Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Glades in August



If the big bluestem on high quality dolomite glades isn't 10 ft tall this August, it's at least 8 ft, despite the complete lack of rain these past two months. Busting through the tall grass to find big stands of Rudbeckia missouriensis and Silphium terebinthinaceum (a truly poetic plant name that takes practice to pronounce properly; drag the accent to the antepenult and you have it) won't necessarily leave one covered in ticks to the chest. So far this year, I haven't picked up seed ticks on glades, just in grassy woodlands with deer overpopulation problems.


Dry conditions in the lower Ozarks have caused the resurrection ferns on Jack's Fork and Eleven Point riverbanks and on mossy sandstone boulders north of there to shrivel up completely, ferns just waiting for a hearty rain event to unfurl fronds once again. But glades don't seem to mind this lack of rain, they with their rocky substrate and south and west facing slopes for the most part, glades keep producing beautiful yellow ray flowers in spite of the dry conditions.

Helianthus occidentalis with its sandpaper-rough basal leaves and tall stalks of brilliant yellow blooms are showing off these days. You won't find them on crummy little overgrazed and unburned glades, and when you find one in bloom, it's unmistakeable.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Elderberries


I say the same thing every time I go to a Missouri winery: "I'll try your dry reds only, and maybe a Traminette, if you make a good one." It never fails that with that one statement, I've wiped out half or more of many wine lists in the state. (My tastings are brief and usually end with the purchase of a bottle of something, most often a Norton, but if not, a Chambourcin or a blend of the two. I've never had a full glass of white anything since I left my relaxed life in New Orleans where cold Trebbiano was my balcony wine. Sugar makes me belligerent these days, and most whites around here are sweet. Missouri Traminettes are really nice and highly variable. I've had some that taste like bees on lilacs on the nose and others that taste like linseed oil...).

Earlier this week, my smart (W&L graduate!) colleague asked if I wanted a bottle of his homemade Granny Smith apple wine (which he makes two times a year in his basement). He told me most people don't like it "because it's dry," so I told him I'd take a bottle, and I'd trade tomatoes for it. I added that I usually stay far away from fruit-other-than-grape wine, but in recent years, some American vintners have been perfecting dry blueberry and apple wines. There's a growing market for these fruit wines in New York, Oregon and Washington (where great fruit grows well). Dry wines from other fruits. I could learn more about this, and I look forward to my dry Granny Smith wine. Missouri is home to at least one fruit wine winery, OOVDA, located near Springfield, and from what I understand, they make sweet and dry versions of their wines. I can't wait to stop in!

In the South, where elderberries grow prolifically, this is the time of year when our family friends begin raiding fencerows for enormous elderberry branches all laden with ripe elderberries for winemaking. While raw elderberries aren't toxic, per se, too many raw berries could cause nausea and it's highly recommended to cook the berries before consuming. Combing through my mother's old cookbook collection, I've noticed that elderberry wine recipes tend to require POUNDS of sugar: 10 lbs. of berries, 2 lbs. of sugar. If the yeast doesn't eat up most of that sugar, I probably won't touch the wine. Nevertheless, in Missouri we've had a great growing season for elderberries and grapes alike. Catbirds have devoured the elderberries next door.

Earlier this year, the Missouri Department of Agriculture sponsored a Comprehensive Elderberry Workshop that introduced small producer farmers to the potential of elderberry farming for syrup and juice production. See here information on the growing interest in elderberry farming in Missouri, efforts for specialty crop growing in the state. Considering that elderberry is known from every county in Missouri and thrives even in our erratic weather patterns with few native pests, it seems to be a good initiative, much as favoring the Norton grape over fussier vinifera varietals. And what a boon for migrating songbirds, many of whom are making their way South these days and need some nutritious fruits for the journey....

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dodder: homonym: daughter


I guess it's been a little entertaining these past 25 years or so when friends unfamiliar with the natural world recognize me a "someone who likes nature" and therefore as someone who must know "something" about the plants growing in their yard or on a roadside which they've whizzed by at lightning speed while driving down the highway. I suspect it's a common occurrence: if you look like someone who might garden or maybe, like me, you don't shave or iron your clothes regularly, you surely know something about native plants and how to make a good curry. Oh, and you can also probably fix flat bike tires and set up a rain barrel in seconds flat.

"I have this plant in my yard. It has green leaves. What is it? It's big. Do I need to spray it?" So begins the conversations, usually, and then starts the process of elimination: woody stem?...flower?...shrub?...in shade?...and so forth.

