Review on Sustainable Use of Medicinal Plants

Chen S-L, Yu H, Luo H-M, Wu Q, Li C-F, Steinmetz A. Conservation and sustainable use of medicinal plants: problems, progress, and prospects. Chin Med. July 30, 2016;11:37. doi: 10.1186/s13020-016-0108-7.

Over 1300 medicinal plants are used in Europe, with 90% harvested from the wild. In the United States, about 118 of the top 150 prescription drugs come from, or are some derivative of, natural sources; in developing countries, about 25% of prescribed medicines come from wild plants. Worldwide, about one-tenth of all plants, between 50,000-80,000 flowering species, are used medicinally. However, an estimated 15,000 are threatened by overharvesting and habitat degradation. Concurrently, due to a rising demand, medicinal plants are being harvested in rising volumes, largely from wild populations. Distribution of medicinal plants is not uniform around the world. China and India have the largest numbers of medicinal species, with those in China, India, Kenya, Nepal, Tanzania, and Uganda at particular risk. Yet, only a few of the species suffering from genetic erosion and habitat destruction have been listed as threatened.

The authors conducted systematic literature searches of electronic databases to assess global trends, developments, and progress affecting conservation and sustainable use of medicinal plants. Their search considered articles in English or Chinese published between January 2000 and December 2014. Of 673 abstracts initially identified, 231 met inclusion criteria and full papers were retrieved for 106. Citations found in retrieved papers added another 25 papers, for a total of 131 reviewed. Of these, 42 concerned in situ conservation; 35, ex-situ conservation; 31, cultivation practices; 23, sustainable use; and 22, other relevant topics. Each of these strategies is described and its particular benefits assessed. For example, in situ conservation encompasses natural reserves where medicinal species may thrive without interference in their natural ecosystem and wild nurseries where specific species can be propagated and domesticated. Ex-situ conservation includes botanic gardens and seed banks.

Increased cultivation of wild species relieves pressure on wild populations and, with the use of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) such as organic farming, helps ensure a consistent supply of high-quality medicinal plant products. Moreover, advances in genetic engineering have led to the possibility of large-scale syncretization of bioactive compounds and the development of superior plant populations using molecular marker-based approaches. Sustainable use demands sustainable harvest practices. Recent research indicates, for example, that the leaves of some plants may have the same effects as less sustainably harvested but traditionally used plant parts such as roots or whole plants.

The authors summarize seven original investigations into medicinal plant conservation and sustainable use in a table that describes factors contributing to the relative susceptibility of plants to collection pressures. The most susceptible species reproduce generatively, grow slowly, have little intraspecies diversity and small populations, along with a narrow range of distribution and specific and restricted habitat needs.

A large number of recommendations have been made for medicinal plant conservation and sustainable use but only a small portion have been widely implemented. Meanwhile, it is estimated that the current rate of plant extinction is 100-1000 times the expected natural extinction rate, with at least one major potential drug lost every two years. The authors suggest improved conservation strategies and resource management be combined with biotechnical approaches to advance sustainable cultivation, harvesting, and use of medicinal plants.

Emotional Resilience

Stress is a fact of modern life – seemingly everywhere and all the time. There are so many sources of stress: caring for children, disabled persons, and elderly parents, holding down a job, and making time for a social life are all everyday sources of stress. Added to these everyday stresses are extraordinary events such as deaths, serious illnesses, natural disasters and social upheavals that often occur randomly and without warning. It is easy to become frustrated by the great number of pressures that consume you on any given day. Over time, the cumulative effects of multiple stressors, small and large, can combine to wear you out before you’ve had a chance to get started.

Stress can overwhelm your defenses despite your best efforts at coping. In the short term, you may lose your temper, your blood pressure may soar, and you may even feel sick to your stomach. Over the longer term, the cumulative nature of stress can keep you on edge long after individual stressful events have passed, and can even contribute to medical problems. For example, unresolved and lingering stressful feelings of anger, hostility, and aggression appear to make the development of heart disease and arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) more likely to occur.

There is no escaping stress, but there are ways you can learn to handle stress better when it is present, and to ‘bounce back’ faster from its impact. The collection of skills, characteristics, habits and outlooks that make it possible to remain maximally flexible and fresh in the face of stress is often referred to as “emotional resilience”, which is the topic of this document. Learning to become more emotionally resilient can dramatically improve your attitude and your health in the face of inevitable stress.

To be resilient means to be able to ‘spring back’ into shape after being deformed. To be emotionally resilient means to be able to spring back emotionally after suffering through difficult and stressful times in one’s life. Stressed people experience a flood of powerful negative emotions which may include anger, anxiety, and depression. Some people remain trapped in these negative emotions long after the stressful events that have caused them have passed. Emotionally resilient people, on the other hand, are quickly able to bounce back to their normal emotional state.

The Resilient Attitude

How do they do it? What is it about emotionally resilient people that make them more effective at managing stress than non-resilient people? The key difference between the groups appears to be that emotionally resilient people have a specific set of attitudes concerning themselves and their role in the world that motivates and enables them to cope more efficiently and effectively than their non-resilient peers.

Specifically, emotionally resilient people tend to:

  • Have realistic and attainable expectations and goals.
  • Show good judgment and problem-solving skills.
  • Be persistent and determined.
  • Be responsible and thoughtful rather than impulsive.
  • Be effective communicators with good people skills.
  • Learn from past experience so as to not repeat mistakes.
  • Be empathetic toward other people (caring how others around them are feeling).
  • Have a social conscience, (caring about the welfare of others).
  • Feel good about themselves as a person.
  • Feel like they are in control of their lives.
  • Be optimistic rather than pessimistic.

These special beliefs characteristic of resilient people help them to keep proper perspective, and to persist with coping efforts long after less resilient types become demoralized and give up. In order to become a more resilient person, it is necessary to work on cultivating these beliefs and attitudes for your own life.

The attitudes that underly emotional resilience is powerful because they enable people who subscribe to them to cope with great efficiency and effectiveness. It’s not really that emotionally resilient people know more or better coping skills than do non-resilient people. It’s more that they are better able to apply the coping skills that they do know that are non-resilient people.

Consider, if you will, that the first principle of coping successfully is to believe that it is possible to cope. Resilient people believe that they have the potential for control over their lives; they believe that they can influence their situation. Non-resilient people tend not to share this belief, and consequently, their stress-coping efforts don’t fair as well. People don’t work at coping when they don’t believe that coping can help.

Stress is stressful precisely because it is a source of negative emotions: depression, anxiety, anger. These negative emotions exert a powerful influence over perception. While you are experiencing negative emotions it can easily seem that there is no way to resist them. Depression, for example, often feels like it is a permanent condition that must simply be experienced; that nothing can be done to make it go away. Though this perception of being helpless in the face of negative emotion is seductive, it is not necessarily true. It is possible to consciously influence and change one’s negative moods to more positive moods. Simply deciding to exercise (physically) when feeling stressed can temporarily lift one’s mood, for instance. Rationally challenging negatively-exaggerated perceptions is another effective method for lifting one’s mood. It is, in fact, quite possible to think or act one’s self into a better mood. Resilient people understand this intuitively. For the rest of us, there is a scientific explanation as to how this is possible.

Mind Over Matter

The past quarter century of neurological research has revolutionized our understanding of how the brain creates and regulates emotion. Scientists used to think that the limbic system, a set of brain structures occurring above the brain stem but below the wrinkled, walnut-shaped cortex, was wholly responsible for producing and managing emotions. Recent studies suggest that it is not that simple. Though emotional impulses do originate in the limbic system, our expression of those emotions is regulated by the prefrontal cortex, a cortical brain structure located just behind the forehead which is associated with judgment and decision making.

The involvement of the prefrontal cortex in emotional responding is one of the things that separates humans from animals. Animals have little control over their expression of emotions. When an animal’s limbic system becomes activated, that animal will experience and act out the resulting emotion. Scared animals will instinctually run and hide, or get aggressive, for instance. Human beings, on the other hand, are able to make judgments and decisions regarding their emotional state and to act on those decisions even when those decisions run counter to their emotional state. Frightened humans can evaluate whether or not their fears are justified, and act counter to their fears, for instance, making a speech in public despite being afraid of possible negative judgments that might result. People’s ability to change the way they experience emotion is important for two reasons: first because it means that people have a real, if limited, capacity to snap out of negative emotions that don’t serve them, and second because choosing to snap out of negative emotions is usually a good decision that can have a positive influence on one’s overall health.

In part then, resilient people believe they can change their moods, and so they work to change their moods. The less resilient among us can instead fall prey to hopelessness. A major purpose of this document is to help convince those of you who do fall prey to the hopelessness that it is possible to become more resilient. We’ve just described how-how it is possible that you can change your negative moods to more positive ones. Now, let us tell you why it is a very good idea to do this.

The first reason you should work to become more resilient is that the positive moods that you’ll enjoy more of when you become more resilient are really good for your health.

Accumulating research suggests that the positive emotions (happiness, contentment, joy, etc.) are associated with healthy immune system functioning. Conversely, the negative emotions are associated with the weaker immune function, greater production of stress hormones such as Cortisol, and greater incidence of illnesses. These findings suggest that how you habitually feel is much related to how vigorously you can resist illness.

To illustrate, consider that in one study depressed women suffering from breast cancer were found to have fewer immune system cells and weaker overall immune functioning when compared to non-depressed breast cancer sufferers. Because the immune system’s job is, in part, to hunt down and kill cancer cells, depressed breast cancer sufferers weaker immune function means that their bodies are less likely to be able to resist their cancers. In the same vein, another study found that depressed bone marrow transplant patients were significantly more likely to die during the first post-treatment year than were nondepressed transplant recipients.

Positive emotions are not just window-dressing; they are intimately tied up with your immune function efficiency and your physical health. If you can learn to cope better with stress so as to avoid becoming depressed, and to lessen the time you spend feeling negative you can have a positive impact on your emotional and physical health.

Positive emotions benefit your social health as well as your physical health. Sharing of positive emotions with others helps to bond people together, creating and maintaining strong, healthy, and caring relationships. Caring relationships, in turn, provide social support which nourishes further emotional resilience, and positive feeling states. It is a circular, self-reinforcing movement towards health. The better you feel, and the more you share that positive feeling with others, the more you are able to draw upon the relationships you create through that sharing to create further positive feelings.

The social support benefits of relationships are numerous and important:

  • Close caring relationships offer opportunities to express and to receive love, both of which are important for identity, self-worth, and self-esteem. They offer a path towards becoming part of something larger than yourself which-which you can identify in a positive manner. They keep you from feeling lonely. They support you when you are down. They are environments in which it becomes likely you will experience positive states: 1) feeling accepted and cared for, and 2) happy playfulness.
  • Inside the give and take of relating are many opportunities to practice social skills (which turn out to be resilience skills as will become clear later on). Healthy relationships promote communication, reciprocity, and compassion. They also function as a sounding board and can provide opportunities for reality testing. Friends may offer workable solutions to problems you would have never come up with on your own.
  • By offering you opportunities to network with people you would not otherwise meet, relationships can benefit you economically (by helping you to find work or work opportunities), and romantically (by introducing you to potential romantic partners).

Where positive feelings help you to build relationships, negative feelings do the opposite. Depressed, negative feeling states tend to break relationships down and erode social support. Negative feelings tend to be consuming and to promote self-centeredness. They do not motivate people to attend to the needs of others. Though friends and family often want to support their depressed relationship partners, they find this a difficult task as depressed, negative people tend to withdraw from offers of support and to isolate themselves. It is ultimately frustrating to remain in relationships with negative-minded people and one by one, the relationships that depressed people have to grow more distant or extinguish.

There are real health and wellness benefits for being resilient. It’s something worth striving for if you aren’t already that way. Importantly, resilience is a learnable skill. Most anyone can become more emotionally resilient if they work at it.

Growing in emotional resilience requires that you work towards greater self-knowledge. It is important, for example, that you to learn to identify how you react in emotional situations. Becoming aware of how you react when stressed helps you gain better control over those reactions. A good framework to help guide you towards becoming more aware of your emotions is something called Emotional Intelligence.

The term ‘Emotional Intelligence’ was coined by psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey in 1990. It can be defined as your ability to use your emotions intelligently and appropriately in different situations, combined with your ability to use emotions to make yourself more intelligent overall. Emotionally intelligent people are able to accurately recognize and comprehend emotion, both in themselves and in others, to appropriately express emotion, and to be able to control their own emotion so as to facilitate their own emotional, intellectual and spiritual growth. In short, emotionally intelligent people intentionally use their thinking and behavior to guide their emotions rather than letting their emotions dictate their thinking and behavior. People who are highly emotionally intelligent tend to also be highly emotionally resilient.

In order to become more emotionally intelligent, it is necessary to develop the following five skill domains:

  • Self-awareness. Self-awareness involves your ability to recognize feelings while they are happening.
  • Emotional management. Emotional management involves your ability to control the feelings you express so that they remain appropriate to a given situation. Becoming skillful at emotional management requires that you cultivate skills such as maintaining perspective, being able to calm yourself down, and being able to shake off out-of-control grumpiness, anxiety, or sadness.
  • Self-motivation. Self-motivation involves your ability to keep your actions goal-directed even when distracted by emotions. Self-motivation necessarily includes being able to delay gratification and avoid acting in impulsive ways.
  • Empathy. Empathy involves your ability to notice and correctly interpret the needs and wants of other people. Empathy is the characteristic that leads to altruism, which is your willingness put the needs of others ahead of your own needs.
  • Relationship Management. Relationship management involves your ability to anticipate, understand, and appropriately respond to the emotions of others. It is closely related to empathy.

These various skills work together to form the basis of emotionally intelligent behavior.

People come to the challenge of emotional intelligence with different strengths and weaknesses. Where some find it easy to develop self-awareness and empathy, others have a difficult time, or don’t easily recognize the need. Luckily, emotional intelligence (likewise emotional resilience) is something that can be cultivated and developed. You have the ability to learn how to better work with emotions so as to improve your mental, physical, and social health.

In order to develop the five emotional intelligence skill domains, you’ll need to become skillful at the following tasks:

Noticing Emotion

By their nature, emotions are consuming. During the moment, it is very easy to simply remain embedded inside them and not quite recognize that they are occurring. In an emotionally embedded state, it is as though you are asleep, or helpless to act differently than the emotion wants you to act. You might find yourself doing things you will later regret doing while in such a state.

As self-awareness grows, you become able to notice emotion as it is occurring. Noticing emotion allows you to step back from it, and witness it as though it were happening to someone else. Noticing emotion separates you from that emotion and therefore provides you with space you need to recognize that the emotion is happening, and to form judgments as to whether your actions in response to the emotion are proper. A self-aware person is awake and responsible rather than asleep. They are conscious of what they are feeling and can use their understanding of their emotion to change how they act.

In order to notice emotion while it is happening, you must pay attention to the following:

  • Your Senses. Emotions get expressed physically and are reflected in one’s body and posture. Specific behaviors like clenched fists or gritted teeth are good signals that one is probably angry, for example.
  • Your Thoughts and Beliefs. Emotions are also expressed as thoughts. It is fairly common for particular types of thoughts and beliefs to only be present when you are upset. Your learning to notice that those emotion-linked thoughts are present in your mind becomes a clue that you are upset. For example, many people say thing to themselves like, “Things will never ever get better, ever again!”, when upset, but not say this sort of thing to themselves when they are feeling okay. If you do something like this, you can learn to recognize when you are doing it and use that knowledge to know when you are upset.
  • Your Actions. Emotions have behavioral components. Learn to recognize the way you act while upset. Noticing that you are suddenly raising your voice or starting to speak over other people might be clues that you are upset.
  • Your Triggers. Triggers are situations, people, places, feelings, thoughts or objects that get you to start thinking or feeling something you would not otherwise have thought or felt. Triggers can often start you down the road towards becoming upset without your conscious awareness. Identify your triggers by watching for the things that set you off, and then writing them down. Knowing what your triggers help you to anticipate them so that they don’t catch you off guard. Generate a plan for handling each trigger so that it doesn’t get the best of you.
  • Your Motives. Think about how you believe people should conduct themselves in various different situations. For instance, ask yourself which is better behavior when speaking with one’s spouse: calm discussion or screaming? Later, compare your own behavior against your list and see if you meet your own standards. Learn to notice when you are not meeting your own standards of conduct. Your noticing when you are not meeting your own standards of conduct can become a clue as to when you are upset.

