Get Outside at Any Age

The weather is warming up, the sun is out, and we Michiganders are beginning to venture outside after the long, gray winter.

Have you ever spent the day outside doing something, anything, and felt better afterward? Turns out, there’s a scientific reason for that. Numerous studies have shown that spending time outside, or even just looking out a window at a nature-filled view, has tons of benefits for our physical and mental health.

Unfortunately, as we get older, the motivation to go outside decreases. There’s no time, you have no energy, you don’t know what to do. As age progresses physical limitations get in the way too. Yet the older we get, the more important it is to get out and move.

Age should not be a limiting factor. You can enjoy yourself and feel better no matter how old you are, just like this video by Attn: and REI shows.

 

Don’t believe the video? How about Harvard?

Spending time outdoors is good for you, from the Harvard Health Letter

Published: July, 2010

Summer is here. The outdoors beckons. Heed that call and you’ll reap physical and mental health benefits, reports the July 2010 issue of the Harvard Health Letter. Here are five good reasons to get outdoors:

Your vitamin D levels rise. Sunlight hitting the skin begins a process that leads to the creation and activation of vitamin D. Studies suggest that this vitamin helps fight certain conditions, from osteoporosis and cancer to depression and heart attacks. Limited sun exposure (don’t overdo it), supplemented with vitamin D pills if necessary, is a good regimen.

You’ll get more exercise. If you make getting outside a goal, that should mean less time in front of the television and computer and more time walking and doing other things that put the body in motion.

You’ll be happier. Light tends to elevate people’s mood, and there’s usually more light available outside than in. Physical activity has been shown to help people relax and cheer up, so if being outside replaces inactive pursuits with active ones, it might also mean more smiles.

Your concentration will improve. Children with ADHD seem to focus better after being outdoors. It might be a stretch to say that applies to adults, but if you have trouble concentrating, outdoor activity may help.

You may heal faster. In one study, people recovering from spinal surgery experienced less pain and stress and took fewer pain medications when they were exposed to natural light. An older study showed that the view out the window (trees vs. a brick wall) helped recovery in the hospital.

Read the full-length article: “A prescription for better health—go alfresco”

 

We hope you get out and enjoy the outdoors this year. Whether that means taking a bike ride across the state, staying home gardening in your yard, or anything and everything in between. We have a beautiful state Michigan, let’s have fun in it!

Gardening to Support Migrating Insects

The Monarch butterfly is famous for its cross-continental journey from the northern U.S. to Mexico. People have planted milkweed and other flowering plants to support them on their journey. Yet Monarchs aren’t the only insects to make such long trips. Several kinds of butterflies, moths, and dragonflies undertake seasonal migrations, some traveling hundreds of miles.

Just like migrating birds, insects need rest stops where they can find food and shelter before continuing on. What we choose to plant in our own backyards can have a huge impact on butterfly and dragonfly populations.

This article by the Cornell University YardMap program highlights some of our long-distance travelers and the plants that can help them. The original article has some additional tips not listed here.

Gardening to Support Seasonal Migrations of Insects

 

Dara Satterfield, April 25, 2017

Monarch butterflies are famous for traveling long distances each year, but they’re not the only insects that migrate. Many butterflies, moths, and dragonflies take to the air for seasonal migrations, and–although they’re pretty quiet about it–some travel hundreds or thousands of miles.(open_in_new)The success of their journey largely depends on the habitat they encounter along the way. Here, we look at some of these six-legged critters and discuss how even the smallest garden can add fuel to their journey.

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People were once skeptical that insects could migrate long distances. Historically, scientists assumed an organism so small and short-lived couldn’t move more than a few miles. As we now know, they can. Bogong moths (Agrotis infusa) in Australia can migrate over 1000 km every spring.(open_in_new) Danaid butterflies (cousins of monarchs) in Taiwan migrate over 300 km in the fall.(open_in_new) Wandering glider dragonflies (Pantala flavescens) cross the Indian Ocean (the image above depicts a beach in India where migrating dragonflies are coming ashore).(open_in_new) The brown planthopper (Nilaparvata lugens), a tiny insect only 4 millimeters long, migrates over 200 km in China.(open_in_new) These are just a few of the hundreds of insect species around the world that make incredible journeys.

dragonfly fixed

By the mid-1900’s scientists finally recognized that insects could move long distances; but still, they assumed insects were being haphazardly blown by the winds, unable to control their direction. In recent years migrating insects like the Silver Y moth (Autographa gamma) (open_in_new) provided evidence to contradict that theory, showing, instead, that insects selectively choose directional winds to maximize their speed, allowing some to fly up to 650 km a night. (open_in_new)

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Photo © pingked

Many insect populations have adapted to make round-trip migrations over the course of a year, with the help of multiple generations. Painted lady butterflies, for instance, fly north out of Mexico in the spring to travel to the northern U.S. and Canada; later, their grandchildren or great-grandchildren return south in the fall. Monarchs behave similarly. A handful of insect species engage in single-generation migrations, where the same individual moves during one season and returns a few months later.

