Sunday, June 20, 2010

Prairie Pilgrimage

Traveling to the prairie:

On one hand, a horror of industrial agriculture, seas of corn with virtually no natural areas, stretching across upper Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, into Wisconsin (see previous entry, The Human Barrens).

On the other hand, the intense beauty of the prairie remnants, and the intensity of the devotion to prairie restoration, left me awestruck. If this was the birthplace of ecological restoration, than no more fertile land could be imagined.

Here are some of the plants and places which took root in my heart during our prairie pilgrimage.


 Indian paintbrush at Shaw Prairie, shown to us by a beloved friend.

Oak savannahs, groves of burr and black oak with a tall herb layer beneath. "Rediscovered" and restored as an ecosystem type. Later, driving, we could see gatherings of burr oaks near old homesteads, waiting to be rejoined with their herb layer, waiting for a burn, waiting for buckthorn removal...

The large, cut leaves of Silphium laciniatum (compass plant) stood straight up from the ground. Here, the leaves are taller even than the blooming stems of Echinacea pallida. Compass plant, and its relative prairie dock, won my heart, I will miss them back east! Marion, if you can have your backyard spicebush, can I have some garden Silphiums? The photo here is from the restored prairie at Dorothy  Carnes County Park, WI.

Opuntia humifosa, native cactus of the "Wisconsin Desert" - Spring Green Preserve, WI.


Goat's Rue at the Wisconsin Desert.

 Lead Plant, whose roots exploded like firecrackers when put to the plow

More Lead Plant (Amorpha canescens)

White False Indigo at Kankakee Sands, IL, as we said goodbye to the prairie

 American Lady butterfly at Midewin National Grassland

 A spectacular haploah moth at Midewin
 

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