My Favorite Android Phone Apps

I am a freak about apps for my Samsung Galaxy S4! Most of them are useful in the garden, but others are just must haves on your phone. I generally don’t want to pay much (if anything) for the apps I download, but if I find one that is exceptional, I’ll pay.
This wildflower identification app is based on information provided online at Minnesota Wildflowers Info for both native and non-native flowering forbs. Though created with a focus on Minnesota, many, if perhaps most of the species for which it provides field identification characteristics are also common throughout the Upper Midwest and into New England. The information on this app has been been optimized for mobile devices.
The Purdue Tree Doctor app has been developed by experts at Purdue University to help people better identify and manage tree problems caused by a variety of factors, including insects and diseases. Landscape professionals, arborists, and garden center personnel can use this app to improve communication with their customers.
Information in this app is useful in the Midwestern and Eastern United States.
  • Identify tree problems by matching damaged plant parts to over 1000 high-resolution photos.
  • Check diagnoses with detailed descriptions of damage and stages of problem development linked to each photo.
  • Get the latest unbiased recommendations from Purdue University experts on how to manage over 175 tree problems on over 60 kinds of trees.
  • Search information by tree or by pest.
Wildflowers of the Great Plains features in-depth profiles of 500 plants indigenous to the region. Outdoor enthusiasts in the area can now accurately identify and classify local plant species with their mobile devices.

Each entry includes a complete profile for the given plant including the scientific name, family, common name(s), flowering period, height, habitat and more. Users can search by almost any imaginable means, including color, plant category, flower month, family name, habitat, stem, inflorescence and leaf characteristics.


Virginia Tech Tree Identification brings the award winning Virginia Tech digital dendrology material to your Android smart phone. It contains fact sheets for 969 woody plants from all over North America with an in depth description, range map and thousands of color images of leaves, flowers, fruit, twigs, bark and form.
Users can narrow the species list for any location in North America using the phone’s GPS, network signal or any entered address or zip code. Basically the application can become “Woody Plants of Where You Are Standing”. For example, it can become the “Woody Plants of Southwestern Oregon” , the “Woody Plants of Central Park” or the or “The Woody Plants of 37.108 lat., -80.452 long., elevation 2118”.
Users can further narrow the species list by answering a series of very simple tree attribute questions such as where the plant is growing, leaf shape, leaf arrangement, flower color or fruit type.
The species list can also be narrowed by typing a keyword such as oak, Abies, red or palm. For example if oak is typed only oaks found in the defined area will be listed.
A feature also allows you to send any tree related question to “Dr. Dendro”, a tree expert in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Tech. You can send a tree description or pictures of your plant and experts will help with identification.
• 969 woody plants from all over North America
• Over 6,400 color photographs of leaves, flowers, fruit, twig, bark, form, and range map for each species
• In depth description of all plant parts
• Narrows species list based on your location and elevation using the phones GPS, network signal or user entered location
• Search for species by a key word, e.g. maple
• Identify species by answering a series of simple questions. A picture is displayed showing what is being asked.
• Navigate between species with a push of a button.
• Send a tree question to “Dr. Dendro” a tree expert at Virginia Tech
Visit our web sites at:

The photos present in this App are intended to help foresters, urban landscaping employees, or others working with trees recognize some of the common pest insects affecting trees in North America and understand their life cycles and how they damage trees. The information was drawn from book, websites, factsheets, and some original literature. This App is not a guide for specialists. In many groups, such as the bark beetles and aphids, confirmation of species identity requires attention to details not visible in photos with comparisons to other similar species and use of keys. Sources for further information (websites and articles) are given at the bottom of each species’ page.


Tree Surveying and Arboricultural Tool Box. The Software is a client database, a surveying tool for mapping and recording of trees and other asset data. The Forms can be personalised. Can import data from your existing desktop GIS software, and export data as csv and kml files. The app includes CTLA, CAVAT, THREATS, Matheney & Clark, links to tree identification websites and a built in clinometer. Use Google maps or load in your own plans. This is the ultimate forestry and arboriculture tool. Can be used in US & UK!