But it's an easy process when someone asks about the plant ("or whatever it is") growing "all over the Current River" streambanks, the plant that "looks like spaghetti," (usually adding, "so it must be exotic, right?")

Dodder, looks like spaghetti, sounds like "daughter" but not spelled that way, and it's not exotic even though its prolific growth habit may hint that it is. Missouri is home to ten or more species of dodder, a parasitic plant genus commonly found on streambanks, but just as likely seen on railroad rights-of-way and in dry uplands. I've seen a dodder thriving on a dolomite glade in the White River Hills, wrapping tendrils around a hazelnut in a swale.

Each species of dodder is dependent on a different suite of native herbaceous or woody plants for sustainability. To accurately key dodder species, one needs to know more than the host plants. It's necessary to use a hand lens and a good key for flower and fruit identification for dodder identification. In Steyermark's Flora of Missouri (63), the author lists several key plants that each species of dodder depends upon. Water willow and a smattering of composites common to streambanks are common host plants, but so are certain legumes and buttonbush. With their orange stems, dodder certainly stands out in the landscape. Most dodders flower between July and October, though some begin flowering in June, most flowers that lack the charisma of the bright orange and yellow strands upon which they grow.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

On gravel bars


As late summer sets in, paddlers on two- to four-day floats on Ozark rivers start looking for the perfect gravel bar around 7, maybe 7:30 pm (enough time to make dinner and set up camp, but late enough for a long day on the river). The requirements are the same for most people: the sound of rushing water to sleep by, ample firewood for s'mores building, a relatively level space in which the larger rocks can be swept out of the way with a paddle for a comfortable sleeping spot, maybe a big bluff across the river or, for some, a good fishing spot for catching breakfast.

But on a couple of our Ozark rivers, one can paddle for miles without finding a gravel bar that meets all the requirements. And really, even though it may not seem like it at the time, that's a good thing. In the past 200 years, gravel has filled in the rivers at a very rapid rate due to land clearing and grazing and, in very recent times and to a slightly lesser degree, excessive wave action from motorboats (which causes significant shoreline erosion). As gravel levels increase in the rivers, large rain events can cause mass migration of gravel deposits. Gravel bars are naturally occurring, of course, but historically there probably weren't as many as there are today, and they were doubtless smaller than they are now, at least in certain cases.


Interestingly, however, plant communities have adapted to living on gravel bars in a natural community called Gravel Wash. Very little soil fertility exists here, as the substrate is gravel and sandy alluvium; gravel washes tend to occur on point bars and can mound into high terraces (good for tents if flood levels threaten). Dominated by shrubs, small trees and sparse populations of perennial forbs, they bear the brunt of high water events which inevitably shape their structure. These are not the protected, safe environments of high, north facing cliffs, many of which have never even been surveyed by botanists due to the inaccessibility.

Among the plants in bloom on gravel washes in early August in the Ozarks is the lovely, multibranching ironweed, particularly appreciated by butterflies this time of year with its bright purple flowers. Willows and vernal witch hazel are common on gravel washes, as are buttonbush and mallow. Sand grape (Vitis rupestris) is really common on Missouri streambanks, though not so much in other states. Water willows bloom in May each year here, elegant flowers that almost resemble orchids.
In some intact gravel washes, one may find little swales that possess populations of Helenium flexuosum or this peculiar Penthorum sedoides, which I'll place at the end of the page. The occasional canoe at the edge of a gravel bar isn't a problem, but ATVs, trucks and gravel mining operations can really wreck these areas.




Of wood ducks and cooters


The dog day cicadas were deafening on that 99+ degree day. "You'll need a mountain bike" to traverse the upper Jack's Fork, said the float outfitter, so we put in much lower downstream. The river widens just past Alley, but the water is cool and clear and occasionally whitecaps, allowing for gentle runs around narrow bends.
The cardinal flower should be peaking now along streambanks; these brilliant red flowers grow on stalks tall enough to reach my knees when standing upright. The late summer phlox and monkey flower are in full bloom, and thick stands of Carex haydenii looks as fresh as a May day.



Streambanks and gravel washes in the Ozarks vary from river to river. The upper Gasconade is loaded with pipevine, while the streambanks on the upper Current and Eleven Point are thick with giant cane. While cardinal flower grows on almost every streambank in the Ozarks, the Jack's Fork River seems to possess the stronghold. Rudbeckia subtomentosa and R. laciniata are a good streambank plants, tall rangy yellow composites usually loaded with monarch butterflies.









