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Joel Springsteen

Joel Springsteen

Joel was born and raised in Papua New Guinea. While in middle school, a project to plant a backyard “rainforest" evolved into a full-blown obsession with habitat restoration. Soon after reaching a peak height of 6ft 2in, Joel moved to Milwaukee. He was amazed to discover that most native plants are conspicuously absent from the city and suburbs. He loves restoring native plant/animal communities because it combines history, ecology, and other disciplines. Joel has a degree in linguistics and is completing a second degree in biology. He has been a land steward at the Center since 2006.

Monday, 17 February 2014 09:07

Natural Community Spotlight: Cedar Glade

A cedar glade is a type of savanna found on sites that are naturally protected from fire and where the bedrock is exposed or comes very close to the soil surface. The cedar, after which this natural community is named, is eastern red cedar - also known as Virginia juniper (Juniperus virginiana). Red cedar is not a true cedar (genus Cedrus) although it is a member of the cedar family (Cupressaceae). The rocky, thin soiled environment of the cedar glade is too harsh for most trees to become established, but red cedar is able to grow in cracks in the bedrock or in random pockets of deeper soil. Consequently, trees in the glade grow widely spaced, in clumps, or in bands on the edges of the glade. This creates a mosaic of light and habitat structure for plants and animals with different preferences. Rare in Wisconsin, cedar glades are found in a few other Midwestern states and are most abundant, though still rare, in the central eastern United States where they are threatened by development.

This is the first in a series featuring the natural communities of Wisconsin. A natural community is a distinct and recurring group of interacting populations of microorganisms, fungi, plants, and animals and their physical environment. Because of our unique geographic location at the crossroads of several major ecosystems and the wide variation in soil type, temperature range, and moisture availability across the state, Wisconsin has a diverse mosaic of over seventy different natural communities. Southern Mesic Forest, the first natural community we will highlight, was once the most common natural community in Milwaukee County.

Sunday, 05 May 2013 16:11

Native Plant: Early Meadow-Rue

The buttercup family (ranunculacea) has 1,700 species distributed around the world with about 70 occuring in Wisconsin. Some of the more familiar species include wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), virgin's bower (Clematis virginiana), marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), and American pasque flower (Anemone patens L. var. multifida). Early meadowrue (Thalictrum dioicum) is one member of the family blooming in the woods this time of year. With graceful grayish-green fern-like foliage, and dainty, tassel-like flowers, this one is worth finding on a spring walk.  

Friday, 22 March 2013 10:49

Native Plant: Eastern Skunk Cabbage

What native Wisconsin plant is the first to bloom in the spring, generates its own heat capable of thawing frozen soil and melting snow, and produces flowers before leaves; flowers that emit a smell of rotting flesh?

Skunk cabbage! 

Not a true cabbage, skunk cabbage is a member of a mostly tropical family of plants, the Arum family or Araceae. Other well known members of the Arum family include calla lilies, philodendrons, taros (elephant ears), as well as other native plants like Green Dragon and Jack-in-the-pulpit. Skunk cabbage gets its name from the pungent skunk-like odor released when any part of the plant is broken or damaged and from its large leaves which grow in a rosette somewhat like a cabbage.

Monday, 04 March 2013 10:45

Native Plant: Common Wood Sedge

Common Wood Sedge, Carex blanda, is one of the most ubiquitous native woodland plants. This lush yet tough plant is often seen growing next to paths indicating that it is well adapted to disturbed and compacted soils and that its seeds are spread via mud stuck to the bottom of shoes, paws, and hooves. The seeds may also be distributed by woodland ants. The leaves and seeds of native Carex are an important sources of food for wildlife.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013 09:03

Native Plant: Prairie Alum Root

This month's native plant is Prairie Alumroot, Heuchera richardsonii. There are about fifty species of Heuchera distributed throughout North America. Heuchera are comonly called Coral Bells or Alumroot and a wide variety of hybrids and cultivars have been bred and selected with colorful or variegated leaves. Prairie alumroot is the only Heuchera native to Wisconsin. A member of the saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae), some of its cousins include genera such as Ribes (gooseberry and current), Astilbe (false spirea), and Tiarella (foamflower).     

 

Friday, 21 December 2012 13:42

Native Plant of the Month - Wintergreen

The famous biologist and philosopher E.O. Wilson coined the word biophilia to describe the instinctive human bond between humans and other living systems. One way human biophilia is expressed this time of year is in the placement of evergreen boughs, wreaths, and trees in homes and public spaces. Before the invention of plastic foliage and even before the first Christmas, evergreens were celebrated as symbols of eternal life and incorporated in celebrations across North Africa, Europe, and Northern Asia.  And before the word 'evergreen' was first used to refer to plants that keep their leaves year-round, English speakers referred to them as 'wintergreen'. Today the meaning of the word 'wintergreen' has narrowed and refers exclusively to broadleaved plants in the genus Gaultheria.

Monday, 01 October 2012 13:40

Native Plant of the Month: Frost Aster

The frost aster is a member of the composite family. Composites are unique in that their "flowers" are actually many flowers packed together in a compound flowerhead. These small flowers are referred to as florets. In the center of the flowerhead are the disc florets which are fertile (produce seeds).

Monday, 05 November 2012 12:23

Native Plant of the Month: Canada Yew

The Yew Family: Yews are in the family Taxaceae which is in the order Pinales. The Pinales include all living genera of conifer such as pine, juniper, fir, and spruce etc. Yews have a highly specialized cone in which a modified scale wraps around a single seed and forms a fleshy fruit called an aril that looks like a berry.

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