Identifying Emotion

Having noticed the signs that emotions are occurring, your next step is to understand and identify those emotions. You can begin this process by asking yourself questions that will help you understand the ways that emotion has affected you. Good questions to ask include:

  • What am I feeling now?
  • What are my senses telling me?
  • What is it that I want?
  • What judgments or conclusions have I made (and are they accurate)?
  • What is this emotion trying to tell me?

The answers to these questions are key to using your emotions in the service of your life goals, rather than allowing your emotions to use you.

Often, your physiological (body) reactions suggest vital clues to the nature of your emotional state. If your face begins to get warm while you are talking with someone, you may be embarrassed. If you have “butterflies” in your stomach, you may be nervous. If you feel excited and giddy and there is a smile on your face, you may be happy. If your head pounds, your heart races, and you feel increasingly tense and hot, you are probably angry. However, if you feel tense, your heart is pounding, your palms are sweating, and you feel cold, you are probably frightened rather than angry.

You can also learn to identify emotions based on the way they make you feel, think and act. Perhaps certain memories come to the surface of your mind when you are feeling sad that aren’t there at other times. Perhaps you were hurt in the past by a romantic partner with a particularly striking face, and find over time that when you meet new people who remind you of that partner, you automatically respond negatively towards them. Consciously knowing what you are feeling and why may suggest a set of actions you can take to help you change your feelings.

Managing Emotion

Understanding your emotions makes it possible for you to manage them so that they work for rather than against you. For instance, having established that you are feeling sad, you can take steps to make yourself feel happier. More pointedly, if your sadness (or anger, or anxiety, etc.) would normally influence you to act in a way that might damage yourself or someone else, becoming aware of that emotion can enable you to take steps to not act in that destructive way.

As an example, suppose you are in a meeting at work and your boss calls your carefully researched proposal “a stupid harebrained idea”. A careless comment like this might make you angry: your heart beats faster, your head pounds, your blood pressure goes up, and you experience a compelling urge to give your boss a piece of your mind. Though you want to yell at your boss, doing so might likely get you into trouble, and might even get you fired. A better solution would be to suppress your outburst by actively managing your emotion, respectfully disagreeing with your boss, and then later finding a safe outlet for your hurt feelings.

Assuming you are an emotionally intelligent person, you might manage such a hurtful comment in the following way:

  • First, by recognizing that your pounding head and racing heart are signs that you are angry.
  • Next, by thinking about your goals with regard to your relationship with your boss (e.g, to maintain steady employment). Although giving your boss a piece of your angry mind would likely help you feel better in the short term, doing so could ultimately create serious problems. Recognizing this danger, you might decide that while your boss’s comment was unreasonable and even sadistic, there is nothing particularly useful to be gained by sinking to his level.
  • Later, after the meeting is done, you can think about ways to handle your boss’s tendency to put you down. Soliciting opinions and help from knowledgeable other people who care about you may help you figure out the best way to proceed. You may need to look for another job or a departmental transfer. Alternatively, a private meeting with your boss or with your human resources staff might result in successful resolution of the problem.

By actively managing your emotions, you are taking steps towards becoming more emotionally resilient. You are also taking steps to avoid pitfalls and problems that strong emotions would otherwise push you towards.

Early on in this document, we said that the foundation of emotional resilience (and thus emotional intelligence) is largely a matter of attitude and belief. How people think about themselves and their relationships with others and the world forms the base on which emotion management skills sit. Negative, defeatist attitudes towards self and others make it more difficult for you to successfully manage your emotions. Positive, empowering attitudes, on the other hand, make emotional resilience seem like second nature.

Emotionally resilient people tend to display the following positive characteristics:

  • Happiness
  • Control
  • Optimism
  • Mindfulness and Flow
  • Hardiness
  • Communication
  • Relationships
  • Compassion and Empathy

In the next major section of this document, we’ll explore each of these characteristics attributes (beliefs, attitudes) in greater detail. It is worth your while to learn about and practice these attitudes, for doing so will make it easier for you to become more resilient and self-aware and to be able to consciously manage your emotions as necessary to benefit your life.

Happiness is elusive for many people. The vast majority of us are raised to think that obtaining material things will make us happy. Food clothing and shelter are not enough to satisfy. For example, once you purchase the house you’ve been saving for, you start thinking about the furniture you want to buy or how the landscaping needs to change. Each desire, once satisfied, gives birth to new desires in an endless progression. The more we buy into the idea that we’ll be happy when we have enough of the right sort of possessions, the more trapped we become. We become jealous of people who have more than we do, and we risk bankruptcy to pay for things with credit we can’t afford. The more ‘stuff’ we desire, the less happy we are.

The facts are: possessions don’t make people happy, except when there isn’t enough of it to purchase the essentials of food, clothing, and shelter. Studies examining the relationship between family income and happiness show that money is only related to happiness when there really isn’t enough of it and real deprivation occurs. No relationship has been measured between money and happiness for any family living above poverty wages, suggesting that once basic needs are taken care of, further happiness cannot be bought at any price. As a result of these types of findings, researchers now consider happiness to depend on less on people’s actual circumstances and more on how people choose to respond to their circumstances.

Your happiness is not dependent on whether you drive the right car, live in the right neighborhood, or wear the latest clothes. Instead, how happy you are depending on how you approach your life and the people around you. True satisfaction is not about getting what you want but rather is about wanting what you have. Learning to be content with what you have is the true path to happiness.

Traits of Happy People

In order to learn how to be content with our own lives, we need to understand what makes some people generally happier than others. Researchers have found four inner traits that predispose people to have positive attitudes and to be content or happy more often than not. These traits are:

  • Self-esteem. Happy people respect their value as human beings and have confidence in themselves. When times get tough, people with a solid sense of self-worth and a firm belief in their own competence are the very people who persist until the tough times have passed.
  • Personal Control. Happy people believe that they have control over what happens to them. They tend to believe that they are actively in charge of their own destiny rather than being a passive victim of fate.
  • Optimism. Happy people are hopeful people. They expect they have a decent chance to succeed when they try something new. They see the proverbial glass of life as half full rather than half empty.
  • Extroversion. Happy people tend to be outgoing and sociable. They often find it a pleasure to be around others, rather than a chore.

Even in old age, happy individuals tend to be cheerful and full of the joie de vivre – the ‘joy of life’. People who like themselves are confident that other people will like them too. They have friends and they engage in rewarding social activities through which they experience affection and social support. Social support, in turn, reinforces happy people’s sense of self-esteem, in a circle of health. Social support is an important part of the foundation supporting a happy person’s sense of well-being and positive outlook on life.

Becoming a Happier Person

Not everyone is born extroverted with high self-esteem and an optimistic outlook. Some people are more pessimistic by nature, prone to depression, to not think well of themselves and to find social activities to be more work than play. Can such pessimistic people become happy despite their nature? The answer is yes.

The way to cultivate greater happiness is deceptively simple. Pretend that you are self-confident and optimistic. You might think that pretending to be happier couldn’t possibly work, but in fact, if you give it half a chance, it can indeed help you to become a happier person. There is a very real sense in which being happy is a habit. You can strengthen your own habit of being happy by practicing it again and again. As you become more and more comfortable acting happy, the phoniness will diminish and the happy behaviors and attitudes you have been practicing will begin to feel more natural.

The same goes for your interactions with other people. Pretend to be more outgoing than you are. Smile. Act like you like the people you meet, and you will likely find that you actually do like some of them! As a bonus, you may also find out that you are beginning to like yourself better, that you feel more confident, and that you are becoming more comfortable with other people. These changes can help you feel greater happiness in your life and more optimism for the future.

August in the Low Desert

August in the low desert is the time when we all begin to wonder when the summer will end. Unfortunately, we have about two months left to endure. Monsoons clouds are beginning to build, the humidity is soaring and a few raindrops are falling.

This month you will notice that your succulent plants are succumbing to high nighttime temperatures. When the night temperatures stay at 90º F or above and the humidity is high, most succulent plants can’t breathe. After several nights in a row, chances are many of them will rot. Other than careful watering, there is nothing that can be done.

Watch the rain activity around your landscape. Note the runoff direction, where the puddles form, and areas of erosion. Why? This will help you re-contour your yard for more efficient water harvesting.

Keep note of the sun’s position in the sky. As the month progresses and the angle changes, you may begin to notice side-burning on plants, particularly cacti and succulents. Add small pieces of shade cloth until the days cool off.

Check your tree stakes and readjust if necessary. Remember staking should only be a temporary solution used to prevent the tree from falling over until it has established its root system. Tree staking should be done only when needed and stakes should be promptly removed after one or two growing seasons.

With the warm, abundant rainfall, look for summer annual wildflowers blooming such as Arizona Poppy (Kallstroemia grandiflora), Chinchweed (Pectis papposa), Golden Crownbeard (Verbesina encelioides), and Devil’s Claw (Proboscidea parviflora). These annuals will continue to bloom throughout the month and into late September.

The Desert Hackberry (Celtis pallida) will be full of fruit. Leave them for the birds and other wildlife. Same with the Prickly-pear cacti (Opuntiasp.), Organ Pipe (Stenocereus thurberi), and Senita (Pachycereus schottii)– let the fruits ripen and be eaten.

By mid-August begin to prepare a new vegetable garden bed for fall-winter planting. Prepare your vegetable bed by using a digging fork or rototilling to approximately 12-18 inches deep. Do not work soil if it is too wet as it can permanently damage the soil structure. Apply compost generously (several inches) and incorporate it into the loosened soil. If you have an existing vegetable garden this is also a good time to add compost and lightly work it into the soil.

With proper plant selection, you can provide your garden with color as there are many native and desert-adapted plants that will continue to flower through the summer and into the fall.

BLOOMING HERBACEOUS PERENNIALS, GROUNDCOVERS, BULBS, AND VINES CAN INCLUDE:
•  Butterfly Mist (Ageratum corymbosum)
•  Bloodflower (Asclepias curassavica)
•  Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata)
•  Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata)
•  Wine Cups (Callirhoe involucrata)
•  Blue Mist (Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Dark Knight’)
•  Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana)
•  Mist Flower (Conoclinium dissectum)
•  Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii )
•  Desert Foldwing (Dicliptera resupinata)
•  Hummingbird Trumpet (Epilobium canum ssp. latifolium)
•  Arizona Blue-eyes (Evolvulus arizonicus)
•  Texas Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella)
•  Baja Bush Snapdragon (Galvezia juncea)
•  Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri)
•  Rock Verbena (Glandularia pulchella)
•  Arizona Rosemallow (Hibiscus biseptus)
•  Desert Rosemallow (Hibiscus coulteri)
•  Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis)
•  Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum)
•  Showy Menodora (Menodora longiflora)
•  Rough Menodora (Menodora scabra)
•  Marvel of Peru (Mirabilis jalapa)
•  Desert Four O’Clock (Mirabilis multiflora)
•  Rock Penstemon (Penstemon baccharifolius )
•  Desert Plumbago (Plumbago scandens)
•  Paperflower (Psilostrophe cooperi)
•  Mexican Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa)
•  Mexican Hat (Ratibida columnifera)
•  Baja Bush Snapdragon (Galvezia juncea)
•  Katie Ruellia (Ruellia brittoniana ‘Katie’)
•  Red Sage (Salvia coccinea)
•  Pink Sage (Salvia coccinea ‘Brenthurst’)
•  Desert Senna (Senna covesii)
•  Yellow Dots (Galvezia juncea)
•  Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri)
•  Rock Verbena (Sphagneticola trilobata)
•  Texas Betony (Stachys coccinea)
•  White Woolly Twintip (Stemodia durantifolia)
•  Dyssodia (Thymophylla pentachaeta)
•  Rain lilies (Zephyranthes spp.)
•  Desert Zinnia (Zinnia acerosa)
BLOOMING VINES CAN INCLUDE:
•  Queen’s Wreath (Antigonon leptopus)
•  Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata ‘Tangerine Beauty’)
•  Yellow Orchid-vine (Callaeum macropterum)
•  Arizona Grape Ivy (Cissus trifoliata)
•  Lavender Trumpet Vine (Clytostoma callistegioides)
•  Pringle’s Clustervine (Jacquemontia pringlei)
•  Slender Janusia (Janusia gracilis)
•  Purple Bushbean (Macroptilium atropurpureum)
•  Yellow Morning Glory-vine, Yuca (Merremia aurea)
•  Wait a Minute Vine (Merremia dissecta)
•  Passionflowers (Passiflora spp.) Blooming shrubs can include:
•  Prairie Acacia (Acaciella angustissima syn. Acacia angustissima)
•  Bee Brush (Aloysia gratissima)
•  Chihuahuan Honeysuckle (Anisacanthus puberulus)
•  Flame Anisacanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii)
•  Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea sp.)
•  Woolly Butterfly Bush (Buddleja marrubiifolia)
•  Red Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)
•  Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica)
•  Little-leaf Cordia (Cordia parvifolia)
•  Indigo Bush (Dalea bicolor var. argyrea)
•  Sky Flower (Duranta erecta)
•  Blue Emu Bush (Eremophila hygrophana)
•  Emu Bush (Eremophila laanii ‘Pink Beauty’)
•  Tree Ocotillo (Fouquieria macdougalii)
•  Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens)
•  San Marcos Hibiscus (Gossypium harknessii)
•  Desert Cotton (Gossypium thurberi)
•  Guayacán (Guaiacum coulteri)
•  Mexican-honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera)
•  Lantana (Lantana camara)
•  Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens)
•  Heavenly Cloud Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum x ‘Heavenly Cloud’)
•  Rio Bravo Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’™)
•  Cimarron Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum zygophyllum ‘Cimarron’®)
•  Mexican-oregano (Lippia graveolens)
•  Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii)
•  Velvet-pod Mimosa (Mimosa dysocarpa)
•  Desert Ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis)
•  Coral Fountain (Russelia equisetiformis)
•  Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)
•  Velvet-leaf Senna (Senna lindheimeriana)
•  Silver Nightshade (Solanum hindsianum)
•  Yellow Bells (Tecoma spp.)
•  Skeletonleaf Goldeneye (Viguiera stenoloba)
BLOOMING TREES CAN INCLUDE:
•  Sweet Almond Verbena (Aloysia virgata)
•  Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)
•  Texas-olive (Cordia boissieri)
•  Texas Ebony (Ebenopsis ebano)
•  Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia orthocarpa)
•  Golden Leadball Tree (Leucaena retusa)
•  Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens)
BLOOMING CACTI AND SUCCULENTS CAN INCLUDE:
•  Karoo Roses (Adenium spp.)
•  Elephant Tree (Bursera microphylla)
•  Big Needle Cactus (Coryphantha macromeris)
•  Golden-chested Beehive Cactus (Coryphantha recurvata)
•  Chain Fruit Cholla (Cylindropuntia fulgida)
•  Diamond Cholla (Cylindropuntia ramosissima)
•  Easter Lilies (Echinopsis spp.)
•  Red Torch (Echinopsis huascha)
•  Coville’s Barrel (Ferocactus emoryi)
•  Compass Barrel (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
•  Fishhook Barrel (Ferocactus wislizeni)
•  Turk’s Head (Ferocactus hamatacanthus)
•  Midnight Lady (Harrisia pomanensis)
•  Giant Hesperaloe (Hesperaloe funifera)
•  Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)
•  Yellow Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora ‘Yellow’)
•  Graham’s Pincushion (Mammillaria grahamii)
•  Artichoke Cactus (Obregonia denegrii)
•  Madagascar Palm (Pachypodium lamerei)
•  Slipper Plant (Pedilanthus macrocarpus)
•  Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii)
•  Rose Cactus (Pereskia aculeata)
•  Guyapa (Pereskia sacharosa)
•  Octopus Cactus (Stenocereus alamosensis)
•  Bird’s Nest Cactus (Thelocactus rinconensis)
•  Turbinicarpus viereckii ssp. neglectus

 

WATERING

Proper irrigation to your plants during the summer months is crucial. As the temperatures rise, plant watering needs will also increase. Continue to water your established and newly planted landscape plants according to the summer schedule. However, adjust your watering schedule if your garden receives a deep, substantial rain event.