You won't see many red eared sliders on the Jack's Fork, but practically every turtle you'll encounter may be a cooter with a slick green striped head, turtles often seen lolling a limb in the cold water as they rest on a downed sycamore. Wood ducks are everywhere on the Jack's Fork and upper Niangua. Darling little green herons are extremely common along the Jack's Fork and Eleven Point, and aren't nearly as skittish as the gangly great blue herons on the Niangua. One little green heron spent the night a mere stone's throw away from our tent on a spit of a gravel bar and hunted for breakfast next to my MSR Dragonfly campstove that's louder than a jet engine.












(At the end of the float, a sweet little old dog greeted us at Two Rivers. We sat with him while awaiting the outfitter's van, me picking ticks off the guy while drinking the last of my wine. Nothing better than picking ticks off a stray on a gravel bar, really, but we were saddened to hear the little dog is a stray who makes the rounds between Two Rivers and Jack's Fork Outfitters. He's very friendly, a good roaming country dog, so if you end up at the first landing at the Two Rivers put out spot, give the dog a scritch [or a safe and friendly home].)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Seep-y and Fen-ish


If you've paddled the upper Jack's Fork since the end of the Pleistocene, you've likely seen the 200 foot high moist limestone/dolomite cliffs that line the river from the Prongs to Alley Spring, rich cliffs loaded with vegetation often associated with fens and seeps in the Ozarks.

In Missouri we have four distinct fen natural community types: prairie fen (cf. Grasshopper Hollow and Kaintuck Fens), Ozark (in which marly fens--those little wet areas at toeslopes on limestone/dolomite glades--are a subtype), forested (rare, only one left in public ownership), and glacial (restricted to the Central Dissected Till Plains). We have two types of seeps, acid seeps (found in the Ozarks and in southeast Missouri on Crowley's Ridge) and saline seeps (never seen one; most abundant in Saline, Pettis, Cooper and Howard Counties--Big Rivers country). The variations that exist between each natural community type are many, based on substrate, availability of (usually mineralized) groundwater, location on the landscape, slope, and other factors. In fact, as is the case with all of our natural community types, fens and seeps can't be described very succinctly, which is why each one consumes 2-4 pages each in the comprehensive book, The Terrestrial Natural Communities of Missouri.


But there's common ground between fens and seeps in the plant communities. Grass of Parnassus can be found in fens as well as some seeps, two species of the elegant yellow flowered Lysimachia are found on seeps and fens alike, and I've seen the white umbellate Oxypolis rigidioron a fen and in a seep. But back to the Jack's Fork, many of the traditional plants of fens and seeps can be found clinging to the side of a moist, weeping cliff face.




I've written once or twice before about the glacial relict plant populations that exist on these moist cliffs, a handful of plants that can be found nowhere else in the state in populations as large as they are on cliffs along the Jack's Fork. In the instances of the rare-in-Missouri Campanula rotundifolia, Aster furcatus and Trautvetteria caroliniensis, the Jack's Fork is the only place you'll find them, plant populations protected by the high, cool, north- and east- facing cliffs and cold water. As climate change occurs as it will, some of these Pleistocene relicts may cease to exist in Missouri.





As you pull your canoe over to a cliff to check out the plants supported by little else but constant seeping water supply and mosses, you may wonder, too, whether these small and restricted areas along the river classify as fens or seeps. These cliff faces harbor a mineralized water source as water percolates through the rock, and many of the plants found here are fen- and seep-loving plants.



It has been decided, not by myself, that the cliff face communities with fen and seep plants found along the Jack's Fork, the Eleven Point and even on parts of the upper Current Rivers are neither fens nor seeps, they're seep-y, but not seeps, and they're fen-like but not fens. These restricted and curious communities are officially classified as a microhabitats of Moist Limestone/Dolomite Cliffs, a community variation within a greater community. According to The Terrestrial Natural Communities of Missouri, moist limestone/dolomite cliffs are "relatively intact because of their inaccessibility to grazing animals. Where grazed by goats, exotic plants have invaded cliff edges and ledges, especially in northern Missouri." Rock climbing and rappelling are particularly damaging to these areas, and overzealous botanists wanting to collect rare plants can also damage the viability of these fragile communities.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Stay up late

The Perseids peak tonight shortly after midnight to 3 am. If you're lucky enough to live around Eleven Point country, Shannon Co., deep in the White River Hills, Ava glades land, or any other place without the obnoxious glow of halogen lamps, it should be a clear night for perfect viewing. The katydids are quiet now, darn it, but the cicadas will keep you company out there.