TURF MANAGEMENT Free / $19.00 per year

Turfgrass Management Lite is a free application that contains pictures and information for identifying weeds, diseases, insects, and turfgrasses. This lite app contains restricted content and does not include the pesticide database, recommendations, management information, research or publications. For full access, please see “Turfgrass Management Subscription”. ($19.99 per year.) Once you ID the issue, search the internet for the solution free!

Smart Tools® is a complete package of 5 app sets. It includes 5 Pro sets for a total of 15 tools. In a word, All-in-One
Set 1: Length, Angle, Slope, Level, Thread – Smart Ruler Pro
Set 2: Distance, Height, Width, Area – Smart Measure Pro
Set 3: Compass, Metal detector, GPS – Smart Compass Pro
Set 4: Sound level meter, Vibrometer – Sound Meter Pro
Set 5: Flashlight, Magnifier, Mirror – Smart Light Pro
For more information, see the manuals of the apps, watch YouTube video and visit the blog:
Your new AccuWeather app is here! We listened to your feedback and created an award winning, free weather app that’s even more information and feature rich, and offers the same Superior Accuracy™ and great experience across all Android smartphones and tablets, including Nexus 10!

Sky Map enables users to identify stars and planets by pointing their devices towards these objects in the sky. Sky Map automatically adjusts to identify on the device’s screen the objects it is facing. Users can zoom in and out, and switch various layers such as constellations, planets, grids, and deep sky objects, on and off, choosing to make these elements visible or not. Users can also determine the locations of planets and stars relative to their own current locations with the search function. Inputting the name of a planet or star will direct users towards this object. A user may also explore the cosmos manually and move through the sky by touching the screen instead of having it adjust automatically.

iTRIAGE Free – Know where to go when your hurt!

SCIENCE QUIZ Free – Got 44.4 seconds free? Play a quick 10 question quiz and keep your brain spry!

ARMY SURVIVAL STUDY GUIDE Free – I’m going to be on “Naked & Afraid!” (Teehee… Hella no.)

TINY FLASHLIGHT Free – Makes hunting for dog toys under things a breeze… +Morse code! Type the word, it flashes it.



Raised Veggie Beds

The day finally came last weekend.

The first warm day of Spring that my lazy a$$ got out to enjoy some yard-work! Every Spring, I add compost to the garden beds and the asparagus beds.


This is my three different types of garlic. I side-dressed them with compost, meaning I put a small amount next to the rows or crowns of the plants, but did not cover them. This will allow the benefits of the compost to seep through the soil to the roots, but won’t bury the crown, causing growing issues.


Here’s the whole main garden where 1 1/2 cubic yards of compost was just spread.


This is my established asparagus bed. The orange tape is to help remind the dogs to keep off!! We planted this bed about 7 years ago. I’m not sure how many pounds we actually harvest each year, but my guess would be about 20 lbs. After the harvest, I’ll update if my guess was in the ball park.


This asparagus bed was planted two years ago. That year was hotter than all get out. They weren’t that happy to be growing that year. I feel they were set back a bit from that. We’ll see if we can harvest off these this year….

© Ilex – Midwestern Plants

Ilex VS Apple, Hawthorn & Quince Rust

All cedar-rust diseases spend a time of their life cycle on Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana – along with other junipers) and another part of their life cycle on apple, hawthorn, and other members of the rose family. Both hosts are necessary for the fungus to complete its life cycle. Three of the most common rusts occurring in the Midwest are caused by Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae (cedar-apple rust), G. globosum (cedar-hawthorn rust), and G. clavipes (cedar-quince rust).


Cedar Rust Gall - Doesn't it look like one of those wall walkers you'd throw at the wall and watch it slime down?

Cedar Rust Gall – Doesn’t it look like one of those wall walkers you’d throw at the wall and watch it slime down?

The rust organism requires a full two years for the fungus to complete its life cycle and spends one full year of its life cycle on the juniper. During the second spring, coinciding with the blooming of the crabapples, the galls swell and produce jelly-like tendrils called, ‘spore horns’. As the spore horns begin to dry, the spores are released and carried by the wind to the newly developing leaves of the susceptible plants. Distribution of spores can range up to 5 miles from a juniper, but most infections occur within several hundred feet.  The spores are finished in about a month and most leaves are no longer susceptible after that time. About 2 weeks from initial infection, small, yellow dots can be seen on upper surfaces of infected leaves. Several weeks later, the fungus appears as orange or brown spots with hair-like appendages on the underside of the leaf. In late summer, the rust spots release the spores and are carried to nearby junipers, thus restarting the cycle. Repeated infections of cedar-apple rust can be unsightly and seriously weaken and destroy the ornamental value and health of susceptible plants.


