Tree of the Month
Boxelder (Acer negundo)
This native fast growing relative of the maple family is commonly found along well drained river bottoms, ravines, and hillsides across ND and much of the Midwest. This highly adaptable tree grows in irregular shapes with several stout crooked spreading branches of grey/brown color with shallow ridges. Leaves light green in color, serrated, and fuzzy in texture, with 3 to 5 leaflets per leaf ranging from 1-2 inches.
Bunching blooms in the spring bring about double winged samara seeds that turn to light brown in the fall.
This tree is regularly used in our planting programs for windbreaks due to their wildlife value and amount of protection they give. They are a shorter-lived tree, however this only adds to their wildlife value providing denning sites for small mammals, and a place for bugs to rest and birds to forage. Large trees are commonly used in agroforestry products, firewood, and can also be tapped for maple syrup in the early spring!
Apple Spice Hummus
New Year's resolution got you stumped as to a healthier dip alternative for your snacks? Try this Apple Spice Hummus from the NDSU Windbreak Cookbook!
Apple Spice Hummus
2 (15-oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 medium apples, peeled and chopped
1/3 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
2 to 3 Tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. all spice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, optional
In a food processor bowl or blender container, place the following
ingredients: chickpeas, chopped apple, lemon juice, peanut butter,
water, salt and spices. Cover and process until smooth;
transfer to bowl. Cover and refrigerate up to three days. Serve dip with
apple slices, carrot slices and/or whole-wheat crackers.
Makes 28 servings (2 tablespoons each). Each serving has
80 calories, 3 g fat, 3 g protein, 10 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber and
140 mg sodium.
- On Pollinators -
The Arogos Skipper is a small yellow/orange native butterfly with wingspan between 1 1/8 and 1 7/16 inches. It is still found west of the Rockies except population decline is rated at 99-100 percent in most of its range, and the eastern varieties have all disappeared. It is reliant on undisturbed prairies and grassland, with its host plant primarily being Big Blue Stem, in which eggs are laid and the larvae feed on the leaves of the grass. At some stages they pupate and hibernate, overwintering in this grass as well.
This month's conservation Kids Book Nook is our feature from the Ellendale School Library is all about trees! Did you know there are 100,000 different types of trees? Check out the book Who Will Plant a Tree? by Jerry Pallota to learn all about how animals and nature can plant trees all on their own!
A squirrel buries and Acorn. A dolphin pushes a coconut into and ocean current. A camel chewing a date spits out the seed. What do they all have in common? Each one, in its own way has helped to plant a tree. In Myriad ways and diverse environments, Mother Nature is given a hand in dispersing seeds that eventually grow into trees. From the apple seed falling off the sticky fur of a black bear to the pine seed carried by and army of ants marching to their ant hill, Creatures great and creatures small participate in nature's cyclical dance in the planting of a tree.
The Conservation Corner
Submitted by Nicole Kluck, James River SCD District Operations Manager
Old man winter has settled into his throne for the new year with an icy force bringing with it a white Christmas, piles of snow, and chilly temps pushing many indoors towards the kitchen to freshen up the bakeware and turn on the oven. However, the price of holiday cooking this year has increased across the board with tighter supplies for items like poultry and eggs. This, combined with inflation, translates into rises in grocery prices. The most recent Consumer Price Index estimates that the cost of food-at-home has increased 10.6% in the last year. Dickey County native, and American Farm Bureau Federation economist Bernt Nelson says, “Inflation and high input costs have been key factors of food price increases in 2022 and can be expected to continue in 2023.”
But resiliency and adaptability within agricultural communities is nothing new. Farmers and ranchers have been able to provide the world with food, fiber, and fuel for years using fewer resources today than ever before. In our area, we are lucky enough to see this in the efforts our forefathers made with miles of well-established shelter belts across the county stemming from the work of the dirty ‘30s. Not only can these trees protect our precious topsoil from erosion, but many varieties are also natural nitrogen fixers, help the soil balance water use by increasing ground flow to reservoirs, and the leaf litter adds organic matter which in turn increases soil microbial biodiversity positively affecting production.
Our native trees provide not only shelter but can be prized for their food source value. This can be a resource to ourselves and the abundant wildlife that finds its way to our tables. Buffaloberry, chokecherry, plum, and grape vines are common finds across the shelterbelts of the Dakotas. In today’s fluctuating economy, we can use this to our advantage. For example, a well-cared for wild plum tree can produce up to 70 pounds of fruit per year, and a mature boxelder tree can produce as much five gallons of sap per day for making maple syrup. Both will in turn provide shelter and forage to wildlife like pheasants and deer, as well as a place for pollinators to inhabit throughout the year.
Not only are the flora we find adapted to our climate, but they provide the dark and brightly pigmented fruits that are cherished for their high content of vitamins, flavonoids, and antioxidants. These combat free radicals and stress in the body. In fact, several of the world’s most nutrient packed “superfoods” can be grown in North Dakota. Sea-buckthorn, or seaberry, is a hardy nitrogen fixing shrub that produces edible berries which can also be used to treat skin conditions since they are loaded with fatty acids and vitamin C. Rose hips, the seed pods of wild roses, can easily be made into a relaxing tea that supports the immune system. The NDSU Windbreak Cookbook is a great resource and several of these recipes will be featured on the James River Soil Conservation District social media pages in 2023, along with the many ways to incorporate the bounty that North Dakota plants have to offer. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @JamesRiverSCD to leave comments, recommendations, and share your favorite North Dakota native recipes with us! Happy growing!
Dates to Remember:
January 11 - SCD Board Meeting, 8 am, CBS’ Ellendale.
January 16 – Martin Luther King Day, Office Closed
For more information contact the James River Soil Conservation District and Ellendale NRCS office at 349-3653, ext. 3.
Our field office is in Ellendale at 51 N. 1st Street.
Also, remember to visit the James River Soil Conservation District Facebook page and our websites for more information –http://www.jamesriverscd.org/ and http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/nd/home/.
The NRCS is an equal opportunity employer, provider and lender.