Adding More Habitat and Nectar Plants – Winter

Sandbar Willow, Mid-Ranch Area

According to the Xerces Society, willow and buckeye are one of many plants that can be used for nectar and habitat. They provide an extremely useful plant guide on their website, which I highly recommend. The guide specifies arroyo willow. I believe I have only sandbar willows on the ranch. I plan to take a cutting of the sandbar willow that is in Odom Creek and plant it in the tributary creek. I am hoping that this will be as acceptable as arroyo willow. I do have concerns that the willow will take more water than my tributary creek can provide – and continue flowing from its spring. The biologists did not seem to be concerned. I will double check with them again before planting. Maybe what I think is a sandbar willow is actually an arroyo willow. I will ask about that as well.

One of the Buckeye “Donor” Trees. Note the Root System Holding Together the Creek Bank.

Over the holiday season, my sister, who was visiting, and I hiked to the mid part of the ranch to look for buckeye seedpods. My sister Sarah and I found many options from two different trees. I will attempt to grow buckeyes from the seedpods and plant it in my tributary creek. The tributary creek has some erosion issues from heavier cattle use. The banks have limited to no vegetation in some areas causing run off of the soil. Planting the buckeyes, willows and deergrass will help with erosion control, soil and water quality.

Close-Up of the Buckeye Seedpods

I bought deergrass from the Four Seasons Nursery an enterprise of the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians. They do a great job, and the plants look really healthy. Although the primary role of the deergrass is erosion control, according to the Xerces Society Plant list, they are also host to another type of butterfly and are a location for nests. This guide really is good. Take a look.

Line-Up of Deergrass Plants on the Patio

It is really important to understand that there are two groups of monarchs that migrate through the US. There is the Eastern group, which is large. There is also the Western group, which is the group that was counted with 90% less adults than typical. The Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper is a citizen scientist, self-report tool that helps biologists understand what is happening among this remarkable group of butterflies, their habitat and at the caterpillar stage. Please check this out and participate in documenting sightings.

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