Motionless Monday

Hey there!

We finally had a freeze one night, so our reptiles and amphibians are digging in deeper! You’ll have to hunt to see them from now until spring, unless you happen upon a friendly wildlife statue.

Have a great week!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

What tree–that’s a hint!–did these leaves come from? (the green ones)

Post your guesses in the comments and we’ll check back later for correct answers!

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Possibly this tree is more recognizable int he spring when this is on the ground below it.

Or this.

In they spring, you’d look up and see…

Or now in the fall:

These are the leaves of the mulberry tree. A few species of the Moraceae family are native to North America and others growing here originated in Europe and China–where they are famously fed to silk worms. We haven’t tried to identify which are which.

Mulberry trees produce their fruits in spring and early summer and are prolific. Plentiful berries being eaten by birds–like bluebirds, orioles, tanagers and warblers–lead to the mulberry tree spreading easily. It’s also a fast and aggressive grower. A shoot will be a two-story tree in a few years, and the roots can pop up sidewalks, so be wary if you see a newly-growing woody-stemmed plant with leaves that you don’t quite recognize as the same as other trees in your vicinity. If you have a woodsy area away from sidewalks and foundations to host a mulberry tree, wildlife will thank you, and there may be enough berries left for you to eat as well.

Remember, verify your identification of anything you humans plan to eat with a source other than we squirrels are giving you!

#LeaveTheLeaves

Are you hearing the roar in your neighborhood? We are.

Leaves being removed.

Homes being removed. Food. Insects. The base of the food chain.

Save the leaves! Keep them on your land, under your trees, around your shrubs. Even an undisturbed corner helps insects gain a foothold.

Share this image in as many ways as you can–The Xerces Society wants to get the word out!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Have you seen these before? Can you eat it? (Always an important squirrel question!)

We squirrels have, but it’s been a few years. Give us you guess in the comments and we’ll be back later to check your answer!

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This rather strange-looking fruit comes from a tree native to North America, believe it or not! If you humans have seen it before, you know it on sight. We had a correct guess today–this is the Osage Orange, Maclura pomifera, the last remaining tree in the Maclura genus which has many fossil relatives.

 

Today, its closest relatives are mulberry and figs. Osage Osage originally grew naturally in eastern Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, in a region where the Osage Indians lived. They called the tree bowwood or bodark, and used the wood to make bows. Early French settlers called the tree bois d’arc.

The tree is rather nondescript. It has simple leaves and thorns. It grows to a medium size and spreads nicely, so with those thorns was planted widely by settlers in hedgerows to keep in livestock. Alternatively, the wood was used for rot-resistant fence posts. Some animals would eat these fruits that fall in the autumn, while other wild animals, like we squirrels, would rather snack on something else (read that as Acorns!).

That brought Osage Orange the common names Hedge Apple and Horse Apple.

Read more about the Osage Orange Tree and its cultural history on Mother Earth News and Iowa State University’s Horticultural and Home Pest News.