Catalpa, Cattails & Kudzu


Things You’ll See When You Visit Mississippi

(although not necessarily indigenous to Mississippi)



Catalpa (Catalpa bignonoides) a.k.a. Indian Bean Tree: From Encyclopaedia Britannica -- any of 11 species of trees in the genus Catalpa (family Bignoniaceae), native to eastern Asia, eastern North America, and the West Indies. Catalpas have large, attractive leaves and showy, white, yellowish, or purplish flowers. The catalpa fruit is a long cylindrical pod bearing numerous seeds with white tufts of hair at each end. The common catalpa is C. bignonioides, which yields a durable timber and is one of the most widely planted ornamental species.


The name catalpa (pronounced ketal'pe) comes from the name given to a tree by the Native American tribe, the Catawba (keto'be or cuh-TAW-buh) of South Carolina. It is said that the Indians smoked the bean pods for a hallucinogenic effect, so the tree became known as the "Indian Cigar Tree", the Indian bean, and smoking bean.  Catawba tribes are also known as Issa and Esaw.  The name Catawba means “River People.”

In the late 1700s, this tree was planted all over the Eastern United States with southwest Georgia, south Alabama, and south-central and southeast Mississippi being the original native ranges. The largest trees found measured 70 feet tall by 70 feet wide in Texas, and 75 feet by 75 feet in Mississippi, with a relatively short life span of 70 years. It is said the tree could grow as tall as 100 feet.

The Southern catalpa is smaller than the Northern catalpa and reaches about 30 to 40 feet tall.

The heartwood of the Southern catalpa is extremely heat resistant and is used for fence posts and rails. Its soft straight-grained and low shrinkage is valuable also and occasionally furniture parts are fashioned from catalpa. The wood is faintly aromatic.

The catalpa trees are the only host for the catalpa sphinx moth. This moth larva - known as the catalpa worm -- devours the leaves of the tree and often completely defoliates the tree.  Defoliated catalpas produce new leaves readily and trees usually refoliate promptly. Adult moths first appear in March to April and deposit eggs ranging from 100 to 1,000 on the underside of the leaves. Eggs hatch in 5-7 days and young larvae feed together as leaf skeletonizers until they are about three inches long. They then drop to the ground.

Southern trees produce fruit that are long, slender, thin-walled, pod-like capsules that dangle from the ends of twigs. They look like cylindrical pencils or cigars about 1/3 inch in diameter and 6-16 inches long. The fruit dries to a brownish color and eventually splits along two lengthwise seams. The fruits mature by October and are held on the tree until spring.

Trees begin to flower by age seven and are producing good seed crops by age 10. Seeds are naturally shed in late winter as the drying fruits split. Collection should occur after the fruit has dried and turned brown. If 10 pounds of air-dried fruit are collected, expect 2-3 pounds of seeds, which are about 40,000 individual seeds. Seeds can be stored under cold, dry conditions for up to two years. Sow seeds in spring under 1/8 inch soil and light mulch. Once sowed, seeds germinate within two weeks with 90% germination potential.

The catalpa worm, a green caterpillar that lives on the catalpa tree, is well known as a tree pest, but is better known to some for its attractiveness to catfish. References to their collection as bait reportedly date back to the 1870s. Tough in texture, they sport a black head and tail with a neon strip down either side of its back. When put on a hook, which according to some should be a circle hook with heavy sinkers to make sure the bait is on the bottom, a bright fluorescent green fluid oozes from its body that smells sweet, which is its attractiveness. It is also reported to "wiggle forever on a hook." This sweet aroma and liveliness of this worm make it very appealing to fish.

Harvesting the worm is best from April through November, with the largest hatches produced in late spring and again in late summer. A single tree may hold 200 worms. To gather the worms, place a tarp or piece of plastic under the tree and shake it until the worms fall off.

The worm can be preserved alive by placing it in cornmeal or sawdust and packing it in a glass jar and frozen indefinitely. When thawed, they become as lively as the day they were frozen. This is because their metabolism slows down while eating and, therefore, freezes in its natural state. Some fishermen report that it is better to freeze them in water in lots of 25. Thawed out, they turn black and soggy, but do not seem to lose their appeal to catfish.


