Two Screech Owls in a Tree

This morning before I left the house to go to the post office, I briefly thought about whether I should grab the camera or not. I decided to not. It had been a few days since I’d last caught even a glimpse of the screech owl that lives by the gate. So I didn’t have enough hope to bother going back inside to get the camera.

Boy, what a mistake that was.

Screech Owls

I glanced over to the holey tree where the nest was, and like I thought, she wasn’t there. But then I saw the two spots of orange on the tree right outside the home-tree.

And there I was, owls in broad daylight, with no good camera on hand. So I got this pic with my iPhone in case I never got the chance for a better one.

2 little screech owls sitting in a tree.

I debated whether or not to bother trying to go back to the house for my real camera, wondered whether or not I could reasonably expect them to still be there when I got back down to the gate. Our driveway is not short, or smooth. So I’d have to go slow. But I decided to try.

Too Late

When I got back to the gate, after getting the camera, swapping out the lens, and making the slow journey down the driveway again, they were gone. At first my heart sank. My best opportunity ever for getting a good owl pic and I’d blown it.

But there they were, on the other tree, in a tangle of vines.

Two little screech owls hiding in a tangle of vines.

A Birds of Prey Project

I’m happy to have gotten the pictures for more than just because I love owls. The main focus in my art is birds of prey. Usually I have to get permission from other photographers to use their birds as subjects, but now I have one of my own. And that makes me happy.

Screech owls are on my list of Ozark Birds of Prey to paint. I’ll do a better one of them later, but I made a quick one for my grand-daughter Karter’s birthday. When I get the better one done, I’ll add it to this page, too.

Screech owl painting (quick version).

Madison Woods is an author, artist, and Paleo Paint maker living
with her husband in northwest Arkansas far off the beaten path. She uses Ozark pigments to create her paintings.

Contact Info:
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @wildozark
Facebook: @wildozark

Early April in the Ginseng Habitat

Every year the same flowers bloom in pretty much the same order. And although I have hundreds of images in my files, I can’t help but start heading out with the camera. The blooms start in early April in the ginseng habitat.

The first flowers that bloom are usually the toothwort (formerly of the Dentaria genus, now Cardamine concatenata). I wish they would quit changing the botanical/latin names of plants. It gets hard to keep up sometimes.

Not quite blooming yet at the time of this photo, but they’re all in full swing now as we enter the second week of April.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is ordinarily the next in line to show off.

A poster of bloodroot showing the interesting features of this plant. It blooms in early April in the ginseng habitat.
This is a poster I made a few years ago to show all of the different things about bloodroot that I find interesting. The leaf shape and root color are as enthralling as the flowers.

Trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) show leaves a little while before the flowers begin to appear. It grows in large colonies, but they don’t begin blooming for sometimes five years.

Trout lilies grow in large colonies, but they don't begin blooming for sometimes five years.

Named for the mottled appearance of the basal leaf, it sort of resembles a trout under the water.

Rue anemone and False rue anemone are blooming now, too. So far this year, I’ve only found Rue anemone (Halictrum thalictroides). The false has more deeply lobed leaves.

Rue and false rue anemone are among the early bloomers in April in the ginseng habitat.

Purple (or ‘wild blue’) Phlox (Phlox divaricata) is brightening up the woodlands everywhere, not just in the ginseng habitats.

Phlox grows in many shady environments, not just in the ginseng habitats.
Not limited to the deep moist woods, but it too shows up in early April in the ginseng habitat.

Dutchmen’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria ) is always a challenge to photograph. The flowers and the leaves are not always on the same focal plane, so it’s hard to get them both clear at the same time. These do only grow in the rich moist soils, so is a good sign to look for in early April in the ginseng habitat.


This one was leaning over an embankment, which made the effort a little easier.

While this one isn’t a flower yet, the leaves of wild hydrangea (
Hydrangea arborescens ) are starting to open up. These plants are a frequent resident in the ginseng habitat.

Wild hydrangea starts to put on leaves early in April in the ginseng habitat.
Wild hydrangea cuttings coming up in the Wild Ozark nursery and Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden.

What about the ginseng?

Ginseng usually begins to unfurl here toward the end of April. At the earliest, maybe late in the second week of April. Click here to see some posts from previous years’ unfurling watch.

Madison Woods is an author, artist, and Paleo Paint maker living
with her husband in northwest Arkansas far off the beaten path. She uses Ozark pigments to create her paintings.

Contact Info:
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @wildozark
Facebook: @wildozark

If the Creeks Don’t Rise… Springtime in the Ozarks

Wild Ozark will be at Terra Studios tomorrow.

But with the rain we might get overnight and in the morning, the odds are looking poor. If I can’t make it there on Saturday, then on Sunday I should be able to make it. Springtime in the Ozarks usually means more rain.

UPDATE: I made it out in time so I’ll be there today 😁

Ordinarily we do get a lot of rain in springtime. But we’ve been getting a lot more rain than ordinary since *last* spring.

Framed some Paintings

All week I’ve been getting ready for this weekend’s South x Southeast Art Tour. I’ve framed a few more paintings, with the intention to sell some original art this time.

When I framed the last one, I thought I might do something a little different. The painting is a monochrome using only the pigment from a red sandstone. I named the paint “Intoxicating”, which is also what I named the painting.

So I added a little nugget of the same kind of sandstone to the frame, so the owner can see the kind of rock I used to make the paint.

Paleo Painting with the rock used to make the paint on the frame.
I think I’ll make a point to save some of the stones from each of the paints I make so I can add more interest to the frames. Paintings using more than one color will get graced by more than one stone.

Springtime in the Ozarks

Springtime in the Ozarks means trout lilies blooming.
Springtime in the Ozarks means trout lilies blooming.

Just in case I don’t get any pictures this year of the ephemerals, because springtime in the Ozarks sometimes has a tendency to knock the blooms down before I get to take their portraits, here’s a link from previous year.

The tour route for South x Southeast Art Tour 2019

South x Southeast Art Studio Tour

I’m thrilled and honored to be included as a vendor/artist for this art tour event. The Wild Ozark booth will be set up in the Education building at Terra Studios on March 30-31.

 

Print this flyer so you’ll know where all of the locations are. Here’s a link to an easy print 🙂 PRINT FLYER

Here’s the Facebook event page if you’d like to keep up with posts about this event. You can also learn more about the various participating artists here too.

Popup venue

Give Less, Give More – a Popup Show at the Johnson Mill

That’s the name of a sweet little venue that is popping up this weekend over at the Johnson Mill in Johnson, AR (between Springdale and Fayetteville.) Give Less, Give More is hosted by Good Acres Life, a local company owned by Mariette Spedale.

Give Less, Give More Popup venue at the Johnson Mill
Click to enlarge

Pick up some Paleo Paints or Paintings

I’ll be there with my latest collection of Paleo Paints and a bunch of prints and stickers made from my original Ozark earth colored paintings. You can find out more about the Soul of the Ozarks Collection No. 4 at my Paleo Paints blog. I just made a post that tells about each color and what rock or source it came from.

These are the colors and sources for Collection No. 4 in the Soul of the Ozarks Wild Ozark Paleo Paints.
These are the colors and sources for Collection No. 4 in the Soul of the Ozarks Wild Ozark Paleo Paints.

At the same venue there will be other makers and holistic healthy kinds of business owners to visit. The weather forecast calls for rain Friday night, but I think it’ll arrive later than 7 pm, when our event ends for the evening. Saturday is supposed to be brilliant weather.

So What is the Meaning of “Give Less, Give More”?

I’m not sure, but here’s my interpretation. Rather than give a lot of inexpensive items that most often find their way to the neglected corner of a stash in someone’s closet somewhere, give them something that may cost a little more but delivers far more in value. My paints are not inexpensive. The set of 6 colors above will cost $55. But it’s the sort of gift that will definitely be used and appreciated by anyone who loves nature and likes to paint with watercolors. These colors aren’t going to be on the shelf at your local art supply store. These are Ozark colors, reflecting the very soul of these mountains. So, if all give is this one gift, it will mean more than giving lots of other little things that might add up to the same bottom line. How would you interpret the meaning of that phrase?

Stickers, Prints, Note Cards, and Paints

I’ll have prints in 8 x 10 and 5 x 7, note cards, and stickers with these images. And I’ll have five sets of the Collection No. 4.

The creeks are nearly dry.

Nearly Dry

We’ve had some rain lately, but not enough. The creek that runs through our land is nearly dry now. Thankfully, there are still a few constantly refilling pools here and there, or else I’d have to carry water to the horses.

Even the spring puddles on the way to the back gate are completely dry. That rarely happens.

While the creeks are low it is a great time to look for pigment stones and arrowheads, though. I haven’t looked for arrowheads, but I have been collecting a lot of stones with colors I can’t wait to extract when I get back from a trip to the real desert.

It only feels like a desert here. The real desert awaits in Doha, Qatar. Photos will commence in a few days!

Nearly dry creek at Wild Ozark. This is the only source of water for my horses, but there are still pools constantly being refilled so they're alright.
There’s still a few refilling watering holes on the creek but it’s nearly dry now. Hope it rains good soon.

I’ve been trying to learn the new Photoshop and in this one I played with focus and color. Lots of learning still needed.

Map of Kingston, AR 72742

Kingston, Arkansas?

There are some hidden treasures in the Ozarks. The tiny little town of Kingston, Arkansas is one of them.

The town itself is tiny, consisting only of a simple square with a gazebo in the middle for the “downtown” portion and across the bridge heading north there is the school and a gas station. That comprises the “uptown”.

Last I knew, the population was around 500. But most of the people live in the hills surrounding Kingston. And in those hills are a lot of crafty and artistic folks! You’ll see evidence of that if you stop in at some of the businesses in town the next time you’re passing through on your way to Ponca or Boxley.

What kind of business, you ask? Well, we have antique stores, a cafe, a gas station, a feed store, an old bank still using the old setup (take a look inside it), and an art gallery.

I’ve noticed that only the antique stores are said in plural. That’s a dead ‘small town’ giveaway to let you know just how small a town it really is.

Kingston Square Arts shop in Kingston, Arkansas.
Kingston Square Arts shop in Kingston, Arkansas.

Kingston Square Arts Shop (KSA)

Here’s a sampling of the kinds of things that are at the store:

 

Where the Heck is Kingston, Arkansas?

You’ll easily find it heading north on Highway 21 from Clarksville, AR (off of I-40) or by heading south on 21 (off of Hwy 412).

If you’re heading to Boxley or Ponca, you’ll already be in the vicinity.

KSA

Hours are 10-6, Thursday through Sunday.

Other than in the physical shop, you can find KSA on Facebook and at the website (still working on that). I’m the web and social mistress of the shop, so I’ll often post pictures of the items Greg (the house potter) or Barb (the house fiber artist) is working on or interesting things in there that’s for sale, or new things that the artists and artisans bring in to sell.

If you spot anything you want, it’s okay if you’re not close enough to drop in. They ship! Just post on the image in the FB timeline to ask if it’s available and they’ll take it from there.

If you’d rather call, the phone number is (479) 665-2559. The address is 100 Public Square, Kingston, AR 72742.

If you’re worried you won’t be able to find it, don’t be. If you can find the town of Kingston, you’ll find the square. And if you can find the square, you’ll definitely find the shop. It’s the big white store on the corner across from the post office.

Want to see some other places? Aside from KSA there are other things worth a stop in our tiny town.

Grandpa’s Antique Store

Maybe the only shop open on Sunday’s, Grandpa’s Antique store is on the square, too. If you have a pot missing a lid, whether cast iron or not, I bet you can find one to fit in Grandpa’s. There’s a lot of antiques and collectibles housed in this historic building, too.

The Bank

The bank is also a historic building. Pretty much all of the buildings on the square are. Inside the bank you can see the old tin ceiling tiles and the old bank vault. Both are in the lobby.

Others

There’s also a cafe (Waldron Valley Cafe), Bargain Buddy (antiques) the library (very small by most standards, but much larger than it used to be!), another antique store, and a new feed store. There’s a gas station just off the square to the north that also serves food.

I’ve probably left something out, so if you’re reading this and want to mention another spot to stop in our town of Kingston, Arkansas, or talk about the history of Kingston, just leave a comment and let everyone know!

A joyful splash of color from the purple phlox blooming right now in the Ozarks.

Enjoy Nature: Phlox and Fiddleheads

Here’s a little inspiration to get outside on this beautiful sunny day and enjoy nature.

Phlox is blooming and casting joyful purple splashes all around the Wild Ozark hills and woods, and the fiddleheads are unfurling.

Enjoy nature - take a walk in the woods and you'll find these fiddleheads of the Christmas fern unfurling in spring.
Christmas fern fiddleheads.

Lodging near Kingston, AR... not many nearby, but lots of beautiful scenery in between! What's Not to Love? On the way to Wild Ozark.

What’s Not to Love?

I titled this photo “What’s Not to Love?” because I love (almost) everything about living back here in the middle of nowhere.

Heading home is always a pleasure. Once I turn off the pavement, the half hour it takes to get to my house from there is pure sensory overload. I drive very slowly, looking at scenery, plants, and animals the whole six miles. It helped a lot when I worked full time, because the slow drive back in allowed me to adjust my mindset before I reached the house.

While that need to go slowly wears on a lot of people’s nerves, it’s one of the perks of living here to me

What’s NOT to Love?

Dirt roads means bumpy roads. That means I need to go slow so I don’t tear up the vehicle. There are some people who hate to slow down long enough to travel such roads.

That is not my problem. I love going slow because it gives me time to see things I wouldn’t see if I were going faster. Like which plants are blooming and when.

When it snows and I get to be the first one driving through it – that sort of thing carries a special sort of thrill hard to find elsewhere. But mostly it’s about the things I see.  Like the bobcat crossing the road and being lazy about it because I’m not moving too quickly, or the sight of turkeys strutting out in the fields.

If I’m really lucky I’ll get to see a bear… oh wait. I forgot. I’m supposed to be talking about what’s NOT to love.

Back to the point

Heading away from home isn’t always fun if I have to be somewhere at a certain time. To get anywhere on time means I can’t stop and enjoy the scenery as much as I might like. So that’s one thing not to love, I guess.

I have to leave plenty early to get anywhere at all, actually. For example, being a farmer’s market vendor means I have to get set up before the market opens. At the Fayetteville market, I have to have my tent all ready to go by 0700.

It takes me about an hour to put it all together. It takes about an hour and a half to get there IF nothing delays me along the way. So to get there by 0600 I absolutely have to have the truck rolling by 0430. Before that can happen, several other things have to happen. So it means my day on Saturdays start at 0300.

So I guess you could say having to get up way too early to get anywhere else early is one of the only things on the list of what’s not to love so much.

There are a couple of other things I could point out if hard-pressed. For one, if you have to work away from home, the drive to and from that job will eat up about 3 or 4 hours of each workday.

Another thing is the distance to a hospital if you become sick or injured.

So there are some drawbacks, but for me the pros outweigh the cons.

What About You?

What kinds of things would you list about what’s not to love if your daily drive meant a few miles of that road pictured above?

There’s another post of mine that you’ll like if you enjoyed this one. It’s called Why it Takes Me an Hour to Drive 12 Miles to the Post Office... or something like that.