Monsoons bring humidity and moisture to the low desert. More and more we see periods of high night temperatures of 90º F and above during this time.  This makes it a risky month for watering cacti and some other succulents, particularly aloes. It is imperative to allow the soil to dry out for at least a week or two to prevent your cacti and succulent plants from rotting. Be sure to adjust your irrigation timers if we receive a good soaking rain.

Mediterranean plants and California chaparral plants, such as Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii) and White Sage (Salvia apiana) can be easy to overwater during this time. Allow the soil to dry out between watering. If these plants are on the drip system, consider using an emitter that can be shut off during this time.

What to Plant

When planting native and desert-adapted plants, it is usually unnecessary to back-fill with soil amendments and vitamins or to add rooting hormones.

Although fall is the better time, with the higher humidity we can get away with planting trees and warm-season shrubs and vines now but not herbaceous perennials. It is imperative, when planting during the summer months, to monitor your plantings carefully for signs of water stress particularly if it has been drier than usual.

Always water your trees and shrubs immediately after planting and monitor the moisture for the next few days to keep the root ball from drying out. Gradually extend the time between watering.

TREES TO BE PLANTED INCLUDE:
•  Anacacho Orchid-tree (Bauhinia lunarioides)
•  Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)
•  Texas-olive (Cordia boissieri)
•  Texas Ebony (Ebenopsis ebano)
•  Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia orthocarpa)
•  Palo Brasil (Haematoxylon brasiletto)
•  Mexican Ebony (Havardia mexicana)
•  Golden Leadball Tree (Leucaena retusa)
•  Desert Fern (Lysiloma watsonii)
•  Palo Blanco (Mariosousa willardiana syn. Acacia willardiana)
•  Ironwood Tree (Olneya tesota)
•  Palo Verdes (Parkinsonia spp.)
•  Mesquites (Prosopis spp.)
•  Catclaw Acacia (Senegalia greggii syn. Acacia greggii)
SHRUBS TO BE PLANTED INCLUDE:
•  Bee Brush (Aloysia gratissima)
•  Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica)
•  Red Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)
•  Little-leaf Cordia (Cordia parvifolia)
•  Skyflower (Duranta erecta)
•  Mexican Tree Ocotillo (Fouquieria macdougalii)
•  Desert Cotton (Gossypium thurberi)
•  Guayacán (Guaiacum angustifolium)
•  Guayacán (Guaiacum coulteri)
•  Fire Bush (Hamelia patens)
•  Malabar-nut (Justicia adhatoda)
•  Lagascea (Lagascea decipiens)
•  Lantana (Lantana camara)
•  Texas Rangers (Leucophyllum spp.)
•  Velvet-pod Mimosa (Mimosa dysocarpa)
•  Slim-pod Senna (Senna hirsuta var. glaberrima)
•  Yellow Bells (Tecoma spp.)

 

Herbaceous perennials and groundcovers should be planted in fall or spring. However, many warm-season vines can be planted during the summer months. Water immediately after planting and monitor the moisture for the next few days to keep the root ball from drying out. Water newly planted native and desert-adapted vines twice to three times weekly to a depth of at least a foot. Gradually extend the time between watering and monitor plants regularly for signs of water stress.

Vines to be planted include:
•  Queen’s Wreath (Antigonon leptopus)
•  Yellow Orchid-vine (Callaeum macropterum)
•  Old Man’s Beard (Clematis drummondii)
•  Arizona Grape-ivy (Cissus trifoliata)
•  Slender Janusia (Janusia gracilis)
•  Purple Bushbean (Macroptilium atropurpureum)
•  Yellow Morning Glory-vine, Yuca (Merremia aurea)
•  Passionflowers (Passiflora spp.)
•   Arizona Canyon Grape (Vitis arizonica)

Many cacti and warm-season succulents can still be planted in the summer. When transplanting cacti and succulents, mark either the south or west side and plant facing the orientation you marked to avoid the burning of tender tissues. Most nurseries will mark the side of the container to help you determine proper planting orientation. However, if the original orientation is not known, newly planted cacti and succulents need to be covered with shade cloth if the plant surface appears to yellow or pale suddenly. Use a shade cloth rated between 30-60% as anything higher will block most of the sunlight and will not be suitable for your cacti and succulents. You may need to keep the shade cloth on the plant for the duration of the summer to prevent sunburn. After planting your cacti and succulents wait about a week before watering to minimize the chance of rot.

PLANT CACTI AND WARM-SEASON SUCCULENTS INCLUDING:
•  Agaves (Agave spp.)
•  Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
•  Burseras, Elephant Trees (Bursera spp.)
•  Chollas (Cylindropuntia spp.)
•  Golden Barrel (Echinocactus grusonii)
•  Horse Crippler (Echinocactus texensis)
•  Hedgehogs (Echinocereus spp.)
•  Easter Lilies (Echinopsis spp.)
•  Candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphilitica)
•  Pencil Tree (Euphorbia tirucalli)
•  Barrel cacti (Ferocactus spp.)
•  Midnight Lady (Harrisia sp.)
•  Giant Hesperaloe (Hesperaloe funifera)
•  Red-yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)
•  Pincushions (Mammillaria spp.)
•  Prickly-pears (Opuntia spp.)
•  Old Man of the Andes (Oreocereus celsianus)
•  Mexican Fence Post (Pachycereus marginatus)
•  Senita (Pachycereus schottii)
•  Slipper Plant (Pedilanthus macrocarpus)
•  Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii)
•  Elephant Food (Portulacaria afra)
•  Organ Pipe (Stenocereus thurberi)

 

Cacti seed can still be continued to be planted.   Seed can be soaked overnight in water to help begin the germination process.  Place seed in a well-draining soil mix (½ quality potting soil and ½ perlite or pumice) and lightly cover.  Keep soil moist until germination occurs.

HERB SEEDS TO SOW INCLUDE:
•    Blackeye peas
•    lima bean
•    summer squash
•    carrots
•    corn
•    green onion
•    green snap bean
•    carrots
•    Hopi red-dye amaranth
•    oregano
•    parsley
•    tepary beans
•    beans
Try the many varieties of corn and beans from Native Seeds/search.
VEGETABLE SEEDS TO SOW IN LATE AUGUST INCLUDE:
•  brussel sprouts
•  cauliflower
•  collards
•  kale
•  lettuce, head and leaf
•  broccoli
•  cabbage
•  rue
•  celery
•  cucumbers
•  leeks
•  kholrabi
•  mustard
If your tomatoes made it through the summer, cut them back; tomato transplants can now be planted if they can be provided some shade for a fall harvest.

Cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower can all be started indoors from seed for fall planting.

Wait until fall or spring to plant most herbs.

 

Pruning

Pruning should be done to maintain plant health (remove dead, damaged or diseased portions, cross branching, etc.), to highlight the “natural” shape of the plant, to train a young plant, and to eliminate hazards. Excessive or heavy pruning causes significant stress to trees and shrubs. The best practices are to prune the least amount necessary and prune for legitimate reasons. How much to prune depends on the size, species, age, as well as your intentions. Two good principles to remember–a tree or shrub can recover from several small pruning wounds faster than from a single large wound and never remove more than 25% of the canopy in a year.

The extra humidity will elicit new growth on trees and shrubs. Minimal pruning should be performed during this month. Remove dead or broken branches and repair storm damaged areas but do not open up the canopy just yet.

Pruning newly planted trees is not recommended and in fact, can be detrimental. However, at planting time prune broken or torn and diseased branches. Save other pruning actions for the second or third year.  For more information on developing a healthy tree visit www.treesaregood.org

Prune your cacti if necessary to maintain size, for propagation or to remove a damaged or diseased stem; prune at joint or segment.  Use a sharp, clean pruning tool and spray tool periodically with a 70% alcohol solution to prevent infection.  If the pruned stem is to be used for propagation, allow the cutting to dry out for a week before planting.

Fertilization

We do not recommend fertilizing your desert-adapted landscape plants during the summer months.  Fertilizing will cause excessive, luxuriant growth that requires more water and new growth is too tender to take the excessive heat and sun exposure.  Wait until next spring to fertilize, if needed.

Periodic fertilizing may be needed for plants in containers as nutrients in the soil will have diminished over time.  Always follow directions on the label.

Continue to fertilize your warm-season annuals and herbaceous and woody perennials in containers if necessary.

Cacti and warm-season succulents in containers should be fertilized at least once during the month depending on the type of fertilizer used. Do not fertilize any winter-growing succulents such as Succulent Geraniums (Pelargonium spp.), Iceplants (Malephora spp., Drosanthemum spp.,Cephalophyllum spp.), Living Stones (Lithops spp.) and crassulaceous plants (Kalanchoe spp., Cotyledon spp., Echeveria spp., Dudleya spp.) as they are summer dormant.

Continue to water and fertilize your Karoo Roses (Adenium spp.) to promote bloom through the warm season.

Continue to fertilize your vegetable and herb garden as needed.

Problems

This month you’ll see an abundance of insect activity. Mosquitoes are now commonplace throughout the Valley. Be sure to empty any containers, buckets, bowls, etc. that might catch rainwater as the larvae require water in which to mature.

Cicadas are still buzzing away at this time and stem damage may be evident from their egg-laying.

Ants and termites are swarming and if you see the mud tunnels of termites crawling up your plant stems, just wash them off. They are not harming the plants.

If you notice your agave collapsing or its leaves drooping, it may be infested with the Agave Snout Weevil.

Defoliation of many landscape plants can occur with the appearance of a high infestation of grasshoppers. Population size varies year to year and they are a difficult insect to manage in the garden. When population numbers are low, hand-pick and remove. If infestation is high, use a protective cloth or floating row cover to protect your plants.

Powdery mildew may also be showing up on your perennials such as penstemons and vegetable plants.  There are many species of this fungus and symptoms appear on leaf and stem surfaces as white spots.

Aphids will show their presence.  The excrement or “honeydew” from aphids may cause sooty mold to appear, especially on the Desert Milkweed (Asclepias subulata) and Penstemons (Penstemon spp.). Sooty mold does not infect plants but will grow where “honeydew” has accumulated. If sooty mold is permitted to spread over the surface of the plant, it can prevent light penetration and limit the plant’s ability to photosynthesize. To discourage aphids spray them off with water or use an insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Wipe leaf surfaces off with soap and water to remove sooty mold.

Palo Verde root borers are active and they’ll emerge around your trees’ drip lines but, there isn’t much that can be done about them.

Whiteflies are small, sucking insects that are often found on many ornamental and vegetable plants. Plants infested with whiteflies show symptoms of sticky, yellowing leaves and when the plant is disturbed the small insects will fly generating a white “blur”.  There are many species of whiteflies and they are abundant at different times of the year.  Whiteflies are difficult to control and insecticides are not recommended as it can disturb and destroy their natural enemies. If you choose to use an insecticide, use an insecticidal soap or oil to help manage populations.

Large, green caterpillars may be appearing on tomatoes, eggplant and even the Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii).  They can either be the tobacco or tomato hornworm feeding on the leaves, flowers and stems. After three to four weeks of feeding, the larva will burrow into the soil to pupate.  In approximately two months, the large adult moth will appear and are often mistakenly identified as hummingbirds.  These moths are important pollinators for many nighttime flowering plants including the Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii), Fragrant Evening Primrose (Oenothera caespitosa), and the Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii). No method to control is necessary. If infestation is high, hand-pick caterpillars off your plants or allow naturally occurring parasites to help control the population.

A white, cottony mass may appear on ornamental and edible plants and is sometimes confused with cochineal scale because they too produce a waxy, white cottony substance. Both insects feed on plant juices, however, cochineal scale feed exclusively on cacti such as Prickly-pears (Opuntia spp.) and Chollas (Cylindropuntia spp.). Mealy bugs are often difficult to control and systemic insecticides may be used, but may not always be effective. However, usually dipping a cotton swab with a 50-50 mixture of rubbing alcohol and water solution and then wiping on these insects can help manage the population. Mealy bugs are also a common problem for many cacti and succulents grown indoors or in greenhouses and are often found either on the leaves, stems or roots. Take the infested plant(s) outdoors during the summertime as this seems to help get rid of these pests. It takes constant vigilance to keep them under control.

Cochineal scale, that cottony substance all over your prickly-pears may also be active now. Wash them off with a hard spray of water or use insecticidal soap.

Many butterfly species are in abundance this month, particularly the Gulf Fritillary. You’ll see the Gulf Fritillary larvae or caterpillar on Passionflowers (Passiflora spp.) but, unless the damage is significant, leave them to become the next generation of butterflies.

Pruning, Fertilization, Problems, July Plants

PRUNING

Pruning should be done to maintain plant health (remove dead, damaged or diseased portions, cross branching, etc.), to highlight the “natural” shape of the plant, to train a young plant, and to eliminate hazards. Excessive or heavy pruning causes significant stress to trees and shrubs.

The best practices are to prune the least amount necessary and prune for legitimate reasons. How much to prune depends on the size, species, age, as well as your intentions.

Two good principles to remember–a tree or shrub can recover from several small pruning wounds faster than from a single large wound and never remove more than 25% of the canopy in a year. For more information register for a Garden class on pruning that will teach you the proper pruning techniques for trees and shrubs or visit http://www.treesaregood.org for information on proper pruning of young and mature trees.

Lightly prune native and desert-adapted trees to avoid breakage during the summer thunderstorms in July and August if needed. Do not prune excessively as this will expose the tree trunk to the blazing sun causing it to sunburn.

Pruning newly planted trees is not recommended and in fact, can be detrimental. However, at planting time prune broken or torn and diseased branches. Save other pruning actions for the second or third year. For more information on developing a healthy tree visit www.treesaregood.org.

Prune your cacti if necessary to maintain size, for propagation or to remove a damaged or diseased stem; prune at joint or segment. Use a sharp, clean pruning tool and spray tool periodically with a 70% alcohol solution to prevent infection.

If the pruned stem is to be used for propagation, allow the cutting to dry out for a week before planting.

Continue to prune old flowering stalks from Hesperaloes (Hesperaloe spp.), Agaves (Agave spp.), Yuccas (Yucca spp), and Aloes (Aloe spp.).

To encourage continued flowering, deadhead herbaceous perennials such as Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata), Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata), Texas Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella), Red Sage (Salvia coccinea), Angelita Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis), Mealy Cup Sage (Salvia farinacea), and Tickseeds (Coreopsis spp.).

FERTILIZATION

Most native and desert-adapted plants in the landscape do not generally require fertilizer as they are adapted to our soil conditions.  In most cases, fertilizers are generally applied to prevent deficiencies.  If fertilizers are needed, one application for the year is usually sufficient. The best time to fertilize landscape plants are in March, April or the early part of May.

We do not recommend fertilizing your desert-adapted landscape plants during the summer months.  Fertilizing will cause excessive, luxuriant growth that requires more water and new growth is too tender to take the excessive heat and sun exposure.  Wait until next spring to fertilize, if needed.

Periodic fertilizing may be needed for plants in containers as nutrients in the soil will have diminished over time.  Always follow directions on the label.

Continue to fertilize your warm-season annuals and herbaceous and woody perennials in containers if necessary.

Cacti and warm-season succulents in containers should be fertilized at least once during the month depending on the type of fertilizer used.  If using a slow-release granular fertilizer for your cacti and succulents in containers, fertilize in late March and again in July or early August.

Do not fertilize any winter-growing succulents such as Succulent Geraniums (Pelargonium spp.), Iceplants (Malephora spp., Drosanthemum spp.,Cephalophyllum spp.), Living Stones (Lithops spp.) and crassulaceous plants (Kalanchoe, Cotyledon, Echeveria, Dudleya) as they are summer dormant.

Continue to water and fertilize your Karoo Roses (Adenium spp.) to promote bloom through the warm season.

Continue to fertilize your vegetable and herb garden as needed.

PROBLEMS

Mosquitoes are now commonplace throughout the Valley particularly after rain events. Be sure to empty any containers, buckets, bowls, etc. that might catch rainwater as the larvae require water in which to mature.

Ants and termites are swarming and if you see the mud tunnels of termites crawling up your plant stems, just wash them off. They are not harming the plants.