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Cattails: (Typha angustifolia) a.k.a. Bulrush, reed mace --  From Encyclopaedia Britannica -- any of several flowering plants distinguished by cylindrical stalks or hollow, stemlike leaves. They are found in temperate regions and particularly in moist or shady locations. The rush family (Juncaceae) includes Juncus, the common rushes, and Luzula, the woodrushes. Common rushes are used in many parts of the world for weaving into chair bottoms, mats, and basketwork, and the pith serves as wicks in open oil lamps and for tallow candles (rushlights). J. effusus, called soft rush, is used to make the tatami mats of Japan. The bulrush, also called reed mace and cattail, is Typha angustifolia, belonging to the family Typhaceae; its stems and leaves are used in North India for ropes, mats, andbaskets. The horsetail genus (Equisetum) is called scouring rush, or Dutch rush, because the plants' silica-laden stalks are used for scouring metal and other hard surfaces. Flowering rush is Butomus umbellatus (family Butomaceae). The sweet rush, orsweet flag, is Acorus calamus (family Araceae).

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Kudzu: (Pueraria lobata)  From Encyclopaedia Britannica -- twining perennial vine that is a member of a genus belonging to the family Leguminosae. The kudzu is a fast-growing, woody, somewhat hairy vine that may grow to a length of 18 m (60 feet) in one season. It has large leaves, long racemes with late-blooming reddish purple flowers, and flat, hairy seed pods. The plant is native to China and Japan, where it was long grown for its edible, starchy roots and for a fibre made from its stems. The kudzu was transplanted to North America with the intention of using it to anchor steep banks of soil and thereby prevent erosion. The plant has become a rampant weed in parts of the southeastern United States, however, since it readily spreads over trees and shrubs as well as exposed soil. The kudzu vine is a useful fodder crop for livestock, however, as well as an attractive ornamental. Northern winters tend to kill the plant's stems but allow the roots to survive.


DESCRIPTION: Kudzu is a climbing, semi-woody, perennial vine in the pea family. Deciduous leaves are alternate and compound, with three broad leaflets up to 4 inches across. Leaflets may be entire or deeply 2-3 lobed with hairy margins. Individual flowers, about 1/2 inch long, are purple, highly fragrant and borne in long hanging clusters. Flowering occurs in late summer and is soon followed by production of brown, hairy, flattened, seed pods, each of which contains three to ten hard seeds.


BACKGROUND: Kudzu was introduced into the U.S. in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, where it was promoted as a forage crop and an ornamental plant. From 1935 to the mid-1950s, farmers in the south were encouraged to plant kudzu to reduce soil erosion, and Franklin D. Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps planted it widely for many years. Kudzu was recognized as a pest weed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and, in 1953, was removed from its list of permissible cover plants.

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Pokeweed: (Phytolacca Americana) a.k.a. Poke (Polk) Salad: a coarse American perennial herb (of the family hytolaccaceae, the pokeweed family) with racemose white flowers, dark purple juicy berries, a poisonous root, and young shoots sometimes used as potherbs.


Polk Salad Annie

Written and Originally Recorded by Tony Joe White

If some of ya'll never been down South too much...
I'm gonna tell you a little bit about this,
So that you'll understand what I'm talking about
Down there we have a plant
That grows out in the woods and the fields,
Looks somethin' like a turnip green.
Everybody calls it Poke salad. Poke salad.
Used to know a girl that lived down there and
she'd go out in the evenings and pick a mess of it...
Carry it home and cook it for supper,
'Cause that's about all they had to eat,
But they did all right.

