Plants and Animals
Species of Concern
- Common Name: Pondberry
- Scientific Name: Lindera melissifolia
- Range: Ripley County
- Classification: State and federally endangered
- To learn more about endangered species: see the links listed below.
This member of the avocado family is related to Missouri’s common shrub, spicebush. It clings to existence in a 1,000-mile crescent of sandy land that stretches from coastal North Carolina to the southeastern corner of Ripley County. The 37 scattered spots where it is known to survive are remnants of a habitat type that once was much more common in southeast Missouri. Thickets of the 3- to 5-foot-tall shrub thrive in sandy, swampy depressions amid bottomland hardwood forest. Most such places were logged, ditched and drained by the early 20th century. Today Missouri’s sole surviving pondberry population is protected on Sand Pond Conservation Area. Tiny, drab, yellow flowers appear in March and April, and glossy, scarlet fruits mature in October. However, few pondberry plants grow from seed. Most arise from root runners.
New Gardening Book
Indispensable for native-plant gardeners.
The Nature Shop has a new book that native-plant gardeners will find indispensable. In 60 pages, Tried and True Missouri Native Plants for Your Yard catalogs 111 wildflowers, ferns, grasses, sedges, vines, shrubs and trees for every imaginable landscape use. Included are notes on growing needs of each plant. Gorgeous color photos help gardeners visualize future landscape plans. this item is available for $6 plus shipping and handling, and sales tax (where applicable). To order, call toll free (877) 521-8632 or visit online.
Goopy and Fascinating
Bryozoans—gelatinous gobs mean high-quality water.
Each summer, thousands of floaters, anglers and bathers stumble across what look like miniature versions of the blob. Those adventurous enough to pull the gelatinous masses out of the water discover they are surprisingly solid. Many send photos to the Conservation Department and ask “What the heck is this!” the answer is bryozoans— colonies of microscopic animals that grow on logs, rocks, vegetation, boat docks or other submerged objects. The animals secrete jelly-like coverings that can reach basketball size. Bryozoans are harmless. In fact, their presence indicates good water quality. They filter microscopic food out of the water, and cannot survive pollution or excessive muddiness.