Photo credit By Teresa Prendusi, USFS botanist per  [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
"When we protect the places where the processes of life can flourish, we strengthen not only the future of medicine, agriculture and industry, but also the essential conditions for peace and prosperity."
~ Harrison Ford
Water Sedge (Carex acutinella, Carex aquatilis ssp. altior, Carex aquatilis ssp. aquatilis, Carex aquatilis var. altior, Carex aquatilis var. substricta, Carex suksdorfii, Carex substricta)
This plant grows in wet to moist prairie, prairie swales, riparian zones, and sedge meadows. It is found in areas of shallow water or by its edge. Sedges have an amazing ability to survive low oxygen environments. When soil is flooded, the soil organisms consume oxygen faster than it can diffuse. This leads to low oxygen and is a defining characteristic of wetlands. Sedges have an amazing ability to grow under low oxygen conditions. They develop air channels in their leaves, stems and roots. called aerenchyma. This structure of air channels allows oxygen from the air to be exchanged with the roots allowing these plants to thrive in places other plants would die due to lack of oxygen.
Water sedge reproduces by seeds but mostly by forming a masses of rhizomes called tiller clumps. Seventy five percent of the biomass produced by sedges occur underground. The dense tiller rhizomes can produce 1,000 to 2,000 shoots peer square meter forming sod and stabilizing riverbanks. As its rhizome system decomposes, it can produce peat. Therefore it has been used to revegetate areas where peat was harvested.
Sedges form the foundation of both aquatic and terrestrial food chains. Their leaves are a source of food for many butterflies caterpillars. Many small mammals such as rabbits, voles, ground squirrels, prairie dogs and muskrats forage sedges. Sedges are of special importance to bears in the spring after their awakening from hibernation when other food sources are scarce. In spring, bears feed on the grass part of the sedges but also the starch rich roots. Moose and elk graze water sedges and it is high in nutrition and in protein content. The seeds are eaten by many birds. It is important cover for birds and small mammals. It is a valuable feeding and breeding ground for water fowl such as geese and ducks
Historically, sedge leaves and roots were used by First Nation people to make rope, baskets, mats and clothing. Most sedges are edible(rhizomes and nutlets)Traditional Edible, Medicinal Uses: Used by Gosiute First Nations, who ate parts of the plant boiled. Alaska First Nations ate crown of stem. Hesquiate Tribe used the plant for basket fibre. (USDA Natural Resouces Conservation Service)
Forage agronomist, Neil G Miller, from Alberta's Agriculture Food and Development Department notes that wetlands and agriculture should coexist. He also recommends including wildlife in lowland development plans for cattle producers. Lowlands, where water loving sedges and grasses thrive, recharge the ground water and provide excellent wild life habitat. When hay is produced from the lowlands, it recycles excess nutrients, causing purer water to flow down stream. . Lowland forage species including sedges like awned sedge, wooly sedge, beaked sedge and water sedge provide excellent hay when harvested at their peak (in Alberta, usually in early July) He notes that 3 to 4 tons per acre of high quality hay per year could be harvested from these areas. He does point out that harvest management is important, because if this type of grass is allowed to mature, it is no better than straw.
Including and utilizing lowland areas with sedges on a property provides life sustaining places for wildlife to thrive. Wetlands also allows groundwater to be recharged. We depend on the recharge of ground water for our wells to provide us with water. Wetlands with sedges and other marshland plants, improves the water quality of streams, lakes and rivers. Wetlands have a vital role in the hydrological cycle. Water evaporates from wetlands, providing clouds that return as rain for our crops. Finally lowlands provides high quality hay when properly managed.
Photo Credit :By Tewy (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Trembling Aspen –(Populus tremuloides)
“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. ” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt
Trembling Aspen is a tree that is a member of the poplar family.
