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Spring flora of Missouri / Julian A. Steyermark.

New Book Arrivals - Mon, 09/19/2016 - 9:05am
Spring flora of Missouri / Julian A. Steyermark.
Author: Steyermark, Julian A. (Julian Alfred), 1909-1988.
Call Number: QK170.S79 1964

Oak pests : a guide to major insects, diseases, air pollution and chemical injury / by J.D. Solomon [and others].

New Book Arrivals - Mon, 09/19/2016 - 9:05am
Oak pests : a guide to major insects, diseases, air pollution and chemical injury / by J.D. Solomon [and others].
Call Number: SB608.O115O25 1980

Les broméliacées : approche panoramique d'une grande famille "américaine" / Albert Roguenant, Marcel Lecoufle, Aline Raynal-Roques.

New Book Arrivals - Mon, 09/19/2016 - 9:05am
Les broméliacées : approche panoramique d'une grande famille "américaine" / Albert Roguenant, Marcel Lecoufle, Aline Raynal-Roques.
Author: Roguenant, Albert, author.
Call Number: QK495.B76R65 2016

Street farm : growing food, jobs, and hope on the urban frontier / Michael Ableman.

New Book Arrivals - Mon, 09/19/2016 - 9:05am
Street farm : growing food, jobs, and hope on the urban frontier / Michael Ableman.
Author: Ableman, Michael, author.
Call Number: S451.5.B65A25 2016

Raised bed revolution : build it, fill it, plant it ... garden anywhere / Tara Nolan.

New Book Arrivals - Mon, 09/19/2016 - 9:05am
Raised bed revolution : build it, fill it, plant it ... garden anywhere / Tara Nolan.
Author: Nolan, Tara, 1977- author.
Call Number: SB423.7.N65 2016

Meadows at Great Dixter and beyond / Christopher Lloyd with a new introduction by Fergus Garrett ; photographs by Jonathan Buckley and Carol Casselden.

New Book Arrivals - Mon, 09/19/2016 - 9:05am
Meadows at Great Dixter and beyond / Christopher Lloyd with a new introduction by Fergus Garrett ; photographs by Jonathan Buckley and Carol Casselden.
Author: Lloyd, Christopher, 1921-2006, author.
Call Number: QK938.M4L56 2016

The vegetation of Georgia (South Caucasus) / George Nakhutsrishvili.

New Book Arrivals - Mon, 09/19/2016 - 9:05am
The vegetation of Georgia (South Caucasus) / George Nakhutsrishvili.
Author: Nakhut︠s︡rishvili, G. Sh. (Georgiĭ Shalvovich)
Call Number: QK377.N35 2013

Nauchnye osnovy introdukt︠s︡ii drevesnykh rasteniĭ v Armenii = Tsaṛabuyseri nermutsman gitakan himunkʻnerě Hayastanum = Scientific basis of introduction of wood plants in Armenia/ Zh.A. Vardanëiìan.

New Book Arrivals - Mon, 09/19/2016 - 9:05am
Nauchnye osnovy introdukt︠s︡ii drevesnykh rasteniĭ v Armenii = Tsaṛabuyseri nermutsman gitakan himunkʻnerě Hayastanum = Scientific basis of introduction of wood plants in Armenia/ Zh.A. Vardanëiìan.
Author: Vardanëiìan, Zh. A.
Call Number: QK475.V37 2012

A classified catalogue of manuscripts, rare books, prints: including first editions and dedication copies.

New Book Arrivals - Mon, 09/19/2016 - 9:05am
A classified catalogue of manuscripts, rare books, prints: including first editions and dedication copies.
Author: Reichner, Herbert, 1899-1971.
Call Number: Z1012.R45 1940

Protea : a guide to cultivated species and varieties / Lewis J. Matthews.

New Book Arrivals - Mon, 09/19/2016 - 9:05am
Protea : a guide to cultivated species and varieties / Lewis J. Matthews.
Author: Matthews, Lewis J., author.
Call Number: SB413.P75M38 2016

World of bananas in Hawai'i : then and now : traditional Pacific & global varieties, cultures, ornamentals, health & recipes / Angela Kay Kepler and Francis G. Rust.

New Book Arrivals - Mon, 09/19/2016 - 9:05am
World of bananas in Hawai'i : then and now : traditional Pacific & global varieties, cultures, ornamentals, health & recipes / Angela Kay Kepler and Francis G. Rust.
Author: Kepler, Angela Kay, 1943-
Call Number: SB379.B2K47 2011

Imprint Society, series III, 1972 : with complete listing of series I and II.