Monday, August 09, 2010

In honor of Jimmy Brennan

Quickly scrolling through my mail account at night, I'm prone to read those that come with great subject lines; "Honey for Cobbler" was one, and "Norton Complete List" was another. I grow weary of fighting a losing battle, so I wait until I'm already worn out to read the digest of terrible ecology news that comes to me everyday. I already know how we're all doomed, actually, and I already know that native ecosystems don't have a fighting chance when "we gotta have jobs, lady" and growth doesn't involve an actual planning process.

So I skip to the emails about wine from my friend from Louisiana, Judy, who lives in the Soulard and accompanies me on winery tours, and I readily read emails from The Norton Wine Travelers, a couple out of South Carolina who roam the country in search of great Nortons. (I look forward to sitting down with The Norton Wine Travelers this fall as they investigate Missouri wineries of the southwest region. I'm unfamiliar with so many of them, generally restricting myself to wineries along the way to elsewhere, so they've given me a reason to explore the Springfield Plateau to give them pointers.)

Tonight, Judy passed on the obituary for Jimmy Brennan of Brennan's Restaurant from the New Orleans' Times-Picayune. The writer of the obituary painted a lovely portrait of a man dedicated to protecting his wine cellar. As Katrina made landfall almost 5 years ago and the city lost power, many of us thought of the incredible climate-controlled wine cellars. Of course, Galatoire's and Brennan's had possibly the most extensive wine collections in town, and both of them lost it all in the oppressive August heat. Delicate bordeaux can't really handle 100 degree weather very well. And so, just as I had great hopes had happened, Jimmy Brennan of Brennan's opened his cellar to the staff that stayed behind to protect the restaurant from looters, an act so noble that it made it to his obituary.

Jimmy Brennan, built famed wine collection
Published: Tuesday, August 03, 2010, 2:20 PM Updated: Tuesday, August 03, 2010, 2:24 PM
John Pope, The Times-Picayune
Jimmy Brennan, an owner of the fabled French Quarter restaurant bearing the family surname who developed an award-winning wine cellar there, died July 18 at East Jefferson General Hospital. He was 70.
Jimmy Brennan
Mr. Brennan, who had been battling cancer, died of myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood disorder that can be the result of cancer treatment, said Theodore "Ted" Brennan, one of his brothers.
A lifelong New Orleanian who graduated from De La Salle High School, Mr. Brennan attended Louisiana State University before heading to the Ecole Hoteliere de la S.S.H. in Lausanne, Switzerland.
From there, Mr. Brennan went to Houston in the late 1960s to run the Brennan's Restaurant there. He returned to New Orleans in 1973 to run Brennan's on Royal Street with his brothers, Ted Brennan and Owen "Pip" Brennan Jr.
His duty was to develop the restaurant's wine cellar. Although it started as part of the job, that task turned into an all-consuming passion, Ted Brennan said. By the time Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005, the cellar had 35,000 bottles, and it had won Wine Spectator magazine's Grand Award every year since 1983.
"He knew his stuff," said Ellen Brennan, Mr. Brennan's sister-in-law. "That was his life."
Although the storm didn't inflict severe damage on the pink building, the power failure ruined the wine cellar.
"After four days, we knew the cellar was gone," said Ted Brennan, adding, "The wine broiled."
Among the casualties was the cellar's most precious bottle, a magnum of 1870 Lafite Rothschild. Bought at a 1976 auction, the bottle probably would be worth between $50,000 and $60,000 today, Ted Brennan said.
Before all the cellar's contents could go bad, Mr. Brennan embarked on what he called "the grand tasting" with Lazone Randolph, the chef, and a handful of people who had stayed in the restaurant to protect it from vandalism and looting.
"I'd call in from Dallas -- they couldn't call out -- and one of them would tell me, 'This evening, we're seeing if the Lafite '28 is better than the Lafite '29, '" Ted Brennan said.
When the restaurant reopened, restocking the cellar was a top priority. Mr. Brennan outlined the plan, and it is being followed, his brother said.
The cellar has about 14,000 bottles, he said. "It's coming along quite nicely. This was his baby."
In addition to the wine cellar, Mr. Brennan enjoyed planning private parties, being sure that he paired the right wine with the right food, his brother said.
In addition to his brothers, survivors include two daughters, Shawn Brennan Cerchiai and Samantha Scott Brennan, both of San Francisco, and a grandson.
The memorial service was private.
"We toasted him with a bottle of Dom Perignon 1990, his favorite Champagne," Ted Brennan said, "and wished him bon voyage."


