Looking Toward Winter

Soybeans and silo ~ Chase County, Kansas

Whatever you’re storing for the winter — be it acorns, soybeans, apples, or nuts — be sure to choose your container carefully.

 

Comments always are welcome.

A bit of additional information:
After looking at photos of similar silos, it became obvious that the split in the side was common. Mike Holder, District Extension Director for Agriculture & Natural Resources in the area, told me that the space would have been taken up by a series of small doors. Before filling, the doors were closed, and then the silage was blown in. As it was needed, one door after another was opened, beginning from the top, and the silage tossed down. Most doors were wooden, and they sometimes were removed when a silo was no longer used.

Gulf Coast Autumn: Red

Carolina wolfberry (Lycium carolinianum)

As if trying to make amends for our relative lack of autumn color, the vibrant fruit of Carolina Wolfberry shines among Gulf coast ditches, ravines, swamps, and marshes. Also known as Carolina desert-thorn, creeping wolfberry, or Christmas berry, the plant is found from Texas to Georgia: one of several salt and drought resistant plants known as halophytes that thrive here.

Its rounded, succulent leaves serve as a clue to its identity, as does the fruit’s resemblance to a cherry tomato. In fact, Carolina wolfberry is a member of the potato-and-tomato family, the Solanaceae. Its flowers recall the various nightshade species, although the plant is distinguished by having only four petals rather than the five common to nightshades.

Once recognized, the plant seems ubiquitous, appearing even in urban ditches and sometimes in standing water. Its toughness is important to over-wintering whooping cranes at the Aransas Wildlife Refuge, which depend on its fruit for energy restoration after their migration. Although the bulk of their winter diet is comprised of blue crabs, Carolina wolfberry can contribute 21–52% of crane energy intake early in the wintering period.

Attractive and nourishing, the fruit is a delightful addition to the landscape, and a reminder that not every bit of autumnal red needs to hang from a tree.

 

Comments always are welcome.