By MDC | January 1, 2021
From Missouri Conservationist: January 2021


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Send it to or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.

Q: While hiking at Cathedral Canyon, I came across this interesting growth. Can you tell me what species of tree or fungus this is?

It’s the thin, corky “wings” on the young branches of a winged elm (Ulmus alata Michaux). These flat protrusions are typically up to one-half-inch wide on each side of a twig. They often become irregular with age as portions slough off, and they can be totally absent.

Why some species of plants and trees grow these winged structures is not well understood by scientists.

Frequently used as a shade tree in the southern United States, winged elms are medium-sized trees that grow rapidly and are relatively pest-free, although they are susceptible to Dutch elm disease. In Missouri, they are most prevalent in the southeast and along the southern border. Rabbits, opossums, squirrels, rodents, and some birds eat the seeds, and whitetail deer eat the leaves and twigs in the spring.

Q: We are developing 12 acres of pollinator grasses and would like to install some bee hotels nearby. Do you have any advice for how to proceed?

Repurposing scraps of untreated lumber is the easiest and most affordable way to do this. Drill a mix of holes 3/8 to 5/16 inches in diameter into a block of wood. The holes should be 4 to 6 inches deep, but should not penetrate through the wood block. Fewer than 20 holes per block is adequate, since larger colonies with dozens of holes have been known to attract parasites and predators. Protect the wood blocks from inclement weather conditions with a roof or a similar overhang. Once complete, scatter the new bee hotels around the perimeter of the planted area to protect them from future prescribed fires. Finally, position the houses with the holes facing east.

Once the bees have emerged the following year, take the hotels down to prevent the spread of fungi, parasites, and disease and do not reuse them.

Bee tubes also may be purchased online, but be careful to follow the guidelines for proper length. The tubes need to be fastened together in such a sturdy manner that wind will not damage them. Be cautious of buying bee houses online. Most of the commercial ones may look attractive to homeowners, but lack tubes of adequate length and diameter.

For more information, visit short.

Q: Can you tell me more about this eagle’s pose?

Raptors are known to spread their wings away from their torsos to dry their feathers and warm their bodies. By creating more surface area, these majestic birds take advantage of the sun’s rays on wintry days. When vultures and hawks do this, it’s commonly called the “horaltic pose,” although that term is less commonly used when referring to bald eagles. Scientists believe the pose also may help carrion-eating birds bake away bacteria and rid themselves of parasites.

Also In This Issue

Monarch Butterfly
Serving Nature and You: Fiscal Year 2020.

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler