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

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