 

 

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In eastern North America there are over 30 insect species that migrate north in the spring and south in the fall. Below we describe a few of these migrating dragonflies and butterflies and we also note the butterfly’s’ host plants (i.e. caterpillar food) to inspire your garden selections.

Ribbet collage

Left: Nearly full grown caterpillar of the Buckeye Butterfly, Junonia coenia, on plantain in southern Greenville County, SC, USA Right: Common buckeye butterfly nectaring on a species of aster

Common buckeyes (Junonia coenia)
Large eyespots on all four wings make these butterflies easy to identify. In the spring, buckeyes migrate north from Mexico and the southern U.S. They reach the midwest and northeast by May and breed throughout the summer. Male buckeyes will defend territories with host plants to await the opportunity to mate with females. To keep their patch of land, males chase off anything that moves–even birds that enter their territory. In the fall, the next generation of buckeyes makes a massive migration south to avoid a harsh winter of low temperatures and lack of food. Common buckeye caterpillars survive on the leaves from snapdragons (Antirrhinum), false foxglove (Agalinis), American bluehearts (Buchnera americana), plantains (Plantago) and–my personal favorite–turkey tangle frog-fruit (Nodiflora), among other plants.

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Right: American Lady caterpillar – Vanessa virginiensis, Jones Preserve, Washington, Virginia, Left: An American Lady butterfly photographed at the Bob Jones Nature Center in Southlake, Texas in May ’09

American lady (Vanessa virginiensis)
These butterflies have an intricate cobweb-like pattern on the underside of their wings. American ladies live year-round in the southern U.S. and Mexico and migrate into the northern U.S. and Canada for the spring and summer each year. Larvae munch on leaves of pearly everlasting (Anaphalis), ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata), and asters (Asteraceae). American ladies are closely related to, and often confused with, painted ladies (Vanessa cardui), which migrate along a similar route in the U.S.

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Left: Cloudless Sulphur caterpillar, Phoebis sennae – eating a partridge pea plant, Right: Cloudless Sulfur butterfly on Zinnea

Cloudless sulphur (Phoebis sennae)
Each spring, these yellow butterflies with pink-edged silver spots migrate from Central America and the southern U.S. into the northern U.S. and Canada. Cloudless sulphurs reach the Great Plains by April and the Midwest by May and June. They can be seen gathering at mud puddles to sip water and salt. Cloudless sulphur caterpillars eat plants in the pea family (Fabaceae). Males relentlessly pursue potential mating partners, but uninterested females may reject males by raising their abdomens in the air, much like turning up your nose. In the fall, a later generation of butterflies returns south, sometimes traveling in enormous numbers.(open_in_new) Sadly, cloudless sulphurs have dropped in numbers since the 1980s in the eastern U.S. Reasons for population declines are not well understood, but habitat loss is a likely cause.

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Left: Question Mark larvae Polygonia interrogationis, Right: Question Mark – Polygonia interrogationis, Natchez Trace, Natchez, Mississippi

Question mark (Polygonia interrogationis)
Question mark butterflies, named for a quirky little “?” shape on the underside of their wings and known for their hooked forewing (a.k.a anglewing butterfly), migrate south in massive numbers in the fall along the east coast. Some of the same individuals are thought to return northward into the northeast in the spring where they reproduce, lay eggs, and start the next generation. Plants that support these caterpillars include elms (Ulmus), hackberries (Celtis), nettle (Urtica dioica), and false nettle (Boehmeria Jacq.), but interestingly the females often lay their eggs on non-host plants and when the larvae hatch, they are tasked with finding host plant species to eat. The question mark is commonly confused with the eastern comma butterfly (Polygonia comma), which also have hooked forewings (a.k.a., anglewings) but are currently not known to migrate.

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Left: Mourning Cloak, Inner Canyon, Bright Angel Trail, GRCA, AZ, Middle: Mourning cloak butterfly, Right: Mourning cloak butterfly – wings closed

Mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)
The mourning cloak could just as well be from the wizarding world of Harry Potter as from anywhere. These butterflies look like Potter’s invisibility cloak – and when they close their wings, they “disappear” into a landscape of dried leaves. Mourning cloaks are globally distributed and thought to be the longest-lived of butterflies, frequently surviving 10-11 months. In the U.S., some of these butterflies will migrate into the southeast in the fall while others remain in the north, but little is known about what controls this behavior. The caterpillars consume willow (Salix), cottonwood (Populus), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), elm (Ulmus), and common hackberry (Celtis occidentalis L.).

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Left: Red admiral caterpillar, eating a stinging nettle, Right: Red admiral feeding on fallen plums

Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Red admirals are recognizable from the orange-red bands on both forewings. They live all over the world. In North America, they undertake northward migrations in the spring, colonizing the northeast by April. In October, they appear in massive migratory groups of hundreds to thousands of individuals headed south to Texas and beyond to escape the cold. Males are aggressively territorial over important resources (nettle and false nettle) and will chase off potential competitors. Adult red admirals prefer to consume sap flows on trees, fermenting fruit, and can be found collecting salts and minerals from bird droppings. In a pinch, they can also nectar on flowers.