Defoliation of many landscape plants can occur with the appearance of a high infestation of grasshoppers. Population size varies year to year and they are a difficult insect to control in the garden. When population numbers are low, hand-pick and remove. If infestation is high, use a protective cloth or floating row cover to protect your plants. Allow natural predators such as birds, lizards and spiders to help keep the population under control.

Whiteflies are small, sucking insects that are often found on many ornamental and vegetable plants. Plants infested with whiteflies show symptoms of sticky, yellowing leaves and when the plant is disturbed the small insects will fly generating a white “blur”.  There are many species of whiteflies and they are abundant at different times of the year.  Whiteflies are difficult to manage and insecticides are not recommended as it can disrupt and destroy their natural enemies. If you choose to use an insecticide, use an insecticidal soap or oil to help control populations.

Large, green caterpillars may be appearing on tomatoes, eggplant and even the Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii). They can either be the tobacco or tomato hornworm feeding on the leaves, flowers and stems. After three to four weeks of feeding, the larva will burrow into the soil to pupate.  In about two months, the large adult moth will appear and are often mistakenly identified as hummingbirds.

These moths are important pollinators for many nighttime flowering plants including the Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii), Fragrant Evening Primrose (Oenothera caespitosa), and the Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii). No method to control is necessary. If infestation is high, hand-pick caterpillars off your plants or allow naturally occurring parasites to help control the population.

A white, cottony mass may appear on ornamental and edible plants and is sometimes confused with cochineal scale because they too produce a waxy, white cottony substance but it is most likely mealy bugs. Both insects feed on plant juices, however, cochineal scale feed exclusively on cacti such as Prickly-pears (Opuntia spp.), Nopalea spp. and Chollas (Cylindropuntia spp.).

Mealy bugs are often difficult to control and systemic insecticides may be used, but are not always effective. However, usually dipping a cotton swab with a 50-50 mixture of rubbing alcohol and water solution and then wiping on these insects can help manage the population. Mealy bugs are also a common problem for many cacti and succulents grown indoors or in greenhouses and are often found either on the stems or roots.

Take the infested plant(s) outdoors during the summertime as this seems to help get rid of these pests. It takes constant vigilance to keep them under control.

The male cicadas’ mating calls are a cacophony of sound that permeates the desert air and often heralds to the gardener that summer has arrived. The Apache cicada is common to low-desert regions and the adult has a mostly black body with a pale band behind its head. The nymphs spend almost their entire life underground feeding on the roots of many desert trees, shrubs and other ornamentals.

As the nymph becomes an adult, it will then surface from the soil and undergoes one last shedding of its exoskeleton. The adult cicada will feed on the plant sap of many trees or shrubs. After mating, females will make small “hatch” marks on the slender tips of trees or shrubs to lay their eggs. This physical damage can cause the tips to “die” back, but is not detrimental to the plant and is often thought of as “natural pruning”.

There is no need to control cicadas as they are part of the desert ecology. Allow natural predators to control the population as many birds and lizards find the cicada nymph and adult to be a tasty treat.

If it has been a dry season, rabbits may be nibbling on plants that they may not have eaten before. Most mature plants can handle rabbit sampling, but newly planted plants should be protected until they have attained a larger size.  Protect plants with a wire cage or spray Liquid Fence TM to help deter these animals. Allow mesquite pods to fall and remain on the ground for rabbits to eat as they are a vital food resource for many desert animals. It might even help distract them from eating your most prized plants.

Cochineal scale, the cottony, white substance on your Prickly-pears (Opuntia spp.) and Chollas (Cylindropunita spp.) may be active now. Remove by using a fast stream of water or spray insecticidal soap.

Adult ocotillo borers are now active in search of stressed or recently planted ocotillos in which to lay their eggs. The eggs are laid in the bark and the larvae or grubs excavate into the stems causing a hasty decline of the plant. Look for signs of borers by watering the ocotillo during the warm season. If the stems do not leaf out, examine for grubs and remove any infected stems by pruning back to base of the plant.

The large, black-brown beetle bumbling onto your porch during the sweltering summer nights is the Palo Verde Beetle. It has just emerged from its subterranean home looking for a mate.  For the past two to four years it has lived underground as a grub or larva feeding on the roots of many native and non-native plants, not just Palo Verde trees as the common name suggests.

When the grubs become adults they will ascend and can be seen in late June, July, August and September particularly after rainfall.  Once the female adults mate, they lay their eggs and die soon after making their life span about one month. Using pesticides is not recommended as the beetle is already gone by the time you notice any damage.

To prevent root borers keep your plants healthy as possible as they will be less vulnerable to an attack.  There are many natural predators of the adult beetle including roadrunners, coyotes, owls and even bobcats. Grubs are eaten by skunks.

 

What to Plant in July

We recommend most plants be planted in the fall or spring.  However, if you must plant during the summer months watering may need to be more frequent and you must be diligent about observing your newly planted plants for signs of water stress.

Many cacti and warm-season succulents can still be planted in the summer. When transplanting cacti and succulents, mark either the south or west side and plant facing the orientation you marked to avoid the burning of tender tissues. Most nurseries will mark the side of the container to help you determine proper planting orientation.

However, if the original orientation is not known, newly planted cacti and succulents need to be covered with shade cloth if the plant surface appears to yellow or pale suddenly. Use a shade cloth rated between 30-60% as anything higher will block most of the sunlight and will not be suitable for your cacti and succulents. You may need to keep the shade cloth on the plant for the duration of the summer to prevent sunburn.

 

PLANT CACTI AND WARM-SEASON SUCCULENTS INCLUDING:
• Prickly-pears (Opuntia spp.)
• Barrel cacti (Ferocactus spp.)
• Hedgehogs (Echinocereus spp.)
• Easter Lilies (Echinopsis spp.)
• Pincushions (Mammillaria spp.)
• Chollas (Cylindropuntia spp.)
• Golden Barrel (Echinocactus grusonii)
• Senita (Pachycereus schottii)
• Organ Pipe (Stenocereus thurberi)
• Mexican Fence Post (Pachycereus marginatus)
• Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii)
• Old Man of the Andes (Oreocereus celsianus)
• Agaves (Agave spp.)
• Aloes (Aloe spp.)
• Red-yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)
• Giant Hesperaloe (Hesperaloe funifera)
• Burseras, Elephant Trees (Bursera spp.)
• Pencil Tree (Euphorbia tirucalli)
• Candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphilitica)
• Carrion Flowers (Stapelia spp.)
• Slipper Plant (Pedilanthus macrocarpus)
• Madagascar-palm (Pachypodium lamerei)
• Elephant Food (Portulacaria afra)
• Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
Desert-adapted trees can be planted during the summer months if you follow the guidelines in the Watering Section above. When planting native and desert-adapted plants, it is usually unnecessary to back-fill with soil amendments and vitamins or to add rooting hormones. Remember to remove nursery stakes from trees after planting.
TREES TO BE PLANTED INCLUDE:
• Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)
• Mesquites (Prosopis spp.)
• Palo Verdes (Parkinsonia spp.)
• Texas-olive (Cordia boissieri)
• Anacacho Orchid-tree (Bauhinia lunarioides)
• Texas Ebony (Ebenopsis ebano)
• Palo Blanco (Mariosousa willardiana syn. Acacia willardiana)
• Golden Leadball Tree (Leucaena retusa)
• Ironwood Tree (Olneya tesota)
• Catclaw Acacia (Senegalia greggii syn. Acacia greggii)
• Palo Brasil (Haematoxylon brasiletto)
• Mexican Ebony (Havardia mexicana)
• Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia orthocarpa)
• Desert Fern (Lysiloma watsonii)
Shrubs should be planted in fall or spring.

Herbaceous perennials and groundcovers should be planted in fall or spring. However, many warm-season vines can be planted during the summer months. Water immediately after planting and monitor the moisture for the next few days to keep the root ball from drying out. Water newly planted native and desert-adapted vines twice to three times weekly to a depth of at least a foot. Gradually extend the time between watering and monitor plants regularly for signs of water stress.

VINES TO BE PLANTED INCLUDE:
• Yellow Orchid-vine (Callaeum macropterum)
• Queen’s Wreath (Antigonon leptopus)
• Arizona Grape-ivy (Cissus trifoliata)
• Old Man’s Beard (Clematis drummondii)
• Purple Bushbean (Macroptilium atropurpureum)
• Yellow Morning Glory-vine, Yuca (Merremia aurea)
• Passionflowers (Passiflora spp.)
• Slender Janusia (Janusia gracilis)
• Arizona Canyon Grape (Vitis arizonica)
Planting of cacti seed can continue. Seed can be soaked overnight in water to help begin the germination process.  Place seed in a well-draining soil mix (½ quality potting soil and ½ perlite or pumice) and lightly cover. Keep soil moist until germination occurs.
VEGETABLE SEEDS TO SOW INCLUDE:
• Armenian cucumbers
• pinto beans
• black-eyed peas
• tepary beans
• snap beans
• muskmelons
• cantaloupes
• pumpkins
• winter squash
• sweet corn
Pepper and tomato seed may be planted indoors and transplanted in August or September for a fall harvest.

Wait until fall or spring to plant most herbs.

Watering In July

Proper irrigation to your plants during the summer months is crucial. As the temperatures rise, plant watering needs will also increase. However, adjust your watering schedule if your garden receives a deep, substantial rain event.

Observe plants regularly for signs of water stress. Some signs to look for include:  wilting, curling leaves, yellowing or falling of older leaves, and dead stems or branches. Some plants with larger leaves like Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii) and Queen’s Wreath (Antigonon leptopus) will often wilt during the hottest part of the day, but by next morning they usually recover. However, if they do not recover by the following morning, it is a good indication they need to be watered.

The amount of water and watering frequency depends on many factors. These include:  soil type, weather (temperature, humidity, rainfall, etc.), microclimates, cultural practices, plant size and species, and whether newly planted or established in the landscape (two years or more).

Below are general guidelines to help you determine how much and how often to water your landscape and container plantings to keep them healthy when rainfall is lacking. Native and desert-adapted plants that were newly planted and those that are not established in the landscape need to be watered until they become established in the landscape and can then survive with natural rainfall.

Even established plantings will need an occasional supplemental watering during long periods of drought to keep them healthy and stress-free.

Established native or desert-adapted trees should be watered at least once a month if no rainfall. If the temperature is over 108 degrees, water your native or desert-adapted trees at least twice during the month. Always allow soil to dry out between each irrigation cycle. Water at least 3 feet deep for your trees.

Established native or desert-adapted shrubs should be watered every two to three weeks. Always allow soil to dry out between each irrigation cycle. Water at least 2 feet deep for your shrubs.

Natural rainfall may be adequate for most well-established cacti and succulents. However, if rainfall is insufficient, water may be needed at least once for cactus and twice for succulents during the month of July. Always allow soil to dry out between each irrigation cycle. Water your cacti and succulents to a depth of at least 8-12 inches.

With increased humidity and higher temperatures, careful watering of non-native succulents during this time is a must.

Established native or desert-adapted herbaceous perennials, groundcovers and vines should be watered every 2 weeks and at least to a depth of 1 foot. Always allow soil to dry out between each irrigation cycle.

During the summer native and desert-adapted trees can be planted. See What to Plant section for more details. After planting your trees, they should be watered immediately and the moisture monitored for the next few days to keep the root ball from drying out. Newly planted native and desert-adapted trees may need to be watered more frequently until established. It can take up to 3-5 years for trees to become established in the landscape.

Recently planted native or desert-adapted trees should be watered once a week if temperatures are over 100 degrees. If temperatures are over 108 degrees water every 2-3 days. Unestablished trees that have been in the ground for 2 to 5 years water every 10 days.

Shrubs should be watered once a week if temperatures are over 100 degrees during their first year in the ground; over 108 degrees water every other day. Water your shrubs during the second year every 10 days if temperatures are over 100 degrees; every 3 days if over 108 degrees. Water your shrubs to a depth of at least 2 feet. It can take up to two years for your shrubs to become established in the landscape.

During the summer cacti and other warm-season succulents can continue to be planted. See What to Plant section for more details. When planting cacti and succulents, it is imperative to wait a week before watering to minimize the chance of rot. After the initial irrigation of your succulents, allow the soil to dry out and water every 10-14 days. Cacti need to be watered once more after initial watering, but allow the soil to dry out between watering. Cacti and succulents can take about a year to become established in the landscape.

Unestablished native or desert-adapted herbaceous perennials, groundcovers and vines should be watered once to twice weekly if temperatures are over 100 degrees; if over 108 degrees water every other day and water to a depth of at least 1 foot.  Herbaceous perennials, groundcovers and vines usually take about a year to become established in the landscape.

Herbs may need to be watered twice weekly and vegetables may need to be watered every 2-3 days. For most vegetables it is important to keep the soil moist around the root zone during its growing season. Don’t allow the soil to dry up too much as this can affect the growth of the plant and quality of the fruit. Provide shade and apply mulch to your herbs and vegetables if needed.

Agaves and other succulents (Aloe spp., Madagascar Palm [Pachypodium lamerei], Ponytail Palm [Beaucarnea recurvata], Slipper Plant [Pedilanthus macrocarpus], Euphorbia spp., Haworthia spp.) in large containers should be watered at least once to twice this month. Cacti in containers should be watered at least once this month. However, cacti and succulents in smaller containers may need to be watered more often especially cacti and succulent seedlings.

Many winter-growing succulents including Succulent Geraniums (Pelargonium spp.), Iceplants (Malephora spp., Drosanthemum spp.,Cephalophyllum spp.), Living Stones (Lithops spp.) and crassulaceous plants (Kalanchoe spp., Cotyledon spp., Echeveria spp, Dudleya spp.) have become inactive. These summer-dormant succulents need to be watered less during the summer months. Water carefully and allow the soil to dry out between watering.

Keep an eye on your warm-season annuals and herbaceous perennials in containers. Water them at least two to three times weekly particularly if they are planted in smaller containers.

JULY IN THE LOW DESERT

If we are fortunate the arrival of summer rains will materialize this month, bringing much relief to plants and animals. However, you may notice many non-native succulent plants are succumbing to high nighttime temperatures. When the night temperatures stay at 90º F or above and the humidity is high, most succulent plants can’t breathe. After several nights in a row, chances are many of them will rot. Other than careful watering, there is nothing that can be done.

Native summer annuals can be planted from seed such as Arizona Poppy (Kallstroemia grandiflora), Chinchweed (Pectis papposa) and Devil’s Claw (Proboscidea parviflora). These annuals can be difficult to germinate, but soaking the seed overnight in water may help initiate the germination process.

The fruits of many desert plants are continuing to ripen such as Prickly-pears (Opuntia spp.), Organ Pipes (Stenocereus thurberi), Ironwood (Olneya tesota), Palo Verdes (Parkinsonia spp.), Mesquites (Prosopis spp.) and many others. You may notice tiny holes on the outside surface of the Mesquite and Palo Verde fruits. These holes are caused by bruchid beetles that are predators that feed on the fruits and seeds.

With increased winds and storms, check your tree staking and readjust if necessary. Remember staking is a temporary solution to allow the tree to establish its root system. Tree staking should be done only when necessary and stakes should be removed after one or two growing seasons.

With proper plant selection, you can provide your garden with color as there are many native and desert-adapted plants that will continue to flower through the summer and into the fall.