New Book Arrivals - Mon, 09/19/2016 - 9:05am
Imprint Society, series III, 1972 : with complete listing of series I and II.
Author: Imprint Society.
Call Number: Z

Bird Walks

Birding Events at the Forest Preserves - Sun, 09/18/2016 - 9:00am

Join us for a morning stroll to look for resident and migrating birds. Beginners welcome! Limited binoculars available. Registration required at least two days prior.

The post Bird Walks appeared first on Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Burnham Prairie Big Year Birding Field Trip

Birding Events at the Forest Preserves - Sun, 09/18/2016 - 8:00am

Migrating songbirds, juvenile shorebirds and dabbling ducks. See chicagobirder.org for updates. Walk leader: Carl Giometti, chicagobirder@gmail.com.

The post Burnham Prairie Big Year Birding Field Trip appeared first on Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Garden trials “biochar” to improve challenging soils

Garden Blog - Sat, 09/17/2016 - 9:19am

As we all know, good soils are the key to growing any type of plant well: annuals, perennials, turf, shrubs, and trees. The Chicago region’s soils are twofold, having positive and negative virtues. On a positive note, our soils tend to be rich in nutrients. But on a negative note, our soils are heavy and do not drain well.

The soils at the Chicago Botanic Garden are very typical urban soils, and we have the same challenges. Over the years we have tried many types of amendments to improve our soils and are about to embark on another trial…biochar.

Biochar has been used for thousands of years in the Amazon Basin of South America to greatly improve poor, unproductive soils for farming. The ancient Amazons used a simple “slash-and-char” process to create biochar. This process involved cutting and burning plant material in an incomplete “smolder” style, rather than complete burn. They worked the charred material back into the soil as a long-lasting amendment. These amended soils in the Amazon have become known as “black earth” or terra preta. Amended terra preta soils created long ago still cover 10 percent of the Amazon Basin. It is important to understand that “slash and char” is different than “slash and burn,” which has many negative environmental implications, like deforestation. “Slash and char” sequesters large amounts of carbon in a stable form, unlike “slash and burn,” which releases the carbon into the atmosphere.

 Biochar

Biochar photo by K.salo.85 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In the past decade, the use of biochar has been investigated for modern agricultural use; more recently in arboriculture, as well as general use in ornamental landscape plantings. The Morton Arboretum and Bartlett Tree Experts have conducted several recent research trials on biochar with very positive findings. One study found the root mass of test seedlings (honeylocust) grown with biochar was significantly more compared to their control group. Another study showed improvement in plant disease resistance when biochar was used. 

So what exactly is modern-day biochar?

Biochar is similar to charcoal, except it is formulated specifically for soil enhancement. It is basically organic matter (primarily wood chips) heated in the absence of oxygen, a process called “pyrolysis.” The resulting char is carbon rich and has many long-lasting virtues. Think of it in the simplest of terms as a “sponge”: it has great capacity for holding and releasing nutrients and water.

What are the benefits? 

  • Helps hold soil moisture, and release it in drought
  • Increases soil microbial activity
  • Holds and releases soil nutrients
  • Reduces leaching of nutrients and fertilizer
  • Studies have shown increased plant growth and rooting
  • Studies have shown less plant disease when it is used. (It is thought that the increased microbial activity stimulates specific microorganisms that play a key role in eliciting plant “systemic-induced resistance,” or SIR.)
  • Benefits of one application are long lasting, and it does not take a lot
  • Biochar is made from recycled materials, such as pines killed by bark beetles or trees damaged by fire

This year the Garden has begun to use biochar in some of our more troublesome areas. We don’t look at it as a “silver bullet,” but as another tool to combat problems caused by poor soils. This new tool is being trialed and then possibly integrated into our arsenal for best practice soil management.

©2016 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Bird Walk

Birding Events at the Forest Preserves - Sat, 09/17/2016 - 7:30am

Take a bird walk with Chicago Botanic Garden ecologist Jim Steffen. Meet at the Visitor Center.

The post Bird Walk appeared first on Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Brookfield Zoo Big Year Birding Field Trip

Birding Events at the Forest Preserves - Sat, 09/17/2016 - 7:00am

Bird the grounds at Brookfield Zoo and search for migrants along the Forest Preserve Nature Trail at Swan Lake. Contact team leader James: james.mckinney@czs.org or 708.688.8475. Trips last 2 hours.