Down in Louisiana
Where the alligators grow so mean
There lived a girl that I swear to the world
Made the alligators look tame

Poke salad Annie, poke salad Annie
Everybody said it was a shame
Cause her mama was working on the chain-gang
(A mean, vicious woman)

Everyday 'fore supper time
She'd go down by the truck patch
And pick her a mess o' polk salad
And carry it home in a tote sack

Poke salad Annie, 'gators got you granny
Everybody said it was a shame
'Cause her mama was aworkin' on the chain-gang
(a wretched, spiteful, straight-razor totin' woman,
Lord have mercy. Pick a mess of it)

Her daddy was lazy and no count
Claimed he had a bad back
All her brothers were fit for
Was stealin' watermelons out of my truck patch

Poke salad Annie, the gators got your granny
Everybody said it was a shame
Cause her mama was a working' on the chain gang
(Sock a little polk salad to me, you know I need a mess of it)



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Rabbit Tobacco: (pseudognaphalium obtusifolium) a.k.a. Sweet Everlasting, Sweet White Balsam, Fragrant Life Everlasting, Fuzzy Gussy

This is a herbaceous plant, it is a annual which can reach 80cm in height (30inches). It is sometimes a biennial. The plant is covered with a cottony down.  The leaves are alternate. Each leaf is entire, narrow and, like the rest of the plant, wooly .  The flower parts are not discernable with the naked eye and are up to 1cm long (0.4 inches) and are up to 0.5cm wide (0.2 inches). They are whitish to light brown. Blooms first appear in mid summer and continue into mid fall.


There are many accounts of Everlasting being smoked in place of tobacco by Native Americans and settlers alike and the smoke held a spiritual or mystic power for many Indians. The Cheyenne dropped the leaves on hot coals and used the smoke to purify gifts to the spirits. Cheyenne warriors chewed the leaves and rubbed their bodies with it to strengthen and protect them in battle. The Menomini used the smoke after a death to keep the ghost of the dead from bringing nightmares and bad luck to the surviving family members. The Potawatomi and the Chippewa use the smoke to drive away sprits (witches) from their dwellings. The Cherokees used it in sweat baths. It was also thought by many tribes that the smoke had a restorative power that could revive the unconscious or paralyzed. The fresh juice has some reputation as an aphrodisiac.


Photo 1     Photo 2     Photo3     Photo4



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Cocklebur: (xanthium strumarium)

The cocklebur has large and broad leaves, light and bright green in color in an alternate pattern with irregular lobes and relatively inconspicuous teeth. Stems turn maroon to black when mature, with an elliptic or egg shaped fruit clusters growing nestled around the stem. These are the part you can’t miss, as “nature’s Velcro” covers these fruit with small hooks that grab on to socks, hair, and anything else they can latch onto.  Common cocklebur is a coarse, erect, annual herb up to 20 dm tall. The stems are tough with short dark streaks or spots and covered with coarse hairs. The leaves are long petiolate, alternate, broadly ovate, margins toothed or shallowly lobed, surfaces rough-pubescent. The plant is monoecious: the male flowers are in inconspicuous heads clustered at the tips of branches; the female flowered heads are axillary, greenish in color with the 2 flowers in the head enclosed by the involucre. The fruit is a distinctive hard brown ovoid bur terminated by 2 beaks and covered with hooked spines.

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Beggar Lice: (desmodium obtusum) a.k.a. Beggar’s Lice, Tick Trefoil

Beggar's Lice, also known as Tick Trefoil, is the weed that covers your clothing with flat, eye-shaped, clinging seeds when you've been walking in fields or open woods during late summer and fall. The stickiness of the seed pod is due to its covering of fine hairs. The pod is segmented, with each segment containing a single seed, and the segments break apart easily. The genus name, Desmodium, is Greek, meaning "band" or "chain", referring to these segmented seed pods.

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Johnson Grass: (sorghum halepense) a.k.a. Egyptian Millet

Johnson grass is a tall, coarse, grass with stout rhizomes. It grows in dense clumps or nearly solid stands and can reach 8 feet (2.4 meters) in height. Leaves are smooth, 6-20 inches (15.2-50.8 cm) long, and have a white midvein. Stems are pink to rusty red near the base. Panicles are large, loosely branched, purplish, and hairy. Spikelets occur in pairs or threes and each has a conspicuous awn. Seeds are reddish-brown and nearly 1/8 inch (0.3 cm) long.  Named after William Johnson (died 1859), American agriculturalist.