Symptoms on Juniper

During mid-spring, swellings or galls mature on juniper needles that were infected with spores the previous year. The galls are brown to dull red in color, globular in shape, and may vary from pea-sized to an inch or more around. As they age, circular pits or depressions are all over the surface of the galls, like the dimples on a golf ball. After April showers and damp weather, yellow gelatinous tendrils or spore horns form in these dimpled areas. The tendrils elongate rapidly and release spores during dry, windy weather that follows the Spring rains. Spores produced on the juniper host blow to the apple, crabapple, and hawthorn hosts as their new growth emerges.
Eventually the galls dry out but remain attached to the tree for several years, resulting in some small twig and tip die back.

Symptoms on the Crabapple and Apple

Cedar-Apple rust on crabapple

Cedar-Apple rust on crabapple

Leaves: Bright yellow/orange spots develop on the top of the leaves in late spring. These spots gradually expand, becoming evident on the bottom of the leaves as small bumps. In midsummer, these rust lesions develop hair-like, cylindrical tubes (hyphae), which release spores into the air, which are carried to the juniper host. Infected leaves of apples and crabapples will most likely drop with defoliation more severe in drought. Galls that form on the juniper host do not show up until July the next year.

Twigs: The rust appears as a swollen bumpy gall on the current year’s growth, usually no more than 1 inch in length. The swelling eventually develops the characteristic cylindrical fruiting bodies. Extremely affected branches are stunted and may die.

Fruit: The rust produces yellow to orange spots comparable to those on the leaves, but the spots are usually much larger. Fruit infection causes lower quality fruits or premature fruit drop.


Cedar-hawthorn rust is very comparable to cedar-apple rust, in both appearance and occurrence, but it infects a broader range of plants within the rose family. The severity of the disease is usually minor on crabapples and apples (Malus sp.), pears (Pyrus), and mountain ash (Sorbus) but can be quite serious on many hawthorns (Crataegus sp.).

Symptoms on Juniper

Cedar-hawthorn rust galls are smaller than cedar-apple rust galls, less proportioned, and more chocolate-brown in color. Galls remain on the twigs of branches of junipers for several years, where they continue to produce spores, compared to the one season spore production of cedar-apple rust. Symptoms on Hawthorn.

Symptoms on Hawthorn

Leaves: Big yellow spots appear on the tops of the leaves turning yellow orange to gray-brown as they age. When rust is severe, all the foliage may turn bright yellow and drop in summer. The orange leaf spots are smaller on apple and crabapple.

Fruits and Twigs: Deformation of fruits and young twigs is particularly severe on hawthorns, but this damage is usually caused by the cedar-quince rust fungi and not cedar hawthorn rust fungi.


Symptoms on Junipers

Spindle-shaped swelling occurs on twigs and branches of junipers. Young branches are usually girdled, then die. In damp weather, older galls are covered with masses of gelatinous, orange to brown spore horns. Galls can produce spore horns for 4 to 6 years, sometimes longer.

Symptoms on Quince

Quince-rust on hawthorn

Quince-rust on hawthorn

Cedar-quince rust affects quince (Chenomeles), mountain ash (Sorbus), hawthorn (Crataegus), serviceberry (Amelanchier) and many other plants in the rose family. Though normally not as widespread as cedar-apple rust, it causes the greatest amount of damage to the fruits, twigs, and thorns of susceptible plants. During lengthy periods of wet weather, when temperatures range between 50F and 75F, severe infection can occur just 4 hours after leaf contact.

Leaves: Nothing obvious although veins or petioles will be swollen.

Twigs and thorns: Elongated, puffy cankers appear on twigs and thorns. In damp weather, you’ll see orange to brown spores.


