BiodiverseCity St. Louis
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Welcome!
BiodiverseCity St. Louis is a growing network of organizations and individuals throughout the greater St. Louis region who share a stake in improving quality of life for all through actions that welcome nature into our urban, suburban and rural communities. Learn more about this effort, and join in.


Take Action Today…and Make It Count

Throughout St. Louis, every day, people are making big and small changes to their backyards, balconies, streetscapes, schoolyards, parking lots, and play areas. Some are doing this because they love nature and want to experience more of it in their daily lives. Others recognize that native plants in the right places help prevent flooding, clean and cool our air and improve human health and well-being. Still others embrace the positive impact that leafy streets, accessible parks, hiking/biking trails and other quality green spaces have on property values and the economic vibrancy of our region.

For all these reasons and more, the BiodiverseCitySTL Network invites each of the 2.9 million citizens of the greater St. Louis bi-state region to take action. In this spirit, we are excited to launch the Nature in Our Neighborhoods citizen action project. No matter who you are or where you live, all of us can do something to beautify, bio-diversify and better the communities in which we live, work, learn and play. To get started, check out our curated list of expert ideas and local resources from across our region, connect with others and share your stories.

 

JOIN US AT THE UPCOMING ONESTL VIRTUAL SUSTAINIBILITY LAB

Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Education, Projects, Metrics for the Birds & Bees & More
Presenters: Louise Bradshaw, Saint Louis Zoo, Allison Brown and Jean Ponzi, Missouri Botanical Garden


3:35–3:45 p.m.: Check-in join the Zoom webinar
3:45–4:45 p.m.: Program

Leaders from the BiodiverseCity network are working to create a Regional Biodiversity Atlas to guide planning, policies, and development practices in ways that increase habitat connectivity, ecological functionality, and quality of life for all. In this month's Lab they will update us on initiatives from the regional biodiversity network, including COVID-related adaptations and progress toward the OneSTL Biodiversity target. Questions welcome!

Learn more
Join Zoom Meeting

 

Species Spotlight

Great Plains Ladies’ Tresses (Spiranthes magnicamporum)
Contributed by Caleb Dvorak – Missouri Botanical Garden

When many people think of orchids, they imagine them hanging precariously off of tree branches in a tropical rainforest, or blooming profusely in a collector’s warm greenhouse. However, there are over 30 species of orchids that grow in the wild, right here in Missouri. You won’t find them growing in trees; instead they are terrestrial orchids that prefer to keep their “feet” on solid ground.

Great plains ladies’ tresses (GPLT) is an orchid native to Missouri that can be found growing east of the Rocky Mountains from as far north as Ontario, to as far south as Mexico. Topping out at around two feet tall, this orchid is often smelled before it is seen. The plant sends up a flower spike in the early fall, with delicate white flowers arranged in a double spiral. These blooms emanate a pleasant, earthy vanilla fragrance which attracts pollinators such as bumblebees. As its name suggests, great plains ladies’ tresses are most often found growing in undisturbed, open grasslands.

Like all of our native terrestrial orchids, GPLT produce tiny, dust-like seeds that require a specific symbiotic fungus in order to germinate and grow into an adult plant. This delicate relationship between native orchids, their fungi, and their environment is why many species are rarely available at local plant nurseries, and are exceptionally difficult to grow in the garden.

Many of our native orchids are threatened by poaching, which is unfortunate because plants that are dug from the wild are almost certain to die once removed from their original habitat. For this reason, it is important to buy native orchids only from responsible plant nurseries that are propagating them from cultivated stock.

Determining how to grow native orchids is a critical component to their conservation. Horticulturists at the Missouri Botanical Garden have been able to collect seeds and symbiotic fungi from several native orchid species, including GPLT. Using laboratory techniques, the seeds are germinated with their symbiotic fungi, and procedures for how to grow the plants are developed and shared with other conservation institutions. Successfully grown plants are reintroduced to the wild, and are also incorporated into Missouri Botanical Garden’s historic living collection.

With the expansion of Missouri Botanical Garden’s micropropagation laboratory, many orchids such as the great plains ladies’ tresses may be seen not only by intrepid naturalists, but by all visitors at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

 

Great Reads

Biomimicry author Janine Benyus and book coverBiomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature
by Janine Benyus

Now a classic of enviro lit, this 1997 work from a biologist, ecologist and science writer equally skilled in all her fields set a tone for popular thinking about Nature by relating bio-phenomena like spider silk, shark fins and lotus leaves to functions our species traditionally trusts to engineers and designers. Nature lovers needing courage: pick up this book, again or anew!

Biomimicry coined the term for “conscious emulation of Nature’s genius” as a guideline and directive for our self-absorbed toddler species. Benyus’ choice to focus her ecological perspective toward an audience entranced with modern tech succeeds so well because she loves both the natural and human stuff. And she tells a humpbacked whale of a good story! She’s an even better speaker, with TED talks, interviews and conference keynotes available for regenerative viewing.

Friends and colleagues, fellow "Bioneers,” populate her book’s examples of mimicking nature’s functions as a critical path to sustainable success for techno innovators in the age of climate change, species and natural resource depletion, the human population bomb and more stuff arising from our voracious economies and busy brains. A feminist who puts science first, Benyus analyzes, rather than criticizes, how the ethos of Father Knows Best has way outlived its time.

Biomimicry fans and learners wanting more will find plenty of ongoing, current nourishment for mind and soul in enterprises Benyus co-founded over the 20+ years since the focus she seeded bloomed into a professional field. Online, at Biomimicry.net, you’ll find quick-fix to degree level training; project examples from a global consulting network; the AskNature.org database of biomimicry strategies and solutions, organized by topic for designers and engineers; and my favorite, the Biomimicry Institute Blog with rich bits from practitioners in what has become a true collaboration between thought-leading humans and the science, art and design genius of a planet where Life Creates Conditions Conducive to Life.

As Janine Benyus often, joyfully and seriously, quips: Nature draws on 3.8 billion-with-the-B years of R & D to learn what works, what doesn’t, what lasts. What might we learn? Human learners, let’s get willing!

Contributed by Jean Ponzi

 

A Community Initiative to Promote, Protect and Plan for Biodiversity Throughout the Greater St. Louis Region

Supported by Ameren Missouri

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Nearby Nature

Nearby Nature map

Spend more of your time exploring and stewarding St. Louis' great outdoors. Download our Nearby Nature Map featuring 50 places to love and more than 100 things to do!