Wildflowers to Look For: Daisy Fleabane

By Barbara Walvoord, 6/19/14

Lesser Daisy Fleabane
Lesser Daisy Fleabane

As you walk along Basset Brook Road and look into our hedges and fields, one of the most numerous native wildflowers you will see now is the fleabane. There are 183 species of fleabane, and many, many more species of daisies, the larger family to which fleabanes belong. At Lathrop, we seem to have the Lesser Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron strigosus). It has a small white or purplish-white flower with many petals, like a daisy, and a relatively large, flat, yellow center.

The great thing about fleabanes is that they are native to our area. They evolved with our local insects. Thus, unlike alien plants, fleabanes provide food for insects, including the larvae of several kinds of butterflies and moths (http://www.bio.brandeis.edu/fieldbio/Wildflowers_Kimonis_Kramer/PAGES/DAISYFLEABANE_PAGE_FINAL

People from the ancient Egyptians to American colonists believed that the dried flowers could rid a house of fleas. Starlings, according to one source, line their nests with fleabane to keep mites away, and colonists stuffed their mattresses with it, but modern sources are skeptical about its flea-fighting powers. Maybe not fleas, but fleabane is toxic to cows and goats, mollusks, and fungi that infect strawberry plants.

Native Americans used it in their smoking mixture, and for a variety of medical problems including hemorrhages, colds, coughs, diarrhea, headache, and bad vision. They smoked it, snuffed it, and mixed it with other herbs as a poultice. The Cherokee started friction fires with the dried stalk of a fleabane, which they called “firemaker.” (http://healthyhomegardening.com/Plant.php?pid=2203).



Land Conservation planning, June 30

Beginning June 30, at 8 a.m. at the Inn, consultant Laurie Sanders will be spending several mornings walking our land on both campuses, and helping us make a master plan for managing our land to protect our wildlife and habitat.
You are welcome to join us for any part of Laurie’s visit.

For example, we’ll be assessing what’s here, what invasives are present, how to manage them, where to put walking paths and wildflower gardens, uses for our corn and hay fields which have been mismanaged by our farmers, ways to reduce pesticide and herbicide harm to our wildlife and habitat, and how our limited resources can best be used to meet our goals.

Here is the schedule. We’ll follow it rain or shine, unless there’s lightening or torrential downpour.
Mon., June 30,  8 – 9 a.m., beginning at the Inn at Easthampton.  We will walk down the wide mowed woods path first, then across the meadow (we hope to have a path mowed across the meadow by then), and follow my orange markers through the woods to Bassett Brook. Laurie will be observing our land and talking about what she sees, with the goal of moving toward a master plan. This will be the easy part of the walk. You are welcome to join us for any part of it.
Tues., July 1,  9 – 12 and Wed., July 2,  8-12.  After that easy part, we will be trekking the rest of the land, through tall grasses, wetlands, woods, and fields, on non-paths. You are welcome to join us for any part of that walk. You’ll need tick protection, drinking water, some nuts or other snack, sunscreen, and boots that can go through mud, wetland, or shallow streams. If you want to join us at any time en route, call my cell phone to find out where we are: 574-361-3857On Tuesday, we may spend the final hour at the Inn discussing what we’ve seen and outlining a plan.
Wed., July 2, open in case we’ve been rained out earlier or need more time.
Thurs., July 3,
 8-10 a.m.: open as above
10:15 – 12:15. Walk and talk at the Northampton campus. Meet at the Meeting House at 10:15. You’ll need tick protection, water, and sturdy boots.

Land Conservation Committee: The Big Picture

Overall goal: A master plan for managing our land.
  • This is not the same as the much broader Lathrop master plan that Thom announced yesterday in our mailboxes. Our plan is just about land management for conservation and native habitat; that larger plan is about everything. Our plan will inform the larger plan.
  • Our plan will give us a vision of what we can realistically achieve, priorities for what is most important, and a budget, timeline, and task list to guide our  future work

How do the consultants and visitors fit in?
Continue reading Land Conservation Committee: The Big Picture

What Are the Turkeys Doing?

For Lamp Post “It’s Easy Being Green”

by Barbara Walvoord

What Are the Turkeys Doing?land 6 14 14 024

The metaphorical turkeys–the government, the military-industrial complex, the big banks, and so on–are of course running the country right into the ground, as we all know. But the actual turkeys at Lathrop are busy doing their thing. We’ve spotted them lately around our houses and fields. I saw one on June 14, down behind the houses on Spiceberry. Continue reading What Are the Turkeys Doing?

Wildflowers in our Woods Now – May 24, 2014

East: Along the wide woods path at the end of Bassett Brook Road are wide swaths of Canada Mayflower, also known as False Lily of the Valley, now beginning to bloom. Its scientific name is Maianthemum canadense. It’s edible; there’s a recipe online for jelly!  Google it online to see picture, or see a neat youtube about it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRd_JKlCW_g.

Golden Alexander
Golden Alexander

North: Look along the woodland path for Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea). Its name tells its color. It is beneficial to a wide range of insects with short mouth parts, says the USDA. (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_PLANTMATERIALS/publications/mdpmcfs7726.pdf)

How to Dispose of Garden Plants

How to Dispose of Garden Plants

  • Lily of the Valley
  • Vinca
  • Creeping Charlie, Creeping Jenny, Ground Ivy
  • Pachysandra
  • Orange Daylily
  • Snow on the Mountain

Please do not discard in our woods any parts of these plants or any soil that could contain their seeds. They are alien invasives that do not match the mouth parts and body chemistry of the native insects our birds need to raise their young.  They will crowd out the beautiful native wildflowers and plants that nourish our native insects and wildlife. Continue reading How to Dispose of Garden Plants

Native Habitat Restoration: Another Retirement Community’s Experience

On June 11, at 11 a.m. in the Mount Tom room, a  landscaper and two residents from Thom’s former retirement community in New Jersey will make a public presentation about their award-winning project to restore native habitat in their retirement community. Their visit is part of the work of Lathrop’s Land Conservation Subcommittee of the Green Committee, which is working with Lathrop management to construct a master plan for managing our fields, woods, and wetlands in ways that nurture our butterflies, bees, birds, and wildlife. Contact the committee through its chair, Barbara Walvoord (walvoord@nd.edu).