But earlier this week, The Norton Wine Travelers, working with wine-compass.com, compiled a list of the Norton producers in Missouri. While I am confident that no Norton existed on the Brennan's list, I have great hopes that one day Missouri Nortons will achieve the status they deserve and find themselves on great wine lists of the world. The wine travelers noted their favorites with an asterisk, and my favorites are noted with a +. If you know of other wineries making a Norton, let me know. Put "Norton" in the subject heading and I'll be certain to read it.



Missouri 68 wineries producing Norton

Bias Winery, Berger, MO

Mountain Grove Winery, Mountain Grove, MO

Three Trails Vineyards, Lexington, MO

Van Till Farms, Rayville, MO

7C’s Walnut Grove, MO

Adam Puchta Winery * Hermann, MO

Augusta Winery + Augusta, MO

Baltimore Bend Vineyard Waverly, MO

Bethlehem Valley Vineyards Marthasville, MO

Blumenhof Winery * Marthasville, MO

Bommarito Estate Winery New Haven, MO

Branson Ridge Winery Branson, MO

Cave Vineyard Ste. Genevieve, MO
Chandler Hill * Defiance, MO

Charleville Vineyards Ste. Genevieve, MO

Chaumette Vineyards & Winery +Ste. Genevieve, MO

Claverach Farm & Vineyards Eureka, MO
Cooper’s Oak Winery Higbee, MO
Counts Hollow Salem, MO
Crown Valley Winery + Ste. Genevieve, MO

Durso Hills Vineyard & Winery Marquand, MO

Eagle’s Nest Winery Louisiana, MO

Eichenberg Winery Cole Camp, MO

Grey Bear Stover, MO

Heinrichshaus Vineyard & Winery +*St. James, MO

Hermannhof Winery+ Hermann, MO

Indian Creek Winery Monroe City, MO

Jowler Creek Vineyard & Winery Platte City, MO

Keltoie Vineyard Oronoga, MO

La Dolce Vita Vineyard & Winery Washington, MO

Le Cave Vineyard Billings, MO

Les Bourgeois Vineyards Rocheport, MO

Little Hills Winery St. Charles, MO

Louis P. Balducci Vineyards Augusta, MO

Meramec Vineyards + (esp. the 05) St. James, MO

Mountain Gove Cellars Mountain Grove, MO

Montelle Winery *Augusta, MO

Montserrat Vineyards Knob Noster, MO

Mount Pleasant Winery Augusta, MO

Native Stone Vineyard Jefferson City, MO

New Oak Vineyards Wellington, MO

Oak Glenn Vineyards & Winery Hermann, MO

Oovvda Winery Springfield, MO
Peaceful Bend Vineyard Steelville, MO

Red Fox Vineyards and Winery, Urich, MO

River Ridge Winery + Commerce, MO

Riverwood Winery Rushville, MO

Rolling Meadows Vineyards Warrenton, MO

Robller Vineyard Winery * New Haven, MO

Sainte Genevieve Winery Ste. Genevieve, MO
Seven Springs Winery + Linn Creek, MO

St. Francois Winery Park Hills, MO

St. James Winery *+ St. James, MO

Stone Hill Winery Hermann, MO

Stonehaus Farms Winery Lee’s Summit, MO

Sugar Creek Winery & Vineyards Defiance, MO

Summit Lake Winery Holts Summit, MO

Terre Beau Vineyards Dover, MO
Three Squirrels Winery St. James, MO

Tower Rock Winery Altenburg, MO

Traver Home Winery Willow Springs, MO

Twin Oaks Vineyards Farmington, MO

Vance Vineyards Fredericktown, MO
Villa Antonio Winery Hillsboro, MO
West Winery Macon, MO

Westphalia Vineyards + (07 and older) Westphalia, MO

Whispering Oaks Vineyard & Winery Seymour, MO

Yellow Farm House Defiance, MO

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Wild versus Tame, rev.

