Monday, August 18, 2014

Is it the Beginning or the End?


It was a very hot day out in the meadow today with temperatures close to the 80s. I should have brought along a water bottle, so I walked around the edge making use of the old deer beds underneath the trees in the nice shade. Tucked into the autumn-olive bushes was a little cave where deer slept and gorged on the berries around it. Now, only the mint smell remains when walking through the meadow with little to no other sign of that purple flower. Smooth Brome marks that transition in my meadow as well, the grass is dying and turning yellow by the heat of the summer sun but some new life begins to take its place. Identifying the autumn-olive last week brings me to a sense of awareness on the amount of how many silvery leafed bushes there are in that little meadow. Truly looking at my meadow I have a sense that it is inhabited by invasive or introduced species. The meadow is a look at why restoration is so crucial now a days because the areas has low biodiversity and not nearly as beautiful as it could be.

Lets Identify

Wild Lettuce (Lactuca canadensis)

This flower has not been spared by the sun’s rays. The top leafs have fallen off and the ones that have survived do not look like there is much life in them. One of the few flowers here that is native. He was located by himself in the middle of a pocket of meadow that was surrounded by the autumn-olive. While the remaining leafs look dead they may by the natural purple that one would expect to find on this plant. One of the largest characteristics is the deeply lobed leafs that is does have. Flowers were bright yellow and I must have found it early because the flowers have yet to go into seed which is similar to dandelions. The meadow provides a perfect place for the wild lettuce being an abandoned and field and because of the dry soils it is on and the full sun of the meadow. It is a good source of food for all insects provides nectar for adults and flowers and leafs for the larvae. Considered a weed to most people.

Hiltey, J. (2014, July 28). Wild Lettuce (Lactuca canadensis). Retrieved August 17, 2014.

Wild Carrot, Queen Anne’s Lace, or Bird’s Nest (Daucus carota)

The highly divided leafs separate it from the common yarrow as they are more string like. One of my first memories of Queen Anne’s Lace was in the animated series of Anne of Green Gables. They identified the plant and told a fable of why it was called Queen Anne. I was afraid it was always poisonous. It has some traces of poison but I was getting it confused with poison hemlock which is very poisonous. Wild carrot many times has a purple flower in the center of the white umbel. When the flower is about to go into seed that is when it curls up given it’s common name, Bird’s nest. It has also been used as an herb but the cultivated carrot is originally from this plant. Allen, C. (n.d.). The Wild 

Carrot - Queen Annes Lace. Retrieved August 17, 2014.

Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron annuus)

No wonder the flower is called daisy because that is exactly what it looks like, a daisy. They share the same taxonomic family the asteraceae have a lot of common traits but the fleabane has more rays that the common daisy. This guys was found throughout the prairie that provides it with plenty of sun. They are found in abandon fields similar to my meadow and is one of the few native species I have found in my area. They provide nectar for lots of different insects and a food source for the groundhog that only lived a couple of feet away. Since this meadow has not been restored other native plants may need help to reestablish but daisy fleabane can grow by itself. It should survive in the area for the next few years as it is a biennial. Daisy flea bane is a nice little flower that is bringing a little bit of color to the dying plants around it.

Hiltey, J. (2014, July 31). Annual Fleabane (Erigeron annuus). Retrieved August 18, 2014.

Timothy-grass (Phleum pratense)

Another non-native grass, Timothy grass was used for cultivation for good sources for cattle. My guess was that this meadow was an old field either for cattle or at one time had alfalfa on it. Timothy will be added to hay seed mixes because they do not over compete with legumes. The grass is found it all 50 states and is still used with seed mixes in fields as well as bugger strips. Basically, the grass exist in where every it can find a home but does not bother any native species and just likes its one little area. The head of the grass gives it’s identify feature as all of the seeds are located in a dense spike at the top of the plant. As the grass was used for cultivation it provides a great food source for the animals in my meadow such as the deer and the turkey. When I put away the guinea hens, one of them stopped for a treat of eating the grass before he finally made his way into the barn. The grass is non-native but it really isn’t hurting anyone and doesn’t want to hurt anyone, so is that bad?

Ogle, D. (2011, March 1). Plant Guide for Timothy. Retrieved August 18, 2014.

Question of the Week

Climate change has been the talk for most of my life. The reason it is such a huge topic is that is affects every single human. We are not really prepared for what is going to happen and we do not know the results of our mistake. Indiana is experiencing extreme changes in its weather which should be a warning of what is happening. JR’s/Mulder’s Meadow has gone through a dry season from what I have observed and I believe that is going to continue. As the years go one the meadow will be in times of draughts or maybe experience years of flooding. The species that can survive this large differences are the ones that will take over the meadow. Sadly, I believe most of those species already dominate the landscape of the meadow. Autumn-olive will take over because it can survive in many different areas, biennials will also have a chance of survival with their long tap roots. Biennials will continue to dominate my meadow but I think the succession between forest and meadow may be slowed keeping it in a meadow longer. It is really difficult to say what will happen but it can provide a warning.

Great Plains Impacts & Adaptation. (n.d.). Retrieved August 18, 2014.