Johnson grass is a very aggressive, perennial grass. It occurs in dense clumps that spread by seed and rhizomes to form nearly pure stands. The thick rhizomes live over winter and in the spring send out new, white, spur-like shoots. In clay soils 80% of the rhizomes are in the top four inches of soil. In sandy loam soil, 80% occur in the top six inches. However, rhizomes may grow downward through cracks to a depth of 10 to 20 inches. The grass leaves emerge late in spring and the plant forms seed by July 1. A single plant may produce over 80,000 seeds per year. Stems and leaves die back after the first frost, but the dead litter often covers the ground all winter. Rhizome cuttings commonly form new plants, making it very difficult to eradicate. It spreads rapidly and is not affected by many of the agricultural herbicides.

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Dogfennel: (Eupatorium capillifolium)

This is a perennial weed with a taproot. It can grow 3 - 9 feet with crowded branches near the top. The leaves are divided into several thread-like segments.  It is found frequently on the sides of the road, and in unused pastures.  The leaves are very strong in scent when crushed.  They reproduce readily by seed and will re-grow from the woody base.  It is generally found from New Jersey to Florida and then again west to Texas and Arkansas.  Some gardeners have cultivated it for its airy look in the flower bed. In fields, crop rotation and land management will control this weed. It can be eliminated in one season.  Dogfennel is thought to be a natural mosquito repellant.

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Cogongrass: (Imperata cylindrica)

Cogon grass has been ranked as one of the ten worst weeds of the world. In tropical and subtropical regions around the globe, this aggressive, rhizomatous perennial is generally considered a pernicious pest plant due to its ability to successfully disperse, colonize, spread, and subsequently compete with and displace desirable vegetation and disrupt ecosystems over a wide range of environmental conditions.  These characteristics and consequences of cogon grass infestations are similarly evident even within the native or endemic range in the Eastern Hemisphere, as it has long been considered one of Southeast Asia’s most noxious weeds.  Since the introduction of cogon grass into Alabama around 1912, and Mississippi and Florida in the early 1920s, infestations in the southeastern United States have created pest problems in lawns, pastures, golf courses, roadways, railways and other right-of-ways, mine reclamation areas, plantations, forests, and recreational and natural areas. Although the transport of this plant into and throughout the United States is prohibited by federal law, cogongrass continues to spread throughout the southeast gulf coast threatening forests, rangelands, natural areas, roadsides, and residential areas.  The cogongrass blade is shown here.

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Horse Apple Trees: (Maclura pomifera)

Although we have nicknamed them “horse apples,” the actual name is the Osage Orange Tree.  A more correct nickname is the “hedge apple.”  The great mystery about osage-orange is the identity of the animal or animals which ate the fruit and transported the seeds. That there must have been one is self-evident: the fruits are too large for the seeds to have been moved by any other means. Cattle will eat them, and buffalo may have been important. Osage orange has remarkable chemical properties, including the presence of 2,3,4,5-tetrahydroxystilbene, whose toxicity to fungi may account for the exceptional decay resistance to decay.  The thorns and the huge fruits discourage its use. It is also not very attractive of form. The only thing which recommends osage-orange is its extraordinary hardiness: osage-orange will grow anywhere.   Osage-orange flowers in June and is dioecious. The huge globose yellow-green fruits ripen in mid fall and drop to the ground. There are presently no native herbivores which eat the fruit and disseminate the seed, and the original vectors are unknown, even within the native range of the species. Seeds germinate in spring or enter the seed bank. Osage-orange also regenerates from stump sprouts. Growth is moderately fast. Osage-orange trees live for 100-150 years, and are typically 40'x3' (Champion 68'x7.7').  Here is a photo of the Osage Orange Leaf.   

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Coachwhip Snake: (Masticophis flagellum)

Also called the “racer,” name for several related swift, slender snakes, especially those of the genus Coluber. All of the racers are nonpoisonous, nonconstricting, day-active snakes. The black racer, C. constrictor, is easily confused with the constricting black rat snake, or pilot black snake (Elaphe obsoleta), which may account for its misleading Latin name. The black racer is satiny black, with a white patch on the chin, and may reach a length of 6 ft (180 cm) and a diameter of 11/2 in. (4 cm). It is found in E North America from Canada to Florida. It feeds primarily on small rodents, frogs, and young snakes, and is a valuable destroyer of vermin. One of the fastest-moving snakes, it has been clocked at over 31/2 mi (5.6 km) per hr. An aggressive snake, it will bite repeatedly if cornered; however, it can be tamed. The young, hatched from eggs, are pale gray, spotted with brown. The name is also applied to the related indigo snake (Drymarchon corais) and to some of the coachwhip snakes (Masticophis). The speckled racers are species of the genus Dryombius. All of the racers are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Squamata, family Colubridae.

