CliffNotes

The Pros and Cons of the Eastern Red Cedar

January 16, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

The name Eastern Red Cedar is a misnomer. This tree is actually a juniper, as its botanical name (Juniperus virginiana) indicates. It is native to Illinois, yet it can be considered a nuisance or even an invasive. Eastern red cedars have long been used as Christmas trees because of their abundance and lovely fragrance despite […]

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How to Protect Land

December 21, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

Last month our CLIFFnotes article was focused on why we protect land. In this column we will discuss the “how” of protecting land. Protection of land can have two meanings. You can protect the integrity of property by physically eradicating exotic invasive plant species so that native habitats can regenerate and thrive to support native […]

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Why Protect Land?

November 21, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

Several years ago, Clifftop adopted the motto “Local faces protecting great places.” But what is a “great place?” To some, it is their backyard, a public park or grandpa’s pond. However, the great places referenced in our motto have more to do with our natural heritage, preserving and protecting it for future generations. In the […]

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Take a Pleasant Drive South for Sights Along Snake Road

October 18, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

by Susan Rick Snakes are an often misjudged and unappreciated reptilian species.  As a small child growing up under the shadows of our rocky bluffs and then living along the Mississippi River, I encountered many snake species.  My parents, like most others, were concerned for their children’s and pets’ safety when out-of-doors where they may […]

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Plant a Little Prairie: How to Grow a Microprairie in Your Yard

September 20, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

By Laura Walther Schaefer Microprairies are exactly as they sound- miniature versions of our grand prairies. They can occupy as little or as much space as you have or desire. Because they are prairies, they should be planted in a full sun environment that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.  Why […]

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The Gulf Coast Tick Carries Another Virus of Concern

August 22, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

Anecdotal evidence suggests that 2020 has been a banner year for ticks, but experts say that 2021 will likely be worse. The wet weather of the past few months has extended the habitat of many tick species and introduced a new species to Illinois—the Gulf Coast tick. And, as if the Coronavirus pandemic isn’t bad […]

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Invasive Trees Are an Issue in Monroe County’s Natural Areas

July 17, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

We often use this platform to discuss invasive plant species such as Asian bush honeysuckle.  Rarely do we broach the subject of invasive trees, but in this article we will address two invasive trees—one that is a local favorite (Mimosa) and another that you will not find at your favorite nursery (Tree-of Heaven). Mimosa (Albizia […]

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Dragonflies Continue to Thrive as Ecology Changes

June 20, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

Ferocious predators roam the streams and meadows of Illinois’ wetlands and prairies.  These stealthy hunters lurk on the water’s surface or fly through the air, waiting for their next meal to come along.  And when it does, they strike with lightning speed and grab their unsuspecting victim.  No, we are not talking about the Creature […]

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Columbines Dazzle Where Other Wildflowers Fear to Tread

May 15, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

One of the most underrated of Illinois’ native wildflowers, wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), grows where other flora fear to tread—at the edges of cliffs and out of limestone boulders.  Columbine is not showy like other spring bloomers such as Virginia bluebell and Celandine poppy. Columbines are unassuming in their beauty with their nodding blossoms of […]

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Sounds of Spring, Frog Style

April 19, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

Have you heard them yet? Choruses of happy frogs and toads are celebrating spring by broadcasting their mating calls. Frog and toad reproduction is a noisy affair. Males of each species produce a unique mating call. Male frogs have one or two vocal sacs (depending on the species) and calls are produced by forcing air […]

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