Transition of Time

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Will to Survive


I missed the rain by only a few hours. But, it was humid and in the mid-70s. Bea Balm is almost all gone but the few spots within the meadow. There were still familiar signs of the animals that I have seen there before. The groundhog’s hole was still there with many small trails leading out, as well as the flattened grass that must have been used by deer for their beds. The butterflies and moths were not out as much but still could be seen. But, the will to survive was in full swing. Each species today had an adaptation to survive by plants having rots that emitting a toxin or caterpillars eating plants to make them toxic. The meadow has begun to change over this last few weeks and I am not interested in the way that it will change through the seasons.
I would have thought my meadow would have seen more changes since the beginning. The largest changes I saw were the increase in goldenrods, the death of the bergamot but the grasses have not changed and the bushes and trees have stayed the same. Colors will be the biggest change in the autumn than covered with snow back to green leaves.

Lets Identify

Tall Goldenrod (Solidago altissima)

The tail of the Tall Goldenrod seems to look like the tail of many other goldenrods. It is really difficult to distinguish between lots of the common species especially around this area. I have decided that the one species that I looked at was the Tall species but it very well could be Canada Goldenrod or something similar. The reason I believe it is Tall is because of the smooth steam and the slightly rough leafs on top but the biggest clue was the three main veins running through leafs. Canada also has the three vein structure. I like the golden rod family because of the type of flowers being disk and ray. Both Canada and Tall are found in roadsides but Tall prefers drier sandier areas and that is where I found it on top of the hill. The hill was extremely dry and since we are near the esker, I believe, the soil is more gravelly and sandy. The plant can also be toxic because they release toxins from their roots that discourage other plants from growing around it.
Taylor, D. (2012, January 1). Plant of the Week. Retrieved August 12, 2014.

Sessile-leaved Tick Trefoil (Desmodium sessilifolium)

Taking my advice from last week, I was looking down and the plant hit me in the face. We have identified one tick trefoil in class but this one varies in the way leafs look. Leafs are heavily divided with a short petiole connecting it to the base of the stem. Leafs are lancelet being longer that they are wide. The flower I ran to must be the tallest the plant gets as the usually only grow to be 3 feet tall. The flower was found in its favorite spot in full sun and at the top of the hill where rocky soil is found. Unlike the goldenrod the plant adds nitrogen to the soil. The bumblebees that have been swarming the Bea Balm will now like the Sessile-Leaved Tick Trefoil. My turkeys and the deer that I see around the meadow eat the seeds.
Hilty, J. (2014, July 28). Sessile-Leaved Tick Trefoil (Desmodium sessilifolium). Retrieved August 12, 2014.

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar (Danaus plexippus)

I have finally seen my favorite insect. As a kid I remember going around in the diches and looking for the favorite plant of the Monarch Caterpillar. After I finally found the little yellow, green and black caterpillar I would bring it back to my house and watch it change into a butterfly. That is exactly what I did here. The caterpillar was on its favorite food in my meadow which was dominating the top of the hill. But, sadly some kids may never have my same experience growing a butterfly watching it transform in from of you. Monarchs are known for their migration down south but their habitat is being destroyed as well as their food source around here is being killed by herbicides. The butterflies go through three to four generations in a season until the last generation starts to make its journey south. I like them because both the caterpillar and butterfly are bright colored. They are able to be so bright because they are toxic from the milkweeds they eat.
Monarch Butterflies, Monarch Butterfly Pictures, Monarch Butterfly Facts - National Geographic. (n.d.). Retrieved August 12, 2014.

Autumn-Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)

The bush that has been bothering me the whole summer has finally been identified but sadly it had been one of the first plants we identified in class. This is defiantly one of the invasive species of the meadow. Like the goldenrod it releases some toxins that prevent other plants from growing around it adding to its invasive properties. No surprise that the shrub is in my meadow because it likes the full sun that it is getting as well as it distributes many seeds. The silvery leafs make the bush shine in the sun but it is also has yellow leafs that must have been sun burnt.

Autumn olive Elaeagnus umbellata. (2012, February 1). Retrieved August 12, 2014.

 Question of the Week

  The largest non-native species I have found is defiantly the Autumn-Olive. Smooth Brome is both non-native and it can become invasive in some areas. But, Autumn-olive take as many advantages it can I clamming an area (Autumn olive). It thrives in open areas such as my meadow but can also survive in shade tolerant regions. It reproduces by producing thousands of red berries that are distributed by animals and by the birds that feed upon. If that isn't enough it also produces a toxin in its roots that decreases the growth of other native plants. Originally brought in for bank control and livestock feeding it know has taking over. I don’t know why they didn't find something native but what are you to do. They are hard to get rid of with a lot of times chemicals being the only way to truly get rid of them.
  Smooth brome says to be invasive which can be true (Bush). The non-native species native to Europe has taken root in the same types of environment. The root systems make the grass able to survive in many habitats but it can be easily controlled with proper controlled burning but rarely happens. The grass loves ditches and is so commonly seen that it is not recognized as a problem for most but can be a problem if trying to restore an area.