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Paw Paws: (Asimina Triloba) a.k.a. dog banana, Indian banana, possumhaw

Pawpaw is a small tree found in the understory of rich sites on poorly to well drained, moist soils. It is always found in clumps, and reproduces clonally from the roots. Very tolerant of competition.  The name is probably derived from papaya, for the vague resemblance of the fruit to Carica papaya.  Fruit are produced in clusters and are oblong to banana-shaped, providing insight into the origin of one of A. triloba's early names, "Indiana banana." Fruit size ranges from quite small (20 g) to over 450 g. Skin is typically smooth and thin, ranging in color from green to bright yellow at maturity and turning brown or black after a frost. The fruit may be eaten when it becomes soft although some prefer to wait until after the skin has darkened. Flesh is custard-like in texture with flavor resembling cherimoya (Annona cherimola) or soursop (Annona muricata). Flesh color is typically orange but infrequently may be white. Large fruit usually have 10 to 15 large black seeds.


Peterson et al. (1982) evaluated the composition of pawpaw fruit and concluded that the fruit have a high nutritional quality compared to temperate fruits such as apple, peach, and grape. All commercially important fruit in the Annonaceae have relatively short shelf-lives. As Annonas are used in juices, ice cream, and other processed products similar processing may also be applicable to pawpaws.  The pawpaw is the largest fruit native to the United States.  Pawpaws are native to 21 states in the eastern United States, although they are most commonly found in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan. A member of the Annonaceae (tropical custard apple family), the pawpaw, unlike its tropical relatives, is hardy to -30°F. The pawpaw was a popular fruit in the United States early in the 20th century, but has been relegated to a local delicacy. The yellow-brown fruits are about the size of a potato with a texture like a very ripe banana, hence their name "Indiana banana." The taste is reminiscent of papaya with pineapple overtones, with bits of banana and mango. It has a very sweet, pleasant, tropical fruit flavor that is like no other and is very rich, making it unlikely that you will want to eat more than one. Extremely aromatic when cut open, pawpaws will fill a whole room with their fruity aroma.

One of the difficulties with pawpaws is that they deteriorate just as they are the tastiest. The intensity of fruitiness peaks at ripeness, but then the fruit drops. The fruits do ripen off the tree, but because they ripen quickly and bruise easily, they are almost impossible to get to market in a usable form.

Paw Paw Leaf     Paw Paw Flower

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Maypop: (Passiflora incarnata)  a.k.a. Purple Passionflower, apricot vine

Maypop is a fast growing perennial vine that employs tendrils to grab hold of adjacent shrubs, structure and other supports to lift itself to heights of 8-12 ft (2.4-3.7 m). The large serrated leaves grow 5-6 in (13-15 cm) wide by 6 to 8 in (15-20 cm) long. They typically have three to five lobes and are arranged alternately on the stem with flowers and branches emerging from the axil (the base of the leaf stem where it attaches).  All of the passion flowers have beautifully complex blossoms and maypop is no exception. These have 2-3 in (5-7.6 cm)diameters and are composed of 10 white tepals arranged in a shallow bowl shape above which is arranged fringe of purple and white filaments, called the corona. In the center is the white fleshy stigma surrounded by five stamens.  The maypops are the size of a small hen's egg with yellow-green skin juicy, but seedy pulp.

Maypop is native to southeastern United States and is often seen growing on the edges of fields, along side ditches and other sunny, moist and fertile places.