(So, if you ever have a chance to meet Missouri's best botanist, the author of The Vasculum (link located to your right), do so. Justin Thomas remains one of the most engaged and interested people in the field of ecology I've ever met. He's passionate about natural history, and Missouri is lucky to have him in the state. To boot, he's an all around great guy, very cool, and best of all, he's not a pretentious prig. He's wicked smart, and he follows my writing periodically. I remain grateful when he corrects my identification, mainly because he's not obnoxious about it and he knows I'd like to know myself.

The exotic little raspberry I found in the White River Hills is actually the exotic Rubus phoenicolasius, a problem plant back east, and it's spreading throughout White River Hills country. While I only saw it on roadsides, he and Dana discovered it on a ridgetop in the Mark Twain. Drats.)

I didn't grow up during The Great Depression, of course, but I also didn't grow up in a Louisiana-based family that could afford to feed three growing little girls bucketfuls of fresh berries each summer. We had melons, plenty of melons, melons out the nose since they all grow so well in our sandy, alluvial soils. We had summers full of the best danged okra ever grown, porch sessions shelling buckets of purple hulled, black eyed and crowder peas, homemade peach ice cream, good sweet corn, and then there were the cucumbers that never stopped coming into the house (thanks to my now-stepfather who grew cucumbers but didn't like eating them). But I can't remember ever eating fresh blackberries or raspberries as a child unless they were gathered singly from the dusty railroad right-of-way at my grandparents' house in West Monroe.

In light of that, I've turned into a berry hoarder.

In the Ozarks, berries grow extremely well. In your native woodlands, dewberries come first, the little tart guys found throughout the Ozarks in early June. Then the native raspberries ripen, delicate amber fruits that don't pack well into an empty Nalgene bottle; it is incumbent on the gatherer to eat them on the spot, berries warmed by the mid-June sun since they make lousy pies and cobblers (delicate berries whose drupes fall apart with jostling). Blackberries ripen here in mid-to-late July all over the state, the size of each berry dependent on the summer's rainfall.

So in July 2003, my first summer here, I recall being absolutely stunned by the blackberries that my colleague brought in from his farm in Chillicothe. Holy cow, a single blackberry practically covered the surface of my palm. "Well, them are tame berries..." No clue what that meant, "tame" berries, I thought they weren't really blackberries at all. But actually, in the Ozarks, horticultural cultivars, those berry canes grown without thorns and capable of producing monster-sized fruit are called "tame" vines. I like the term, and now I use it. Well-grown tame berries are tasty, but different from wild berries. The tame varieties can be overwatered and overfertilized to the point that they taste like tapwater. As those living in berry-producing regions know, growing tasty berries isn't easy.

Nevertheless, I have an entire freezer downstairs filled with 5 and 10 pound bags of tame berries ready to pull out in December for cobbler-making. I'm a hoarder when it comes to berries (and Rainier cherries, marzipan-filled Stollen, and wine).

Earlier this summer, during a foray into White River Hills country for my bird survey, I happened upon a steep dirt road lined with berry canes, red raspberries just dumping out all over the place. (I officially called a halt to my survey to collect a few pounds of these delicate and perfectly ripe berries.) But the canes, growing wild on a roadside, were tame. No gnarly thorns, just soft bristles, and a distinctively different cane and leaf than the native raspberry.


Rubus phoenicolasius, a cultivated red raspberry wasn't known from Missouri's native landscapes in Steyermark 63. Now, it's spreading along roadsides in the White River Hills. Like stiltgrass, sericea, or the other really threatening non-native invasives that barged into our native landscapes quickly and while few were watching, this one may start spreading just as rapidly. I did my part to keep the seeds from spreading by removing all fruits from the canes, surely upsetting some local rural resident who returns to the same roadside patch every summer. It's a MoDot right-of-way roadside, likely to be hit by the road grater, so fair game. A bumper crop, too. I felt a little guilty about taking the first flush of berries, and a mere 1 pint of the two pounds collected made their way to Columbia, with the rest eaten by me, by the handful.


The Ozarks are home to a delightful native raspberry, Rubus occidentalis, an elegant plant with a distinctive white stem and scattered thorns along the canes. Found in open woodlands, bluffs and thickets, our native black raspberry can be located throughout Missouri, barring the southeast Missouri lowlands. The native variety doesn't produce berries as prolifically as R. phoenicolasius, but, as Thomas Jefferson would say of American wine grapes, "different" from the European varieties, but "doubtless as good." R. occidentalis fruits hold up to cobbler building and don't require the sort of coddling required by the tame varieties.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

All yellow