Aspen is known for its ability to sprout root suckers and form clones of many individual stems. While each stem has a relatively short lifespan (50 to 150 years) the root and its clones can live for tens of thousands of years. There is a clonal colony of trembling aspen called "Pando" in Utah with a root system estimated to be 80,000 years old. "Pando" covers an area over 100 acres and has over 40,000 stems
Softwood Poplars are of immense importance to wildlife of the prairies since it occurs in stands throughout the prairies and especially in the Aspen Parkland biome. The Aspen Parkland Biome is a transition zone between the Prairie and the Boreal Forest. The climate is wetter and colder than the prairies but not as cold as the boreal forest. Most of southwestern Manitoba including Roblin lies within the Aspen Parkland. Because of its rich black fertile soils and abundant trees, ninety percent of this habitat has been converted into farmland. Between logging for fuel, building, and pulp, and clearing for agriculture, the area of aspens declined dramatically in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
In the North East First Nations people Peeled back the outer bark which revealed the inner bark and syrup was produced for food. Mohawk brewed a bark tea to expel worms and the Cree boiled its bark to make a cough syrup
Aspen is an important food and shelter plant for wildlife. It is grazed by deer, moose and elk. Many birds eat its twigs and buds. It is a favorite food of beavers, who use it for building. In winter, it is a particularly vital source of nutrients to hooved animals, but also to snowshoe hare and to grouse. Grouse rely on its winter buds. In the scarcity of winter, many animals will eat its bark. Cavities develop in these trees due to its susceptibility to fungus. This provides homes and shelter to woodpeckers, owls, squirrels and other wildlife. The leaves of the Quaking Aspen and other species in the genus Populus serve as food for caterpillars of various moths and butterflies.
Poplars have been recognized as valuable for forage for cattle and sheep and this is being studied in New Zealand. In central and eastern Europe, there is evidence that leaf fodder was used for feeding cattle and other livestock for centuries.
Aspens are incredible trees that have a cascading effect on the food web. Many insects feed on their leaves attracting insectivore birds and bats. Porcupines eat their bark and rodents and shrews enjoy the insects and understory vegetation. Next come the predators, the hawks, weasels and coyotes. This tree is an especially important source of food and shelter for wildlife during the cold of winter when other food sources are scarce. Because of the ecological importance of the aspen tree in ecosystems, US federal agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of and the Land Management, are interested in enhancing aspen stands.
By allowing poplars to grow, we give our cattle shade in the summer and wind and snow protection in the winter. We provide food and shelter to wildlife especially during the scarcity of winter. People that allow groves of Aspen to live are caretakers of the human race because the trees will provide provisions and beneficence for many generations to come.
Herbicides, pesticides and fungicides are used as formulations. They contain adjuvants which are called inert and are often kept confidential(1)
When toxicology studies are done on these formulations, only the the active principle is tested for toxicity but not the adjuvants. This is very deceiving because the adjuvants may be much more toxic than the principle ingredient. In March 2014, Biomed Research International published an article that documents the deception. Studies on human cell lines demonstrates toxicity by up to 1000 times more for the formulations compared to the active principle alone.
So we read the toxicology studies on these chemicals and feel reassured of their safety. When the reality in this study, for human cells is that their toxicity exceeds be hundreds of times in most cases that of the active ingredient alone. So when we read about the toxicity these products have on the plants and animals we really don't know the reality.
This is another reason to discontinue the use of these poisons.
Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014: 179691.
Manitoba is where I was born and where I have spent most of the five and one half decades of my life. I lived on the outskirts of the town of Portage La Prairie at a time when tadpoles and frogs inhabited the ditches and ponds, when there were many Monarch butterflies each summer along with dragon flies and grasshoppers. Redwing blackbirds perched the cattails of the ditches. As children we picked dandelions for bouquets and made wishes before blowing dandelion seed heads. We searched clover for lucky four leaves and rolled on the grass…there was no concern of poisonous herbicides. The grass was thick. Wherever we dug…there were earthworms