It is always a treat when butterfly scientist emeritus, Paul H., walks the fields with us. During our two hour stroll, he pointed out invasives as well as precious prairie grasses and flowers worth protecting. Here are a few:
Meadow checker mallow
Cow parsnip, a member of the carrot family. Can cause contact dermatitis. Many carrot relatives are seriously poisonous … like hemlock.
Blue-eyed grass, a relative of Iris
Paul among sedges and rushes, common in boggy areas like this one.
A huge patch of wild onion (and ox eye daisy) in a patch of prairie that has high diversity – a rarity.
White owl clover (the ones that look like Indian paintbrush and are yellow and green)
Paul and Bill look over a field white with ox eye daisies.
The bright green grass is the dreaded false brome that we MUST try to control and keep out of our prairie. It will take over otherwise.
“With seedheads that can reach 4 to 5 feet in height, blue wild rye is one of the biggest native grasses in the Northwest. Its wide blue-green blades and thick fibrous root systems can put on a lot of biomass, yet, it usually does not form large single-species monocultures in nature. Rather it tends to pop up in small clumps in open meadows and forest edges among smaller statured species such as tufted hairgrass, California oatgrass, meadow barley, and yarrow. Blue wild rye does not form extensive rhizomes, but it can spread short distances with stolons and through re-seeding. Mostly it maintains a clumpy growth habit which provides valuable insect nesting and overwintering habitat for species such as lady beetles and ground surface nesting bumble bees. Additionally, the foliage is palatable to livestock and decent for grazing, and is a preferred food source for elk. We like blue wild rye for its value as an erosion control plant, and its ability to muscle into grasslands, ditches, and forest edges without taking over and crowding out other grasses and wildflowers. It’s also an ideal utilitarian plant for reforestration and agroforestry projects, providing useful shelter for seedling trees and tolerating partial shade as those young trees mature.”
White and blue clusterlilies
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