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Orchids—A Unique and Prized Wildflower

Orchids are prized wildflowers and highly specialized plants. According to fossil evidence, orchids have been thriving on the planet for more than 100 million years! Today, the orchid family is one of the largest groups of flowering plants in the world, with almost 30,000 species. Some of the best- known orchids are the lady’s slippers.  Every orchid species has a unique and interesting flower. The blooms can be as small as a penny or as large as a baked potato. One type of orchid that grows in the tropics produces the seedpod from which we get vanilla. Other orchid species can live upwards of 100 years.  Orchids are unique because the male reproductive part (the stamen), which carries the pollen, is fused into one structure with the female part (the pistil). This adaptation, called a column, attractively houses both the male and the female parts in one place.  Orchids don’t have individual loose...

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Blueberry-Orange Bread Recipe

Julia Rutland, author of Blueberries: 50 Tried & True Recipes, shares with us her Blueberry-Orange Bread recipe. Blueberries are notable for being a healthy “superfood.” There are only 80 calories per cup, and blueberries contain practically no fat. They make a good source of fiber at 3.6 grams per serving and an excellent source of manganese. One serving of blueberries equals almost 25% of the daily requirement of Vitamin C and 36% of vitamin K. Blueberry-Orange Bread Blueberries pair very well with citrus. I added orange zest to this recipe; otherwise, the orange flavor might be too subtle. Try this bread toasted and spread with softened cream cheese. INGREDIENTS 2 cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon baking powder1⁄2 teaspoon salt3⁄4 cup butter, softened3⁄4 cup granulated sugar2 large eggs1 tablespoon orange zest1⁄2 cup fresh orange juice1⁄2 cup milk1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 cup fresh, frozen, or dried blueberries1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Combine flour, baking...

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mushrooming

Oyster Mushrooms: The Seafood of the Forest

There are several oyster mushroom species, but they all look the same and all are edible. One of the identifying characteristics of oyster mushrooms is the lack of stems or stalks. Some may have a short or stubby stalk, but most are stalkless. The common and species names of the oyster mushroom refer to the shape of the cap. The round clam, or oyster-shaped, cap has a rolled edge and can be pure white to buff-gray. When viewed from above, this mushroom is often described as a clam attached to a log by its hinge. Its pliable cap is smooth to the touch. Finding oyster mushrooms is not difficult because they grow in great quantities. It is not uncommon to spot a large cluster from your vehicle while driving. However, the usual method to find oysters is to walk through the woods. A pair of binoculars is helpful to spot them on...

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Birds of Michigan

Birds of Michigan a Great Gift for Birders

In today’s post, Stan Tekiela, author of the Birds of Michigan field guide, tells us where to sight birds in the Great Lakes State. Millions of people in Michigan have discovered the joy of bird-feeding. Setting out feeders is a simple and fun way to bring birds and their beauty closer to you. Watching birds at your feeders and listening to them often leads to a lifetime pursuit of bird identification. [caption id="attachment_52253" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Red-winged Blackbird[/caption] More than 1,100 species of birds are found in North America. In Michigan, upwards of 400 species of birds have been documented throughout the years. These bird sightings have been diligently recorded by hundreds of bird-watchers and have become part of the official state records. From these, I have chosen 118 of the most common birds of Michigan to include in this field guide. Bird-watching, also called birding, is one of the most popular activities in America. Its...

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Creating Bee-friendly Spaces Where You Live

Jaret C. Daniels, author of Our Love of Bees, shares with us why it is important to create bee-friendly spaces right in your neighborhood. Find out how you can get started. A WORLD WITHOUT BEESDespite the critical role that bees and other pollinators play in natural and agricultural landscapes, they, like many other organisms, are increasingly vulnerable to a wide variety of threats. Habitat loss and fragmentation, overuse of pesticides, and a changing climate are some of the leading hazards. Such impacts have started to take their toll, resulting in mounting evidence of widespread population declines, both in native populations and domesticated bees. In many ways, these valuable insects are our societal safety net. They help ensure that we have an ample supply of food, a productive economy, and a healthy environment. Bees provide so much and ask little in return. COMMUNITY CONSERVATION AND WHAT YOU CAN DO Bees don’t require very...

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The Kids’ Guide to Birds of Ohio

The Kids’ Guide to Birds of Ohio features 85 of the most common and important birds to know, with species organized by color for ease of use. Do you see a yellow bird and don’t know what it is? Go to the yellow section to find out. Each bird gets a beautiful full-color photograph and a full page of neat-to-know information―such as field marks, calls/songs, a range map, and Stan’s cool facts―that make identification a snap.  Fun bonus activities for the whole family, such as building a birdhouse and preparing your own bird food, make this a must-have beginner’s guide to bird-watching in the Buckeye State!  Now, more people feed birds in their backyards than those who go hunting or fishing combined. Not only has it become very popular to feed and watch birds, but young and old alike are also identifying them and learning more about them. Ohio is a fantastic...

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Blueberries: 50 Tried & True Recipes

Abundant and delicious, the blueberry is as beneficial as it is juicy. The succulent superfood is believed to help heart health, bone strength, mental health, and much more! With a flavor that ranges between tart and sweet, blueberries are perfect as a topping, in a blended drink, and on their own. Plus, their versatility goes far beyond the obvious.  Blueberries is a cookbook by Julia Rutland that features 50 recipes to please any fruit lover. The author is a professional writer, recipe developer, recipe tester, food stylist, and television/media demonstrator, so you can be certain that every recipe is a crowd-pleaser! Did you know that commercial blueberry acreage continues to increase, with about half the world’s supply coming from the United States? Blueberries are grown commercially in 38 states, but 98% of the supply comes from just 10 states: California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington....

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Flying Squirrels Shine Pink

Wildlife photographer Stan Tekiela shares with us why the white bellies of Flying Squirrels shine pink under ultraviolet (UV) light. In this day and age, it is rare to discover a new species of animal. It is not surprising to discover new insects because there are nearly a million species of bugs in the world. On the other hand, there are only about 5,000 different kinds of critters on the planet. So, back in 2017, it was surprising when a new species of Flying Squirrel was discovered right here in North America. Well, it wasn’t exactly discovered—more like, it was separated from the existing known species. There are 44 species of Flying Squirrel in the world. Nearly all are found in Eurasia / Southeast Asia. Here, in North America, we have just two species: the Northern Flying Squirrel and the Southern Flying Squirrel. However, along the West Coast from Central California through Oregon...

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