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Certify your property as a Louisiana Certified Habitat!  Every property, from the smallest city garden to rural acreage, is eligible to apply.  

The Louisiana Native Plant Society invites Louisiana residents, businesses, schools, and public institutions to certify their outdoor spaces as certified habitats through the Louisiana Certified Habitat Program (LCH).  We know that native plants are the foundation of a healthy and resilient ecosystem.  This program encourages property owners to increase and protect the ecological value and natural heritage of their land by recognizing their efforts to utilize native plant species and to enact best habitat gardening practices.  Habitat Certification Levels are determined by the amount of native plant species or percentage of native plant species on a property.  State-wide, over 140 properties have certified to date, almost 50 in the NOLA area, many electing to appear on the MAP where certifications are being recorded.  The levels include bronze, 25 native species or 25% native plants; silver 50 native species or 50% native plants;  gold 75 native species or 75% native plants.  Certification includes a 9 x 12 inch metal yard sign citing the habitat level.  Levels can be upgraded for free at any time.

The Native Plant Initiative of Greater New Orleans (NPI) certifies the Southeast region of Louisiana.  Parishes include: Ascension, Assumption, Jefferson, Lafourche, New Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Terrebonne, Washington.  There is no minimum acreage requirement. All properties are eligible for certification.

How to apply

Payment is due at time of application.  When the application and payment are received, a representative from NPI will contact you about the certification process and may request a site visit.   A refund will be issued if certification is not granted. Please email npi.gno2019@gmail.com if cost is an issue.  

  Helpful Links: Native Plant Checklist | Guide to ALL Plants of Louisiana (not all native) | Tier 1 Invasive Species|Full Brochure

UNO

Last Saturday morning in November, we spent a few hours removing invasive tree saplings from the UNO Woodlot. This is the kick-off of a multi-phase project on UNO's campus to enhance bird and wildlife habitat by planting native shrubs and trees to further develop a urban birding trail on campus where over 130 species of birds have already been reported.  That’s a lot! With funds granted by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, we will be helping to select and plant at least 120 native trees and shrubs in the coming months. 

UNO

Volunteers came out from NPI, Orleans Audubon, Master Naturalists, UNO faculty and students, former students and community neighbors. We removed lots of Camphor, Golden Rain Tree, Chinese Elm and Tallow saplings that were sprouting on the ground layer of this woodsy spot.  We also collected many fallen branches and other forest litter and concentrated them into several brush piles (which birds love!)  While we were there, we could hear and see several bird species cavorting about.

We documented the following plant species already on the site:

  • Slash Pine
  • Black Cherry
  • Cherry Laurel
  • Live Oak
  • Water Oak
  • other Oak? (not sure which species)
  • Southern Red Oak
  • Hickory?
  • Green Ash?
  • Sweet Gum
  • Bald Cypress on fringes
  • Elderberry
  • Mulberry
  • Magnolia, Yaupon and Ilex opaca seedlings
  • Virginia Creeper
  • Poison Ivy
  • Spiderwort
  • Bidens alba
  • Sida rhombifolia

Now, to decide what 50 native species of tree or woody shrub would best improve the area for birds and fit with the existing plants……What do YOU think we should plant?

Abita Creek Flatwoods

The day before Halloween, NPI President, Tammany Baumgarten, and Board Director Cheryl Geiger made the trek to St. Tammany Parish to attend a guided walk in the Abita Creek Flatwoods Preserve hosted by the Land Trust for Louisiana.  Biologists, Nelwyn McInnis and Latimore Smith guided about 20 participants on a boardwalk stroll through a wet longleaf pine savanna grassland, highlighting the natural history and special features.  The preserve is described by the Nature Conservancy as a “premiere wetland community with pond cypress woodland, riparian forest, and carnivorous plants.”  Land Trust for Louisiana’s conservation easement on the preserve is part of a joint effort with The Nature Conservancy to protect 950 acres of Longleaf pine habitat.

We started our walk on a misty Hallows eve morning, following behind Nelwyn and Latimore, and they explained how hydrology and fire play an important role to create this unique landscape.  The seasonality of the wetlands and the undulating ridges and swales support a diverse ecosystem with over 300 species of plants, including rare and endemic species!  They explained how historically spring lightning strikes set the savannah ablaze and that the plant community here was adapted to the seasonal burning and relies on it.  For example the Longleaf pine, a keystone species in this ecosystem, requires fire to open its pine cones.  

