The Equinox Team was out at the Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah Native Plant Nursery last week to help them prepare for their annual Native Plant Sale. The Native Plant Sale is the Nursery’s main fundraiser for the year. Placing native plants into your garden or landscape will bring you many benefits. They have a natural ability to withstand seasonal changes (including drought) to providing important habitat for our native bees and butterflies.
While volunteering our time at the nursery we learned about a variety of native plants from very knowledgable and welcoming staff. Mieko Aoki (Trails & Volunteer Coordinator) was very accommodating to our schedule and helped us plan the optimal day for us to help that would best suit their needs. We originally planned to volunteer for Earth Day but with the heavy rains, the area received in April, that trip didn’t make sense.
Craig Wilson the Nursery Manager got us started on planting rows of Maida elegans. They don’t look like much when they are transplanted into rows but these native flowers have benefited the area for hundreds of years.
The showiness of this species of tarweed lends for its use as an ornamental flower by westerners. However, native tribes in Oregon and California relied on this plant as a source of food. Tribes of California used seeds to make pinole, a coarse flour often combined with water to make a dough. Pinole made from tarweeds was so oily that it did not need water to form dough. Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest and California collect seeds from a variety of tarweeds and keep them for winter use. The process of making pinole is described by the USDA, “Common madia seeds were harvested by women in late summer during a period of a fortnight. A seed beater and a basket were used to gather the seeds. Then, the seeds were winnowed and ground very fine in a bedrock mortar with a stone pestle.” The Kalapuya tribe of the Pacific Northwest burned areas where tarweed grew. After burns, seeds would not need to be roasted before ground. Other land management techniques where employed by tribes such as planting seeds and ownership of certain areas with a high population of Madia elegans. Esther Stutzman in “Two Ways of Seeing” describes ceremonies of the Kalapuya tribe in which they rubbed sunflower oil on their bodies. Thus they were given their name which means “rubbed on”. She may have been referring to any of the numerous plants in the sunflower family of which the oily tarweeds are a part. However, M. elegans was an important plant to the Kalapuya and so they likely used the oil obtained from these seeds.
Grace Fuchs the nursery assistant is a wealth of knowledge. She was able to talk about every plant in the nursery with great detail. We learned about when different plants bloom, what plants like shade and what plants like sun, and also how the plants are connected to the native ecosystem. The native animals and bugs are accustom to the native plants of our area. If you’re looking to get hummingbirds to your house, honey bees to pollinate flowers or plants that can hold up to the climate of our area then you need to look at supporting the Native Plant Nursery and start populating your garden or landscape with some of their plants.
Equinox Real Estate loves giving back to the community and supporting noble causes. If you’re looking to give back to the community then you should definitely check out Friends of Buford Park and Native Plant Nursery. We always enjoy our time out there and look forward to helping out in the future. If you don’t have time to get dirty but would still like to support the Native Plant Nursery, they also have a plot sponsorship program that you can donate to. Each plot has a specific plant and prices vary by plot size but it’s a yearly contribution that goes straight to the park to help with their conservation efforts.
To contact Friends of Burford Park and Native Plant Nursery: