course in environmental ecology?  Ah, therein lies the tale.

Dr. Haskell has used the metaphor of the mandala, a spatially small construct which is representative of the Whole, the universe, as the philosophical underpinning of this gem of a read.  Creating his own “mandala” by selecting a site from a square meter of old growth Tennessee forest with convenient seating, he has used his year of observations to extract an intricate web of connections from the microscopic to the galactic and beyond.  No small thinking here.  Bacteria, ants, fungi all have their stories and connections to, well, everything, and he observes them all with his hand lens and mind, finding lessons well beyond the obvious.

He does not, like many observers of nature, exclude human beings from the scheme.  In fact, some of the most memorable portions of the book stem from human interactions with the “natural” world, including his own antics.  Picture a middle-aged college professor standing naked in a windy forest in the subfreezing temperatures of January because he wants to “experience the cold as the forest’s animals do.”  The musings that follow, about Bergmann’s Rule of body sizes and climate, chickadee insulation and more, are highlighted by his very rapid realization that he’s not cut out for this, followed by a panicked retreat into his clothing.  I doubt if he experienced the cold “as the animals do”, but he certainly experienced his own lack of adaptation to it.

Less dramatically, he finds himself in a conundrum when confronted with, of all things, two golf balls which have intruded into his mandala.   The puzzle was not how the balls came to be there, because this is when I realized with a slight jolt that the mandala was not an isolated site miles out into the wilds, but actually located beneath a bluff bordering a golf course.  After pondering whether he should “purify” his mandala by removing the intruders or leave them, he settles upon the latter course, reasoning that  “…to love nature and to hate humanity is illogical.  Humanity is part of the whole.”  His imagining of the eventual fate of the golf balls displays his ability to visualize immense processes taking place in vast sweeps of time, as they inevitably succumb to the entropy that humans are so gifted at temporarily reversing.

One of my favorite images from the book also involves human interaction in nature, in the essay in which the author describes nature’s warning networks, mechanisms that we are largely unaware of on our outings: birds’ alarm cries, squirrels chittering, deer flashing white tails and chuffing at being disturbed, all creating an expanding circle of heightened alert and caution.  He writes, “Hikers, for example, are preceded by bow waves that arrive  minutes before their chatter and laughter.”  And you wondered why you never see anything in the woods?  The author also describes the remedy—sit down, hold still and shut up until things calm down.  Nature doesn’t expect that of us.

Dr. Haskell’s view on humans in the network could be described as cautiously benign.  He is certainly aware of problems in humans interacting with the rest of the natural world, but he refuses to isolate them from it.  He is kinder than I might be much of the time.  But he, too, can reach his limit of toleration, as on one occasion when he ventures out on a beautiful morning to find that part of the forest had been ransacked of salamanders to use as fishing bait.  “The stream was gutted.  The forest’s salamanders would die on hooks or in stinking bait buckets.  I felt disgust and visceral anger.  I walked on,  my ire surging and coiling into itself.”  The event triggered an episode of heart fibrillation that required a hospital visit after a hard trip back to town.

I suspect that in private, the author might express a few more pointed and perhaps harsher opinions of humankind’s treatment of the planet, but in The Forest Unseen he maintains a cautious and even-handed approach.  We are seen as part and unruly parcel of the rest of existence.  But I would not like to be discovered by him in the act of poaching.

By far, the largest part of the book is taken up with finding greater meaning in the minutiae of the mandala and its surroundings, unraveling the threads that make up the fabric of the forest and greater world.  From the “dung pats” of grazing springtails, minute insect-like creatures that have an outsized influence on the soil and litter, to a 4.9 Richter scale earth-tremor that apparently had no effect on the mandala at all, Haskell uses his observations to elicit a karmic framework of cause and effect extending though space and time.

This book will not appeal to everyone.  It’s not a gripping, suspenseful thriller, but rather a book of quiet, personal science, of spiritual biology.  It should be read, I think, in small doses, in quiet moments, with time to let the ideas and images absorb and percolate.  A basic knowledge of life sciences will help, but anyone with a genuine love for and curiosity about the natural world can appreciate The Forest Unseen. It is above all, perhaps, a textbook on the fine art of observation, how to see, rather than merely look.

It is difficult to read it and see the world in quite the same way afterwards.  I mean that in the best way.  If one can truly find infinity in the workings of the natural world, as Dr. Haskell does, it doesn’t much matter whether one’s pondering take place in a square meter, an urban backyard, or a national park.  Any part of infinity is still, well, infinity.