2018 Spring Awakening Watch – First Native Flowers of the Ozarks

It’s mid-March 2018 and I’m watching for the first native flowers of the Ozarks to start blooming. I particularly love the ephemeral blooms of early spring, like the bloodroot and Dutchmen’s breeches. Scroll down to see pictures and keep up with what’s blooming at Wild Ozark. If you’re looking specifically for the ginseng unfurling/blooming, you’ll find that on the Ginseng Unfurling Watch 2018 page.

Native Flowers of the Ozarks at Wild Ozark

3-26-18 The false rue anemone is blooming along the driveway. Farther from the house, down the road heading to pavement, I saw the bloodroot finally making an appearance. It’s not up yet here, but should be soon. Toothwort is abundant, corydalis still is blooming. The only photo I was able to get so far was of the false rue anemone, with my cell phone, and it didn’t come out well enough to bother posting it on the website. Once the rain clears out I’ll try to get down the driveway with the real camera.

3-20-18 Today I spotted one of my favorite spring flowers blooming along the roadside. So, while it’s not technically ‘at’ Wild Ozark, I consider it to be ‘Wild Ozark at-Large’, since it was only down the dirt roading leading here 🙂 Everything here is a week or two behind the surrounding area. We live in a little microclimate.

One of my favorite native flowers of the Ozarks, Pale Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum)
Pale Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum)

Not much else blooming yet at Wild Ozark proper, but I did find this Cutleaf Toothwort getting close.

Cutleaf Toothwort (Cardamine concatenate)
Cutleaf Toothwort (Cardamine concatenate)

3-18-18 Not a flower yet either, but the buds of the Redbud (Cercis canadensis) tree are swelling. The flowers are edible and make a colorful addition to salads. Here’s a  pic from this morning that I took while we were bringing hay to the horses. It’s a terrible pic, but the limbs were swaying and I didn’t have the good camera with me. I pulled a muscle in my back yesterday and moving around is a bit of a problem today, so it’s not likely I’ll be going back out there to get another photo before the flowers open, so this one is the best I’ll get for now. Next pic will be of flowers, not buds.

Redbud buds. The flowers bud out and bloom on this tree before the leaves even begin to swell.
Redbud buds. The flowers bud out and bloom on this tree before the leaves even begin to swell.

 

3-17-18 Not a flower, yet, but the first leaves of one of my favorite native flowers – Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum). When it blooms it too will be yellow. I’ll post the picture of it as soon as I see it.

Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)
Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)

3-15-18 Noticed that the Pale Corydalis (Corydalis flavula) is blooming along our morning mile hike route. Of course I didn’t have my camera with me to capture it. Today we have appointments in town and tomorrow is the first market day of the season. So unless I can get out there this afternoon before it’s too dark for a photo, it’ll be a few days before one shows up here! (update – got a pic, see below!) The flowers are small and yellow with foliage that looks a lot like Dutchmen’s Breeches (ferny and dissected). It’s a relatively small plant and is one of the first native flowers of the Ozarks to bloom. If not for the bright yellow color of the flowers, it would be easy to miss. Corydalis grows in the shady edges of the woods.

The one pictured below is growing in a bright sunny spot that opened up when we had more of the landslide come down this past winter. It’s not happy in full sun, though. I’ll probably move the ones located here to pots for the nursery.

Corydalis belongs to the same Family as poppies. Like poppies, Corydalis is full of alkaloids, compounds which usually mark a plant as being medicinally active. It was used by native Americans and early American doctors, however, the plant is toxic and even small doses can cause tremors and convulsions. This could be caused by incorrect preparations (i.e. water extract versus alcohol or oil), but it’s not one I’m inclined to experiment with and I can’t recommend it as a native medicinal option. According to the reports I’ve read, the way native Americans used it was to burn the plant on coals and fan themselves with the smoke. It was said to “clear the head“. I haven’t found any references to explain what that means or how it worked.

Yellow Corydalis (Corydalis flavula) is one of the first of the native flowers to bloom at Wild Ozark.
Yellow Corydalis (Corydalis flavula) is one of the first of the native flowers to bloom at Wild Ozark.

3-8-18 Usually the first plants to show signs of life with blooms here are the Vernal Witch Hazel (Hamamelis vernalis). These sometimes bloom as early as January and February. This year they bloomed in March.

Vernal Witch Hazel flowers
Vernal Witch Hazel flowers

American Hazelnut(Corylus americana) is blooming right now too:

Male flowers of the American hazelnut (Corylus americana)
Male flowers of the American hazelnut (Corylus americana)

I’m watching for bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), cutleaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata), and Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
to show up soon. None yet when I checked yesterday, though (Mar 13). Add this page to your RSS feed or check back often to see what’s blooming next!

What’s your favorite flowers of the Ozarks?

What’s the Difference between Native and Ornamental?

Native flowers grow in the area naturally. They are plants that evolved with the local habitats. Ornamental plants are imported, hybridized or modified in some way to highlight the showy features of the plant. Unless you’re shopping specifically for a native plant, at a nursery you’ll most likely get something that originated elsewhere. Nurseries stock plants most likely to sell to the public and often that is a bright, showy flower. Some nurseries, like Wild Ozark, specializes in native plants. We specialize even further – native woodland plants of the American ginseng habitat. I’ll start bringing plants to the market in April, so keep an eye on the calendar if you want to know where to find the booth.

‘Naturalized’ plants are mostly foreign plants that found their way to new habitats here in the US a long time ago. Some were brought with the settlers, some purposefully and some accidentally. These plants adapted so well to the environment that they began out-competing the native plants. Japanese honeysuckle and Chinese privet are two examples of this type of plant. Autumn (or Russian) Olive is a third.

The hazelnut and husk, straight from the tree.

Vernal Witch Hazel Flowers and Hazelnut too!

Today I went out to take cuttings from the Ozark Witch Hazel in the hopes of rooting them. I wasn’t looking for an American Hazelnut, but that’s what I found! I found the Witch Hazels, too. But I already knew those were there. New finds are always so exciting to me, but I think most people probably think I’m a little strange to be so thrilled over finding a  plant.

While I was scanning the creeksides for the witch hazel blooms, I happened to notice a small tree/large shrub on the uphill side of the road. On the opposite side of where I knew the witch hazels to be. From a distance, it looked a lot like it was covered with the American hazelnut male flowers that I saw on Steven Foster’s FB post the other day. My heart beat a little faster and I got out to take a closer look.

American Hazelnut (Corylus americana)

Sure enough, there were the ‘catkin’ male flowers.

Male flowers of the American hazelnut (Corylus americana)
Male flowers of the American hazelnut (Corylus americana)

And teeny tiny little fushia colored flowers at the ends of some of the branches. The flowers are very similar in appearance to the witch hazel, just a different color and a LOT smaller. I couldn’t get a good photo of them, but here’s what I have:

Male and female flower of the American hazelnut. The female is that tiny little frilly thing at the tip end of the branch.
Male and female flower of the American hazelnut. The female is that tiny little frilly thing at the tip end of the branch.

Now, to see MUCH better photos, take a look at Foster’s.

I poked around in the bushes for a bit and found one of the hazelnut shrubs that still had a leftover nut on it. The nut was tremendous in comparison to the small ones produced by the witch hazels, but it is still a fairly small nut compared to the ones you’d buy in the stores around Christmastime.

Smallish or not, I’d be willing to crack and shell them if I could gather enough. In fall, the new crop of nuts will be on the tree and you can bet I’ll be there trying to get them before the wildlife.

The hazelnut and husk, straight from the tree.
The hazelnut and husk, straight from the tree.

 

Surprise, Surprise

I’ve lived here 13 years now and never noticed this small tree. I know it’s been there longer than I’ve lived here.

It always surprises me when that happens. I just this year saw the biggest beech tree I’ve ever seen out here and it obviously has been there fifty years or more. Same thing happened with a deciduous magnolia. Found it, for the first time, last year right on the side of a trail I commonly use, and it too has been there probably fifty years.