Cultural Control:

This disease requires two hosts, the separation of the hosts for a distance of 1 mile will help reduce infection. Idyllically, to minimize disease host availability, plant trees and shrubs that are resistant to rust diseases. Just check the label or search the variety on-line to check resistance.

Chemical Control:

Prophylactic fungicides can be used to help minimize infection. Many are organic! A minimum of three applications are necessary. These applications protect the new leaves from spores that are airborne from the juniper host in mid-spring. Spraying apple, crabapple, and hawthorn foliage after the symptoms develop has NO controlling effect.


Junipers: Begin spraying susceptible plants in early July and continue at labeled intervals through August. Remove galls and cankers to reduce infection of alternate hosts.

Apples and Crabapples: Begin spraying when new growth appears and flower buds show color but are not yet open (balloon stage). Repeat three to four times at 12 day intervals.

Hawthorns: Spray as new growth appears and flower buds begin to open. Repeat 3 to 4 times, always read the labeled directions! Visible stem cankers need to be pruned out.

Reminder: To Avoid Oak Wilt – No Prunning in the Spring!

Oak Wilt

Oak wilt starts at the top of the canopy and works it’s way down.

The arrival of the “high risk period” for above ground transmission of oak wilt disease will be arriving soon. Oak trees are at high risk when the oak wilt fungal mats are present on trees killed the previous year by the disease and when nitidulids (sap-feeding beetles) are active. The onset of high risk season occurs earlier as you go farther south and varies with weather conditions. In 2012, spring (and the high risk period) arrived earlier than usual, and in 2013 it arrived later. This is why phenological indicators are better for timing the high risk time, which are when, Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood) begins to bloom, Spiraea nipponica ‘snowmound’ is in early bloom or cornus alternafolia is in late bloom. The “rule of thumb” for the Upper Midwest is to avoid pruning or wounding oaks during the months of April, May, and June. Nitidulids, carrying spores of the fungus, can be attracted to fresh wounds on oak trees. When nitidulids visit these wounds spores can be transferred to the oaks, initiating oak wilt disease infections.  To avoid infection, all necessary wounds to an oak in the spring should be treated immediately with wound dressing or paint. (this is the ONLY time I will recommend wound dressing, normally a no-no!!) New symptoms of oak wilt disease usually are apparent in July and August.

If you want to know more about Oak Wilt or think your tree may be infected, check out Ilex VS Oak Wilt for more information. Feel free to post in comments or email me photos of your tree for positive ID.

More About Ilex…

My mid-life crisis has arrived….

On the other hand, is it just another day in the life of Ilex?


OCD results in cool nails!!

I will refrain from third-personing myself from now on… I do feel like I’ve not shared much about me in general. Maybe I’ve given some small insight to me via an award share, but otherwise, I’ve mostly kept to myself. I don’t want to change the atmosphere of my ‘gardening’ blog, although, then again, it is a BLOG, not a horticultural magazine.

Many times I have mentioned I am OCD, Bi-polar (BP) with a dash of anxiety. I’ve also mentioned that I have embraced them as my personality, not a disease to which warranted intervention. OCD keeps my affairs, house, work, and my LIFE in order. I rarely get flustered when something outta-the-blue happens, as I’ve planned back-ups for everything. “Luck favors the prepared”.

My BP is a bit harder to explain. My swings happen about every three-five years. Yeah, that’s a bit spaced out. Luckily, it’s focused itself on my careers, not other parts of my life, per se. After age 27 (and a 9-year run at a company), I’ve switched not only jobs every 3-4 years, but careers. I’ve been in shipping, printing, diamond sales, real estate, CDL mover, elderly care, antique auctions, reporter, and on to get my horticultural degree at 40 to work as a landscape designer, then an estimator/plant buyer. I’m a Johannes factotum or a ‘Jack of all trades”. Right now, I’m nearing the 3-year mark at my current job, along with a few health issues, some age-related mortality checks and throw in some recent suicides… you get depression. NOT what I signed up for in life.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about my brain fighting to want to experience many different things in life. I don’t take my BP situation as bad either, as I am always able to justify my jumps with the fact I can still make good bank. Although, obviously, career monogamy is not for me. It’s when I feel trapped by what my next career path will be, and then attempt to think about it. Bam, anxiety attack. I feel the momentum to swing, but swing off to where?