The group slowly walked the boardwalk, asking the knowledgeable biologists questions about flora and fauna identification, land management, and the further conservation efforts of Abita Flatwoods Creek preserve.  We got to see carnivorous pitcher plants and sundews up close, enjoyed fall blooming flowers, and learned what makes this landscape rare and worth protecting!  Visit Land Trust for Louisiana | Land Conservation to check out the good work they are doing at Abita Creek Flatwoods Preserve and through the state!

Enjoy the pictures from the day!

 

-Cheryl Geiger, NPI Board member

Yard to Habitat Workshop

Earlier this month, NPI took a road trip to Arnaudville for Acadiana Native Plant Project’s (ANPP) Yard-to-Habitat workshop.  ANPP’s website states that the workshop is “designed to help homeowners and landscapers transform property, from small yards in town to big pastures in the country, to native habitat for pollinators, birds and other wildlife and improve ecological resilience.”  

(from left to right) NPI board member Tanya, ANPP's Phyllis, NPI board member Cheryl in Phyllis' yard

NPI president, Tammany Baumgarten, helped facilitate, working with a break out group on their designs and board members, Tanya Mennear and Cheryl Geiger, attended to learn how to offer this type of workshop in New Orleans.  When the plans and plant lists were created, all attendees were invited to visit ANPP’s demonstration garden and greenhouse to purchase plants to be used in their habitat landscapes. 

After a stroll through the demo garden and greenhouse, the board members joined some of the ANPP board and organization members at Bayou Teche Brewery for pizza and fellowship, further fostering the relationship between NPI and ANPP.  The following day included visits to the incredible home gardens of ANPP leaders Phyllis Griffard and Lawrence Rozas. 

ANPP is doing great things over in Acadiana.  Check them out!

The Euonymus americana locally know as "Strawberry bush", "Burning Bush", "Hearts-a-Busting" is in full display right now.   In late summer/early fall the red fruits burst open to reveal bright orange berries.  The pictures below are from a NPI member's garden in New Orleans.

It is an adaptable landscape shrub or small tree tolerating different sun exposures and soil types.  It does best in shadier areas with filtered light and protection from afternoon sun.  The colorful fruits and seeds not only provide fall interest for humans, but are also a food source for birds and mammals.

In the wild it can be found in riparian areas, forming loose thickets.

Learn more about the "Strawberry bush" Euonymus americanus HERE

Louisiana Native Plant Society (LNPS) recently put out a statement on habitat gardening and best practices for ecological resilience.  The Native Plant Initiative of GNO is aligned with this statement and supports property owners adherence to best practices of land and water conservation as crucial wildlife habitat.  You can read the entire position statement HERE.

LNPS also created a communication toolkit for Louisiana native plant gardeners to explain to their neighbors the benefits of habitat gardening and for finding common ground with neighbors who may not understand why a property owner would choose to garden this way. Click HERE to view the toolkit.

 

 

We had out first in person membership meeting since the pandemic!  It was held on the shady patio at Rosa Keller Library (site of a current NPI project) on a perfect weather Sunday morning.  Board members Ann and Kathy signed in current members and signed up new members.  Our president, Tammany, welcomed everyone and caught us up on the goings on of NPI over the past year.  Vice president Nell discussed the BTNEP grant awarded to NPI to fund more plant giveaways, the mini prairie planting at Rosa Keller Library, Broadmoor Rain Garden, and other current projects NPI is working on.  Author, biologist, artist, and NPI member, Susan Norris-Davis, introduced her new book The Big Easy Native Plant Guide a native plant book written for New Orleans.  Board member, Tanya, discussed NPI's involvement in the Gentilly Resiliency District and French Market Association's mural and native plantings.  NPI member, Jennifer Prout, explained the design concept of matrix planting and its application in the Big Lake Native Plant Trail at City Park.   We closed the meeting with a plant give away and refreshments.  Exciting projects are on the horizon!! We hope you will become a member and join NPI's mission to increase the use of native plants in our area by expanding public awareness of their ecological benefits, boosting availability, and by preserving and creating native plant communities.