The post Brookfield Zoo Big Year Birding Field Trip appeared first on Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Camp Reinberg Big Year Birding Field Trip

Birding Events at the Forest Preserves - Fri, 09/16/2016 - 7:30am

Get out and enjoy fall migration with Barrington area naturalist Wendy Paulson. Sponsored by Citizens for Conservation and Audubon Chicago Region. Walks are free and open to the public though spaces are limited and RSVPs are required. This hike will be moderately strenuous. Waterproof boots are strongly recommended. Don’t forget your binoculars! Before you head out, please be sure to check citizensforconservation.org for any last minute changes or cancellations. Please register with Dan Jacobson at (312) 453-0230, Extension 2002 or djacobson@audubon.org.

The post Camp Reinberg Big Year Birding Field Trip appeared first on Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Becoming a Plant Sleuth for Plants of Concern

Plant Science and Conservation - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 9:12am

Last year, with great anticipation, I became a plant sleuth. Tired of my relative ignorance of plants, I wanted to learn more about them and become more productive while being outdoors, which I am—a lot. So I joined Plants of Concern as a volunteer.

Based at the Chicago Botanic Garden, Plants of Concern (POC) was launched in 2001 by the Garden and Audubon–Chicago Region, supported by Chicago Wilderness funding. The program brings together trained volunteers, public and private land managers, and scientists, with the support of federal, state, and local agencies. For more than 15 years, the POC volunteers—a generally mild-mannered but formidable force of citizen scientists—have monitored rare, threatened, and endangered plant populations in our region to assess long-term trends. 

 On this foray with Plants of Concern, we marked endangered plants with flags.

On this foray with Plants of Concern, we flagged and counted targeted plants.

Broadly speaking, the data we plant detectives collect provides valuable information. Land managers and owners can use it to thoughtfully and effectively manage land, protecting ecosystems that have helped to support us humans. Scientists and students can use the data to help them understand rare-species ecology, population genetics, and restoration dynamics. The implications are significant, with climate change an important factor to consider in altered or shifting plant populations.

I quickly discovered that many POC volunteers are way more plant savvy than I am. Fortunately for me, the organization welcomes people of all knowledge levels. Our goal is to gather information about specific plant populations, ultimately to protect them against the forces of invasive plant species and encroaching urbanization. And our work is paying off. Some POC-monitored plant populations are expanding—reflected in the removal of those species from state lists of threatened and endangered species.

We are (mostly) unfazed

Yes, we POC volunteers are a hardy lot. Stinking hot, humid days on the sand dunes near Lake Michigan or the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie? We drink some water and slap on sunscreen. Steep ravines with loose soil and little to hang onto? Bring it on! An obstacle course of spider webs? No prob—well actually, those are a real drag. Last time I wiped a web from my sweaty face I muttered, “There ought to be a word for the sounds people make when this happens.” (Oh, right, there is: swearing!) But webs slow us down for just a few seconds before we resume the business at hand.

 Amy Spungen out in the field, volunteering for Plants of Concern.

Author’s note: Some projects are a little more involved than others. This was one of those.

That business is hunting down and noting targeted plants, and continuing to monitor them over time. Our tools are notebooks, cameras, and GPS mapping equipment. In northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana, we volunteers, along with Garden scientists and staff from partner agencies, have monitored 288 species across 1,170 plant populations at more than 300 sites, from moist flatwoods to dry gravel prairies to lakefront beaches and sand savannahs. Collectively, since Plants of Concern began, we have contributed 23,000 hours of our time in both the field and office.

“Northeastern Illinois is incredibly biodiverse, and some people are surprised to learn that,” says Rachel Goad, who became manager of the program in 2014, after earning a master’s degree in plant biology from Southern Illinois University–Carbondale. “There are so many interesting plant communities and lots of really neat plants. For people who want to learn more about them and contribute to their conservation, Plants of Concern is a great way to do that. We rely on interested and passionate volunteers—we would not at all be able to cover the area of the Chicago Wilderness region without them.”

From the minute I met up with a POC group during my first foray last October at Illinois Beach State Park, I was hooked. Though I often feel like a dunderhead as I bumble around hunting for my assigned plants, wondering why so many plants look so much like other plants, I love it. One reason is the other, more experienced volunteers and staff leaders, who generously help me as I ask question after question after question.

 a man of ultimate patience.

