The Birds are Back!
Native Plants: Critical Habitat for our Beneficial Insects & Songbirds
Each spring we look forward to the arrival of migrating songbirds in Minnesota as they return to find nesting sites to raise their young. White-throated sparrows, Eastern bluebirds, and a variety of warblers signal that spring has sprung! Let’s take a bit of a deep dive into how native plants play into the ecology of the lovely birds that arrive this time of year.

Host Plant Highlight
90% of plant-eating insects use native plants to grow and survive. Without their native host plants, many butterflies and other insects cannot survive. Birds and other wildlife use caterpillars and other insects to feed their young. Over the last few years, we have seen major declines in both insect and bird populations due to a variety of factors, especially habitat loss and fragmentation. Rebuilding habitat with native plants is crucial in providing food for caterpillars, which in turn provide food for baby birds; making native plants the foundation of our food webs.
Prunus spp. (Wild Plum)
# of Larval species- 339
Trees and shrubs in the genus Prunus include wild plum, chokecherry, and others. These plum and cherry trees serve as host plants for 339 species of larval insects! Hummingbird clearwing caterpillars forage on these plants. The adult hummingbird clearwings are sometimes mistaken as hummingbirds due to their similar nectaring behavior.
Adult Clearwing Hummingbird Moth
Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)
White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar
Retail Nursery:
Spring is Here!

Please visit our retail nursery or order plants online to pick up on these dates:
May 21-22
June 4-5
June 25-26
July 16-17
Aug 13-14

For more information visit:
Non-native Species of the Month- Tartarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica)-

Tartarian honeysuckle is an invasive shrub from Europe with showy pink flowers. This shrub blooms from May to June and can get between 5 and 10 feet tall. This shrub usually has several branching stems that are light in color and can peel off in strips. The heartwood is light colored and hollow. Although pretty, we have many native species that can be planted and encouraged in its place, species that allow for more diversity and are beneficial to our local wildlife. Management strategies of Tartarian honeysuckle include pulling out small plants, consistent mowing, or cutting and spraying larger stumps with herbicide.

Native Plant of the Month-
Cream Wild Indigo
(Baptisia bracteata)

Cream Wild Indigo is a State Special Concern species due to its loss of habitat and limited range in southwest Minnesota. This nitrogen-fixing legume also provides garden interest in all seasons with its showy flowers and leaves, large drooping seed pods, and strikingly dark foliage in autumn. Cream Wild Indigo has a shrub-like appearance with multiple stems arising from a stout taproot. This is one of the earliest blooming species on the prairie, making it an important forage food for queen bumblebees. The creamy-white flowers appear in dense terminal clusters that cascade outward from the plant. Found in higher quality habitats, including prairies and open woodlands. Cream Wild Indigo is a host plant for several butterflies and moths, such as the Wild Indigo Duskywing and the Frosted Elfin. 

We love to read books about our natural world, and want to share our favorites with you! On the last Wednesday of each month we will feature a book discussion and review on our Facebook Page.
Here are next three!
Watch Past Book Club Reviews!

Interested in picking up a fun hobby that gets you outdoors? Try foraging! Want to learn more? Check out our book review from September 2020 when we discussed Midwest Foraging by Lisa M. Rose!
Forager Fix

Broadleaf Plantain (Plantago major) is our featured forager's fix this month! This small, short perennial is a non-native plant that is commonly found in disturbed areas- yards, trails, gardens, and the like. It prefers full sun but is also tolerant to part shade. Minnesota has a very similar native plant called Rugel's Plantain (Plantago rugelii), and the notable differences include the native ladder having dark red/purple leaf stalk bases and fruits being more elongated compared to the non-native's egg-shaped seeds. Both plants are edible and tasty! Leaves are best harvested in the Spring before they become bitter and stringy. Some say they taste like mushrooms when harvested in their Spring prime! Try raw in in salads, sandwiches-or if prime Spring harvesting has passed, make chips by oiling and baking the leaves to form a crispy, healthy snack. The seeds showing up in Fall are also edible; add to granolas or cereal for extra fiber. A tea can also be made from the leaves which will soothe sore throats and clear up mucus.
White Egret Reflecting
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