Friday, September 23, 2011

Nuts for the Potomac

Nuts are falling all over the DC area, which means another season has begun for Growing Native.

Acorns by KCIvey
Growing Native is a project of the Potomac Conservancy that collects tree seeds and plants them in the Potomac watershed. They are trying to improve the riparian buffer zone that helps to regulate water temperature, provide habitat for animals, and prevent pollutants from entering the water.

Since 2001, over 50,000 volunteers have collected more than 150,000 pounds of acorns, walnuts, and other hardwood tree seeds. Seeds are delivered to state nurseries and local schools to be grown into tree seedlings, which are eventually planted along streams and rivers in our area.

Interested in helping out? Check this map for a collection site or event near you. You can collect seeds from your own yard, or anywhere else that you can get permission: try churches, cemeteries, parking lots, historical monuments, and local parks. (The restrictions against removing any material from National Park Service land include tree seeds, even for a good cause). This information sheet has more on what they're looking for -- basically sorted, viable seeds from healthy trees.

Fall is coming
Chipmunk and hickory nuts by alumroot
They're looking only for certain species (links are to prior Natural Capital posts):

-- Bald cypress
-- Black walnut
-- Hazelnut
-- Hickory
-- Oaks
-- Pawpaw
-- Persimmon
-- Sassafras

What a great opportunity to learn a little tree identification this fall! Until we get around to writing up posts on all these trees, see the Growing Native field guide for more information about each one and what its seed looks like.