November 9, 2005

Our Dry Fall Weather and the Effects on Landscape Plants

Many parts of Iowa have received little precipitation over the past 6 to 8 weeks. The dry weather has raised concerns about the condition of trees, shrubs, and other landscape plants. Despite the recent dry weather, most healthy, well-established trees and shrubs are probably fine at this time. Well-established trees and shrubs have large, extensive root systems. These extensive root systems allow plants to absorb moisture even when soils are fairly dry. The dry weather poses the biggest threat to trees and shrubs planted in the past 1 or 2 years.

The Jack-O'-Lantern Mushroom

The Jack-o'-lantern mushroom (Omphalotus olearius) is a common wild mushroom which may be distinguished by its funnel-shaped cap and its bright yellow to orange color. It is usually found from July to November in woodland areas of North America, where it grows on decaying stumps, buried roots or at the base of hardwood trees, especially oaks. The mushrooms are produced in clusters of various size and they emit a sweet fruity aroma, attractive to some and offensive to others. The Jack-o'-lantern mushroom should not be eaten because it is poisonous to humans.

Why Did the Caterpillar Cross the Road?

As you drive down country roads in the fall, you are probably noticing many caterpillars crossing the road. These are woolly bear caterpillars and there are 8 or more species in the U.S.