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Photo © Anne Reeves

Common green darner (Anax junius)
Green darners are one of at least nine species of dragonflies now thought to migrate each year in North America. Highly recognizable, the green darner has a pale-green face with a darker green thorax, blue abdomen, and clear wings. During August-October these large dragonflies migrate up to 2800 km from eastern North America to southern Texas, and beyond. During this migration, swarms can reach over 1 million individuals. Using small radio transmitters, scientists have tracked these movements and discovered that common green darners can cover up to 140 km per day.(open_in_new) Not all common green darners migrate; some, in northern locations, will delay pupation and overwinter in the water as nymphs, emerging as adults the following spring.

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Photo ©

Wandering glider (Pantala flavescens)
These dragonflies are regular annual migrants in North America, moving from Mexico and the southern U.S. in the summer and arriving into the northern U.S. later than common green darners. They cannot survive the winter in the chilly north, so they return southward in the fall, often traveling at night (presumably to avoid predators). Their pale-yellow face with darker yellow abdomen, dorsal brown stripe, and clear wings make this species of dragonfly easy to identify.

Providing habitat in gardens can go a long way towards protecting these insects and their migrations. Here’s how to make your yard a stopover or breeding site for insect migrants:(1) Plant host plants for the caterpillars and nectar plants for the adult butterflies.
Visit our Explore tab, type in your zip code under “Local Resources”, and a Pollinator Planting Guide for your region can be downloaded. Use this guide for choosing plants for pollinators. A quick summary of those species highlighted above are summarized below.

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(2) Plant native rather than exotic host plants.
Recent scientific studies suggest native plants provide the best support for butterflies. For monarchs, for instance, the natural seasonality of native milkweeds helps to maintain butterfly migration and health. In contrast, tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), an exotic plant not native to the U.S., can grow year-round in some places and has been linked to high infectious disease risk for monarchs. We suggest planting native milkweed like swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) or butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) whose blooms are more seasonally aligned with monarch lifecycles.

(3) Avoid insecticides.
Synthetic pesticides, including neonicotinoids, can kill butterfly caterpillars. Alternatives to synthetic pesticides include insecticidal soaps (such as those from potassium salts of fatty acids), which can be sprayed on plants when no caterpillars are present and rinsed off with water.

(4) Contribute to citizen science.
Much of what we know about butterfly migration is thanks to the help of citizen scientists. Want to help and contribute to these citizen-science projects? Check out Monarch Joint Venture’s Monarch project list.

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Photo ©

Scientists have a lot more to learn about insects (including ~5.5 million estimated species(open_in_new)) and their migrations. In some cases, insect migrations provide ecological services, like nutrient cycling and pollination, which we are only beginning to understand. As we learn more,we can support these insect migrants through gardening in the spring and fall. If you want to pledge to support pollinators and dragonflies, check out our Planning Tool and let us know about your best intentions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate Arbor Day With Us!

PRESS RELEASEMADA GIF

Contact Information

Jennifer Hunnell

Michigan Arbor Day Alliance

551 Courthouse Dr., Suite 3

Charlotte, MI  48813

Phone: 517-543-1512 x 5

Email: miarborday@gmail.com

Website: www.miarbordayalliance.org

Sent: 4-21-17

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: On or after 4-17-17

Students Celebrate Trees at Potter Park

MICHIGAN – The Michigan Arbor Day Alliance (MADA) invites you to join us in celebrating Arbor Day. On Friday, April 28, 2017 MADA will be hosting the State Arbor Day Celebration for approximately 1,000 second and third grade mid-Michigan students at Potter Park Zoo in Lansing. Volunteers from local organizations and agencies will spend the day teaching students about outdoor topics like trees, invasive species, water, and wildlife. This is also the day the official State Arbor Day Tree will be planted, with one lucky class getting to assist.

“Arbor Day is a day set aside for the trees. Trees help clean our air and water, reduce flooding, keep banks of rivers and streams from eroding, save us energy by shading buildings, improve our mental and physical health, the list goes on. They deserve at least one day all to themselves,” says MADA Program Coordinator Jennifer Hunnell. “After all, where would we be without trees?”

MADA encourages you to celebrate Arbor Day in your own way by planting a tree, volunteering at a local park or nature center, recycling, using reusable grocery bags, reading a nature-themed book, visiting a local park, or participating in a community clean-up effort. Several Michigan communities are also hosting their own Arbor Day Celebrations.  Find an event in your area on our website, http://www.miarbordayalliance.org and check out the Community Calendar.

The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska on April 10, 1872.  J. Sterling Morton, a pioneer and journalist championed the idea of a “tree planting” holiday in the Nebraska Territory. In 1885, the Michigan Legislature resolved “that the Governor is hereby requested to call the attention of the people of the state to the importance of planting trees for ornament and by naming a day upon which the work shall be given special attention to be known as Arbor Day.” Each year the Governor and Michigan Legislature proclaim the last week in April as Arbor Week and Arbor Day as the last Friday of that week.

