Field of Science

Prairie - early June status report

Already the tall vegetation part of our research prairie has vegetation shoulder high (1.5 m) and so dense just finding the plots becomes a problem, and of course one of our experimental treatments is nutrient augmentation! So the cool wet weather had produced a bumper crop of vegetation. Pale purple coneflower, black-eyed susan, wild quinine, false indigo, and green-fringed orchid are all coming into flower now. Unfortunately an invasive legume, Lespedeza cuneata has continued its relentless spread and this does not bode well for this little restored prairie, which otherwise is very high quality. A very rare and seldom seen orchid in this area, Liparis loesii, green twayblade, was recorded in one of out plots, a first. It had been 12 to 14 years since last seen, of course, it's 4 inches tall. Recording the species growing in each meter square plot takes quite a bit of time, and so our efforts will continue for another week or so. We could use some student help, short ones, so they're closer to the ground, but then keeping them tied together so they don't get lost is a pain. The real challenge is identifying the grasses & sedges when they are not in flower! Oh yes, some fun!

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