Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What a difference a month makes...April to May at Schulenberg Prairie

I've returned to Schulenberg Prairie in May and June to check out the prairie's changes since my April visit. The June photos'll come later. Here's the April to May transition. You might recall in early spring the prairie had recently been burned and things were just beginning to grow.

This was taken April 27.

And the photo below, a little ways down the path, was taken May 22.

Look at the growth in prairie dropseed between April 27 and May 22...

...And look how the plants' growth changed the texture of the landscape.

In April I saw shooting star, wood betony, little baby prairie dock leaves, the prairie dropseed fairy circles.

In May the shooting stars remained--flourished--there were whole fields of 'em, not just hardy early-birds.

Here's a closeup of these pretty flowers.

Compass plant and prairie dock had emerged. I think of these large-and-distinctive-leaved plants as anchors or signposts in the prairie reefscape.

Wild hyacinth was also growing with abandon. Apparently deer love to snack on the stuff, so it's hard to come by in the forest preserves--I guess deer are not allowed in Morton. Some wood betony remained, but it was fading, and cream false indigo was ascending in its place.

High, strong plants looking exactly like asparagus were everywhere--I learned later, on the June walk, that these are young white false indigo.

Now, looking back at my April pictures, I can understand what's going on here.

It's prairie dropseed, with itty bitty sprouting cream wild indigo amongst its soft blades. How sweet! If my theory is correct, here's what this sort of arrangement grew into:

UPDATE: Thanks to Will Overbeck on the Habitat 2030 Facebook page for correcting my guess here...the young plant in the April picture is false toadflax, not cream indigo. 

Here's a mystery for me...this is so distinct a plant, but I don't know what it is. Can someone tell me? Update: It's starry false solomon's seal. Thank you Daniel Suarez!


  1. Starry False Solomon's Seal (Smilacina stellata)

    1. Ah! Thanks! The leaves looked similar to false Solomon's seal but that upward leaf orientation looked and the flowers are new to me.

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