The Michigan Arbor Day Alliance is a coalition of organizations and agencies dedicated to the promotion and celebration of Arbor Day throughout Michigan.  The Michigan Arbor Day Alliance is a program of the Eaton Conservation District in Charlotte, MI and is made possible through a partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Edible Flowers, a Springtime Treat

Local foods have been the focus of many people recently. Well, you don’t get much more “local” than foraging in your own backyard.

Foraging is a way to get back to our roots, so to speak, and gather food the way our ancestors did. It’s a way to learn about native edible plants, things that might otherwise go unnoticed, and get to know your surroundings in a different way.

Now, when it comes to foraging, knowledge is key! It is especially important to know exactly how to identify what you’re consuming. You won’t like the consequences otherwise.

If this is your first foray into foraging, edible flowers may be a good place to start. Unlike mushrooms and other fungi, they’re easy to identify and many don’t have look-alike cousins that could trick you. When searching for edible flowers, be careful of where you pick them. Avoid areas that have been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. And when in doubt, you can always grow your own. 🙂

Here’s a nice list in this article by West Coast Seeds to get you started.

List of Edible Flowers

List of Edible Flowers

Before you venture out to the garden and harvest a bunch of flowers for the dinner table, it’s important to remember that some flowers are poisonous. Make sure you’ve made a positive identification of each variety you’re using. Obviously, you should avoid flowers that may have been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals, so either grow your own organic flowers, or harvest them from a location you’re sure about. Organic or not, all flowers should be shaken and washed in cold water prior to use, as they may to be homes for insects.

Pick your edible flowers in the morning, when they have the highest water content. Keep them on some dampened paper towel inside a sealed container in the refrigerator for as long as a week. You can revive wilted flowers by floating them in some ice water for a few minutes. Prepare them for eating just before serving in order to prevent further wilting.

Remove the stamens and styles from flowers before eating. Pollen can cause allergic reactions when eaten by some people, and it may overwhelm the otherwise delicate flavour of the petals. The exception here is the Violas, including Johnny-Jump-Ups and pansies, as well as scarlet runner beans, honeysuckle and clover. The flowers of these varieties can be enjoyed whole, and will probably be more flavourful this way.

This list of Edible Flowers is not comprehensive so if you notice a flower missing from this list, please do further research before you consider it edible. Don’t assume that all flowers are edible – some are highly poisonous.

Agastache BloomsAgastache – Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is also sometimes known as licorice mint. Both the young leaves and the striking purple flowers have a mild licorice flavour. Pull the purple flower tubes away from the central structure of the flower and scatter them in salads or fancy drinks for a pop of colour and flavour.

Angelica – This relative of celery (Angelica archangelica) has licorice-scented pinkish flowers borne in large umbels. The flowers make an interesting addition to salads, but it is mostly grown for its stronger-tasting leaves.

Apple – Be sure to only try flowers from trees that have not been sprayed. Apple blossoms (Malus spp.) have an appealing but delicate flavour and scent. They work particularly well with fresh fruit salads. Use in moderation, as the flowers contain very low levels of poisonous chemicals.

Edible flowers arugula flowersArugula – Once this cool-season plant (Eruca vesicaria) begins to bolt, its leaves will have become tough and almost too spicy to eat. So let it bolt, and enjoy some of its very small, spicy, white or yellow flowers. They add a nice, unusual zing to salads.

Edible basil flowersBasil – Most growers use basil’s leaves (Ocimum basilicum) before the plant has flowered. After blooming, the character of the leaves changes and becomes less appealing, but the flowers can be eaten. They may be white to lavender, but they look stunning when sprinkled over pasta. Thai basil is sometimes allowed to flower before whole stems, with leaves attached, are harvested. The whole flower is edible.

Edible tuborous begonia flowersBegonia – both tuberous (Begonia x tuberhybrida) and wax (B. x semperflorens-cultorum) begonias have edible flowers with a slightly bitter to sharp citrus flavour. Tuberous begonia flowers contain oxalic acid, so should be avoided by people suffering from kidney stones, gout, or rheumatism.

Edible flowers of Bergamot, wildBergamot, wild – This plant (Monarda fistulosa) may be listed as bee balm, Monarda, Wild Bergamot, Oswego Tea, or Horsemint. The flowers (and the young leaves) have an intense flavour of mint with undertones of citrus and oregano. This plant that has a scent highly reminiscent of Earl Grey tea. Somewhat confusingly, the “oil of bergamot” used to flavour Earl Grey is actually derived from citrus peel from the Bergamot Orange. Monarda flowers are formed by large clusters of edible tubular petals that can be separated before adding to cakes, fancy drinks, or salads.

Borage edible flowersBorage – This familiar garden herb (Borago officnialis) has furry leaves and exquisite blue, star-shaped flowers. Both have a cooling taste reminiscent of cucumber. Try some of the flowers in a summer lemonade or sorbet – or a gin & tonic! They work particularly well as garnishes for gazpacho, cheese plates, or just sprinkled over salads.