What I have newly learned is that I do swing like this and the next goal I need to set is a 5-year goal, not a life-long endeavor, as that’s not how I roll. That has relaxed the pressure somewhat, as I’ve always thought I would break the 5-year habit with just the ‘right career’. Nope, accept the wave, ride the wave, be the wave. Life is too short to be doing a job you don’t like. I want to be excited to wake-up and do something that motivates me, stimulates my brain and keeps me up at night, as I can’t get enough of it. Yup, I enjoy my mania!! Is it wrong? I don’t think so!

Unfortunately, sometimes other crappy things have to happen at the same time as my BP is requiring my full attention. I have a very rare skin disorder, with no cure (YET!). I’m not ready to share which, but suffice to say it can be painful and nasty, but not contagious. I’ve had it 12 years and only recently it has gotten much worse with no remission time. It truly makes me feel like a leper. My only saving-grace is it’s only on parts normally covered with conservative clothes. Antibiotics and salves are the symptom relievers, although they cause their own set of problems like digestive flora death among other fun side-effects. I’ve already implemented many natural therapies, and I’m sure they’ve helped keep things at bay; however, sometimes you need to pull-out the big guns.

Lastly, the menopause fairy is banging at my door and there’s only so long I can peek out the window hoping she flies away thinking I’m not home… I did have a hysterectomy 8 years ago, which really improved my health all around. However, that doesn’t stop menopause, mid-life crisis, the change-of-life, call it what you will, I’m facing the hellion beast right now. I can laugh at the physical stuff (Screw you -F temps!), but the mental part of it sucks… All I can think about is the need to do something to leave my mark here. I’m at the top of the rollercoaster hill… riiiight there, when you feel just a bit weightless before the initial fall and now is the time to throw your hands in the air… like you just don’t care!! (Hadta do it!) I think it’s a bit stronger of a pull on a person without children, as children are a mark.

The recipe my BP and health issues cooked up in my menopausal pressure cooker was depression. I’ve experienced depression before, but it was situational, easily explained with a ‘cause’, bad relationship, mother passing, etc. and it disappeared after the situation was dealt with. This time it’s somewhat different, as there is not as much of a direct link to a specific cause. It’s in my mind. I feel trapped, unable to move forward or motivate, lack of direction, to which usually my OCD rescues me, but I have nothing to move towards yet, a goal. I need to get a grasp on a goal, so I am able to flip to that other swing.

Because the pressure has become too great, I’ve chosen to take an anti-depressant to get me over this hump. I’m in my third week which means I should be feeling the results now and I can say that I have. I’ve started to see a bit more of my manic-self return. I still have no long-term goal, but I don’t feel like there is such a bleak outlook on life right now. I am motivated to write, looking into goal options, my anger is better, I’ve turned the zombie-box off, I embrace my BP for what it is, and have stopped being so mumpy. I really hope this drug does NOT interfere with my OCD and BP, as those are a part of me… Although, you can keep the anxiety, who wants that?!?

My husband has been a trooper through all this. It will be 10 years today for us, 4-4-04. He is more laid back than I and is understanding of my issues, although he is usually at the wrong end of the stick when I can’t control my outbursts. He probably doesn’t want to admit his own BP (he has artist BP – if you’re an artist, you’d understand), but he knows nothing of OCD and anxiety. He is my rock, but I am aware I need to be healthy not just for myself, but for him. I love you, honey!

This post has gotten into a few of the darker shades of Ilex, however not the only ones! Opps, there’s that third-person crap again. I can’t help it, just like my states politicians’; I can’t keep myself from lying… If you’ve hung-in there long enough to get to this point, I figure you’re feeling my pain, have someone close to you who is, or you truly need to be bored to sleep… =-) I finally just felt comfortable enough to share these gnarly details….  Although this post has been quite melancholy, my defense mechanism is humor and usually can diffuse the situation quite nicely.

Just like I always whine about movies not giving me any kind of ending, leaving that window open for the usually crappy sequel and then an attempt at a prequel and spin-off… I leave you with this:
You know where I’ve been, and you can see where I am now but unless you follow me, you won’t know where I’m going….

© Ilex – Midwestern Plants