Photo and article by Donna Iverson
In the winter landscape, it’s the colorful berries that stand out to a gardener’s eye. Take for example the American bittersweet with their bright yellow-orange berries hanging at the end of vine-like branches.
American Bittersweet (Calastrus scandens) is a native perennial vine that attaches itself to trees in the Upper Midwest states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. It can be found in woods, swamps and along field edges.
It can grow to 30 feet and has dark green oval leaves with serrated edges. The leaves are two to four inches long with a pointed tip. Vines are either male or female and you need both to produce berries. Although there is a new hybrid out of Minnesota called Bailumn that produces male and female vines on the same plant.
American Bittersweet is extremely drought tolerant once it is established. It prefers full bright sun and is slow growing.
American Bittersweet is not invasive unlike the Oriental Bittersweet that smothers plants and trees. In the wild, you can distinguish the two by where the berries grow. On the American Bittersweet the berries grow at the end of the branches while in the Oriental variety, they grow along the stem. Oriental Bittersweet also has thorny stems which American Bittersweet does not.
Foragers should note that American Bittersweet is mildly toxic and should not be eaten. Although the berries provide winter food for grouse, pheasants, quail, rabbits, birds and squirrels.
Ever Heard Of The Iron King?
Michigan Author Visit Highlights Busy March at FADL
The Fremont Area District Library is planning to host several fun and educational events in March for the whole family. These events are FREE, as always.
Live @ the Library, a series of events including author visits and special presentations is welcoming Michigan author Michael Nagle as he presents his fascinating book, The Forgotten Iron King of the Great Lakes. This is a true story about a forgotten Michigan figure. Eber Brock Ward began his career as a cabin boy on his uncle’s sailing vessels, but when he died in 1875, he was the wealthiest man in Michigan. Ward was engaged in the steamboat, railroad, lumber, mining, and iron and steel industries. In 1864, his facility near Detroit became the first in the nation to produce steel using the more efficient Bessemer method. Michael Nagle demonstrates how much of Ward’s success was due to his ability to vertically integrate his business operations, which were undertaken decades before other more famous moguls, such as Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. Nagle crafts a balanced profile of this fascinating figure whose actions influenced the history and culture of the Great Lakes and beyond. Copies of his books will be available to purchase at this event on Thursday, March 16th at 7:00 p.m. in the Community Room.
The Winter Reading Challenge for all ages wraps up on Friday, March 3rd. Be sure to bring in your reading logs and collect your prizes! Winter Reading is generously sponsored by Koffee Kuppe and Friends of the Fremont Area District Library.
March is Reading Month! To celebrate, we’re giving away a free library tote bag with candy inside to each patron who checks out at least 3 books at once during the week of March 1st-7th. Please limit one tote bag per person for the week.
Toddler Storytime, for babies and toddlers up to age 3, will be held on Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m., and Family Storytime for children up to age 5 will be held on Thursdays at 10:00 a.m. Please note there will be no Storytime on March 30th. A special Lego Saturday will be on March 11th from 10:00-3:00 in the Children’s Department. Saturday Storytime for children up to age 5 will be on March 18th at 11:00 a.m. We’ll also be showing a Children’s Afternoon Movie on Thursday, March 23rd at 3:30 p.m. Snacks will be served, and all are welcome.
Fit for Life Exercise is on Mondays at Wednesdays from 12:00-1:00 p.m. This is a low-impact exercise class perfect for all adults and levels of fitness. Junk Journaling for ages 10 and up will take place on Thursday, March 9th anytime between 6:00-8:00 p.m. This is a scrapbooking and journal hybrid. Use up what you have and supplement with found, recycled, repurposed and thrifted items. Materials provided. We’ll show the movie A Man Called Otto for our Movie Monday on March 13th at 2:00 p.m. (PG-13; 126 min). Snacks will be provided. Grab your friends and family or meet up with people for our Gather & Game event on Sunday, March 26th from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Bring your own board games or check out ours and play at your leisure in the Community Room. Please do not drop off and leave young children unattended.
The Wednesday Readers Book Group will meet on Monday, March 13th at 7:00 p.m. to discuss Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor. The Non-Fiction Book Discussion will meet on Monday, March 20th at 6:00 p.m. to discuss The Agitators by Dorothy Wickenden. The Daytime Book Group will meet on Thursday, March 30th at 12:30 p.m. to discuss Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher. The new Young Adult Book Club will be meeting on Tuesday, March 28th at 4:00 p.m. by the north fireplace. Book title is yet to be determined. The group will eat pizza while discussing their book, and new people are welcome to join anytime, even if you haven’t read the book! Both high school students and adults are welcome to join this book group. Books for all of these groups are available at the library’s front desk ahead of the meeting if you’d like to check out a copy and join the groups.
For more information about any of these events, please contact the library at 231-924-3480 or visit www.fremontlibrary.net.