Calendula Seeds in bloomCalendula – All “pot marigolds” (Calendula officinalis) have flower petals that are edible. They have a nice flavour that ranges from peppery to bitter, and they add bright yellow, gold, and orange colour to soups and salads. They may even tint some dishes like saffron does.

Edible chamomile flowersChamomile – Choose the German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla syn. M. recutita) for its daisy-like flowers. They can be used fresh or dried, and make a particularly nice tea that tastes vaguely like apples. Drink the tea in moderation – some allergy sufferers may have a negative response. Otherwise, sprinkle the petals into salads and soups.

Chervil – The lacy leaves of this shade-loving herb (Anthriscus cerefolium) are topped by delicate white flowers borne in umbels. Both the leaves and the flowers have a very mild anise or licorice-like taste. Add chervil to your dishes just before serving to maintain the best flavour.

Edible flowers of chicoryChicory – All endive varieties (Cichorium endivia & C. intybus) produce, at summer’s end, tall stems with striking, sky-blue flowers. The petals can be pulled off and added to salads for their earthy, endive-like flavour. The unopened flower buds can also be pickled like capers.

List of edible flowers including chivesChives – The flowers of chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are ball-like clusters of hundreds of little florets that can be separated and scattered onto salads for colour and a mild onion flavour.

Shungiku edible chrysanthemum flowersChrysanthemum – The edible chrysanthemum and garland Chrysanthemum (both are Leucanthemum coronarium) that we offer produce both edible young leaves and appealing white daisy-like flowers with yellow centres, or flowers that are entirely yellow. The petals of both types are edible and faintly tangy.

Edible flowers of cilantroCilantro – This leafy herb (Coriandrum sativum) is also known as Coriander. In summer heat it is quick to bolt, and will send up tall umbels of white flowers. These have an intensely herbal flavour, just like the leaves, roots, and seeds of the plant, and can be used as a garnish where cilantro leaves would otherwise be used.

Edible clover flowersClover– The flower heads of clover (Trifolium spp.) are edible, and have a sweet, mild licorice flavour. In fact, the whole above ground plant is edible, but it’s best to grow clover as tender sprouts or to use the flower tubes in moderation as a salad garnish. Mature clover is tough to digest, and may cause bloating.

Blossoms of Cornflower Seeds in bloomCornflower – The pretty, blue flowers of cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) have a slightly spicy, clove-like flavour with a subtle sweetness. Cornflower petals look wonderful in salads. Use torn petals as a garnish, or whole flowers in fancy drinks.

Dame’s Rocket – The petals of this tall relative of mustard (Hesperis matronalis) are pink, lavender, or white, and always come in fours. Perennial Phlox looks similar, and also has edible flowers, but always have five petals. The petals (and the immature leaves) of Dame’s Rocket are worth adding to salads, but have a mild bitter flavour.

Edible dandelion flowersDandelion – The ubiquitous dandelion (Taxacum officinalis) is entirely edible. When picked small, and unopened, the flower buds have a surprising sweetness, reminiscent of honey. Young greens are also tasty either raw or steamed. Dandelion petals look very nice when scattered over pasta or rice. While dandelions are rather easy to come by, make sure to harvest them only from organic gardens. Avoid any grown near roads or picked from lawns where chemicals may be present.

Edible day lilies flowersDay Lilies – The fleshy, short-lived flowers of day lilies (Hemerocallis spp.) are sweet, with a flavour resembling mild melon or cucumber. Make sure to cut the tasty petals away from the bitter base of each flower. Try them in salads! Eat in moderation.

Dianthus – Look for the large-flowered carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus), and cut the sweet tasting petals away from the bitter white base of each flower. The bright red and pink petals have a mild clove flavour and are great for desserts or salads.

Edible dill flowersDill – Stronger in flavour than the leaves, the flowers of dill (Anethum graveolens) can be used when cooking fish, or raw in salads. They are very small, yellow, and borne on tall umbels. Best used when they have just opened, as they set seed quickly.

Edible flowers English daisyEnglish Daisy – The low growing flowers (Bellis perennis) have a bitter flavour, but are entirely edible. They are small enough to use simply by sprinkling the petals onto salads or other meals, and will not overwhelm stronger flavours.

Fennel – Both the garden herb and the vegetable Florence fennel(both are Foeniculum vulgare) will eventually produce attractive and tall umbels of tiny yellow flowers that have the same mild licorice flavour as the leaves. These work very well in desserts!

Edible fuchsia flowersFuchsia – Avoid nursery-bought Fuchsia (Fuchsia x hybrida) flowers, as they may have been sprayed. Otherwise, the extraordinary looking flowers make great garnishes and have a slightly acidic flavour.

Garlic – Allowed to open, garlic flowers (Allium sativum) are pink to white, with florets that can be separated and inserted into salads for a mild garlic zing. However, allowing the plants to flower may divert energy that would otherwise go to the bulb. Many garlic growers prefer to cut the flower stems (scapes) before they open. These can be sautéed in butter for an intense, early summer side dish, or run through the food processor and mixed with Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and pine nuts for a sensational pesto.