Who knows how many more as-yet undiscovered plants are out there waiting on me?

Vernal Witch Hazel

The Vernal Witch Hazels are also known as Ozark Witch Hazels (Hamamelis vernalis). They bloom in late winter or very early spring (hence, the ‘vernal’ part of their common name). We have another variety called simply ‘Witch Hazel’ (H. virginiana) that blooms around October. Those have yellow flowers. The vernal ones have maroon and yellow flowers.

I think I almost missed the blooms on these this year. Or maybe they’re just getting started. I’ll have to check again in a day or two and see if the flowers are more developed, or completely withered.

Vernal Witch Hazel flowers
Vernal Witch Hazel flowers

I don’t really do anything with the Witch Hazel medicinally. They’re good for making an astringent wash to treat hemorrhoids and they make a good facial tonic. I just like the flowers and it’s one of my annual ritual photos I like to take to mark the passing of time. If in the future I need to use them for a remedy, I know where to find them.

When I finished getting my pictures, I took some cuttings and will try rooting them to see if I can make new plants from them. I tried this last year, but it didn’t work. Ever the optimist – that’s me. I’ll keep trying.

Have you ever tried eating the American Hazelnuts or using the Witch Hazel? Let me know how it went. When I was a teenager I used to use the Witch Hazel tonic for acne, but I’m not even sure they still sell it on the shelf like they used to do way back when.

More Information

Hazelnut: https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/american-hazelnut

 

Relics of seasons past - a wild hydrangea flower

Relics of Seasons Past

I went in search of harbingers of spring but found only sepia colored relics of seasons past.

Relics

Relics of seasons past.
Not sure what the flower is, but it makes a pretty relic.

 

Relics of seasons past - a wild hydrangea flower
This is one of my favorites – a dried wild hydrangea flower from last season.

 

What's left of the flowers from last season at Wild Ozark
Dried flower heads with a bit of Badger’s hair. He passes this way on his guard patrol.

 

Pretty dried grass seed head at Wild Ozark
Pretty dried grass seed head at Wild Ozark

 

Dried grasses at Wild Ozark
I love the color of dried grasses, and especially like the little bits of fluff in the junctions. I believe this is Little Bluestem, one of our native grasses.

The harbinger of spring is one of the earliest blooming native wildflowers here at Wild Ozark. Others of us plant-watchers have been reporting seeing them, so I thought just maybe I’d find one too. But I wasn’t disappointed in the day’s collection of pretty images. Even if they’re not harbingers.


This post was originally published in Feb 2016. I really liked this one, so decided to run it again this year.

An Exploration of our Wild Ozark Bluff

Yesterday we took the day off from our usual daily work and hiked around Ozark bluff that follows our driveway. Every time we travel to and from the house, we look at it and comment that we’d like to get out there and explore a bit sometime.

Exploring the Driveway Ozark Bluff

This one isn’t that far off the driveway and not much of a climb to reach it, even. We’re just always too busy on our way to or from doing something else. In the winter, great icicles cling and span for sometimes many feet as the water dripping from a spring freezes on its journey groundward.

This day was not too cold, though, and yet not so warm that the snakes would be active. No ticks, either. Perfect weather for a little walkabout at the bluff!

 

Looking for critters in our Wild Ozark bluff
Rob looking for critters.

Signs of Life

I like looking at all the signs of life and trying to figure out who and what lives and travels where. There’s a whole story of life here, a hidden society of wood rats, chipmunks, bobcats, foxes and skunks. Probably others, too.

A critter hole, entrance to a home for some small animal.
A critter hole, entrance to a home for some small animal.

Signs of life are everywhere, though we didn’t see any of the residents. I wondered if they hid just out of sight, watching us and wondering what we were doing in their world.

A well-worn path.
There’s a well-worn path between the two trees, to the right of the left tree.

Droppings from an out of sight Ozark bluff critter. Maybe chipmunk.
Droppings from an out of sight Ozark bluff critter. Maybe chipmunk.

 

A nest of sticks and twigs. Probably a big wood rat, lol.
A nest of sticks and twigs. Probably a big wood rat, lol.

 

Dirt Dauber mud homes, still occupied. Did you know these insects collect mostly spiders to feed their young?
Dirt Dauber mud homes, still occupied. Did you know these insects collect mostly spiders to feed their young?

Not all of the life forms were animals. A few plants are still green, or at least *living* at this time of year, too.

Bronzed by the frost, but still thriving.
Bronzed by the frost, but still thriving.

 

Another not quite green but still alive. This is either rattlesnake or grape fern. I can never tell the difference until they “bloom”.

We have both northern and southern maidenhair fern here at Wild Ozark, but they grow in two different locations. I find the southern all over the shady rocky bluff and the northern in the more moist and shady habitats where the ginseng likes to grow.

I find these ferns often in the Ozark bluffs. Adiantum capillaris-veneris L., Southern maidenhair fern. Trying to poke itself out into the light from underneath some rock layers.
Adiantum capillaris-veneris L., Southern maidenhair fern. Trying to poke itself out into the light from underneath some rock layers.

Signs of Past Life

And then there were signs of things that once lived or moved on to different phases in life.

A vacant dirt dauber nest.

Not too recently departed snail.
Not too recently departed snail.

A find on our exploration of the bluffs. An empty cliff swift nest made from mud and bits of hornet's nests.
An empty cliff swift nest made from mud and bits of hornet’s nests.

 

A tree that once lived here.
A tree that once lived here.

Textures and Layers

My favorite thing to notice and photograph out here is the texture. There are so many layers and shapes in the Ozark bluff. Rocks layered on top of shale, all of it made from sediment many thousands of years ago. The Ozarks aren’t really “mountains”. They’re ocean bottom. Dissected plateaus from the bottom of an ocean that existed even before the dinosaurs.

Odd Bumps and Formations

Wavy bumps
Wavy bumps

 

Bumpy ceiling bumps.
Bumpy ceiling bumps.

 

Weird iron oxide bumps.
Weird iron oxide bumps.

Hiking Partner

Bobbie Sue is over 10 years old now, but she still likes to join us on our hikes.
Bobbie Sue is over 10 years old now, but she still likes to join us on our Ozark bluff hikes.

 

Happy New Year

May 2017 be all you hope for. After we finished with the hike, we got all gussied up in our swashbuckler costumes and took some cool photos. Here’s my favorite. How did you spend New Year’s Eve and what’s on the list for 2017?

the Wild Ozark duo, having fun.
the Wild Ozark duo, having fun.

Hiking to the Wild Ozark Corner Bluff

A while back, I posted about our exploration of the bluffs along the driveway. This time we went hiking to what I call the “Corner Bluff”.

It’s not far away, either, but takes a bit of effort. Getting to this one is fairly difficult if approached from the ground level, so instead of climbing up, we took the 4-wheeler to the top of the mountain and hiked down to it.

Most of our hiking trips are short ones carried out right here at home, because we have so many places on our own property that we haven’t explored. Here’s a great compilation about long hiking trails in the USA for those who enjoy extended adventures on foot.

The photos below are from our hike to the Corner Bluff.

We saw Mossy ledges while hiking to the Corner Bluff.
Mossy Ledges

What makes it a Corner Bluff?

I call it that because it exists on a topographical corner of a mountain that’s partially on our plot of land. It’s not at the corner of our property, which is a square in theory, but on a physical corner of a mountain.

Rocks and Walls

There are big boulders and tall walls in this spot.

A really tall rock. Had to get on the ground to get the top in the frame.
A really tall rock. Had to get on the ground to get the top in the frame.

 

Rob standing on the ledge of one of the walls. Helps to give you an idea for size context.
Rob standing on the ledge of one of the walls. Helps to give you an idea for size context.