Plants of Concern foray leader Jason Miller: a man of ultimate patience—with me.

Some of us volunteers are walking plant encyclopedias, while others (that would be me) have been known to call out, “Here’s a dwarf honeysuckle!” only to have foray leader Jason Miller, patience personified, respond gently, “Actually, that’s an ash seedling.”

            “Hey Jason,” I say a couple of weeks later, trying to look unconcerned. “Do you guys ever fire volunteers?”

            “Yes, but it’s rare,” he replies. “Of more than 800 volunteers over all the years, maybe five at most—and not recently—were dropped from the program.” He indicates that it’s more a mismatch of interests than a few flubbed newbie I.D.s that can lead to that very rare parting of ways. Miller also acknowledges that some plants are especially tricky, such as sedges (Carex spp.) and dwarf honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera). “Some species are straightforward,” he says, “and others are harder to monitor.”

I’m not hopeless—I’m just growing

I decide to interpret my POC foibles as “opportunities for growth,” since slowly but surely, I am starting to catch on. The information sheets distributed as we gather before a foray are making more sense to me. I am getting better at noticing the tiny serrated edges of a leaf, or compound rather than simple umbels, or any number of other subtle ways plants may distinguish themselves from others.

That gradual but steady learning curve fits with what Goad describes as “the most critical characteristic we look for in volunteers: someone who really wants to learn.” She adds that diversity among POC volunteers strengthens the program as a whole, helping to build a “constituency for conservation” among people not traditionally associated with environmental activism.

 Plants of Concern volunteers watch a presentation before heading out on foray.

Volunteers get a debriefing before heading out on a foray. Newbies go with experienced volunteers.

Goad and her staff, which includes research assistants Miller, Kimberly Elsenbroek, and Morgan Conley, work to match volunteers with something that fits their level of expertise. This “hyper-individualized” approach to training POC volunteers can limit the number of participants per year, currently about 150 (a year-end tally firms up that number). “We tend to fill up our new volunteer training workshops, which means that our staff is always working at capacity to get those folks up and running,” says Goad. “I encourage people to sign up early if they know they are interested.”

Another challenge for managing the volunteer program, Goad adds, is that “any time you have a whole bunch of different people collecting and sending in data, there has to be a really good process for checking it and cleaning it and making it useful.” Over the years, the program has improved its volunteer training and data processing so that errors are minimized.

Get ready, get set—learn!

Miller was majoring in environmental studies at McKendree University when he came to POC in 2013 as an intern. Now, among other things, he’s in charge of volunteers at the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve. Like Goad, he says the main requirement in a volunteer is a willingness to learn. “We want someone who is interested in plants and their habitats,” he said. “If so, whenever you can help us out, great! We realize you’re giving your time to do this.”

Goad hopes to expand POC into other parts of Illinois over the next decade. “There are populations across the state that should be visited more regularly,” she says. “We do a lot with the resources we have, but it would be great to expand, and to do so, we need to continue to be creative about funding.” With partners that include forest preserve districts, county conservation districts, many land trusts, and nonprofit agencies that own land—and with its knowledge about challenged plant populations—POC is uniquely positioned to help facilitate collaboration.

 Plants of Concern volunteers.

The world’s best volunteer group

Whatever the time frame, wherever Plants of Concern volunteers are found, the hunt is on. Some days are glorious for us plant sleuths, such as my first foray last fall. We hiked over the dunes, Lake Michigan sparkling beside us, the cloudless sky brilliant blue. A light breeze kept us cool as we spread out, flagging the targeted plant—the endangered dune willow (Salix syrticola)—which was readily apparent and accessible. Then there are days like one this past June, when the sun beat down over a hazy Lake Michigan, humidity and temperatures soared, and my assignment was a steep, prolonged scramble over ravines to find and flag my elusive target, the common juniper (Juniperus communis). By the end of it I was, to coin a phrase, literally a hot mess—but a happy and triumphant one, for I had indeed been able to plant a few flags.

 planting flags on a foray to monitor slipper orchids.Perhaps it’s time for you to sleuth around and plant a few flags, too! Visit Plants of Concern and find out how to join.

Plants of Concern is made possible with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Forest Preserves of Cook County, Openlands, Nature Conservancy Volunteer Stewardship Network, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Chicago Park District.

©2016 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

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