Hollyhocks edible flowersHollyhock – The large, brightly coloured flowers of common hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) have almost no flavour of their own, but they sure look nice cut into salads or sprinkled over desserts. Be sure to use the petals only – cut these away from the central structure of the flower just before serving.

Honeysuckle – The long flower tubes of various honeysuckle species are edible, but Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is best, with its distinctly honey-like flavour. Do not eat the berries that follow, or any other part of the plant, as they are all poisonous.

Impatiens – The flowers of Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) may be bright white or shocking red, but the petals are edible and have a surprisingly sweet taste. They can be torn into salad or mixed into fancy drinks.

Johnny-Jump-UpJohnny-Jump-Up – This plant (Viola tricolor) produces masses of small, brightly coloured flowers that have a faint wintergreen taste. They look great served on cakes, served with soft cheeses, or as a topping for salads. Use the whole flower intact.

Lavender – Pull the clustered flowers of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) apart and sprinkle a few pieces onto chocolate cake. Submerge one or two pieces in a glass of chilled champagne. The sweet, intensely floral flavour of lavender should be used with restraint, but adds an incredible to pop savory dishes as well as desserts.

Edible flowers lemon bergamotLemon Bergamot – Like its wild cousin above, Lemon Bergamot (Monarda citriodora) has a perfume-like, intense, almost astringent quality, but it is strongly scented with citrus. Use portions of the flower conservatively in drinks or desserts or in herbal teas.

Lilac – Like lavender, the flowers of lilac (Syringa vulgaris) have an intensely floral, almost perfumey flavour with lemon undertones. A little goes a long way, but one or two individual flowers added to a summer punch looks wonderful and tastes very refreshing.

Gold Gem Edible FlowersLemon Marigold Tagetes tenuifolia

Edible marigold flowersMarigold – Both French marigolds (Tagetes patula) and African marigolds (T. erecta) produce flowers that are technically edible, but the pungent scent is probably worth avoiding. African marigold flowers are used as a food colourant in Europe, but have only been approved for use as a poultry feed additive in the US. However,T. tenuifolia has a refreshing citrus, lemony flavour, and its petals work well torn into salads or smart drinks.

Mint – All mint varieties (Mentha spp.) have minty-flavoured, edible flowers that may be sweet or lemon-scented, or even with chocolate overtones depending on the type.

Edible Nasturtium flowersNasturtium – All garden nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) produce edible flowers and leaves. Even the fresh seeds can be pickled like capers. Curiously this familiar garden flower is a cousin of the Brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, mustards, etc…). All parts of the nasturtium have a pleasant, sweet, peppery flavour. The flowers can be used whole to decorate salads and a variety of other foods, but you may want to remove the long spur at the back of the flower, as this is the nectary and may harbour small insects.

Edible pansies flowersPansy – The flower petals of the familiar garden pansy (Viola x wittrockiana) are edible and highly decorative. The petals have little flavour, but the whole flower can also be used. It has a grassy, wintergreen undertone that works well in fruit salad.

Edible pea flowersPea – Edible garden peas (Pisum sativum) produce edible flowers that look great in salads. Serve a blend of peas in a meal: shelled peas, pea tendrils, pea pods, and some flowers for garnish. Note: Ornamental sweet peas are poisonous.

Perennial Phlox – Be certain that you’ve got the tall-growing perennial garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata), and not the inedible annual, creeping type before you try the flowers. The perennial type bears pink to white flowers with five petals that have a pleasant, peppery flavour. They look great and taste great in fruit salads.

Primrose – With its bland, but highly colourful flowers, primrose (Primula vulgaris) is worth cultivating if only to tear its petals into a few summer salads. The flower buds can also be pickled, steamed, or fermented into wine.

Queen Anne’s Lace – The Wild Carrot (Daucus carota) produces tall umbels of exquisite, tiny, white flowers, each one marked by a blood-red centre. Although this plant is grown for its decorative, edible flowers, it can cross-pollinate with its close relative the carrot, so if you happen to be growing carrots with the intent of saving seed, avoid this plant in your garden. The flowers of Queen Anne’s Lace have a mild, carroty flavour. Be absolutely certain that the plant you are harvesting is not the invasive weed known as Wild or Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum), which looks very similar. The stems of Queen Anne’s Lace are hairy, while Poison Hemlock has smooth, hollow stems with purple spots.

Rose – Another surprisingly edible garden flower is the rose (Rosa spp.). Although its petals are intensely perfumed, their flavour is subtler and a bit fruity, with complex undertones that depend on the variety and soil conditions. The petals of all roses are edible, but you should remove the bitter white base of each petal. Be sure to use only rose flowers that have been organically grown from a reliable source, as nearly all nursery or cut flower roses will have been treated with pesticide.

Rosemary edible flowersRosemary – It takes nimble fingers to pull the strongly scented flowers of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) from between the tightly packed leaves. The leaves contain more oil than the flowers, but both are similar in flavour. Use the flowers as you would the herb. Flowers are deep blue to pink, depending on the soil.

