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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has”
Margaret Mead

Voice of the Forest

The Voice of the Forest is the newsletter for the Heart Forest. Here are a few articles, we do not have a complete archive online (yet).

From the 1998 Voice of the Forest

Our Family Tree

Red is about the only accurate descriptive word in the name of the tree chosen for the Heart of the Heart Forest. What we commonly call eastern redcedar, and the French explorers named baton rouge or red stick for its rich, red colored wood, is actually a juniper, Juniperus virginiana Linn., to be exact. And ‘east’ is a relative term as just about anything east of the Rocky Mountains as far south as the gulf states and north into Canada qualifies as home.

Redcedar is easy to identify. It has a variety of silouettes: round, tear-shaped and columnar, and the foliage is emerald green in summer and a coppery yellow to rust brown in winter. When the flat, scale-like leaves are crushed the air is filled with the distinctive juniper smell. The same smell is associated with the female’s bright waxy-blue berries that are used to flavor gin and with the fragrant, moth repelling oils in the wood that is used for closet paneling and cedar chests.

Redcedar will grow almost anywhere, from barest rock to river bottoms, up to 60 feet in height and with a 40 foot spread. Found in both ornamental landscaping and growing wild, they make excellent wildlife habitat, providing food and shelter for birds and animals and wind breaks for buildings and crops. We also used it for fence posts and because of its availability, as Christmas trees. The Missouri Ozarks are also identified with the redcedar novelties that are shipped world wide.

If you were to ask a farmer who was trying to get rid of cedars, they might say it is indestructible. However, there are some things that will stress it to the point of death. They don’t like “soggy feet” from poorly draining soils, and like all junipers, are alternate hosts to the cedar-apple rust (look for orange, jelly-like fingered balls on wet spring days and beware of planting cedar, hawthorn, or apple trees too near one another). And as we have experienced at Heart Forest, bagworms can strip the leaves from the redcedar’s branches and kill the tree.

Primary source of info on the eastern redcedar is Missouri Trees, a publication of the Missouri Department of Conservation.

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From the 1997 Voice of the Forest

More than you ever wanted to know about bagworms-

Imagine a day in life of The Heart Forest!

The sky!

The birds!

The rabbits!

The trees vibrating with feeding bagworms.

Yes, it’s true. The Heart Forest has a bit of nature we human caretakers would really rather have done without...Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis (Haworth), or what we have come to call our “Bag Ladies”, and described as the most important species of bagworms in the U.S. by Bruce A. Barnett, MU Department of Entomology (only the best for us!)

Last year about 60% of the red cedars in the center of the Heart were damaged. We won’t know how severely injured the trees are until this spring when new growth begins. Locations where the cedars do not survive will be replanted in the fall.

The Heart Forest was not alone with this problem. Bagworms were more numerous all over the Kansas City region. This native moth is found extensively throughout the eastern and southern states and reportedly feeds on 128 plant species which includes red cedar and other juniper species, black locust, maple and sycamore.

The beginnings of the infestation were noticed about four years ago. The most obvious sign of bagworms is the presence of silken bags attached to a branch. In late May to mid-June the bagworm larvae, 500 to 1000 per bag, emerge and begin to make its own bag where it spends its entire life.

When a host plant becomes defoliated the larvae, with bag, will crawl off to find a new plant. Thankfully this method of colonization is slow because just a few species of birds (sapsuckers and woodpeckers) are able to tear open the tough pouches and insect predators and parasitoids can only control small populations. We are assuming the bagworms came with the cedars at the first planting in 1990 rather than walked to our isolated stand of trees.

The cheapest method of controlling bagworms on small trees is to handpick the bags and destroy the contents. Two years ago over 16 pounds of bagworms were removed and we followed-up with an organic bacterial spray. These methods proved to be ineffective as the trees got taller since the females who go to the topmost branches. This year a late summer chemical application from the ground proved to be too little, too late.

Despite how unsightly the trees look, samples of branches taken in December showed signs of life and the trees may bounce back.

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From the 1998 Voice of the Forest

Dear Heart Forest Family,

We’re on the road to recovery from our bagworm Heart Attack!

This spring we will be planting new little cedars in the center to replace those that didn’t survive and inoculating all the trees and soil with bio-friendly microorganisms in order to have healthier environment.

As with all healings there is recovering from the shock of getting hurt (and how much damage a little worm can do) and then the necessary therapy steps (cutting trees down when your inclination is to plant). Much of that work has already been accomplished.

One morning last summer a crew was there at the crack of dawn to do a last survey and evaluation so we could order new trees. We also spent hours discussing the life habits of eastern redcedar trees, bagworms, how to protect the Forest in the future and what can you make with small cedar logs.

Last fall a group of about 25 people showed up at the forest for the scheduled work day, not with shovels, and light hearts, but with chain saws and a chipper. We cut down the dead trees and chipped them for mulch.

Never far from our thoughts have been with the many people who heard about this crazy idea and supported the effort by adopting a tree. We deeply apologize for any distress and ask for your understanding and patience as we plant new trees.

Please come out and join us, not only on the spring planting days but also on the work days, Our continuing efforts are rooted in our belief that the Heart Forest is truly an expression of our commitment to community for all the world.

The Heart Forest Board


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