(Dr. Haskell maintains a blog called Ramble where he continues his observations and musings.  If you like the book, I think you will like the blog as well.)

 

Posted in Books, Musings, Natural Areas, Seasons, Society, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Columbine Time (Aquilegia canadensis)

Aquilegia canadensis

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

When the spring columbines began popping up and blossoming in our backyard, we know it’s time to keep our eyes open for the arrival of the hummingbirds.  Sure enough, after several days of gorgeous blooms, we have now spotted at least two Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds hanging around.  We haven’t put the feeders out yet, figuring that they might as well slurp up the natural bounty first, but we will relent soon.  Ah, spring….

Posted in Gardening, Landscaping, Native Plants, Photography, Seasons | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Butterflies and Beer: Get Ready for Spicebush Season

Spicebush is leafing out!  Normally it would be blooming by now, like this:

Lindera benzoin flowers

Spring blooms of Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

But it seems that the hard winter and long spring have slowed it down like everything else, since ours aren’t blooming just yet.

At any rate, you can get ready for them here on our newest Native Plant page.

Remember, when you plant spicebush, you get a twofer, since Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies will follow.  Actually, a threefer, since it can be used in cooking and flavoring beverages like beer or tea.  Such a deal!  Now go get your gold.

Papilio troilus

Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar, early stage.

Posted in Cooking, Edible Native Plants, Foraging, Gardening, Landscaping, Native Plants, Seasons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Ballad of Quercus flatus: A Tale of Spring

The sap is rising in our backyard.  Spring has finally sprung (we think), after a couple of false alarms, and signs of life abound.  Our redbud is budding red, our wahoo is leafing out and preparing to flower (Wahooooooo!!), our surviving maple is making myriads of samaras and joyously spreading pollen to the four winds.

We had another maple once, which suffered an untimely and rapid demise due to unknown causes (but I suspect the unpredictable weather of recent years may have been involved).  About twelve feet of it remain in our backyard as habitat, a large monument of a stump, peeling a little more bark every year.  I suspect this year or the next will see the last of the bark, leaving the bald wood to face the elements and offer what sustenance it can to boring insects and hammering birds.

It was not so long ago an exuberant tree, which is why its death was so surprising.  One spring, not many years ago, I remember being amazed when I found sap literally dripping from its twigs.  No rain in sight and clear liquid hanging in drops.  I tasted one.  Sweet.

And as I sampled the sap, I remembered another tree, in another time and another place.  An oak.

______________________________

Back in the day in Southern Illinois, my friend Al and I used to go fishing.  Night fishing.  Something would trigger the old impulse—stressful day at work, boredom, or just what the hell—and one of us would call the other and say “I hear the fish calling.”  That was the signal for packing a couple rods in the trunk, picking up some beer and munchies and heading out to Devil’s Kitchen Lake.  We would generally get out there while the sun was comfortably above the horizon, assemble the rods and bait our lines, cast them out and pop the tab on whatever beer happened to be on sale that day.

All the lakes in Southern Illinois were artificial, and Devil’s Kitchen was no exception.  It sported shattered masts of drowned trees protruding above the surface, reminders of old canyons and valleys now submerged.  The rocky point we fished from must once have been a little bluff, but now it was just a good place to sit, watch the sun go down and pretend to angle for bullheads.  We were not high-falutin’ bass or crappie fishermen.  We fished chicken livers right down on the bottom.

Drowned tree in Devil's Kitchen Lake

Drowned tree in Devil’s Kitchen Lake

One spring, years back, we were doing just that.  The sun was dropping down low, sending lazy sparkles skipping across the waves, while we baited our hooks, cast our lines, opened our beers and did what we came to do.  That involved a lot of silence, watching the scenery, sometimes arguing the issues of the day (Al was generally wrong), and, very occasionally, reeling in a fish.  The sun would drop down, the stars would slowly come out, the air would cool, the mosquitoes would come and then go again, and peace would just reign.  Stars wheeled across the night sky in the kind of splendor that is never seen in more populated areas.

One late afternoon, after we had deployed our tackle, we were sitting on the rocks and sipping our beers, when a sound disturbed our tranquility.  How do I say this delicately?  It was a sound that would engender very red faces in a church, very loud laughter in a bar, and an embarrassed “Oops” among family.  Essentially, it was a fart.

I looked at Al.  Al looked at me.  Raised eyebrows all around.

“Playing innocent?”, I said.

“Look who’s talking,” he replied.  Yeah, right.  I mean, we’re two guys fishing and drinking beer.  Might as well admit it, right?  But nothing more was said,  and tranquility resumed.  Until it happened again.