Autumn olive Elaeagnus umbellata. (2012, February 1). Retrieved August 12, 2014.
Bush, T. (2002, February 1). Plant Fact Sheet for Smooth Brome. . Retrieved July 24, 2014, from

Creative Piece

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Summer Heat


  After being here for about a month, summer heat has finally reached northern Indiana. JR's Meadow has also felt the heat in the past couple of days because it has started turning yellow. Patches of Bea Balm have survived by the there is plenty of evidence of the passed residents. The sun was bright and making the temperatures rise into the 80s but, that didn't stop the birds from singing their song. The meadows edge was a great place to sit under the shade and listen to the constant hum of the bees although the mosquitoes also were enjoying the shade.
  The turkeys have now become a common sight or sound. I will either hear their call back and forth or if I wonder into a different area a scurry of plants and feathers alert me of their presence. Like the turkeys, I am seeing a lot of the same things and maybe need to look closer at the ground I am steeping on because looking down can bring as much information as looking ahead.

Let's Identify

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

  Located near the edge of the meadow, I took liberty in saying that it was in my meadow. This can be a very valuable tree if it is located naturally in the forest but sadly the tree has also be maybe over harvested because of its wood. I think the black walnut found its perfect spot near the bottom of the hill. It loves well drained soil and is native to this region. Being an old field the meadow provides great soil for the tree to grow. I also found it on the north facing slope that it loves. Most Black Walnuts are found in mixed forest but are commonly seen with both American elm and Red Oak.
Williams, R. (n.d.). Juglans ntdra L. Juglans ntdra L. Retrieved August 4, 2014, from

Gray headed Cone-flower (Ratibida pinnata)

  I do not believe that this species would be normally found in this spot but because of the amount of Cone-flowers in the prairie right next to it, it is no surprise that it made its self at home in my little meadow. They do love the sun and they had plenty of it in the spot they occupied. It is nice seeing this native plant in an area where they were not naturally introduced.
  The flower is one of the more interesting flowering plants in the meadow mostly because it is new and not Wild Bergamot. Some people say it looks shaggy because of the dropping flowers but it has a long bloom and is a nice contrast to the green grasses in the meadow.

Henry, J. (n.d.). Plant Fact Sheet for Gray-headed Coneflower. . Retrieved August 4, 2014, from

Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla)

Those little brown bird (LBB) are so hard to get a look at but you can hear them from almost where ever you are. And this LBB made sure I heard him when I game into the meadow. I never got a picture of him or actually saw him, so I guess you will have to take my word that he was here. But, he loves the habitat of my little meadow. Cornell says that the Field Sparrow loves "old-fields" and that is exactly what my meadow is. There are tons of shrubs and small trees like the Red maple and the Black walnut tree that the LBB can make its home in.
Showing affection is not a strong suite of the birds as males will attach females sometimes chasing them to the ground but the females don't reject them because they let them stick around. Sadly the birds have felt the pressure of urban development because they don't live in suburbs but their population has remained stable.

Field Sparrow. (n.d.). , Identification, All About Birds. Retrieved August 4, 2014, from

Field Thistle (Cirsium discolor)

  A tall thistle standing on top of the hill that was overlooking the rest of the meadow. Identifying it as a thistle wasn't difficult but the differences the thistles was the difficulty. The head of plant was not yet in bloom but the height was one of the greatest give away. Underneath its leaves it had almost a white felt feeling. The plant stood at to above my shoulder level making it an intimidating plant, but it was not surrounded by thousands of needles. Bill commented on native species not being as prickle as invasive ones, making me believe that it is native ruling out the Bull thistle and picking the Field Thistle.
  Like all plants in my meadow you can easily find this guy growing in the ditches of the road. Because my meadow has lots of sun light on top of the field and it was located in a place where it was not fighting against a lot of other vegetation. The dryness of the site is not an issue because it has a large tap root gathering its water from deep in the earth.
Ugiansky, R. J., & Pheobus, R. (2010, September 1). Plant Fact Sheet for Field Thistle. . Retrieved August 4, 2014, from

Creative Piece

Acrostic Poem

Beautiful purple little flower 
Every where I look I see it
Rarely seen without a insect around
Growing tall in the meadow
Always smelling nice
Moving in the breeze
Only here for a short time
Timeless flower

Question of the Week?

  My meadow is engulfed with grasses and biennial plants. They both have their different strategies in winterizing. Grasses, such as the Smooth Brome and Timothy,  are the most dominant species within the meadow and they are mostly annual plants completing their life-cycle in one growing season. Grasses put all of their energy into seed production, and this is how they make sure the next generation survives. The plants will pollinate producing hundreds to thousands of seeds, most of them being wind distributed.
  Biennials make up the other portion of the meadow such as the Common Yarrow and Field Thistle. This guys take a bit of a different strategy. In their first year of growth they put all of their growth in their root systems making a long tap root. Second year consists of the plant focusing in on reproduction. They than produce seeds that are distributed either by wind or by animals that have eating the seeds. 

Jennings, J. (2008, May 5). Grass. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
Seasonal Growth Cycles: Perennial, Annual and Biennial Plants. (20014, January 1). Retrieved August 6, 2014.