Some of the rocks in one of the areas look like faces, complete with eyes, noses and mouths. I didn’t get any good pics of those, but I did a while back on one of our other hiking trips in 2011 or 2010. If I can find the pictures I’ll post them later.

Green even Mid-winter

Ferns growing in very little soil
Ferns growing in very little soil.

 

Moss and lichens on the rocks
Moss and lichens on the rocks.

 

Fruiting bodies on the moss collect the morning's fog droplets
Fruiting bodies on the moss collect the morning’s fog droplets.

 

The moss acted like a sponge. Water drained slowly down the rock bluffs through the moss. We don’t usually go hiking without bringing water, and the sight of all of it percolating made me even thirstier.

If the thirst became too terrible, I suppose we could have gathered enough sips from the moss to save our lives in an emergency.

Moss covered wall at the Corner Bluff
Moss covered wall at the Corner Bluff

Trees

This twisted little tree is growing on top of the rock.
This twisted little tree is growing on top of the rock.

A tree skeleton full of texture, shades and lines. I love tree skeletons almost as much as the living ones.
A tree skeleton full of texture, shades and lines. I love tree skeletons almost as much as the living ones.

 

This gigantic oak is growing underneath and between the rocks. I can only imagine how far the roots must go between the layers in order to hold it up.

Fav Hiking Finds: Nooks and Crannies

My favorite things are the hidden places like this nook between the rocks.
My favorite things are the hidden places like this cranny between the rocks.

 

Rob seems to particularly like looking in the nooks where critters like bears and bobcats could be sleeping.
Rob seems to particularly like looking in the nooks where critters like bears and bobcats could be sleeping.

Odd Rocks

This rock looks just like a knob for a cabinet pull on the face of one of the bluff walls.
This rock looks just like a knob for a cabinet pull on the face of one of the bluff walls. I didn’t pull on it for fear of breaking it off.

 

We don't have much limestone on our property, but this does look like it has a lot of calcium/magnesium because of the holes. Most of our rocks are sandstone.
We don’t have much limestone on our property, but this does look like it has a lot of calcium/magnesium because of the holes. Most of our rocks are sandstone.

 

This rock wasn't at the bluff but we saw it earlier on our way to the bluff. The rocks in that spot have a lot of iron veins in them. Odd-looking, huh?
This rock wasn’t at the bluff but we saw it earlier on our way to the bluff. The rocks in that spot have a lot of iron veins in them. Odd-looking, huh?

Getting Back to the Top

It’s funny how you don’t notice how far you’ve gone when you’re walking down hill or over the sides of walls until it’s time to go back to the top. I was worn out by the time we had the 4-wheeler back in sight.

Hope you enjoyed the photo-essay of our rock bluff exploration!

Unrelated Note

I heard spring peepers yesterday and this morning. It’s the middle of January. I should not be hearing spring peepers.

Guest Post: A Nature Enthusiast’s Guide to Southwest Missouri

A note from Madison: I get many requests by content providers to do guests posts here on the Wild Ozark blog. Most of the time, the subject matter isn’t closely related enough to nature or any of the site topics. However, southwest Missouri is a destination for folks all over the Ozarks and British Solomon’s post is a good fit.


A Nature Enthusiast’s Guide to Southwest Missouri

Though many people are familiar with St. Louis and the Mississippi River, there is a lot more to Missouri. The southwestern part of Missouri is filled with numerous recreational activities, including a wide range of outdoor adventures. In southwest Missouri, the Great Plains meet the Ozarks. This mix of terrain and plentiful access to public lands makes the area an ideal destination for the nature lover. Though it isn’t possible to list every site of interest in the area, here is a look at a few of the area’s outdoor attractions.

Roaring River State Park

As its name implies, Roaring River State Park is home to a fast-moving river that sweeps through the park. The park is home to 3 separate campgrounds (with another one nearby). The campgrounds have a mix of sites for campers using tents and RVs of different sizes. Roaring River also offers a lodge for overnight guests as well as rental cabins. Roaring River State Park is one of the few state parks in Missouri to be stocked with trout, making it an ideal destination for the avid angler.

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is a 10,000 acre park that offers many different activities for visitors. The park offers tram tours, horseback riding, hiking and biking trails and much more. Much of the park is handicap accessible so everyone can enjoy the scenery and wildlife. Park visitors can expect to see elk, bison, waterfalls and lots of peace and quiet.

Dogwood Canyon, Branson
(Picture courtesy of Dogwood Canyon Nature Park)

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
(Picture courtesy of Dogwood Canyon Nature Park)

Table Rock Lake

Table Rock Lake is one of the most visited sites in southwest Missouri. The flood control dam provides many water based recreational activities. Boating, fishing and water skiing are some of the more popular activities. Table Rock is served by a number of marinas, restaurants and other related businesses. Sky Harbor Resort is a waterfront resort built on Table Rock Lake with its own private dock for guests to enjoy. Table Rock State Park provides other recreational options and more accommodations, so you never have to leave the beautiful scenery.

Neosho Bicentennial Park

Southwest Missouri is dotted with little gems that are easily overlooked. The city of Neosho is home to the Neosho Bicentennial Park. The park offers a meandering bike trail that mountain bikers will love. Prairie State Park, located near Missouri’s border with Kansas, offers visitors from the east an up-close look at the topography of the Great Plains. The park is home to native grasses, bison, cactus and other plants and wildlife indigenous to the area.

These are just a few of the outdoor recreation spots in southwest Missouri. The area is well served by Interstates 44 and 49, making the region easy to reach for those looking to enjoy the area’s natural beauty.

© 2018 British Solomon

British Solomon is a contributing writer and media specialist for Sky Harbor Resort. She regularly produces content for a variety of travel and lifestyle blogs.

sun sparkles on water

Sun Sparkles

On this day in 2015, we had snow and sun sparkles. So far this year it’s been unseasonably warm and no snow so far. That could change this weekend, though – snow is in the forecast!

Since we haven’t had any this year yet, I’m rerunning the photos from a couple of years ago.

Sun Sparkles in Winter

Sun sparkles in winter enchant me like sirens calling sailors to the rocks. The moments when these occur are the result of perfect synchronization, the synergism of all five elements: wind, fire, earth, water and spirit. They do not come when summoned, appearing only when conditions are right and only appreciated by those who heed the call to notice.

A Collection of My Favorite Photos

You can find twenty of my enchanting Ozark photos all in one place by purchasing my new ebook at Amazon and other retailers for only $1.99.

Most of the photos I shoot, or at least the ones I really like, are also scattered throughout this website and they’re completely free if you want to browse around to find them.

The ebook just rounds up some of my favorites and puts them in a format pleasing to view on tablets and other e-readers. I haven’t tried it on a phone yet, but if you do, let me know how it looks.

 

sun sparkles and snow in creek

sun sparkles on water

more sun sparkles

Through Ice and Mud We Go – Bringing Hay to Horses

Through Ice and Mud. Ice in the spring puddles on the way to the top gate in the horse's field.
Ice in the spring puddles on the way to the top gate in the horse’s field.

Through Ice and Mud

Whether through ice and mud, or snow, or rain or wind, kind of like the postman’s creed to deliver mail, we must deliver hay to the horses.

It’s easy to stay in touch with the wheel of time when you repeat a certain activity outdoors throughout the year. I like this facet of living out here.

I’m sure everyone everywhere has a similar regular activity that would allow them to notice the passage of time and seasons, but how many take note?

Why does it matter?

It’s so easy to get caught up in a frenetic life these days. As for myself, I’m get overwhelmed with too many irons in the fire. I have a tendency to be a workaholic. Even though what I do for a living is creative and I enjoy it, I still manage to get disconnected from the baseline that’s important to me.

When the list of things to do gets so long there’s no end in sight, a simple reconnection to nature helps me to feel more centered and grounded.