Safflower edible flowersSafflower – The dried yellow flowers (Carthamus tinctorius) are sometimes sold as Mexican saffron, and used like saffron as a food dye. Otherwise, fresh petals can be torn into salads, soups, and sauces. They have a very mild flavour of their own.

Sage makes the list of edible flowersSage – The deep blue flowers of sage (Salvia officinalis) add an interesting mild-sage flavour to salads or savory dishes. Pull individual flower tubes from the stems and use with discretion, as the taste is strong.

Scarlet runner bean edible flowersScarlet Runner Bean – The flowers of this vine (Phaseolus vulgaris) are vivid, intense red, and also delicious. They make excellent garnishes for soups and salads, providing a real visual high note.

Sorrel – Like the leaves of sorrel (Rumex acetosa), its flowers have a strongly lemony flavour, and can be scattered over salad or used in sauces. The flavour comes from oxalic acid, so should be avoided by those with kidney conditions or rheumatism.

Squash-BlossomSquash – Both male and female flowers of all squash and zucchini varieties are edible, and have a faint squashy flavour. It may be sensible to only use the male flowers, as they will not form fruits. They can be torn into salads or stuffed with savory items like herbs and goat cheese, and then fried in a light tempura batter. There are many squash blossom recipes online.

Edible sunflower flowersSunflower – It’s still a little known fact that unopened sunflower (Helianthus annuus) buds can be steamed or sautéed in butter and served whole. They have an artichoke-like flavour. Alternately, the petals can be pulled from the edge of the opened flower and added to soups and salads. Their flavour is somewhat bitter.
Violet – Many varieties (Viola spp.) are suitable for decorating food. They come in a range of sweet, perfumed flavours, and a wide range of colours. Some of the tiniest violet flowers make the best additions to cakes, drinks, and salads.

And The Winners Are…

PRESS RELEASE

Contact Information:

Jennifer Hunnell

551 Courthouse Dr., Suite 3

Charlotte, MI  48813

Phone: 517-543-1512 x 5

Email: miarborday@gmail.com

Website: http://www.miarbordayalliance.org

Sent: 4-7-17

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: On or after 4-10-17

 

Michigan Students Show Us Why

“We All Need Trees”

CHARLOTTE, MI – The Michigan Arbor Day Alliance (MADA) is proud to announce the winners of the 2017 5th Grade Arbor Day Poster Contest! This was the contest’s first year. Seventy-two students participated, creating original artwork displaying the theme “We All Need Trees.” Votes for the 7 posters submitted for judging were collected from a ballot box display at the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union headquarters in East Lansing and through a photo album on MADA’s Facebook page. There were a lot of fantastic entries this year and we had a lot of great voting participation.

First, second and third place prizes will be awarded. Each winner will receive a gift certificate to Acorn Naturalists (www.acornnaturalists.com) and a tree planting for their school. In addition, the winning student’s teacher will receive a gift card to help pay for classroom supplies. The 2017 winners are:

  • First Place: Lillian T. from Howell
  • Second Place: Kali G. from St. Johns
  • Third Place: Madeline V. from Novi

The MADA 5th Grade Arbor Day Poster Contest is similar to one previously coordinated by the national Arbor Day Foundation, which MADA participated in until its cancellation in 2011. MADA has gone through several program changes since, seeking the best fit for our Michigan students. It was decided by the MADA State Committee to bring the poster contest back. We hope to see participation in this contest grow in future years and look forward to what lies ahead.

Michigan Arbor Day Alliance would like to thank everyone who participated, including the sponsors: ITC Michigan, Lansing Board of Water and Light, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Eaton Conservation District, and Michigan State University Federal Credit Union.

The Michigan Arbor Day Alliance (MADA) is a coalition of organizations and agencies dedicated to the promotion and celebration of Arbor Day throughout Michigan. Our dedication comes from our belief in the importance of trees and their role in community health and well-being. MADA is made possible through support from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

1st

First Place Winner, Lillian T. from Howell, MI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2nd

Second Place Winner, Kali G. from St. Johns, MI

3rd

Third Place Winner, Madeline V. from Novi, MI

 

ITC Supports the Michigan Arbor Day Alliance

ITC Supports the Michigan Arbor Day Alliance

Michigan Arbor Day Alliance & ITC working together to make Michigan greener

CHARLOTTE, Mich., Mar. 21, 2017 – Michigan Arbor Day Alliance (MADA) is proud to announce that ITC Michigan has contributed $10,000 to support the State Arbor Day Celebration and MADA’s educational programs.

“MADA is excited to partner once again with ITC. They have been fantastic to work with and their passion and support for education and outreach has helped us make our programs what they are today,” said Jennifer Hunnell, Michigan Arbor Day Alliance Program Coordinator.

