Journal archives for September 2020

September 01, 2020

September 2020 EcoQuest: Native, Introduced, or Invasive?

Join us for the September EcoQuest: Native, Introduced or Invasive?
Find and map plant species and discover if they are native, introduced or invasive.

There are many labels used to describe plants. Not just their parts or names, but also what they do and where they are found. Native, introduced and invasive are three labels that can describe how plants came to exist and interact in an ecosystem. During this EcoQuest, learn more about what these labels mean and how they can describe plants in metro Phoenix.


Join the EcoQuest here:
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/native-introduced-or-invasive

Observation Guides to help identify some of the native and invasive plants in metro Phoenix:
Native: https://www.inaturalist.org/guides/12196
Invasive: https://www.inaturalist.org/guides/11351
The species information provided by iNaturalist is also helpful.



This month is a collaboration with the Maricopa Native Seed Library. The library provides free native seed to the community, as well as free workshops, information and consultations on native plant gardening. Whether you have a lot of space or an apartment patio or balcony, the library makes it easy to grow native plants where you live. You can find seed from the library at various locations throughout the valley.

Learn more about native plants, find their seeds and support the Maricopa Native Seed Library here:
https://libguides.maricopa.edu/seed



*These labels are not restricted to plants and can be applied to other organisms, such as mammals.

This EcoQuest focuses on three labels: native, introduced and invasive.
Why do these labels matter? These labels help explore plant origins and evolution, and can deepen the understanding of how plants interact with other living things and their environment. These labels can also reflect human impact on plant life and ecosystems. Let's explore what these labels mean.

Native (or indigenous) plants occur naturally in a given region and have developed and existed there over a very long period of time. They have established relationships with native insects, wildlife, each other and people. Examples of this include bats as a pollinator of agave and the importance of saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) to the O’odham. These plants are part of a living landscape that contribute to the variety of life and healthy ecosystems. Some native plants are also endemic, meaning they are only found in a specific region and nowhere else. Native plants play an essential role in food sovereignty and traditional medicine. Their reduction or elimination often leads to impacts on traditional plant use and knowledge, including food crops. Growing locally adapted native plants allows people to be self-sustaining and continue the cultural connection they have with these plants. Native plants often require less input, like fertilizers, pesticides, or water, and can also contribute to sustainable food sources as the climate changes.



Introduced (also known as nonnative, exotic, alien) plants have been brought by people to places where they were not historically found. They do not have the established relationships with the ecosystem that native plants do. These plants can become naturalized and eventually support some wildlife, but it is often less than native plants. An example of a plant introduced to North America is aloe. Aloe can be seen all over metro Phoenix, but it does not typically leave an area that is maintained by people.



Invasive plants are those that have the tendency to overtake and alter the ecosystem they live in. They are most often introduced, but there are some native plants with invasive tendencies. Invasive plants compete for space and resources, pushing native plants out of their habitat. This also means that traditional medicinal and food plants of the area can be lost. Invasive species can greatly contribute to the loss of biodiversity. According to the US Forest Service (n.d.), “invasive species have contributed to the decline of 42% of U.S. endangered and threatened species, and for 18% of U.S. endangered or threatened species, invasives are the main cause of their decline.” Because the majority of invasive plants are introduced, they most often do not provide as much support for other species. An example of an invasive plant is stinknet (Oncosiphon piluliferum). This species rapidly overtakes areas it grows in and quickly spreads to new locations. When this plant dries out in the summer, it also becomes a significant fuel source for wildfire.
More information on Stinknet:
English: https://aznps.com/wp-content/uploads/Stinknet-Brochure-English-Feb2020.pdf
Spanish: https://aznps.com/wp-content/uploads/Stinknet-Brochure-Spanish-Feb2020.pdf



These labels are not always clear-cut and often overlap. It is important to look at these labels in an ecological sense. What are your thoughts on these descriptions? Why do you think native plants are important, and how do you view invasive species? Share your thoughts in the journal comments.





WHAT TO OBSERVE:
Anything in the Kingdom Plantae is open for observation. Observe any plant species you come across and try to determine if it is native, introduced or invasive. Use the provided guides and resources for help.

HOW TO OBSERVE:
The way this EcoQuest works is a little different than usual.
You will need to join the EcoQuest to have your observations counted!
Then when you upload your observation, type “Native,” “Introduced,” or “Invasive” in the Notes section.

On the website:


In the iPhone app:


In the Android app:

Observing, mapping and noting if plants are native, introduced or invasive can provide data and information about populations, cultivated species, biodiversity and where invasive species may have an opportunity to increase or spread.


Sources:
USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Service
https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/ct/technical/ecoscience/invasive/?cid=nrcs142p2_011124
National Wildlife Federation
https://www.nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife/about/native-plants
https://www.nwf.org/NativePlantFinder/
USFS
https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/invasives/


EcoQuests are month-long challenges that are part of the larger Metro Phoenix EcoFlora project.
You can learn more and join the Metro Phoenix EcoFlora here:
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/metro-phoenix-ecoflora

Sign up for the newsletter at ecofloraphx@dbg.org.
Let's be social @ecofloraphx

PLEASE observe COVID-19 guidelines/recommendations.
This a great opportunity to get outdoors close to home as we all navigate the complications of COVID-19. However, it is imperative that you follow the guidelines/recommendations of your local governments and institutions (wear a mask, practice physical distancing and wash your hands). Do what’s best for you and your community.