I won’t go into detail, but guys out fishing in these circumstances have senses of humor that make most women shake their heads in despair at ever getting us to some semblance of civilized behavior.  We, as I recall, were no exception.  Appropriate jokes, noises and hoots were exchanged, but still neither one of us accepted responsibility for the source of the merriment.

And again came the rude noise.  But this time we got a better directional fix on it, noticing that is was from somewhere slightly behind us.  The only living thing of any size in that location was an oak tree, seemingly growing right out of the rock, and as we watched it happened again.

Al and I glared at each other, as if to say, “See!  Told you it wasn’t me!”, then I returned my attention back to the tree.  I noticed a swirl of motion that I hadn’t seen before, a swarm of insects near the base.  As I drew closer, the swarm resolved itself into ever-changing combinations of bees, flies and wasps centering on what seemed to be a wet patch of bark.  Hunkering down, I watched and waited, and soon was rewarded by a vulgar noise and a splatter of liquid from what looked to be a crack in the tree.  Insects were crawling over the wet patch, frantically slurping up what must have been some mighty fine sweet sap of spring, released by the relentless build-up of pressure and vented by a wound in the tree’s xylem and bark.  Our very own Old Faithful Geyser! Building and building until something had to give, astounding the tourists!

Mystery solved!  Al and I opened another beer and solemnly (more or less) christened the tree Quercus flatus—a species hitherto unknown to science.  The point we fished from was renamed “Farting Oak Point” from whatever name it may have once had in the past, and it is known by that moniker to this day by at least two people.

That may have been the night that we were so humiliated by our lack of fish that we stopped at the legendary Arnold’s Market of Carbondale to pick up some frozen catfish to take home to our wives.  Or that may have been another night.  At any rate, a fine time was had by all under a gorgeous spring sky brimming with stars, and sanity was restored.  Peace and quiet had (mostly) reigned, and the fish were amused by our good-natured incompetence.  Of such nights are memories made.

______________________________________

Farting Oak Point is still there, but I haven’t seen it in many years.  The Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge authorities decided to put the loop road to bed that Al and I used to get to the trail leading to the point.  It is now best accessed by canoe or by hiking in from a greater distance.  I expect that oak is still there, too, doing whatever it does without the bother of quite so many gawking tourists.

The dripping maple in our backyard had once released its excess pressure in silence, with dignity, delighting opportunistic ants and other nectar lovers with its bounty.  No vulgar oak, that.  But it has passed on now and serves in different capacities, leaving the exuberance of spring to the living.  The sap still rises in them and always will.  The players change, but the spring will still come.

Devil's Kitchen Lake, Southern Illinois

Devil’s Kitchen Lake, viewed from Farting Oak Point

Posted in Insects, Musings, Natural Areas, Photography, Seasons, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Backyard Food of the Gods

Still catching up on backyard native plants articles, and the latest is this unseasonal look at the American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), whose Latin name is often said to mean “Food of the Gods”.

American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)

American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)

Some disagree:

“…Linnaeus called the persimmon tree Diospyros when he was naming plants. With that said lets tackle Diospyros. The disagreement is whether the two Greek words are “dio/spyros” or “thios/piros.”  It comes down to Greek spelling. The most common translation is the more unlikely. As mentioned, Diospyros is often translated as “fruit of the gods” or “food of the gods.” That would be very bad Greek.  Some translate Diospyros as “the fruit of Zeus” which is just plain silly. There’s also “heavenly plant”  “God’s fire” Divine pear” and “Jove’s pear.” Jove’s Pear? That’s expired poetic license.  Jove was the Roman equivalent of Zeus, or the Roman name for the top god. Where the pear came from I have no idea though in Texas the persimmon is sometimes called Jove’s Fruit.”

Glad we cleared that up.  At any rate, here’s the new page, with lots of links to the history, folklore and culinary uses of this wonderful tree.  Enjoy (but not the green ones).

Posted in Cookies, Cooking, Edible Native Plants, Foraging, Fruit, Gardening, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pawpaws, Mastodons and Zebras

Asimina triloba

Pawpaw leaves turn yellow in fall

Snowed in today and dreaming of warmer times.  A good time, it seems to me, to play more catch-up on the backlog of articles on the native plants we have in our yard.  This time it’s  Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)!  What does that have to do with zebras and mastodons?  You’ll just have to go see!

Posted in Cooking, Edible Native Plants, Foraging, Fruit, Gardening, Landscaping, Photography, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments