How are native plant seeds spread? Do they parachute on the wind, hitchhike on clothes or fur, or explode like a cannonball?
All of the Above!
Some seeds are light and float on the wind. Examples of plants around the pond with these types of seeds are maple trees, swamp milkweed, New England asters, goldenrods, and prairie smoke.
Some seeds are sticky, or have hooks and barbs which attach to people’s clothes, an animal’s fur or a bird's feather. The burrs you pick up on your clothes after a walk in the woods are an example. None of the plants deliberately placed around the pond have this type of seed. This type of seed is more common in weedy types of plants, some of which may find their way to the pond area. Examples of plants with these types of seeds are burdock and teasel.
Some plants form seeds and then the seed pod “explodes”, sending out the seeds. Wild petunia and wild geranium are examples of plants with this type of seed. Wild petunias can shoot seeds up to ten feet from the plant.
In addition, some seeds are contained in fruits which are eaten by birds or other animals. The seeds pass through the bird or animal, and are deposited in droppings some distance away from the parent plants. Examples of plants around the pond with these types of seeds are swamp white oaks (squirrels eat the acorns, or bury them), pasture roses, gray dogwoods, and pagoda dogwoods.
How do the plants and wildlife found in this wetland interact and support each other?
Some insects and wildlife use plants as their home, or use parts of plants to create their shelter (birds use dried parts of plants to make their nests; beavers take down trees to build their lodges; some birds will use the hollow in a tree for shelter)
Plants create oxygen through photosynthesis, which animals and insects need to breathe.
Insects spread pollen from plant to plant, enabling the plants to reproduce.
Some animals help spread the seeds of plants by eating fruits and dropping the seeds elsewhere, or when sticky seeds stick to their fur and drop off somewhere away from the original plant.
Some animals break open the seeds of plants, so they can germinate.
The leaves of some plants are shaped to hold water, which allows birds, butterflies, dragonflies, insects and animals to obtain a drink.
Plants filter storm water, cleaning it before it is used by wildlife.
Plants clean the air by absorbing pollutants, making the air cleaner for animals and other wildlife.
Plants at the water’s edge help hold the soil in place, making the water cleaner for fish and wildlife that use the water.
Plants at the water’s edge provide cover for fish from predators, and a place to lay their eggs.
What types of plants and wildlife do you see in this wetland?
View the complete Plant List (PDF) showing all plants around the pond, including Latin names
New England aster
Dragonflies: Black saddlebags, blue dasher, common green darner, common whitetail, dot-tailed whiteface, Halloween pennant, twelve-spot skimmer
Damselflies: Eastern forktail, familiar bluet
Butterflies: Cabbage white, Monarch
Hydroporous water beetle
Birds: American goldfinch, American robin, great blue heron, mallard ducks, redwing blackbird, sparrows, white egret
Wash your car at a commercial car wash instead of on your driveway, to save water and keep soap from going down the storm drains and into our streams OR be sure to use biodegradable or marine-safe cleaning products to wash your car, and wash it on your lawn so the water is filtered by the grass before it goes to the streams.
Have a swimming pool? Make sure there is no chlorine left in the water before emptying the pool.
Plant native plants in your garden. They need less water, are drought tolerant and can soak up large amounts of storm water, protecting our important native pollinating insects.