Native Plants & Treefrogs: Everything Works Together

Native plants are beautiful and interesting, but they are not an end in themselves. They cooperate with other biological or ecological factors such as climate and geology to create resilient habitat. Everything works together!

Any day now, the Pacific Chorus Frogs (a.k.a. Pacific Treefrog) will start raising a ruckus in the wetlands around Tadpole Haven. So far, the weather has been too cold for them. They have already begun calling in warmer parts of the Puget Sound region, such as Seattle.

This time of year, they migrate toward water to find mates. The males are the noisy ones! Once they breed, the females lay their brown-and-cream colored eggs in golf-ball-sized clumps of clear jelly on plants and twigs along  sunny, well-vegetated shorelines. They seem to prefer to lay their eggs on thin twigs and stems; sedges, rushes, Marsh Cinquefoil (Comarum palustre), and stems of Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea) that have draped into the water are some common choices.

The ideal pond for Chorus Frog breeding dries up in late summer, making it an unattractive place for the predatory, invasive Bullfrog, which needs year-round water.

But mating season is only part of the story. After the lovefest is over, the adults go back into the forest (or your frog-friendly backyard). And after the tadpoles hatch, grow and metamorphose into tiny frogs, they also hop into the woods. If you can stand in your own yard and are able to hear them calling from a nearby pond, you can provide them somewhere to go during the rest of the year. They will need the native plants and trees growing in your yard in order to thrive. During a Western Washington winter, they don’t hibernate in the classic sense; they’ll seek shelter from the extremes, only going dormant or inactive when it’s really cold out. Throughout the winter, you may hear an occasional low cri-i-i-i-k of a Pacific Chorus Frog in the forest or hospitable garden.*

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has a very informative pdf you can print out at http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/frogs.pdf

Wikipedia has a good entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_tree_frog

*Thank you to Brian Bodenbach of Biosphere Landscape, brian@biospherecompany.com

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