BLOOMING HERBACEOUS PERENNIALS, GROUND-COVERS, BULBS, AND VINES CAN INCLUDE:
• Rain lilies (Zephyranthes spp.)
• Mexican Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa)
• Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri)
• Desert Rosemallow (Hibiscus coulteri)
• Arizona Rosemallow (Hibiscus biseptus)
• Dyssodia (Thymophylla pentachaeta)
• Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis)
• Katie Ruellia (Ruellia brittoniana ‘Katie’)
• Desert Senna (Senna covesii)
• Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii)
• Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata)
• Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata)
• Paperflower (Psilostrophe cooperi)
• Desert Zinnia (Zinnia acerosa)
• Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana)
• Blue Mist (Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Dark Knight’)
• Desert Foldwing (Dicliptera resupinata)
• Butterfly Mist (Ageratum corymbosum)
• Bloodflower (Asclepias curassavica)
• Marvel of Peru (Mirabilis jalapa)
• Red Sage (Salvia coccinea)
• Pink Sage (Salvia coccinea ‘Brenthurst’)
• Mexican Hat (Ratibida columnifera)
• Desert Four O’Clock (Mirabilis multiflora)
• Mist Flower (Conoclinium dissectum)
• Desert Plumbago (Plumbago scandens)
• Wine Cups (Callirhoe involucrata)
• Baja Bush Snapdragon (Galvezia juncea)
• Yellow Dots (Sphagneticola trilobata)
• White Woolly Twintip (Stemodia durantifolia)
• Rock Penstemon (Penstemon baccharifolius)
• Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum)
• Rough Menodora (Menodora scabra)
• Showy Menodora (Menodora longiflora)
• Texas Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella)
• Hummingbird Trumpet (Epilobium canum ssp. latifolium)
• Rock Verbena (Glandularia pulchella)
• Arizona Blue-eyes (Evolvulus arizonicus)
BLOOMING VINES CAN INCLUDE:
• Queen’s Wreath (Antigonon leptopus)
• Yellow Orchid-vine (Callaeum macropterum)
• Yellow Morning Glory-vine, Yuca (Merremia aurea)
• Lavender Trumpet Vine (Clytostoma callistegioides)
• Wait a Minute Vine (Merremia dissecta)
• Pringle’s Clustervine (Jacquemontia pringlei)
• Passionflowers (Passiflora spp.)
• Arizona Grape Ivy (Cissus trifoliata)
• Slender Janusia (Janusia gracilis)
• Purple Bushbean (Macroptilium atropurpureum)
BLOOMING SHRUBS CAN INCLUDE:
• Mexican Oregano (Poliomintha maderensis)
• Tree Ocotillo (Fouquieria macdougalii)
• Little-leaf Cordia (Cordia parvifolia)
• Woolly Butterfly Bush (Buddleja marrubiifolia)
• Red Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)
• Blue Emu Bush (Eremophila hygrophana)
• Mexican-honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera)
• Flame Anisacanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii)
• Lantana (Lantana camara)
• Desert Ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis)
• Velvet-pod Mimosa (Mimosa dysocarpa)
• Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)
• Prairie Acacia (Acaciella angustissima syn. Acacia angustissima)
• Yellow Bells (Tecoma spp.)
• Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica)
• Heavenly Cloud Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum x ‘Heavenly Cloud’)
• Guayacán (Guaiacum coulteri)
• Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens)
• Rio Bravo Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’™)
• Cimarron Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum zygophyllum ‘Cimarron’®)
• Silver Nightshade (Solanum hindsianum)
• Bee Brush (Aloysia gratissima)
• Mexican-oregano (Lippia graveolens)
• Velvet-leaf Senna (Senna lindheimeriana)
• Desert Cotton (Gossypium thurberi)
• San Marcos Hibiscus (Gossypium harknessii)
• Chihuahuan Honeysuckle (Anisacanthus puberulus)
• Coral Fountain (Russelia equisetiformis)
• Sky Flower (Duranta erecta)
• Indigo Bush (Dalea bicolor var. argyrea)
• Skeletonleaf Goldeneye (Viguiera stenoloba)
• Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii)
BLOOMING TREES CAN INCLUDE:
• Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)
• Texas-olive (Cordia boissieri)
• Golden Leadball Tree (Leucaena retusa)
• Texas Ebony (Ebenopsis ebano)
• Chanar (Geoffroea decorticans)
• Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens)
BLOOMING CACTI AND SUCCULENTS CAN INCLUDE:
• Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii)
• Chain Fruit Cholla (Cylindropuntia fulgida)
• Coville’s Barrel (Ferocactus emoryi)
• Compass Barrel (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
• Fishhook Barrel (Ferocactus wislizeni)
• Organ Pipe (Stenocereus thurberi)
• Diamond Cholla (Cylindropuntia ramosissima)
• Midnight Lady (Harrisia pomanensis)
• Rose Cactus (Pereskia aculeata)
• Guyapa (Pereskia sacharosa)
• Easter Lilies (Echinopsis spp.)
• Red Torch (Echinopsis huascha)
• Slipper Plant (Pedilanthus macrocarpus)
• Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)
• Giant Hesperaloe (Hesperaloe funifera)
• Elephant Tree (Bursera microphylla)
• Woolly Aloe (Aloe tomentosa)

Camp Of The Choke Cherry Moon

The chokecherry was among the most important wild fruits used by North American Indians. Chokecherries were widely used by the Blackfoot and Plains Cree. The period during which the chokecherry was in fruit was referred to as `black-cherry-moon’.

The fruit was dried and ground, stones and all, for use in soups, stews, and pemmican. In the interior of B.C., dried chokecherries were often eaten with salmon or salmon eggs.

The bark was boiled along with other ingredients to produce a remedy for diarrhea. A strong, black, astringent tea was made from boiled twigs and used to relieve fevers. Dried roots were chewed and placed on wounds to stop bleeding. Teas were made from the bark or roots and used to treat coughing, malaria, stomachaches, tuberculosis and intestinal worms. Such teas were also used as sedatives and appetite stimulants. The fruit was used to treat canker sores, ulcers, and abscesses.

Wood of the chokecherry was used for tipi construction, bows and arrows, skewers, digging sticks, pipe stems, and fire tongs. Navajo Indians thought of the chokecherry as a sacred plant and used its wood to make prayer sticks.

The Shuswap Indians mixed the fruit with bear grease to make a paint for coloring pictographs.

The chokecherry was also utilized by European settlers in North America. Parts of the chokecherry were the basis of popular home medications. Teas made from the bark have long been used as a sedative, and to alleviate coughs. Extracts of the berries and bark have been used as a flavoring agent for a cough and cold preparations. The wild cherry bark was an officially recognized pharmaceutical from 1800 – 1975.

On the prairies, the fruit has long been favored for use in jellies, syrups, sauces, jams and wine. Currently, the chokecherry is becoming more widely used in multiple-row shelterbelts, as an ornamental, for wildlife habitat improvement, and for reclamation and rehabilitation (especially for slope stabilization and erosion control).

General Botany

The chokecherry is a small tree or, more usually, a shrub with crooked branches and slender twigs. It has an oval rounded to narrow and irregular shape. Stems can grow to 15-20 cm (6-8 in) in diameter and can attain 15 m (30 ft) in height. The chokecherry suckers freely and thus forms loose thickets with an extensive lateral root system.

New branches are red-brown in color while the mature bark is dark gray. The inner bark of the twigs has a strong odor, characteristic of bitter almond.

Leaves of the chokecherry are alternate and simple having finely toothed edges. They are broadly oval and abruptly pointed in shape. The leaves attain their maximum size about the time of flowering.

The chokecherry is a variable species, with several varieties and forms recorded. On the basis of differences in leaves and fruit, botanists sometimes divide this species into 3 varieties, each having a separate geographical range. The variety demissa may attain a height of 6 m, has heart-shaped leaves covered in very fine hair, and is found in B.C., Alberta, and the western states. The variety melanocarpa can also reach a height of 6 m, has smooth leaves, and is found in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the states south of these provinces. This variety has two forms, melanocarpa, which has deep blue-purple to almost black fruit, and xanthocarpa, which has yellow fruit. The variety virginiana is a large shrub that can reach a height of 15 m, has thin leaves, and is widespread across Canada and the United States. This variety also has two forms, virginiana, which has crimson to deep red fruit, and leucocarpa, which has whitish to yellowish and amber fruit.

Range and Habitat

The chokecherry grows as far north as the Yukon and North West Territories and as far south as California, New Mexico, and Texas. In Canada, the chokecherry ranges from B.C. in the west to Newfoundland in the east. The chokecherry grows throughout much of the western United States and in the mid-west and east ranges from Nebraska south through Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and North Carolina.

The chokecherry is commonly found on rich, moist, but well-drained soils. It is also found in poor, dry soils and even sand dunes if water is not far beneath the surface. The chokecherry has medium to low salt tolerance. It apparently performs poorly in arid SW Saskatchewan.

The chokecherry is rather intolerant of shade and therefore is usually found in the open along fence lines, roadsides, and streambanks, on cleared land, and along the borders of wooded areas and ravines.

The chokecherry also is able to grow in a wide altitudinal range. In Nevada, the chokecherry grows to an altitude of 2,400 m (8,000 ft).

Growth Characteristics

The chokecherry is a very competitive shrub that grows quickly. Chokecherries are reported to have a 40-year lifespan. In North Dakota, chokecherries may grow from 33-71 cm (13-28 in)/year. It may take from 20-25 years for plants to attain a height of 7 m (23 ft) and a spread of 3.5 m (11.5 ft).

Characteristics of Flowers and Fruit

Flower buds develop the year prior to actual flowering and fruit production. Flowers occur in cylindrical clusters that appear at the ends of new shoots after the first leaves are almost fully developed. Each cluster contains from 25-35 flowers that mature from the base to the apex. The clusters vary from 4-15 cm (1.6-5.9 in) long and are about 2 cm (0.8 in) in diameter. The flowers are white or cream colored and are from 0.5-1.5 cm (0.2-0.6 in) in diameter.

Flowering occurs from early May to early July, depending on latitude. The flowers are less susceptible to late-spring frosts than other fruit species because flowering occurs somewhat later.

The chokecherry is apparently self-fruitful to some extent, but under these circumstances, many reduced yields can be expected. The flowers are fragrant and primarily insect pollinated. Warm days (under 30°C, or 86°F) and cool nights promote heavier fruit set because of increased insect activity.

The chokecherry may first flower as soon as the second season after seed germination and fall seedling establishment, but 3-4 years is more usual.

The fruit of the chokecherry is true cherries, containing a single seed, or stone. They are from 4-9 mm (0.2-0.4 in) in diameter and vary in color from yellow, orange, red to purple-black. The fruit mature from late June to late August, again depending on latitude. About 10 weeks are required for the fruit to mature.

The fruit is borne densely, are relatively easy to pick and hold up well in shipping.

Potential Yield

The chokecherry appears to produce fairly consistent yearly fruit crops. Chokecherries can yield 13.6 kg (30 lb) of fruit/shrub, with 772-2,425 berries/kg (350-1100 berries/lb). A yield of 11,200 kg/ha (10,000 lb/acre) could be expected.

Wildlife Usage and Forage Value

The chokecherry is utilized by about 70 species of game or songbirds. It provides cover for small mammals and nesting birds. It is an especially important fall and winter food source for ruffed and sharp-tailed grouse, quail, prairie chickens, various songbirds including grosbeaks, jays, and waxwings, bears, rodents, rabbits, moose and deer. The fruit, buds, twigs and bark are all eaten. The concentration of protein increases in the stems during the fall, which is beneficial to browsing deer.

The chokecherry is of only poor to fair forage value for cattle and sheep and is known to be toxic to livestock under certain circumstances.

Toxicity

The poisonous qualities of the chokecherry were first described in 1847. The consumption of chokecherry leaves and seeds has caused fatalities in livestock and children; children have also been poisoned from chewing on twigs.

The inner bark, buds, flowers, seeds and suckers contain a chemical compound (the cyanogenic glycoside prunasin) which, when acted upon by stomach digestive enzymes, breaks down to yield hydrocyanic acid (prussic acid); the consequence is cyanide poisoning. The highest levels of toxicity apparently occur in the spring and summer; the leaves become non-toxic once the fruits mature (in late summer).

Symptoms of poisoning occur from less than 1/2 hour to 3 or 4 hours following consumption. The symptoms of cyanide poisoning include rapid breathing and gasping, salivation, slowed pulse, dilated pupils, staggering and convulsions, eyes rolling, tongue hanging out of a mouth, cyanosis (blue coloring of the lining of the mouth), and loss of consciousness. The blood of the victim is a bright cherry red. The basic cause of death is respiratory failure.

Livestock (cattle and sheep in particular) apparently do not relish chokecherry leaves and will not eat them unless driven to do so by hunger (for example, under conditions of drought or overstocking). The availability and quality of grass determine the degree of browsing by cattle. Early spring and late summer are the most likely periods when cattle are likely to browse on the chokecherry. The degree of poisoning varies with a number of leaves or fruit ingested, time of the season, size and kind of animal, and the ability of the animal to detoxify hydrocyanic acid. Wilted leaves are more dangerous because fewer of them need to be eaten. Fresh leaves have been reported to contain 143 mg hydrocyanic acid/100g (0.02 oz/1 lb) leaves whereas the concentration of hydrocyanic acid in wilted leaves may reach 243 mg/100 g (0.04 oz/ 1 lb) leaves. This concentration is 10 times the level at which poisoning can occur. Consumption of 0.25% of an animal’s weight of leaves (about 0.7 kg or 1.5 lb of leaves for cattle, and 0.1 kg or 0.25 lb for sheep), eaten over a period of 30-60 minutes, will cause poisoning. However, hydrocyanic acid is metabolized rapidly and doesn’t accumulate, therefore, grazing is possible at levels below the fatal dose. Constant exposure to hydrocyanic acid does not confer immunity to the browsing animal.

Susceptibility to Herbicides

The chokecherry is known to be moderately susceptible to 2,4-D amine or low-volatile ester and is susceptible to ammonium sulphamate, 2,4,5-T amine or low-volatile ester, 1:1 mixtures of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, 1:1 mixtures of 2,4-D and dichlorprop, and 2:1 mixtures of 2,4-D and dicamba. However, other untested herbicides may also be toxic to the chokecherry.

Herbicide Residues on Wild Berries

Currently, the primary sources of chokecherries are those harvested from wild stands. It is wise to be familiar with the management history of the area being harvested from before consuming such fruit, or products made from such fruit. A study made in Ontario has indicated that significant herbicide residues were found on wild fruits in some areas (less than 1% of the areas sampled) in the same year that herbicides were applied. Such areas include accessible rights-of-way such as highways and railways, crown land, and recreational areas.

CHOKECHERRY CULTURE

Cultivars

A number of cultivars have been selected and named. These are available from various nurseries but quantities are generally limited. Additionally, import restrictions on Prunus sp. make cross-border purchases impossible.

Boughen Sweet – large, mild fruit; excellent for jams, jellies, and wines; selected by W.J. Boughen, Valley River, Manitoba, prior to 1923.

Boughen’s Golden – yellow fruit, full flavor, little astringency; ornamental value; selected by W.J. Boughen, Valley River, Manitoba.

Canada Red – attractive small tree; leaves turn deep red in autumn; high yielding; large fruit clusters; large, black fruit, excellent flavor; selected by McFaydens Nursery.

Center hill – tasty, large fruit.

Chokeless – non-astringent to the sweet fruit.

Honeywood – tasty, large fruit.

Garrington – 3 m height (17-18 year old shrubs); weepy habit; large, pointed leaf; 8-10 mm black fruit, good flavour; fruit held on outside of shrub, easy to pick; 4 years average yield 14 kg (31.5 lb) per shrub (hand-picked); selected by L. Pearson, Bowden, Alberta.

Goertz – columnar form; very winter hardy; 12-16 large fruit/cluster; black, very juicy, non-astringent fruit (good flavor); released by the Alberta Tree Nursery and Horticulture Centre, Edmonton.

Johnson – high-yielding; good quality fruit; ornamental value; originated north of Fosston, Minnesota.

Maskinonge – non-suckering; excellent quality, sweet, non-astringent, medium-sized red fruit; originated in Maskinonge Valley, Quebec.

Mission Red – bright red fruit; excellent for wine-making; ornamental value.

Mission Yellow – yellow fruit; excellent for wine-making (rich, amber-colored wine); ornamental value.

Mission Orange – orange fruit; ornamental value.

Schubert – mature summer foliage reddish-purple, fringed with lime green; pyramidal habit with dense foliage; fruit purplish-black, large; good yield; excellent jams, jellies, wines; introduced by Oscar H. Will Co., Bismarck, North Dakota.

Spearfish – yellow fruit; originated in South Dakota.

Propagation

It is possible to propagate chokecherries using seed, suckers (rhizome sprouts), rhizome cuttings, semi-hardwood cuttings, crown division, by grafting, and through micropropagation. All methods of vegetative propagation produce plants which are identical to the parent plant. Plants propagated from seed tend to be dissimilar to the parental stock.

Seed

The use of seed has some advantages. Plant variability is useful in the search for new cultivars, and potentially for the expression of a range of resistance to insects and diseases. Other advantages of using seed include lower initial cost and the production of the disease-free material. The disadvantages are that the use of seed will probably require at least one additional year of growth before the production of a fruit crop is possible, and mature plants will not necessarily be identical to the parental stock. The seed of the cultivar Schubert apparently produces plants relatively true to the parental material.