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Of the 30 American species the largest and most important is the blue, or Mississippi, catfish (Ictalurus furcatus), an excellent food fish weighing up to 150 lb (70 kg). Best known is the smaller channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), which reaches 20 lb (9 kg) and has a deeply forked tail and slender body. The stonecat (Noturus flavus), 10 in. (25.4 cm) long, is found in clear water under logs and stones. The bullheads, or horned pouts, are catfish of muddy ponds and streams, feeding on bottom plants and animals. Bullheads have square or slightly rounded tails and may reach 1 ft (30 cm) in length and 2 lb (0.9 kg) in weight. The black, yellow, and brown bullhead species are common in the waters of the central and eastern states.

Blue Catfish vary in color from slate-blue to grayish brown on their back and sides, fading to a whitish belly. In muddy waters, some individuals appear albinistic, the pale skin evoking the common nickname “white cat.” They are often confused with channel catfish. Both have forked tails and similar coloration, but blues lack the small black spots punctuating the sides of young channels, and their anal fin has a straight edge, with 30 or more fin rays

Channel Catfish reach a maximum size of nearly 60 pounds and look much like other catfish in that they have 'skin' instead of scales and whiskers around the mouth. Channel catfish are often mistake for Blue Catfish. It is easy to tell them apart by looking at the anal fin. On a Blue Cat the anal fin has the look of having been cut with scissors, whereas; on the Channel Cat the fin anal fin is not as straight, having some curve through out its entire length. Channel Catfish occur throughout the Mississippi River Valley, and down to the Mexico border. Channel Catfish are the most commonly raised aquaculture species in the U.S.

Bullhead Catfish don’t get as big as the Blue, Channel or Flatheads (~40-60lbs.), as the largest is the White Bullhead catfish around 10lbs. although they aren’t as small as the very small madtoms, which only weigh a few ounces. Here is a picture of a Black Bullhead (Ameiurus melas).  The young catfish or "squealers" tend to move in schools which are often guarded by a parent but can be subject to mass predation. You might catch them during day light hours, however typically catfish fish feed at night.  Other varieties are the Yellow Bullhead and the Brown Bullhead.

Flathead Catfish (Pylodictus olivaris) have dark to olive brown with dark brownish mottlings on sides; anal fin is very short and tail fin is square or slightly notched; head broad and flat.

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Crawdads: a.k.a. crawfish, crayfish, mudbugs

Crayfish, also called crawfish or crawdad, or mudbugs, are closely related to the lobster. More than half of the more than 500 species occur in North America, particularly Kentucky (Mammoth Cave) and Louisiana in the Mississippi basin. Crayfish also live in Europe, New Zealand, East Asia and throughout the world, including the Tristan da Cunha Islands. Nearly all live in freshwater, although a few survive in salt water. Crayfish are characterized by a joined head and thorax, or midsection, and a segmented body, which is sandy yellow, green, or dark brown in colour. The head has a sharp snout, and the eyes are on movable stalks. Crayfish are usually about 7.5 cm (3 inches) long.  There are at least 65 known species of crawfish in Mississippi.  Crayfish are part of the order Decapoda constituting the families Astacidae (Northern Hemisphere), Parastacidae, or Austroastracidae (Southern Hemisphere). The most common genera of North America include Procambarus, Orconectes, Faxonella, Cambarus, Cambarellus, and Pacifastacus. Austropotamobius is the most common genus of Europe. The genus Astacus occurs in Europe, the genus Cambaroides in East Asia. The arthopod class also includes centipedes, crustaceans, insects, millipedes, mites, scorpions and spiders.

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Boll Weevil: (Anthonomus grandis)

The boll (bōl) or cotton boll weevil , cotton-eating weevil , or snout beetle, is probably of Mexican or Central American origin.  It appeared in Texas about 1892 and spread to most cotton-growing regions of the United States. Over the years the weevil became a significant pest, destroying about 8% of the annual U.S. cotton crop. Boll weevil devastation was a major reason for diversification of the South's historic cotton economy. In 1978, however, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture began a concerted eradication campaign. By the end of the century the weevil had disappeared from from most of the nation except Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, where the campaign continued.  The young adult is grayish, darkening with age, and about 14 in. (6 mm) long, with a long snout for boring into the cotton boll, or seed pod, where weevils feed on the cotton fibers. Weevils may also invade cotton flower buds before they mature into bolls. Females lay eggs within the bud or the boll, where pupation occurs. The larvae eat the entire contents of the boll. Metamorphosis from egg to adult takes about three weeks; from 2 to 10 generations occur each season. The weevil's resistance to some poisons, and the removal of some poisons from the market, have encouraged Integrated Pest Management , e.g., the use of safer insecticides, synthetic growth regulators, and pheromone traps, and the release of sterile males to frustrate reproduction. Adults are also controlled by elimination of field litter, especially cotton stalks, in which they overwinter. Short-season cotton, bred to mature early, escapes much damage from weevil larvae. The boll weevil is classified in the phylum Arthropoda , class Insecta, order Coleoptera, family Curculionidae.