Each year, MADA hosts the State Arbor Day Celebration in Lansing. The official celebration for the state of Michigan will be held on April 28th 2017 at the Potter Park Zoo.  This event invites 1,100 second and third graders from all around mid-Michigan to attend a day of outdoor fun and education. Students learn about water, soil, trees, and wildlife from a team of dedicated volunteers. Each student also leaves with their very own tree seedling which they can plant at home, taking a little piece of Arbor Day with them.

“ITC actively supports key educational and environmental programs across the state, including the Michigan Arbor Day Alliance,” said Luba Sitar, ITC Manager of Customer Relations and Community Education. “We are proud to contribute to positive change throughout the region through public and private partnerships, especially those that engage youth and support environmental stewardship.”

In addition to the State Arbor Day Celebration, MADA rolled out their 5th Grade Arbor Day Poster Contest. The donation from ITC helped get this program off the ground. This was an opportunity for Michigan students to express their creativity and learn about trees at the same time. First, second, and third place prizes will be awarded, including a tree planting for the winning schools. This year, 72 students participated, a great start to a new program!

The Michigan Arbor Day Alliance is a program of the Eaton Conservation District and made possible through support from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

 

ABOUT ITC MICHIGAN

In Michigan, operating entities ITCTransmission and Michigan Electric Transmission Company, LLC (METC) serve most of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. ITC’s focus on transmission and grid expansion drives operational excellence and delivers superior value for customers, communities and other stakeholders.

About ITCTransmission

International Transmission Company (d/b/a ITCTransmission) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ITC Holdings Corp., the nation’s largest independent electricity transmission company. Based in Novi, Michigan, ITCTransmission owns, operates and maintains approximately 3,100 circuit miles of transmission lines in southeast Michigan.

About Michigan Electric Transmission Company (METC)

Michigan Electric Transmission Company, LLC (METC) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ITC Holdings Corp., the nation’s largest independent electricity transmission company. Based in Novi, Michigan, METC owns, operates and maintains approximately 5,600 circuit miles of transmission lines in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

Please Leave Wild Animals in the Wild

Springtime has returned to Michigan!

People are spending more time outside, exploring their nearby parks and woods. In the next few months you may even be lucky enough to come across some baby animals who are also going to be venturing farther from their den or nest.

However, it is important to leave wild animals in the wild. You may think that the youngster has been abandoned, but more often than not this is not the case. Baby deer can be left alone by their mothers for hours at a time. This is actually safer for them because predators can’t find them because of their parent’s smell. When learning to fly, baby birds may be stuck on the ground for a while. Be assured that the parents are nearby keeping watch, even if you can’t see them.

Our hearts might be in the right place when rescuing a seemingly abandoned baby, but we may end up doing more harm than good, and that’s the last thing we would have intended.

So enjoy the sights, but please leave wildlife wild. 🙂

Statewide DNR News

March 21, 2017

Contact: Hannah Schauer, 517-284-6218 or DNR Wildlife Division, 517-284-9453

Leave wildlife in the wild – do not take baby animals from the wild this spring

unnamedSpring is here, bringing warmer temperatures and the next generation of wildlife. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds those who are outside, enjoying the experience of seeing wildlife raise its young, to view animals from a distance so they are not disturbed.

It’s important to remember that many species of wildlife hide their young for safety and that these babies are not abandoned. They simply have been hidden by their mother until she returns for them.

“Please resist the urge to help seemingly abandoned baby animals,” said Hannah Schauer, wildlife communications coordinator for the DNR. “Many baby animals will die if removed from their natural environment, and some have diseases or parasites that can be passed on to humans or pets.”

Schauer added that some animals that have been picked up by people and do survive may become habituated and may be unable to revert back to life in the wild.

“Habituated animals pose additional problems as they mature and develop adult animal behavior,” Schauer said. “For example, habituated deer, especially bucks, can become aggressive as they get older and reach breeding age.”

White-tailed deer fawns are one of the animals most commonly picked up by well-intentioned citizens.

Schauer explained that it is not uncommon for deer to leave their fawns unattended for up to eight hours at a time. This behavior minimizes the scent of the mother left around the fawn and allows the fawn to go undetected by nearby predators. While fawns may seem abandoned, they rarely are. All wild white-tailed deer begin life this way. The best chance for their survival is to leave them in the wild. If you find a fawn alone, do not touch it, as this might leave your scent and could attract predators. Give it plenty of space and quickly leave the area. The mother deer will return for her fawns when she feels it is safe; she may not return if people or dogs are present.

Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess abandoned or injured wildlife. Unless you are licensed, it is illegal to possess a live wild animal, including deer, in Michigan.

The only time a baby animal may be removed from the wild is when you know the parent is dead or the animal is injured. Please remember, a licensed rehabilitator must be contacted before removing an animal from the wild. Licensed wildlife rehabilitators must adhere to the laws and have gone through training on proper handling of injured or abandoned wild animals. Licensed rehabilitators will work to return the animal to the wild where it will have the best chance for survival.

A list of licensed rehabilitators can be found by visiting mi.gov/wildlife or by calling a local DNR office.

/Editors’ note: An accompanying photo is available below for download. A suggested caption follows.

A white-tailed deer fawn waits for its mother to return./

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.