Noticing

Taking note of the changing seasons is one way I get reconnected on a regular basis. No matter whether the weather is typical or atypical, being outside brings me into close contact with the passage of time throughout a year.

Our winter this year seems to have taken a long time to arrive. When the ice begins to skim the spring puddles, getting out there to experience it is a physical connection to the fact that it is indeed winter now.

I can’t explain very effectively how this helps, but it does. It satisfies something in me on a deep and personal level to make this connection to nature.

Reconnecting and Getting Back on Task

After playing for a little while in the ice and mud while bringing the hay to the horses this morning, I came back inside and organized my daily list of things to do with better focus on the task.

So it was a small thing, but the blast of cold helped. Stopping along the way to break some ice in the puddle wasn’t necessary. It was just for the fun of it. I like seeing the glassy shards of clear spring water. I took some pictures and immersed in the moment.

Year round I do similar things. Every time I begin to feel anxious about not getting enough done, I make a special effort to get outside and make contact with the world around me.

My World

The world around me is nearly wilderness. I like this. Ice and mud in spring puddles please me in strange ways, I guess. Perhaps it is a thing that appeals to my inner child. But if I lived in a city, I’m sure I’d find some other way to make this contact meaningful.

If you notice the little things in your surroundings, is there anything special that you do to facilitate that connection? Do you stop and savor the moments like this throughout your year?

The Color of Cherry Leaves | Ozark Backroads Collection

These cherry leaves were such a brilliant golden yellow. They shined like a beacon in an otherwise bleak and dreary landscape.

"Cherry Leaves in Late Fall"
“Cherry Leaves in Late Fall”

Glad I brought the real camera along for the ride to town yesterday. I think this would make a nice large-sized print for an office somewhere. If you happen to have such a space to occupy, let me know 🙂

I’m going to make a collection of my favorite photos from the Ozark Backroads as a category on my blog. This is the first one going in the category. Eventually you’ll be able to just click on the category and see all of them in one stream of posts.

A photographer friend of mine, Janet Webb, did a similar treatment of a thistle head the other day and her photo inspired my treatment of the cherry tree.

Last of the Fall Colors 2017

I spent a little time down the road today trying to capture the last of the fall colors for the year. The wind has been gusting pretty hard and many of the leaves have fallen.

It seems that every year, just as the colors reach the height of their glory, the winds come and strip it all away. Like the frost flowers, peak color is ephemeral. Gotta catch it when opportunity strikes because in twenty-four hours, it could all be gone.

Not many words to this post today, just some nature beauty for you to enjoy 🙂

Felkins Creek showing the last of the fall color
Felkins Creek

Another view of Felkins Creek.
Another view of Felkins Creek.

Felkins Creek yet again.
Felkins Creek yet again.

One last view of Felkins Creek.
One last view of Felkins Creek.

Well, no, there's Felkins Creek again on the side of the road heading out.
Well, no, there’s Felkins Creek again on the side of the road heading out.

Can't hardly see it, but there it is again on the way back in.
Can’t hardly see it, but there it is again on the way back in.

An old homestead that belongs to the neighbors.
An old homestead that belongs to the neighbor.

The old shed to go with the old homestead.
The old shed to go with the old homestead.

Fall Colors 2107. Almost back to the house. Still have to pass over Felkins Creek one last time.
Almost back to the house. Still have to pass over Felkins Creek one last time.

 

How to Find Ginseng? First look for the right habitat.

Want to know how to find ginseng? Look for the right habitat. The easiest way to do that is to look for companion plants. If you’re looking for information about WHEN you can plant ginseng, then this article might be more helpful: When Can You Plant Ginseng.


SPRING Today is March 20 and it’s either the first day of spring or nearly time for equinox. Here at Wild Ozark, not too much is blooming in the ginseng habitats yet. However, it’s still a good time of year to look around and find the woodlands most likely right for planting, growing, or stewarding wild American ginseng.

It’s easy to see where the hillsides stay shady. Look for the carpet moss and Christmas ferns. Stay away from woods that are full of cat briers or wild rose unless you’re in the mood to do a lot of work keeping them cut back until the forest canopy blocks the light more.

Things you’ll soon see in the ginseng habitats include blooms of the following flowers: Cutleaf toothwort, Bloodroot, Trillium, Trout Lily, and Spicebush. Where these flowers bloom it’s likely to be good ground for ginseng.

Wild ginseng will start unfurling here after the bloodroot blooms. Usually I’ll find seedlings unfurling sometime around mid-April. This year a friend of mine has reported hers are already starting to rise and it’s not even end of March yet. That’s really early. There’s still time to plant bare-root seedlings if you have them or seeds if you can do it without damaging the already sprouted ones. Soon it’ll be time to plant out transplants or find places to hold them in the woods until fall.

I’ll have seedlings at the Huntsville (AR) farmer’s market and the Fayetteville (AR) market beginning in May. This year I’ll also try shipping them, but if the first attempts result in damaged or unhealthy plants, only local pickup will be available. I’ll refund any damaged orders. Use the button below to pay for reserved plants to pick up later in May, or to mail-order plants that will be shipped in May. (More information is on that page).

Buy your first year ginseng seedlings from Wild Ozark

FALL September 20 2017 – It’s full-swing harvest season now, and plenty of you are out in the woods looking for ginseng.

I hope you’re either on your own property or have permission from the landowner, wherever you are.

In some of the locations where ginseng is native, the berries are red and this makes spotting the plant from a distance a little easier. The plants begin to take on a yellowish color, too, which is another visual aid.

However, in other locations, plants may already be past the fruiting stage with only a red berry clinging here and there. Although the plants may be yellowing, they may already have dropped some leaves or bugs have eaten some of them, making it harder to know if the plant you see is actually ginseng.

Be good stewards

A short version summarizing my idea of sustainable harvest plan is farther down on this page.

Many people are asking where exactly can they find or go to dig ginseng.  If you’re asking that question, you probably won’t like the answer.

Please Note

Legal season for digging for ginseng is Sept. 1 through Dec. 1. If you have the proper habitat, I encourage you to plant wild-simulated ginseng using seeds from as local as possible a source. We usually plant our seeds in fall before it gets too cold.

How to Find Ginseng?

First look for the right habitat. Look for the kinds of places it likes to grow.

Where does ginseng grow?

Ginseng grows in moist deciduous forests of eastern North America, but only in locations that provide the perfect combination of deep shade, moist loamy soil, and the right mix of trees. It loves the north-facing slopes, but also grows on east, west, and rarely on south-facing slopes. Most often it likes the lower third of a slope, generally not the mountain tops. Here’s a map from the USDA (the map doesn’t seem to be working at the moment, but the link is correct) that shows where it grows in the United States.

If you want to know if your state allows the harvest of ginseng, you can check to see if it’s on the map here. If not, then there are no regulations, which often means there is no legal way to do it. You’d have to contact the Plant Board or your local USDA office to ask more questions.

Where EXACTLY can I find ginseng?

You probably won’t like the answer. No one is going to tell you where you can go to find a specific patch of ginseng. The reason why is because if someone knows the plant well enough to tell you where it is, they’ll also know it’s endangered and easily exterminated from a single site. That person usually is either digging and maintaining the patch for themselves, or is protecting/stewarding the site so it can continue to thrive.

If you don’t have property of your own with suitable habitat, or know someone else with the proper conditions, you probably won’t have anywhere to dig or grow. Some states might allow digging on public lands, but many don’t. Arkansas does not.

So if you are someone who just became interested in digging some ‘sang to make some money from the roots, you’re most likely out of luck.

However, if:

  • you have land (your own or a friend’s) & you want to know if ginseng is present or could be
  • you’re looking to buy property and want to know if it contains good habitat
  • you’re working with others to build a sanctuary

Then the rest of this post might be very helpful to you.

Keep an eye on my 2017 Ginseng Prices page if you want to stay abreast of current digger/dealer prices. You can read the 2016 price watch here.