Arizona Office of Tourism: Responsible Recreation in AZ
https://tourism.az.gov/responsible-recreation-across-arizona



Posted on September 01, 2020 19:43 by jenydavis jenydavis | 6 comments | Leave a comment

September 30, 2020

October 2020 EcoQuest: Ocotillober

Join us for the October EcoQuest: Ocotillober (pronounced oh-koh-TEE-yoh-bur).
Find and map as many ocotillos as possible, especially in dense urban areas.

One of the most charismatic plants of the southwest, ocotillos stand tall among the saguaros in the desert landscape, reaching their long canes to the sky. Ocotillos are not only found in wilderness, but in urban areas making a statement wherever they are planted.


Join the EcoQuest here:
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/ocotillober
See this plant on SEINet:
https://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/taxa/index.php?tid=3040&taxauthid=1&clid=0


This EcoQuest is focused on ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens)
Ocotillos (pronounced oh-koh-TEE-yohs) are said to look like a bunch of dead sticks standing upright. The stems or canes have no leaves or flowers most of the time, showing only spines. With a decent amount of rain, they become covered with lively green leaves from bottom to top. When conditions become dry again, the plant can quickly shed its leaves to retain water. This can happen multiple times a year. When they are leafless, ocotillos can photosynthesize through their bark, much like palo verde trees (Parkinsonia spp.). In the spring, clusters of bright reddish-orange flowers balance at the very tops of the stems, which may be where the common name “torchwood” comes from. These flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds during their northern migration when other nectar sources are scarce. Ocotillos can also have a relationship with carpenter bees. The bees help with pollination, as well as increasing fruit and seed set while receiving nectar in return.

Fun Fact: There have been studies to see if the age of ocotillos can be determined by the number of rings in their trunk, much like trees. One study found it to be pretty close! 104 years was estimated through direct evidence (like photographs) and 107 rings were counted.

As charismatic as this plant may be, it can be overlooked. This is possibly because of their seeming abundance or their availability as landscape plants. Whatever the reason may be, data and information on these plants is lacking in metro Phoenix, especially in dense urban areas (Please see maps below).

Observing and mapping ocotillo in metro Phoenix can provide information about occurrences, population size and density. This data is lacking both in iNaturalist and SEINet, specifically in dense urban areas. This observation data can help explore possible pollinator corridors and nectar resources, especially for hummingbirds and carpenter bees.

WHAT TO OBSERVE:
Scientific Name: (Fouquieria splendens)
Common Names: Ocotillo, torchwood, coachwhip,
Spanish: Ocotillo (little torch)
Seri: Jomjéeziz or xomjéeziz
Family: Fouquieriaceae (Ocotillo Family)

DESCRIPTION:
Duration: Perennial
Nativity: Native Lifeform: Shrub
General: Tall, many-stemmed shrublike plant, 2-7 m tall; stems unbranched and cane-like, erect to ascending, covered with thorns; bark gray with darker furrows.
Leaves: Appearing within days after ground-soaking rains and turning yellow and dropping in response to drought; blades fleshy, ovate, 1-3 cm long.
Flowers: Orange, in dense panicles, 10-25 cm long, at branch tips, with conspicuous leafy bracts that fall off when flowers are mature; corolla tubular, about 2 cm long, bright red-orange, with 5 reflexed lobes at the top.
Fruits: Capsule 10-15 mm long, 3-valved; containing 6-15 flat, papery-winged seeds.
Ecology: Found on dry, rocky or gravelly slopes and sandy plains from sea level to 5,000 ft (0-1524 m); flowers February-March.
Distribution: s CA, AZ, s NM, s TX; south to c MEX.
Ethnobotany: Blossoms soaked for a summer drink, a blood purifier and tonic. Seeds parched and ground into flour for mush or cakes. O’odham press the nectar out of blossoms, hardened it like rock candy and chewed. Flowers sucked for nectar. Stems used for fences and houses. Apache make a powdered root paste to ease swelling. Gum from the bark was used to wax leather.

WHERE TO OBSERVE:
Anywhere within the project boundary, with a preference for dense urban areas where data is lacking. The dots on these maps are existing observations of ocotillo. Observations made anywhere there is not currently a group of observations are the most helpful!





Sources:
SEINet:
https://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/taxa/index.php?tid=3040&taxauthid=1&clid=0

USFS:
https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/fouquieria_splendens.shtml
Peter Evans Scott (Louisiana State University):
https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5806&context=gradschool_disstheses

Keith T. Killingbeth (Ocotillo age study)
https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/5553560






EcoQuests are month-long challenges that are part of the larger Metro Phoenix EcoFlora project.
You can learn more and join the Metro Phoenix EcoFlora here:
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/metro-phoenix-ecoflora

Sign up for the newsletter at ecofloraphx@dbg.org.
Let's be social @ecofloraphx

PLEASE observe COVID-19 guidelines/recommendations.
This a great opportunity to get outdoors close to home as we all navigate the complications of COVID-19. However, it is imperative that you follow the guidelines/recommendations of your local governments and institutions (wear a mask, practice physical distancing and wash your hands). Do what’s best for you and your community.

Arizona Office of Tourism: Responsible Recreation in AZ
https://tourism.az.gov/responsible-recreation-across-arizona

Please do not observe indoor houseplants or pets.
For your own safety and the protection of plants and wildlife, do not trespass when making observations. Please follow all posted rules and guidelines in parks/preserves and do not enter private property.
Do not remove or move natural materials (plants, animals, rocks).
Respect wildlife (do not touch, feed, or disturb animals and keep a safe distance).

Posted on September 30, 2020 18:28 by jenydavis jenydavis | 0 comments | Leave a comment