It is suggested that seed is used where a minimal start-up cost is essential, and where variability is not considered detrimental. Seed could also be used if planting chokecherries in hedgerows or shelterbelts.

Seed is best collected or purchased near the area of planting to ensure local adaptability. Fruit should be collected when fully mature; this facilitates cleaning and greater germination. It is desirable to clean seeds of the fruit pulp. If the seed is purchased, it is important to ask about the seed generation and age, where it was collected, and how it was stored.

The seed is extracted from the fruit using a blender with dull blades at low speed; the seed will not be damaged, but will have to be sieved from the pulp.

Excessive drying of cleaned seed is detrimental to germination. A few hours of surface drying is all that is required. Extracted and cleaned seed should not be stored in the open, or in a warm, dry atmosphere. Cleaned seeds should be stored dry in sealed containers at temperatures of -3 to 3°C (27-37°F).

A kilogram of cleaned chokecherry seed contains from 6,600-18,500 seeds (3,000-8,400 seeds/lb); 45 kg (100 lb) of fruit yield 3-11 kg (7-24 lb) of seed.

Chokecherry seed will germinate with no pretreatment if sown outdoors in the fall at 65-70 seeds /0.25 m2 (25 seeds/ft2). The seed should be sown at 1 cm (0.4 in) depth, or covered with 1-4 cm (0.5-1.5 in) mulch. Seed should be sown in early September to mid-October at the latest. Germination rates vary from 30-70% with a 4:1 ratio of sown seed:usable seedlings. Under such conditions, seedlings may require 1-2 years to reach a suitable planting size. Low seedbed densities should be maintained to ensure adequate plant size and to reduce the percentage cull.

Optimal conditions for the germination of chokecherry seed require 16-24 weeks of stratification at 3°C (37°F) in the moist sand:peat. Moist vermiculite, or 1:1 peat:perlite may also be used. The volume of medium used should be 1-3 times that of the seeds.

The seeds are subsequently germinated at 21-27°C (70-81°F) with a 14-hour photoperiod. One study determined that subsequent growth conditions of 7/-4°C (45/25°F) day/night temperatures in vermiculite promoted maximal root growth and minimized root-tip browning.

Further growth and development will be favored by a warm, well-lit environment; a dilute 20-20-20 fertilizer may be applied every 2-3 weeks. Maximum growth may be obtained using bright full-spectrum fluorescent light (a mixture of cool and warm white) where bright, but indirect sunlight is not available, a constant 25 to 27°C (77-81°F) temperature, 70-90% relative humidity, and two 30 minute periods of darkness every 24 hours; a moderate amount of air movement is necessary to provide adequate ventilation and to produce stronger stems. The use of carbon dioxide supplementation in greenhouses so equipped is advantageous in promoting vigorous growth.

Before transplanting outdoors in the fall, acclimatization is necessary; this involves restricting water, switching to natural lighting and reducing the temperature. Before planting out in the spring, the development of vegetative maturity (indicated by falling leaves), and 900-1,000 hours of chilling at 5°C (41°F) are necessary.

Suckers

Suckers are shoots that arise from rhizomes which are underground stems. When removing suckers, it is essential to obtain as large a root mass as possible, and the root mass should not be allowed to dry out prior to transplanting. Suckers are best removed in early spring or late fall when the plants are dormant. Only those suckers that are well-rooted should be transplanted; the roots should never be allowed to dry out. Suckering can be promoted in mature plants growing in light shade or open conditions if the stem is damaged.

Rhizome Cuttings

Cuttings 10 cm (4 in) in length and 1-2 cm (0.4-0.8 in) in diameter should be collected in July. They should be sterilized with 10% bleach, and then rinsed with tap water. The ends should then be sealed with melted paraffin, and the cuttings then planted 1.5 cm (0.6 in) deep in moistened vermiculite in plastic trays. The trays are then placed in a well-lit greenhouse with day/night temperatures of 25/17°C (77/63°F). Most of these cuttings (over 80%) should produce 1-8 shoots in 19-38 days.

Grafting

Chokecherries have been grafted to non-suckering Prunus padus (European bird cherry or May Day cherry) rootstocks.

Semi-hardwood Cuttings

Semi-hardwood cuttings, 15 cm (6 in) in length, should be taken from suckers early in June and treated with 0.8% (8,000 ppm) IBA in talc. The treated cuttings are then stuck in 2:1 peat:vermiculite, or 3:1 sand:peat and placed in a mist bed. The rooting medium should be maintained at 21°C (70°F) using heating cables. The proportion of such cuttings successfully rooting varies from 42-100% according to one study. The use of 1.5% IBA, dissolved in 95% ethanol may also provide successful results.

Micropropagation

Chokecherries have been successfully micro propagated from dormant buds. The micropropagation protocols may be found in Pruski et al. 1992

Plantation Establishment

Chokecherry plantations may take the form of typical orchards, but they also can be established in single or multiple-row shelterbelts. The information that follows is primarily associated with establishing an orchard, but much of this information is applicable to shelterbelt establishment and maintenance.

Site Selection

To select a site suitable for establishing a chokecherry plantation, it is important to consider such factors as soil type, drainage, the slope of the plantation site, availability of a source of good quality water, and protection from the wind.

If possible, plantation sites should have a slight slope (1-2%) so as to provide for the drainage of water and cold air; this is especially important during frosts. There should be a break in any shelterbelt at the low end of the plantation to allow for proper air flow. Preferably, the slope should not face south so that the soil will warm up more slowly in the spring, thus delaying flowering. A north or east facing slope will also prevent sunscald.

Prior to transplanting, soil preparation should include tillage and perhaps the use of a non-residual herbicide such as glyphosate, which will eliminate perennial weed infestations.

Preferably, a green manure crop should be grown for 2 years prior to plantation establishment. It is important to eliminate all perennial weeds.

The chokecherry will grow in all types of soil, provided that the soil is well drained. The best soil is a deep sandy loam with high organic matter (2-3% as a minimum). Heavy clay soils lacking in humus should be avoided. A sunny location is preferable.

Soil pH is not overly critical. The chokecherry appears to be tolerant of a wide pH range (5.0 to 8.0); the optimum pH is reported as being 6-8.

For irrigation, surface water is generally of better quality than good water, which can have a high salt content (the measure of salinity, or EC, should be less than 1 mS/cm). Ideally, the water supply should be situated near the plantation and the supply should be sufficient to meet annual irrigation requirements.

Windbreaks

For orchards, protection from the prevailing winds is important. Strong or persistent winds can cause severe desiccation, especially in the winter, and damage from abrasion and tearing. The consequences may include the loss of shoots, buds, flowers and fruit. Such damage acts as a natural form of pruning and results in reduced bush size and an atypical form. Additionally, leafing out and flowering can be negatively affected on the windward side of bushes; both can be delayed and the amount of bloom can be reduced. Fruit size may also be reduced.

Windbreaks provide protection from drying winds, help maintains snow cover and decreases moisture loss and soil erosion. Windbreaks also allow for better pollination.

Windbreaks should be situated so as to reduce the effects of the prevailing winds in both summer and winter. Windbreaks should extend 10-15 m (30-50 ft) beyond the area to be protected. The porosity and height of the windbreak determine the protective effect. A 3 m (10 ft) high windbreak will reduce wind velocity for up to 90 m (300 ft) downwind. Synthetic windbreaks should have a porosity of about 50%. Planted shelterbelts provide the best wind protection. A 9 m (30 ft) high shelterbelt reduces wind speed for 90 m (100 yds) upwind and 275 m (300 yds) downwind.

Plant Spacing

Plant spacing is dependent upon the type of equipment available for tillage and harvesting, the method of harvest, and whether chokecherries are to be grown in an orchard or as part of a shelterbelt. In general, rows should be at least 1-2 m (3-7 ft) wider than the equipment available.

It is suggested that spacing between plants be 1 to 1.5 m (3-5 ft) with rows 4.5-6 m (15-20 ft) apart. A between plant spacing of 1 m (3 ft) and a between row spacing of 4.5 m (15 ft) requires about 2,100-2,500 plants/hectare (850-1,000 plants/acre); the exact number varies with the dimensions of the area planted.

Wider between row and within row spacings provide for better plantation ventilation and therefore help reduce the risk of disease problems. Smaller within row spacings increase early yields and returns.

Transplanting

Vigorous plants 15-60 cm (6-24in) tall should be used. A well-developed root mass is essential. The roots must not be allowed to dry out.

Generally speaking, transplanting of field-grown stock is best done in early spring after the soil thaws (greenhouse grown stock requires hardening off). Transplanting can also be done in the late fall, before the soil freezes, provided that the material has been hardened off. However, a dry fall, followed by a cold, dry winter may result in a large percentage of loss. It is possible to transplant rooted cuttings and micropropagation plants in mid-August. This allows some time for further root growth, but also provides sufficient time for natural winter hardening to occur. Significant shoot growth will likely not occur until the growing season after transplanting.

Fall planted suckers should not be pruned until the following spring. Spring planted suckers should be pruned to a height of 20 cm (8in). Rhizome cuttings are best transplanted in early spring, as is bare-rooted stock.

When transplanting, plants should be set a little deeper (2-5 cm; 1-2 in) than they were in the propagation container. The soil can then be firmed around the roots. Subsequently, the plants need to be watered well, and consistently, but not overwatered. Pruning the shoots back should not be necessary, except as noted for suckers. Well, composted manure can be mixed in with the soil around the transplant. Four to eight ounces of a phosphate fertilizer (0-20-0, 11-48-0) could also be mixed in, using less if phosphorus levels are adequate, or if manure has been used. This will help promote root growth.

Growers should normally count on a minimum 10% loss of transplanted material, which will, therefore, need to be replaced.

Grassing Down

This involves the planting of a permanent grass cover between the rows of chokecherry plants. A grass cover is important for the control of erosion and enables mechanical harvesting even in wet conditions; it also may help retain soil moisture and control some weeds. A grass cover will also increase the absorption of rainfall and at the same time minimize runoff.

Suitable grasses must not be weedy (like quack grass), must produce only one seed crop per year, must be hardy and resistant to snow mold, and should form a resilient turf capable of withstanding the use of a mechanical harvester during wet weather. Some tests in the Peace River country of northern Alberta indicate that Chewings Fescue (cv. Oasis) and Creeping Red Fescue (cv. Boreal) have performed well in saskatoon orchards. These grasses may be useful in chokecherry plantations. Observations made at the University of Saskatchewan suggest that Crested Wheat Grass (cv. Fairway) may also work well. This grass is an easily established bunch grass that can withstand dry weather, greens quickly in the spring, and is dwarf in stature.

Some species of grass native to the prairie may offer excellent potential for an understory soil cover.

Plantation Management

Irrigation

Most native fruit species, like the chokecherry, will survive under normal moisture conditions without supplemental irrigation, provided that weeds are not allowed to grow. However, irrigation will improve plantation establishment and rapid growth, and may be required to maximize fruit yield, depending on natural rainfall. Once plants are established, one or two annual irrigations may be sufficient.

Accurate estimates of water requirements for all native fruit species are not available. Research on the best timing and amount of irrigation required has not been reported. In semi-arid climates, newly established trees and shrubs require about 4 L (1 US gal) of water per week (equivalent to 2.5 cm/0.25 m2 or 1 in/3 ft2 of rainfall around the plant). During the second year, 15 – 19 L (4 to 5 US gal) every 2 weeks is required. These amounts may be met by rainfall.

A simple test to determine if irrigation is required is to squeeze a handful of soil into a ball. If this soil ball holds its shape when jarred slightly, then there is no need for irrigation; if the soil crumbles, water is required. This method is quick and inexpensive but is somewhat inaccurate.

However, it is possible for chokecherries to be irrigated too much. Excess water can result in root damage from poor soil aeration and may prevent the uptake of mineral nutrients and water; young plants may be especially susceptible to root rot. Excessive water may also contribute to insipid fruit flavor and burst.

Wide-row spacings and limited supplies of water make trickle or drip irrigation the most cost effective method. The use of sprinkler or surface irrigation requires about twice as much water as does the use of trickle irrigation.

The advantages of trickle irrigation are many. Water is placed where it is needed (no watering between rows, fewer weeds), irrigation equipment is semi-permanent (nothing to lift or move around regularly), low labour and operating costs are normal, foliage is not watered (thereby reducing the incidence of plant disease), wind has no effect on the application of water, other field operations can be carried out simultaneously, and fertilizers can be applied through the system. Operating pressures and flow rates are low, therefore the required pumps and piping are smaller and leaks at connections are not common. Because water requirements are lower, conservation of energy and water is easily possible.

On the negative side, emitters may easily clog with salts, algae or soil, the mechanical or rodent damage is possible, and sunlight may cause the plastic pipes to crack.

In contrast to trickle irrigation, overhead irrigation systems can be used to advantage for frost protection during flowering, and even earlier in the spring to delay flowering, if spring temperatures are warmer than normal.

Simpler irrigation techniques include gravity fed irrigation from raised tanks, and hand-watering from a tractor-pulled tank and trailer. These methods may be the most economical for small plantations in particular.

Fertilization

Proper use of fertilizers is important to reducing costs, to growing healthy plants, and to minimizing the ecological impact of fertilizers on water bodies. An excess of fertilizer can result in problems as serious as a deficiency.

Of all the essential mineral nutrients, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) are the ones used in quantities that may require replacement. Nitrogen is the most common nutrient requirement, but it has been observed that excessive levels of nitrogen occur more frequently in fruit orchards than deficient levels.

Magnesium, manganese, and boron are only rarely required. Iron, although present, may not be available to plants on alkaline soils. Members of the rose family are particularly susceptible to a lack of iron, which is indicated by a yellowing of the foliage (termed iron chlorosis).

Prairie soils generally require that soil nutrient levels of 35 kg (77 lb) N, 27 kg (60 lb) P, and 136 kg (300 lb) K, per acre, be maintained.

A soil analysis will indicate the nutrient status of the soil. It is important for growers to monitor new shoot growth, leaf color and luxuriance, and fruit production and size. Short terminal growth and pale green leaves suggest a need for fertilizer.

Nutrient requirements are probably higher during growth, prior to maturity. During periods of active growth, it is generally suggested for bush berry crops that 39 to 45 kg N, 6 kg P, and 56 kg K per hectare (35-40 lbs N, 5 lbs P, 50 lbs K per acre) per year be applied. At maturity, nutrient requirements decrease; the general recommendations for other bush berry crops are 17 kg N, 3 kg P, and 34 kg K per hectare (15 lbs N, 3 lbs P, 30 lbs K per acre), assuming yields of about 5,600 kg per hectare (5,000 lbs per acre).

Leaf analysis is the most accurate method of determining mineral requirements, provided that optimum nutrient concentrations have been established. Province of Ontario recommendations for sour cherry leaves include 2.2-2.8% N, 0.15-0.2% P, 1.3-2.3% K, 1.2% Ca, and 0.35% Mg.

Fertilizers are best applied late in the fall or early in the spring before the leaves flush. It is best not to fertilize (or irrigate) after harvest because high levels of soil fertility (and water) delay the development of winter hardiness.

Fertilizer requirements for chokecherries have not been determined. It is not known how necessary or suitable the above recommendations are for the chokecherry. Soil tests should be made before fertilizers are applied.

Pruning

Regular, careful pruning is important to maintain plant health and improve yield, but major pruning does not become necessary until the plantation is about 6-10 years old.

Pruning primarily involves the removal of weak, diseased and damaged shoots. Low, spreading branches should be removed and the centers of shrubs thinned to keep them open and thus allow good air circulation. The removal of older, less productive stems is also suggested. The production of new plant growth should be encouraged because the largest fruit is usually produced on 1-4-year-old shoots.

Late-winter and early-spring pruning (prior to bud break), is suggested. Active shoot growth following pruning at this time will encourage healing and will better prevent diseases from infecting the tissues. Late fall and early winter pruning may leave shoots susceptible to winter damage. Summer pruning is not recommended because removal of the leaf surface limits normal growth and development, fresh cuts can enhance the spread of various diseases, and pruning at this time may induce the formation of new shoots that will not have time to harden properly for winter.