Start Broad – Look for the Ginseng Indicator Plants

If you want to know how to find ginseng, first learn to find proper habitat.

Increase your odds

Check the USDA map to see if ginseng grows, or has ever grown, in the area of interest. For example, if you live in Arizona, it is highly unlikely that you will ever successfully grow this plant. If you want to try, then you’ll have to recreate the kind of habitat that supports it.

Shade and moisture

First look for mature trees. The following are present in the areas I’ve found ginseng:

  • maple
  • redbud
  • pawpaw
  • oak
  • hickory
  • poplar
  • dogwood
  • cedar

It needs to NOT be all oak/hickory/cedar/pine. Ginseng will grow on any slope. North-facing is best, but it’ll grow facing any direction if the shade and moisture are right. It is most often right on north-facing slopes. There are sometimes “folds” on south-facing slopes that create mini-habitats on the north-facing inside of the fold.

Found the right forest?

Once you have the right kind of trees and good moisture that comes from the right shade, then look for companion plants.

Companion plants

It’s good to know the companions because ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) can be a difficult plant to spot. If you’re out looking for ginseng, you’ll know to look harder if you’ve already spotted the companions. The plant seems to show itself to some but not to others. I’ve spoken to many people who have never found it on their own even though they stood side-by-side with someone else who could point it out to them. I’m that way when it comes to hunting morel mushrooms. I cannot find them, even if I look exactly in the right kinds of spots. According to people who find them, morels have their own kinds of companion plants (and trees). During spring morel hunts, my friends come back with bags of gathered morels and I stand there empty-handed. Not so with ginseng. I can find that one!

Finding the clues: Ginseng Companion or Indicator Plants

In one of my other posts about ginseng, I talked about choosing the best site to plant. Those tips can also help you find ginseng if you’re hunting it. And here’s a post that might help explain why you’re not finding it. Here’s another page that shows the ginseng plant as a seedling, two-prong, three- and four-prong, if you’d like to see how it looks as it gets more mature.

♥ Ginseng indicator plants, also called companion plants, are those plants, shrubs and trees that like to grow in the same sort of environment as ginseng. They keep the same company because they require the same habitat.

Wild Ozark Resources

  • Here’s a post with photos to answer the question “How does ginseng look in fall?”.
  • Here’s a post where you can see how ginseng looks from spring through late fall on my page Ginseng Through the Seasons.
  • If you like art, you might enjoy my sketch of “Ginseng in May”.
  • For a general post on what a ginseng plant looks like, go here.
  • If you have questions about ginseng that aren’t answered in this post, try my page on Questions About Ginseng.
  • And if you were confounded by look-alikes all season last year and want a little help, check out my latest book “Ginseng Look-Alikes”.

Finding the first ginseng plant

When I first go out to the woods, even in a place I know has ginseng, I have a difficult time spotting the first ginseng plant. They have a way of growing that makes them hard to see, but once you’ve found the first one it’s easier to find more. I think the first one somehow trains the eyes to see that form. It’s like this every time I go out. I have to find one first, then the rest become easier to see.

image of how to find ginseng
See how the ginseng plant has a horizontal form?

 

Poster available from Wild Ozark's RedBubble shop. https://www.redbubble.com/people/wildozark/works/22874980-american-ginseng?p=poster&finish=semi_gloss&size=large
47″ x 27″ Poster available from Wild Ozark’s RedBubble Shop for $32.66.

If you’re scouting woods for likely places to either plant or find it, here are a few of the companion plants you’ll want to keep an eye out for. They’re much easier to find than ginseng itself. Look for goldenseal, black cohosh, pawpaw trees, American spikenard, virginia snakeroot, bloodroot, blue cohosh and wild ginger.

Photos of the companions

Here’s some of the ones I see most often around here in the Ozarks:


Want More Ginseng or Companion Plant Pictures?

link to ginseng category

There’s lots of photos on this blog if you’d like to just browse around a bit. Click on the “Ginseng Blog Posts” icon to get all of the posts that mention ginseng.


 

A Note about Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is NOT an indicator plant. In fact, if you see too much of it, it’s an indicator that there is probably too much sunlight in that location.

Poison ivy recently moved in and choked out a good ginseng habitat on our property. Before the ice storm of 2009, there was dense shade in that little holler. During the ice storm many of the trees fell and tops were snapped off, which then let in much more sunlight than had been there prior. And that’s what allowed the poison ivy to grow so densely there. It has taken nearly five years for the forest to recover to a point where the shade has returned to proper density.

Natural Setbacks

The ginseng suffered and much of it died or went dormant because lost trees opened a gap to direct sunlight for too many hours per day. Most of the ginseng companion plants can tolerate more sunlight than ginseng.

Maidenhair and Christmas ferns can tolerate more shade than can ginseng. But the ivy can also tolerate shade and thus it is still there even as the tree’s limbs have stretched to fill in the canopy.

If we avoid more ice storms, it’ll eventually fade back toward the brighter areas and leave the deep shade alone. With a little help from the companions, you’ll be able to find suitable habitat for one of our greatest natural treasures, wild American Ginseng. The knowledge you gain will help you become a better conservationist if you choose to grow your own “virtually wild” ginseng rather than dig the wild.

Practice Ethical Hunting and Harvesting, and Consider Growing Your Own

♥ Ginseng has a legal harvest season. Ethical practices will help the plant to continue in the wild.

 

Please follow the laws of your state regarding how and when to harvest. For the state of Arkansas, those rules are here (it’s a PDF file). I also go over specific practices to help the plant survive in my book Sustainable Ginseng. You might wonder why someone who conserves the wild ginseng wants to hunt it.

Except when our personal stash is low, when I find wild ginseng (in season), I don’t dig it. I record where I found it and observe the habitat, photograph the plants and environment.

Why I study

I use the information I gather to become more successful at growing it and I share what I’ve learned with my blog and book readers. From the plants I’ve seeded on our property, I also plant the ripe berries and redistribute them to places I want to establish new colonies. (Never gather all of the seeds of a plant, and never dig without planting the seeds.)

To know where to plant, it helps to know the preferred habitat of ginseng. My hope is that you’ll become interested in growing wild-simulated ginseng, and for that you’ll need to know the kinds of places ginseng likes to grow.

♥ Wild-simulated, or virtually wild ginseng, is simply the practice of planting seeds and allowing them to grow naturally.

A Summary of Sustainable Practice for Wild-Simulated

No tilling, no fertilizing, no weeding (except perhaps in the beginning to clear out underbrush). Then in 7-10 years, begin a sustainable plan for harvesting.

That plan would include taking no more than 50% of the seed-bearing plants from each colony, and only a small portion of the oldest plants. Always replant the seeds from those plants in the original area.

This harvest plan would also be what I consider to be a good way to “steward” the wild if you intend to harvest it when you find it.



Other Ginseng Posts You Might Like

ginseng with red berries

If you have questions, please leave a comment or use the Contact link in the menu to get in touch. I’m always happy to help if I can.

If you found this post useful, please share by posting the link to Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social center. If you want to stay posted on what’s going on with Wild Ozark, sign up for my monthly newsletter. Next year I’ll start doing slide show presentations around the area and those will be announced through the list as well. You will not receive my regular blog posts through this announcement list.

Just a few Photos of Butterflies, Kings River, and a Ginseng

Not enough time to make a decent post lately, so figured I’d at least put up a few of the photos I’ve taken in the past few days of August. Click on them to make them larger.

Kings River, Looking at Rocks and Evading the Rain

Rain's a'coming. Kings River with stormclouds and backlighting.
Rain’s a’coming.

We hiked around a few gravel bars along Kings River yesterday.

Wild Ozark is not far from the headwaters of this locally important waterway, but other than what we see from the window as we drive over the several bridges that cross it on the way to town, we haven’t explored much of it.