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The cotton plant belongs to the genus Gossypium of the family Malvaceae (mallow family). It is generally a shrubby plant having broad three-lobed leaves and seeds in capsules, or bolls; each seed is surrounded with downy fiber, white or creamy in color and easily spun. The fibers flatten and twist naturally as they dry.
Cotton is of tropical origin but is most successfully cultivated in temperate climates with well-distributed rainfall. All western U.S. cotton and as much as one-third of Southern cotton, however, is grown under irrigation. In the United States nearly all commercial production (especially Mississippi) comes from varieties of upland cotton ( G. hirsutum ), but small quantities are obtained from sea-island and American-Egyptian cotton (both belonging to the species G. barbadense ). G. arboreum and G. herbaceum are the chief cultivated species in Asia.  Cotton is classified in the division Magnoliophyta , class Magnoliopsida, order Malvales, family Malvaceae.  Mississippi is one of the largest cotton-producing states in the nation.

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Okra: (Abelmoschus Medik)

Okra, fruit of a large vegetable plant thought to be of African origin, was brought to the United States three centuries ago by African slaves. The word, derived from the West African nkruma, was in use by the late 1700s. Grown in tropical and warm temperate climates, it is in the same family as the hibiscus and cotton plants.

Okra is often available fresh year-round in the South, and from May to October in many other areas. You can also find okra frozen, pickled, and canned in some regions. When buying fresh okra, look for young pods free of bruises, tender but not soft, and no more than 4 inches long. It may be stored in the refrigerator in a paper bag or wrapped in a paper towel in a perforated plastic bag for 2 to 3 days, or it may be frozen for up to 12 months after blanching whole for 2 minutes. Cooked okra can be stored (tightly covered) in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

When cut, okra releases a sticky substance with thickening properties, useful for soups and stews. Gumbos, Brunswick stew, and pilaus are some well-known dishes which commonly use okra.

Okra can be served raw, marinated in salads or cooked on its own (boiled or fried), and goes well with tomatoes, onions, corn, peppers, and eggplant. Whole, fresh okra pods also make excellent pickles. Its subtle flavor can be compared to eggplant, though the texture is somewhat unusual. Many people prefer breaded and fried okra, because the slippery substance is less pronounced.

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Chinaberry Tree: (Melia azedarach) a.k.a. umbrella tree

Chinaberry is a round, deciduous, shade tree, reaching 30 to 40 feet at maturity and growing five to 10 feet during the first and second year after seed germination.  Growth slows as the tree reaches 15 or 20 feet tall.  It is successfully grown in a wide variety of situations, including alkaline soil where other trees might fail. Truly an urban survivor, Chinaberry has become naturalized in much of the south.  Photos:  Leaves     Leaves and Fruit     Fruit




More Coming Soon:

American Chestnut (Castanea dentata)






Byram Bridge

Chinkapin (Castanea pumila)

Collard Greens

Coral Snake

Cottonmouth Moccasin


Country Ham

Crepe Myrtle



Fire Ants

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)


Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata)

Locust trees


Mississippi Ag Museum


Muscadines (Vitis rotundifolia)

Mustard Greens

Pecan Trees


Pignut Hickory (Carya glabra)

Possums (Opossum)




Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata)

Sorghum Molasses

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia Grandiflora)

Spanish Moss

Swamp Chestnut (Quercus michauxii)

Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

Trumpet Pitchers


Wild Honeysuckle (Lonicera dioica)


Yellow Honeysuckle (Lonicera flavida)