However, certain diseases require immediate pruning for the most effective control (including canker and fireblight). In these circumstances, the benefits of immediate pruning outweigh any disadvantages.

Shrubs should be maintained at about 2-3 m (6.5-10 ft) in height by pruning the leaders. Such heading back should not be practiced until the plants reach this desired height and plants are well established.

Large plantations will require the purchase of pneumatic or hydraulic pruners.

When pruning diseased growth, tools should be disinfected with Lysol (1 part Lysol to 19 parts water), or household bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) after every cut. Lysol is less corrosive to pruning tools. Pruned material should be removed and burned.

Mulching

The use of mulches will help suppress weeds (especially between plants in the row), will reduce extreme fluctuations between daytime and nighttime soil temperatures, and will aid the retention of soil moisture. Common materials used for mulching include wood chips, bark, straw, sawdust (spruce or poplar in particular), waste hay and gravel. A maximum of 30 cm (12 in) of mulch should be applied (greater thicknesses may not be economical) and the mulch should be kept 20-30 cm (8-12 in) from the plant stems to discourage mice. A black plastic mulch can also be used, but is more expensive, requires the irrigation to be laid first, and also requires the use of a fertilizer injector.

Pollination

Because chokecherry flowers are insect pollinated, supplemental pollination using honeybees will likely be beneficial. Every tenth plant in a row should be of a different cultivar.

Harvesting

Normal harvest dates vary from late-June to late-August, depending on latitude.

The simplest harvesting methods are hand picking, or using a berry rake (a comb with large teeth). A small power vibrator and catching frame, as is used for highbush blueberries, is another method of harvesting.

Mechanical harvesting can be accomplished using a pull-type harvester (as is used for raspberry harvesting), or a self-propelled harvester (as is used for highbush blueberry harvesting). Effective machine harvesting of chokecherries requires that row width at ground level be about 50 cm (20 in), and bush height no more than 3 m (10 ft).

During the first 3 to 4 years of production, it may not be economical to use commercial harvesters because yields may be low; therefore, U-Pick or contract hand picking should be considered.

It is essential that freshly harvested fruit be rapidly cooled to remove field heat. Immediate post-harvest cooling (within 2-3 hours of harvest) slows the chemical changes within the fruit that lead to over-ripening and deterioration, reduces the activities of micro-organisms that cause fruit rot, and reduces desiccation; shelf life is consequently increased. A refrigerated truck or nearby facility is often considered essential. Completing fruit harvest in the morning (prior to about 11:00 AM) substantially reduces problems resulting from field heat.

Problems

Weather-induced Disorders

Problems caused by weather may include cold injury, desiccation, wind damage, and sunscald.

Cold injury and desiccation are, in part, associated with the development of winter hardiness and dormancy. The development of winter hardiness (a process called hardening off) and dormancy allow a woody plant to survive our winters. The requirement for a period of dormancy is often referred to as a chilling requirement. If this chilling requirement is not met, abnormal growth and development, or no growth, may result. Dormancy requires and follows hardening-off, which is a physiological process initiated by decreasing daily temperatures and shorter days. Inadequate hardening-off predisposes a plant to cold injury.

Cold injury is associated with prolonged extreme cold temperatures or sudden extreme drops in temperature following a warm spell. Desiccation is caused by relatively warm dry winds that have effects when the ground, and consequently a plant’s roots, are still frozen; the aboveground parts of the plant lose water to the warm, dry winds, but this water cannot be replaced because the roots are frozen.

Symptoms of both cold injury and desiccation are similar and often associated. Warm, dry winds can be followed by sudden drops in temperature. Symptoms may include the death of an entire plant, or death of more susceptible plant parts such as new wood, leaf buds, and flower buds. Winter damage may allow the subsequent entry of dieback and decay fungi such as Cytospora canker.

Killing frosts are defined as temperatures of -2.2°C (28°F) or lower; at this point, most actively growing plant tissues are killed. Symptoms of spring frost damage include light browning of flowers and leaves; damaged parts will drop off. Flowers are especially susceptible to frost damage. Such damage may be restricted to the internal parts of the flower and may not be noticeable except under magnification.

Strong winds can cause abrasion, tearing, and desiccation. Hard brown edges result from this damage. Leaves and new shoots are susceptible to wind damage. Fruit can also be affected, gray or light brown scabs forming.

Sunscald, which is a bark injury, can occur in both summer and winter. Bark exposed to the hot summer sun can discolor and bubble, subsequently forming cankers. On cold, sunny days during the winter, bark exposed to the sun may become warmer than the air and then cool rapidly after sunset; splitting and subsequent canker development can occur.

Prevention of these problems is associated with proper site selection and management practices. The development of winter hardiness requires low levels of soil moisture and fertility in late summer and fall. Substantial irrigation or fertilization after harvest is not suggested. Low lying sites with a high water table are also conducive to delaying hardening off, and also to frost damage because of poor air drainage. Windbreaks are important for reducing the effects of strong, persistent winds. A slight NE slope to the plantation will help prevent sunscald; a spray of dilute white exterior latex paint can also be used. This may also help delay flowering in the spring.

Insect Pests

The timing of insect feeding has a great effect on the extent of damage caused. The two most important periods are a) during flowering and fruit set, and b) during fruit development. Insect damage during flowering and fruit set decreases potential crop yield through flower and fruit loss; insect damage during fruit development can induce loss of young fruit. At later stages of fruit development, damaged fruit are not lost, but the marketable yield is reduced.

The effects of leaf feeding insects are less well defined. If damage to the total leaf area of a shrub is great enough, some fruit loss could occur because sugar production would be substantially reduced. Flower bud production (which occurs in mid to late summer) could also be reduced. Additionally, leaf feeding could affect the storage of sugars within the plant and this could have longer term effects on plant survival and growth, depending upon the severity of the damage.

The chokecherry is attacked by a variety of insects; a partial list follows.

Beetles: 1) Shot-hole borer (Scolytus rugulosus); 2) A bark beetle (Chaetophlocus heterodoxus); and 3) Round-headed wood borers (Clytophorus verrucosus, Ropalopus sanguinicollis).

Sucking Insects: 1) Lacebugs (Corythucha spp.); 2) Chokecherry aphid (Rhopalosiphum cerasifoliae); 3) Plum aphid (Asiphonaphis pruni); 4) Leafhoppers (Gyponans flavilineata); and 5) Treehopper (Tortistilus inermis).

Moth Caterpillars – the chokecherry is fed upon by a large diversity of caterpillars, only some of which are listed here: 1) Chokecherry leafroller (Sparganothis directana); 2) Tent caterpillars (Malacosoma spp.); 3) Fall cankerworm (Alsophila pometaria); 4) Uglynest caterpillar (Archips cerasivoranus); 5) Fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea); and 6) Cecropia moth caterpillar (Hyalophora cecropia).

Gall-forming Insects: 1) Fruit gall midge (Contarinia virginianiae); and 2) Leaf gall insects (Pachypsylla spp.; Phytoptus emarginatae).

Sawflies: Chokecherry sawfly (Hoplocampa lacteipennis).

Of the above insects, three very common ones include the chokecherry sawfly, the fruit gall midge, and tent caterpillars.

Chokecherry Sawfly (Hoplocampa lacteipennis)

Adult sawflies emerge from the litter and feed on nectar and pollen in late-May. The adults are 5-6 mm (0.2 in) long and primarily yellow in color. Eggs are laid in the calyx of the flower. Larvae emerge in 5 days and enter and feed within the developing cherry which dries up and turns black. The larvae then enter the second fruit and feed on the seed. These fruits ripen along with uninfested fruit, although they are not marketable. Mature larvae are 8-9 mm (0.3 in) long and white with yellow heads. Mature larvae exit the fruit as they begin to ripen, fall to the ground, overwinter as larvae in cocoons in the soil, and pupate the following spring.

Fruit Gall Midge (Contarinia virginianiae)

The fruit gall midge is a significant cause of fruit loss. Adults emerge in May and lay eggs in the flowers. The tiny yellowish-orange maggots feed on the developing fruit which becomes enlarged, pear-shaped, and hollow; the developing seed aborts. Larval feeding continues until late-July when the larvae drop to the ground and pupate in the soil. The damaged fruit dries up and drops off.

Tent Caterpillars (Malacosoma californicum lutescens, other spp.)

Tent caterpillar adults are brown moths with thick bodies; their wingspan is 30-40 mm (1-1.6 in) and each front wing is marked by two whitish bands. Only one generation occurs per year. Eggs of M. californicum are laid towards the base of a stem, within 30 cm (12 in) of the ground, in late summer. Overwintering occurs in the egg stage; hatching in the spring is timed to leaf bud break. The larvae construct a webbed nest near a fork in the stem. Larvae feed for 6-8 weeks and are about 5 cm (2 in) long when mature. M. californicum larvae are black on top, with a white stripe, and powdery blue on the sides. Tent caterpillars can completely defoliate shrubs. An infestation of 200 caterpillars in a single web can defoliate a 1.5-3 m (5-10 ft) high shrub.

Control of Pest Insects

No insecticides are registered for use on the chokecherry. Proper plantation management and maintenance of plant health will help plants withstand insect attack. Good sanitation practices, including the removal of fallen fruit and leaves, will help decrease the incidence of insect pests.

Two potentially very useful candidates for registration include Bacillus thuringiensis (Dipel, Thuricide), a biological control agent effective against caterpillars, and dormant oil spray (Sunspray 6E; Sun Refining and Marketing Company, Philadelphia; apparently no phytotoxicity if applied at 1-3%). Dormant oils are applied in the spring to destroy insect eggs. The timing of application is important, but knowledge of this is lacking for the chokecherry.

Diseases

Diseases may be significant barriers to successful chokecherry production. A variety of diseases is known to affect the chokecherry. These include black knot disease, x-disease, bacterial spot (Xanthomonas pruni), shothole (Coccomyces lutescens), apricot ring pox virus, twisted leaf, canker, damping-off, brown rot, and fireblight. The two most important diseases appear to be black knot and x-disease. Germinating seeds and seedlings may be affected by damping-off.

It is important to carefully monitor for diseases and to take preventive measures. Disease problems are more prevalent in years of greater than normal precipitation. At present, no fungicides are registered for use on the chokecherry and therefore, disease control is primarily associated with pruning and sanitation. Regular inspections and pruning are required to effectively control diseased shoots. Pruning tools must be disinfected with Lysol (1 part Lysol to 19 parts water), or household bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) after every cut. All pruned material should be burned.

Black Knot (Apiosporina morbosa)

Black knot is a disease of wild and domesticated cherries and plums. It is closely related to the fungus that causes black leaf and witch’s broom in the saskatoon. Infected branches are deformed and growth is substantially reduced. This disease can girdle and kill infected branches; plants may become stunted and deformed after several years. A greater incidence of the black knot is associated with decreased plant moisture stress and lower soil temperatures (generally, sites that receive and hold more spring moisture).

The black knot fungus penetrates soft bark on new growth and causes a gall (a localized proliferous growth of plant tissue). The first symptoms are a slight swelling of the current season’s twigs in the fall. The swellings or knots are normally confined to one side of the stem. The following spring, the swellings become large, the bark ruptures and the surface of the gall becomes covered with a velvety green fungal tissue which turns black and smooth in the fall. These black knots are the source of new infections of nearby branches. The swellings increase in size and produce new spores every year.

Black knot can be controlled by pruning infected branches at least 10 cm (4 in) below the knots.

X-disease (causal organism unidentified)

X-disease is caused by a mycoplasma-like pathogen that infects chokecherry, sweet and sour cherries, several varieties of peach, and other Prunus species. Chokecherry is apparently its primary host. X-disease is widely distributed in North and South Dakota and Minnesota; presumably, it occurs on the Canadian prairies as well. This disease spreads rapidly and can destroy a plantation in 3 to 4 years. Because it can cross-infect economically important peach and cherry plantations, with chokecherries being the primary source, chokecherries in proximity to such plantations are eradicated. Once a single plant becomes infected, the entire plantation usually becomes infected.

X-disease is spread by insect vectors, in particular, a variety of leafhopper species (about 15 species). Leafhoppers acquire the pathogen while feeding on leaves of diseased chokecherries and inject the pathogen into healthy leaves. Leafhoppers are generally present from late-May through to early-October; disease transmission occurs from June through to early September. Leafhopper populations can be monitored using yellow sticky cards. Symptoms of the disease develop the year following transmission.

Infected leaves become greenish-yellow in late-June (they may have a reddish tinge on the margins). In July and August, the leaves turn a deep red. As the disease progresses, shoots become stunted, and leaf rosettes result from decreased growth. X-disease initially reduces growth, which is followed by a decline in plant vigor and subsequent death. Infected fruit is pointed and yellowish-red. Infected fruits are not marketable and seeds from such fruit do not germinate.

Control requires that infected shrubs be eradicated. Unfortunately, some infected trees can be symptomless. All infected material should be removed and burned. Pruning of symptomatic branches is apparently not effective because the pathogen moves to the roots on infection. Leafhopper control is important; weed cover for these insect pests must be removed.

Damping-off (Pythium and Rhizoctonia, and other fungi)

This disease destroys germinating seeds and very young seedlings. Pre-emergent damping- off affects the sprouting seed and is favored by cold, wet germinating media. Seedlings affected by post-emergent damping-off wilt upon emergence and have rotting stems, especially near the surface of the medium. This type of damping-off occurs in warm, humid conditions and where seedlings are crowded. The fungi survive in soils with high organic matter. Prevention involves the use of sterilized soils and other potting media when germinating seed and growing seedlings. A 5 minute surface sterilization of the seed, using household bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts water), prior to placing in the germination medium, may help

Weeds

Weeds can substantially reduce shrub survival and growth because they are strong competitors for moisture and nutrients. A vigorous stand of weeds may consume 6-8 mm (0.25-0.33 in) of water per day. Weeds should not be allowed to go to seed.

No herbicides are registered for use on the chokecherry. Periodic, shallow cultivation (5-8 cm; 2-3 in) in combination with some hand hoeing are the primary means of control. Deep cultivation and cultivation too close to the plants is not suggested because roots can be damaged and extensive suckering may be promoted. Cultivation for weed control is especially important during the early years of plantation growth. Mulching may be the easiest method to control weed growth between plants in a row.

Birds

Many bird species that are normally beneficial (because they feed on destructive insect pests) may cause serious crop losses when fruit are ripe. It is generally illegal to kill birds and ecologically unwise; most birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Act. Consequently, control can be difficult. Control efforts must begin as soon as birds start to damage crops before they develop an established feeding pattern. A combination of two or more methods of control is likely to be more successful.

The use of netting (plastic impregnated paper, nylon, cotton, or polyethylene) may be the only effective solution, but it is necessary to keep the netting off the bushes using simple frames of poles and wire. Anti-bird netting has been shown to be both effective and economically feasible for blueberries. Once installed, netting requires little maintenance, is non-toxic, and neither causes noise nor injures birds.

Some observations suggest that several strands of monofilament fishing line strung crosswise over the top of a strawberry crop mimic spider webs that many birds prefer to avoid. This idea may be applicable to chokecherries.

`Scare-Eye’ balloons (Pest Management Supply, Inc., P.O. Box 938, Amherst, MA, 01004, U.S.A.), suspended on flexible poles (bamboo, poplar, willow, fiberglass), and moved every 7-10 days, appear to be effective in apple orchards.

A Reflective Mylar Tape is currently being used in commercial strawberry fields in California for bird control. The tape is 2.5 cm (1 in) wide and is used in 30-60 cm (1-2 ft) lengths tied to fence posts, or whatever is convenient. The tape produces a fluttering sound in light winds and reflects light brightly. It is not known how effective this might be in chokecherry plantations. The tape is available from Sutton Agricultural Enterprises Inc., 538 Brunker Ave., #7, Salinas, CA 93901, USA. The tape costs $5.00 U.S. per 500 ft rolls.

Hanging hawk silhouettes and twisted yellow tape strung above the crop may also be of use. More sophisticated solutions include the use of infra-red motion detectors that trigger a loud alarm.

Rabbits and Mice

Rabbits and mice can also be a cause of damage. Rabbits may eat young shoots and both rabbits and mice can girdle stems (strip away bark completely around the circumference of the stem). Damage from mice is associated with excessive weed growth within the crop and normally occurs in the winter when there is a protective snow cover. Prevention of damage is the most effective means of control.