Where to Go

Most of it runs through private property, and so is inaccessible.  By canoe would be the best way to see some of the stretches of this river that you can’t see from the roads.

There are a few public put-in points for canoers farther downstream from the little town of Kingston, the closest being the Marble Access point

The Kings River Falls Natural Area is at the headwaters. I made a blog post with photos from a hike I made there in January a couple of years ago. It’s very popular most of the year, and in summer is appreciated for deep swimming holes and cold water in gorgeous surroundings.

Rocks, Rocks, and More Rocks

Rocks are a prominent landscape feature everywhere in the Ozarks, but especially in the creeks and rivers. Very little sand or mud and lots and lots of rocks.

For a rockhound, this is paradise. From a strategic point of view, though, it’s troublesome. Pockets can only hold so many rocks and a person can only carry so many larger ones in hand before difficult choices have to be made.

I suppose if everyone carried out two pockets of rocks, we might eventually make a dent in the rock population… but I doubt it.

A few of my rocks.
A few of my rocks.

A few more of my rock finds.
A few more of my rock finds.

The rock too big for my pocket. On the other side there's a fossil, but I didn't see that until we got home with it.
The rock too big for my pocket. On the other side there’s a fossil, but I didn’t see that until we got home with it.

Rob has so much self restraint. But he finds the arrowheads and I don't. These are all the rocks he brought home. Except he carried my big one on the way out after I was tired.
Rob has so much self restraint. But he finds the arrowheads and I don’t. These are all the rocks he brought home. Except he carried my big one on the way out after I was tired.

The Rocks I Left Behind

I love the combination of rocks, water, and lighting.
I love the combination of rocks, water, and lighting.

That little spot near the center is a small fossil on the rock. It's under water so I couldn't get a better picture of it. Not sure what it is, some sort of sea creature from long ago.
That little spot near the center is a small fossil on the rock. It’s under water so I couldn’t get a better picture of it. Not sure what it is, some sort of sea creature from long ago.

More photos of the river

Along the Kings river in Madison county, AR.  Near the headwaters of Kings river in Arkansas.

A little spot of rapids.
A little spot of rapids.

I hope you enjoyed this photo tour of a gravel stretch along Kings River.

We’ve had more non-resident visitors to our area than usual lately, and unfortunately some of them are disrespectful to the land.

Sadly, we’ve begun to see graffiti on the bridges and trash on the roadsides, something that rarely happened in years past. If you drive through remote and rural areas to see the beauty, or to get away from the hustle and bustle of town, please leave it as beautiful as you found it. The people and animals who live there thank you.

Tall Thimbleweed (Anemone virginiana)

Thimbleweed is a graceful, interesting native Ozark plant that grows along forest edges (also native to many other areas of the eastern United States). It is most often found in the dappled shade of liminal spaces between forest and clearing.

Before sending up flower stalks, the plant is only about a foot tall.
Flowers of Thimbleweed, native to the Ozarks

The long slender flower stalks add an extra foot or two in total height. The stalks sway in the breezes, giving it one of its other common names, “windflower”.

Thimbleweed (Anemone virginiana)

During the heat of July while out scouting for rocks – yes, rocks. I scout for plants, habitats AND rocks regularly.  Anyway, I spied the bristly elongated cones of Thimbleweed. Of course I had to zip back up to the house because I generally don’t carry along the camera while dealing with rocks.

Thimbleweed flower cones
Once the petals fall, the cone resembles a thimble, which is how the plant gets its common name.

Last year in late January I noticed the seed fluff getting ready to take flight. Of course I gathered some of the seedheads. In the course of my gathering, many were naturally released onto the breeze to reseed elsewhere, so no danger of over harvesting seeds from this one.

Thimbleweed gone to Seed
Thimbleweed gone to seed

Thimbleweed is another one of my favorite plants (I have quite a few “favorites”, haha) of the Ozarks. I didn’t get the seeds I’d gathered sown this spring but I’ll try again next year. If successful, I’ll have some of these graceful beauties to offer at the market booth and nursery.

Here’s a few links to pages with more information about Thimbleweed.

It has a history of medicinal use, but I’d enjoy this plant just because of its unique appearance.

It stands out in a crowds of weedy growth and I like that about it. That’s what I’m trying to do as a writer and blogger in a sea of other writers and bloggers, so we have something in common.

It’s a plant that should be easy enough to propagate, so hopefully it will also one day grace the “Plants” category in our online store. I should be able to begin offering plants by mail in a few months.

More info

Photos

Tall Thimbleweed plant, Anemone virginiana

 

 

Woodland Flowers of June at Wild Ozark

It’s been awhile since I’ve wandered with the camera, but this morning on my way to town I brought the camera just so I could capture some of my favorite woodland flowers blooming along the driveway and county road.

Wild hydrangea blooms all along the shady, moist places on our driveway. It's one of my favorite woodland flowers.
Wild hydrangea blooms all along the shady, moist places on our driveway. It’s one of my favorite woodland flowers.

The sparsely petaled wildflower in the photo above is the original version. It’s the wildflower that blooms alongside creeks and other moist shady places.

You might recognize the hybridized version more easily. I saw this one blooming today at Compton Gardens in Bentonville, AR when I went out there to check on our little ginseng sanctuary:

A hybridized version of the wild hydrangea.
A hybridized version of the wild hydrangea. This one is blooming now at Compton Gardens in Bentonville, AR.

There were some other pretty little flowers blooming in the same area as the wild hydrangea. I’m not sure what these are and right now I don’t have time to look it up, but if you know, please leave a comment to tell me.

When I have time, if no one has volunteered the identity, lol, I’ll look it up and add the name. I’ve only noticed them in the shade, so I’m assuming they’re also woodland flowers and prefer the shady places.

unknown little flower- well, *I* don't know what it is, but if you do, please let me know!
unknown little flower- well, *I* don’t know what it is, but if you do, please let me know!

Every year I look for the jewelweed flowers, and every year I take photos. It doesn’t matter that I already have probably hundreds of them in the files. It’s the same with bloodroot, and all the other woodland flowers. I just can’t help it.

Orange spotted jewelweed.
Orange spotted jewelweed, another of my favorite woodland flowers.

Black cohosh is one I’m always watching and waiting for. This woodland flower is borne at the top of a stem stretching far above the main plant. Every year I try to get a good photo of the whole plant, and every year I fail. It’s just too tall from tip of the spire to the leaves at the bottom.

So this time I took three photos- one of the flower, one of the middle stem portion, and one of the base. Then I stitched them together in photoshop. It’s not perfect, and you can see in the top where the stems don’t meet just right.

But it gives a better look at the whole plant than any single photo of the whole plant I’ve managed to get so far.

Black cohosh from tip to toes, one of my favorite woodland flowers.
Black cohosh from tip to toes, one of my favorite woodland flowers.

Once I managed to quit stopping to take photos I got on with the rest of my trip. Compton Gardens was the intended destination, but then The Artist Retreat Center in Bella Vista became a spontaneous destination since I was already in the neighborhood.

While at the ARC, I enjoyed a quick walkabout in the woodlands and visited with Sara while we cooked up a plan to have a public nature walk. If you’d be interested in attending such a thing – we’ll do a plant walk and nature journaling session, contact Sara through the ARC’s FB page and let her know. We haven’t settled on a date or participant cost yet, but public interest (or lack thereof) will help us figure it out.

Here’s a few of the plants we encountered there:

Wild geranium, one of the woodland flowers at the ARC in Bella Vista, AR.
Wild geranium

Immature pawpaw fruit.
Immature pawpaw fruit.

Tattered wings on a sunlit thistle.
Tattered wings on a sunlit thistle.

Anyway, there’s the photo summary of my day today, minus the boring grocery store and hardware shopping. Hope you enjoyed!