Journal archives for May 2024

May 09, 2024

Plant of the Month: Sticky Purple Geranium (Geranium viscosissimum)

Sticky purple geranium or sticky geranium (Geranium viscosissimum) is protocarnivorous, meaning it has the ability to dissolve insects or other protein sources that land on their sticky leaves and become trapped. From these trapped insects the plant absorbs nitrogen. Protocarnivorous and carnivorous plants typically evolved in nutrient poor environments.

Sticky hairs cover the leaves and stems of the sticky purple geranium. The leaves are palmately lobed with 5 to 7 pointed lobes and are attached to the stem via long stocks. The flowers have five petals that range from a light purple-pink to a deep purple magenta with darker veins and long soft hairs near the base of the petals. The petals are slightly notched. The flowers grow in clusters of 2 or more, with the stem typically forking after the leaves.

Germination of the sticky purple geranium is low, but can be improved with scarification practices such as sanding the seed then soaking in water. Additionally, it may take up to three years for the flowers to become established. The sticky geranium is drought tolerant and grows in full sun to partial shade.

They are a perennial species that are native to Western United States, British Columbia, and southern Alberta found within the rose family (Rosaceae).

Sticky purple geranium has cultural significance to Indigenous peoples, including Sylix/Okanogan; Nlaka'pmx, Colville and Sanpoil; Blackfoot/Siksika. They used this flower for medicinal purposes, including encouraging blood clotting, treating colds and skin and eye conditions. The sticky purple geranium was also used as a food preservative. In European culture the geraniums were given as gifts to brides and to hosts.

Flies, butterflies, bees (solitary bees, bumble bees, and honey bees), wasps and true bugs have been associated with the sticky purple geranium. A correlation was found between a decline in sticky purple geraniums and a decline in pollinators, suggesting they play an important ecological role. The sticky purple geranium also acts as a food source to birds and mammals who eat their seeds and leaves.

Sticky purple geranium pictured from a top view

Posted on May 09, 2024 03:59 PM by kiarra13 kiarra13 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 23, 2024

May and June Events and Updates

Hello Everyone!

I hope this message finds you well!

I know May is a busy time for everyone, myself included. I hope you are all enjoying the sunshine in between the (much needed) rain. Fun fact, the earthy scent produced when rain falls is called petrichor. It is created when ozone, geosmin, and plant oils in soil are released into the air from the rain falling on the ground.
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Unfortunately, due to busy schedules, there will be no May pollinator walk. The next community pollinator walk will be held on Sunday June 2, 2024, from 1:00pm to 2:30pm at Fish Creek Provincial Park ☀️ You can register for the walk here. We will gather at Votier's Flats (13511 Elbow Dr SW, Calgary). 🐝🪲🐞
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In place of a May pollinator walk, I would like to invite you to join the Alberta Native Plant Rescue group this Sunday, May 26, 2024, from 10:00am to 2:00pm. Genesis Land Development Corp. has granted us permission to hold a Native Plant Rescue at their Logan Landing Development, immediately south of Seton in Calgary. We will be working two areas below the escarpment down (see map attached), visible from 212 Ave SE.

** IMPORTANT ** Read the Native Plant Rescue Announcement May 26 for information about the event and the required materials. This is private property so all volunteers attending will need to register by email before the event.

To register for the Native Plant Rescue, please download and fill out the Native Plant Rescue Waiver May 26 and send it to Blake McNeill (albertaplantrescue@gmail.com).
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If anyone would like to hold an informal plant, pollinator, nature, or bird walk (or any other subject of interest!), please let me know and I can add the event to the community science page and send an invitation to the mailing list. On that note... I would be very interested if anyone is willing to share their knowledge on morel foraging. (:

You can find information about upcoming events and other community science projects on the Community Science page on the University of Calgary Biodiversity website.

Reach out if you have any questions!

Warm regards,
Justine
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Alberta Plant and Pollinator Hub
contact.appc.hub@gmail.com

Posted on May 23, 2024 01:06 AM by jdo77 jdo77 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Pollinator of the Month: Common Aerial Yellowjacket (Dolichovespula arenaria)

The common aerial yellowjacket (Dolichovespula arenaria) is a medium-sized wasp (14-17mm) that has a distinctive yellow and black pattern on its body. It is found throughout and is native to Canada and the United States, commonly found in forested areas. They belong to the Subfamily Vespinae. Other members of the Subfamily Vespinae found within Calgary include the western yellowjacket, prairie yellowjacket, german yellowjacket, bald-faced hornet, blackjacket, parasitic aerial yellowjacket, northern aerial yellowjacket, arctic yellowjacket and Alaska yellowjackets.

They are important pollinators who contribute to the production of certain fruits. They visit flowers to feed on their nectar, and pollen attaches to and is transferred via their fluffy hairs. In addition to being pollinators, the common aerial yellowjacket can also be a biological control agent as it helps reduce populations of pests that damage crops. However, through its predation it may also eat beneficial insects. It can also transmit a disease called fire blight to potatoes.

The aerial yellowjacket is eusocial, which means it lives in a colony with a division of labour and cooperative care of the young. The colony consists of a queen, who is the only fertile female, and workers, who are sterile females. The queen has the ability to control the sex of the offspring through laying fertilized or unfertilized eggs (fertilized eggs produce females and unfertilized eggs produce males). She typically starts by producing female workers as they will help build the nest and collect food, however as winter nears she starts producing males and future queens. The queens overwinter.

The aerial yellowjacket builds its nest by transforming wood into a paper-like substance, which is why they are considered paper wasps. The nest is usually located above the ground, on trees, shrubs, or buildings, hence the name “aerial”. Sometimes, however, the aerial yellowjacket may build a subterranean nest. Compared to ground yellowjackets (Vespula sp.), common aerial yellowjackets are less aggressive and do not have the same preference for meat.

Dolichovespula has Latin origins, meaning long-little hornet. This comes from their long faces but little overall size when compared to “true hornets” (Vespa sp.). Arenaria comes from the Latin word meaning sandy and likely refers to the habitat they were found in.

a common aerial yellowjacket resting on a plant with clusters of pink flowers

Posted on May 23, 2024 09:22 PM by kiarra13 kiarra13 | 0 comments | Leave a comment