Controlling weeds and keeping grass strips mown on a regular basis will help discourage mice and rabbits. Brush piles and other trash should be removed from fields, ditches, fence rows, and from around buildings because this material provides protection and breeding sites.

A homemade mixture of 1 part (by weight) thiram (75% wettable powder) with 10 parts water-emulsifiable black asphalt can be used as a taste repellant. This mixture must be sprayed or thoroughly brushed onto plants from soil level to a height of 60 cm and must be applied to dry stems after leaf fall on a warm day. Natural soaps containing ammonium salts of fatty acids (eg. Hinder) have an unpleasant odor and may repel rabbits.

Mulches applied after the ground is frozen in the fall may also help to prevent damage from mice.

Poison baits are very toxic to most mammals and are not suggested for use.

Deer

Deer may feed on twigs and larger branches; they can destroy or alter the shape of shrubs. Browsing may be heavier where alternative sources of food are unavailable and in severe long winters.

Many native plant species are ecologically adapted to annual moderate or heavy browsing. Winter browsing stimulates new vegetative growth in the spring, even on dry rangeland. However, browsing does remove flower buds and therefore reduces the potential fruit crop. Some light to moderate browsing may have little overall effect.

The most cost-effective way to protect against deer is to enclose the area to be protected with a woven wire or electric fence. Woven-wire fences must be 2.3 m (7.5 ft) high as a minimum; gates must be kept closed. Lower fences may reduce but not eliminate browsing. Electric fences should be 1.8 m (6 ft) high and consist of 7 strands of wire 20-30 cm (8-12 in) apart.

Commercial deer repellents are considered to be generally ineffective. Guard dogs may be another possible solution.

ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS

The commercial grower of chokecherries faces a number of problems including the difficulty of obtaining the large number of plants of the desired cultivar required for plantation establishment, the length of time from planting to production, the lack of sufficient information on management practices, and poorly defined opportunities for marketing and processing. No pesticides are registered for use on the chokecherry and effective, alternative methods of pest and disease control need to be developed. Economical methods of mechanical harvesting and grading are also not available for small plantations. Suitable methods for postharvest storage and processing, the establishment of commercial processing facilities, and major marketing efforts are required; substantial initiatives in these directions have yet to be taken. The lack of consistent supply and volume of fruit means an uncertain market.

At the time that this manual was written, fresh chokecherry fruit sold for $1.10-2.20/kg ($0.50-1.00/lb). Pickers can earn $15.00-20.00/hour. Chokecherry products sell well. Single 125 ml (4.2 U.S. oz) jars of jam retail at about $3.50 and 250 ml (8.5 U.S. oz) containers of syrup at $4.75.

It is important to note that chokecherry production requires a long-term commitment and can be very labor intensive. Because of the long time required to realize a profit, other fruit or vegetable crops that will realize immediate income can be grown during the establishment phase of a chokecherry plantation.

Sacred Mesquite ~Recipes

Mesquite grows well in desert areas from the southwestern United States to the Andean regions of South America. Traditionally, native peoples of the Southwest depended on mesquite. It provided food, fuel, shelter, weapons, medicine, and cosmetics. As times changed, and as refined sugar and wheat flour became staples, the role of mesquite was diminished.

Mesquite meal was once made by hand-grinding the plant’s seeds and pods on stones. Now modern milling techniques speed up the process, grinding the entire mesquite pod at once, including the protein-rich seed. This produces a meal that is highly nutritious as well as very flavorful. The meal ground from the pod contains 11 to 17 percent protein. High lysine content makes it the perfect addition to other grains that are low in this amino acid.

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http://www.mesquiteflour.com/

Although desert dwellers used mesquite pods as a source of food for centuries, when you order and use this product, you become part of a new, pioneering network of chefs and nutritionists who are working together to discover contemporary uses for this tasty food.

Mesquite meal can be added to soups, gravies and sauces, casseroles, vegetable and meat dishes, and pie crusts, or you can sprinkle it on desserts such as fruit compotes, puddings, and ice cream.

The Value of Mesquite

Mesquite pods were once a treasured part of the Pima and Tohono O’odham diet. The sweet pods are a good source of calcium, manganese, iron, and zinc. The seeds within are 40 percent protein. Mesquite flour made from grinding the whole pods produces soluble fibers, which are slowly absorbed, without a rapid rise in blood sugar.

Diabetes epidemics among Native American populations were almost unheard of until the middle of the 20th century, when desert tribes, in particular, suffered spiraling rates of diabetes and obesity. Some researchers believe that the health epidemics began when modern-day Native Americans started getting their food from the supermarket instead of the desert. For generations, sweet and juicy mesquite beans were a staple of desert tribes of the Southwest.

Medical studies of mesquite and other desert foods show that despite its sweetness, mesquite flour (made by grinding whole pods) “is extremely effective in controlling blood sugar levels” in people with diabetes. Soluble fibers, such as galactomannan gum, in the seeds and pods slow absorption of nutrients, resulting in a flattened blood sugar curve, unlike the peaks that follow consumption of wheat flour, corn meal, and other common staples. The gel-forming fiber allows foods to be slowly digested and absorbed over a four- to six-hour period, rather than in one or two hours.

Tribes of the Southwest also used mesquite for grilling. Food cooked over a mesquite fire is something special. The rest of the country began to realize that in the 1980’s when mesquite became the wood of choice for chefs and backyard grilling gurus all over the U.S.

Mesquite blossoms also provide good nectar for honey.

Mesquite Flour Recipes


MESQUITE CORNBREAD
from Native Peoples Magazine

3/4 C. each of cornmeal and flour
3/8 C. mesquite meal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. each baking soda and salt
1 C. yogurt
1 egg
3 Tbs. honey
3 Tbs. oil

Combine dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Combine the wet ingredients and stir into the dry ingredients just until combined. Spread into greased 8 inch by 8 inch pan. Bake 20 – 25 minutes at 350 degrees. For a unique Southwestern kick, add 1 tablespoon chipotle (dried, smoked jalapeno) flakes and 3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels.


OATMEAL COOKIES
from Promez

2 C whole wheat flour
1 C sugar
3/8 C mesquite meal
2 eggs
1 C oats
1 C margarine or butter
2 t baking soda
1/2 cup chopped nuts
2 t baking powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Blend first five dry ingredients (flour, meal, oats, soda and baking powder ) in a medium bowl. Blend margarine ( or butter ) and sugar, add eggs. Combine all ingredients until well blended. Drop on ungreased cookie sheet by rounded teaspoons. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.


MESQUITE PANCAKES
from Martha Darancou Aguirre of Rancho la Inmaculada

3/4C mesquite flour
1C flour (enriched, bleached, buckwheat)
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tb sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 to 2 C milk

Mix dry ingredients first. Add vanilla and eggs. Mix. Add milk until desired thickness is acquired. (The thinner the mix, the thinner the pancakes, the thicker the mix, the thicker the pancakes.) Spoon onto a hot griddle and flip when just beginning to bubble. Serve with butter and honey or better yet, prickly pear syrup. Makes 12 – 18 pancakes.


MESQUITE BANANA BREAD

from Martha Darancou Aguirre of Rancho la Inmaculada

3/4C mesquite meal
1C all purpose flour
2/3 C sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1C mashed banana
1/3 C shortening, margarine or butter (preferred)
1/2 C milk
2 eggs
1/4 C chopped nuts

Mix mesquite meal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add mashed banana, shortening, margarine, or butter, and milk. Beat on low speed until blended, then on high for 2 minutes. Add remaining flour. Beat until blended. Sir in nuts. Pour into greased 8x4x2 inch loaf pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool thoroughly.


MESQUITE ZUCCHINI BREAD
from Martha Darancou Aguirre of Rancho la Inmaculada

1 C mesquite meal (Sonoran)
1 C all purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 C sugar
1 C finely shredded unpeeled zucchini
1/4 C chopped walnuts
3 eggs
1 C corn oil

Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. In another bowl, mix sugar, zucchini, oil, egg and lemon peel. Mix well. Add flour mixture and stir until combined. Stir in nuts. Pour into greased 8x4x2 inch loaf pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool thoroughly before wrapping.


MESQUITE APPLE NUT MUFFINS

2 tablespoons of mesquite flour
1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
1/2 cup of refined wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 eggs
1 apple cut in pieces
1/4 cup of chopped nuts
1/3 cup of milk

Mix the dry ingredients. Separately mix the liquid ingredients with the beaten eggs. Add half the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients. Then add the nuts, chopped apples and the rest of the moist ingredients and mix well. Place in oven at 350 F for 25 minutes and then test with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean.

Recipe courtesy of Pam Mathison


MESQUITE OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups quaker quick oats
1/2 cup mesquite flour
1 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons guar gum

Heat oven to 350 F. Beat together butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add regular flour, mesquite flour, baking soda, cinnamon, guar gum and salt and mix well. Stir in oats and raisins mix well Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes. Cool 1 minute and move to wire rack. Makes about 4 dozen.


MESQUITE MERINGUE COOKIES (Gluten free)

Ingredients

3 egg whites
1 cup of sugar (can be less if a less sweet cookie is preferred)
½ cup mesquite flour
½ teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of lemon juice

Mix the sugar and mesquite flour together. Without stopping, slowly add the sugar/mesquite flour to the egg whites as they are beaten with an electric mixer. Add the salt and lemon juice while continuing to beat the mixture. Continue beating until a consistency is reached, such that when the mixing bowl is inverted the mixture does not fall from the bowl.   Immediately after beating, place the spoon size drops on a cookie sheet with waxed paper. (It is preferred that the cookie sheet has holes).  Place in an oven with very low temperature (about 210 F) for about an hour to an hour and a half. Be careful not to let the cookies brown.


MESQUITE FRUIT CAKE

Ingredients

7/8 cup butter (200 gram)
1 ¼ cup sugar (250 gram)
¼ cup of cognac
1 grated lemon rind
2 egg yolks
3 entire eggs
1 ¾ cup wheat flour (200 grams)
2 teaspoons of baking powder
4 tablespoons of mesquite flour
14 ounces of (400 grams) of dried fruit mix mango, papaya, pineapple.

Preparation:

Beat the butter with the sugar until a white cream consistency is achieved. Moisten the fruit and the grated lemon peel with the cognac.  Add the egg yolks and the eggs one by one, while beating the creamy sugar/butter mixture. Mix the mesquite flour with the wheat flour and baking powder in a separate bowl.  Alternately incorporate the dried fruit with the wheat/mesquite flour -baking powder mixture and optional macadamia nuts.  Beat well. Place the combined mixture in a rectangular baking pan that has been buttered and dusted with flour. Bake in a moderate temperature oven until the cake rises to full volume and becomes a golden color.  Remove the fruit cake and allow to cool on wire rack.


MESQUITE FLAN

Ingredients

Flan portion
8 eggs
1 quart of milk
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of mesquite flour

Caramel topping
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon of rum

First make the caramel syrup by boiling the mixture a cup of sugar and cup of water until the water evaporates and the caramel becomes the color of honey.  Add the rum and remove from the burner.

Mix the eggs, sugar, milk, and mesquite flour and place this mixture in a flan mold that has been lined with the caramel.  Bake for one hour at 350 F with a cookie sheet with water below the flan mold.  Remove the flan from the mold. Add water to the mold (after removing the flan), place on a burner on the stove, allow the liquid to boil and concentrate until it becomes a thick syrup. Pour this syrup over the flan. Serve cold.


HOT MESQUITE MILK

Ingredients

1 cup of cow or soymilk
4 teaspoons mesquite flour
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
Add the mesquite flour to milk and place in a blender until well mixed.
Place in a microwave for 40 seconds.


GLUTEN FREE MESQUITE PANCAKES

Ingredients

1 ½ cups Bob’s Red Mill gluten free pancake mix
3 tablespoons mesquite flour.
1 cup of milk (cow or soy)
1 egg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Mix the Bob’s Red Mill gluten free pancake mix, mesquite flour, milk, and egg, beat well and let stand until the griddle is ready. Put the griddle on medium heat, add the vegetable oil. Add 2 tablespoons of the mixture to the griddle. When bubbles appear throughout the mixture, turn the pancakes. Continue cooking until the pancakes easily separate from the griddle and have a light brown color. This recipe is a modification of the Bob’s Red Mill GF pancake mix in that it includes more milk and mesquite flour.

Pink Lady Slipper and Native American Legends of the Ladyslipper (Cypripedeum Acaule)

One of America’s more rare and wonderful flowers is the Pink Lady slipper. It is curiously both beautiful and at the same a whisper of a past, we have lost when our continent was covered by plants of the deep, dark woods. This odd little plant is the substance of many varied legends held by native peoples.

It is a stemless perennial clumping herb with two basal, ovalish leaves that are six to eight inches long. The flowers are solitary at the end if scurfy-hairy stalks that are six to ten inches long. The lip of the flowers much enlarged and sac-like in appearance, hence its appearance of a moccasin or ballet slipper. It usually flowers in May to June in dry old growth woods with highly acid soils. Before we go into the substance of those aforementioned legends let’s talk some more about the plant.

Its botanical name is Cypripedium Acaule from (sip- pri-pee’di-um a-u-calle-aye) both the Latin and Greek roughly translated to mean Venus’ shoe. Among the approximate fifty varieties of lady slippers, the pink is one of the rarest. It was so popular during Victorian times it was actually declared extinct, but that was a misconception based on disappearances in certain areas. So if you are lucky enough to see one in the wild, you should know that they are endangered in some states. They grow primarily under pine trees, red maple trees, and sweetgum trees. You also might find them near greenbrier and sassafras.

This is not a plant to grow in your garden. There are a few very good reasons why and that has to do with in part with symbiotic relationships. The Pink Ladyslipper needs a certain Rhizoctonia fungus and the Bumble bee to exist. With respect to the fungus, the plant, and the fungus cannot survive for long without each other. Also, it takes many years for the plant to grow from seed.

Native Peoples Folklore and Medicine

Lady SlipperPink Ladyslippers belong to the orchid family and among various Native American tribes, it is often simply referred to as the “Moccasin Flower.” It’s easy to see how very “little imagination it would take see the flowers as pretty little pink moccasins worthy of many a romantic tale or two. Additionally, there was a time when eastern North America was home to an abundance of Pink Ladyslippers.

They weren’t just loved for their beauty, they were also an important source of Indian medicines. Native peoples primarily used the Pink Ladyslipper for antispasmodic, nervine and tonic —specifically for treating nervous diseases and hysteria. It is also reported that it relieves pain without being narcotic and is a treatment for insomnia. Only the rhizome of the plant is used for medicinal purposes. Never pick the plant’s blossom because doing so will interfere with the plants life cycle and it will never flower again or eventually die. That would be a tragedy since a healthy Pink Ladyslipper can live for at least twenty years and some reports much longer.

The Legend of the Pink Ladyslipper Native Folktales

cypripedium_guttatum_lg2Among several tribes on the North American continent, there are romantic tales revolving around the Pink Ladyslipper. The most well-known versions originate with the Ojibwe version of the story, in which a young Indian girl embarks on a snowbound, winter journey for desperately needed medicine for her family and tribe. On the journey she loses her moccasins but continues on bloodying her feet, leaving a trail behind her. In the spring, the bloody footprints are replaced by bright pink Ladyslipper orchid and all return to health.

As with most oral tradition native people’s tales, this story changed with the tellers and depending upon which tribe was doing the telling the gist of the story varied. I personally first heard the story from a Kentucky member of the Shawnee tribe, whose grandmother who was of the once nearby Yuchi tribe and passed on the legend of her tribe. It was she who also taught me about the plant’s healing powers. She would make a powder out of the roots and steep it in water to give to her patient. I do not recommend doing this because of the herb’s rarity. I think it is more important to know her tribe’s alternative tale and honor the plant.

Their version was an Indian chief who went off to war promising to return with a pair of pink moccasins for his little daughter who was inconsolable at his departure. He was killed in battle and the little girl died of grief. On the girl’s burial site the mother fell asleep and when she woke a pair of Pink Ladyslipper’s marked the spot. In that instant, she knew that both her husband and the little girl had been reunited.

Caution!! Some people can be allergic to handling the stems and leaves of the Lady Slipper.