Friday, July 7, 2017

Work day at Labagh Woods and play day at Bluff Spring Fen

Last weekend's work day was at Labagh Woods, in a wetland area. See those big spiky clumps? That's yellow flag iris. Blue flag iris is native to Chicagoland, but yellow flag is an old-world invasive that rapidly chokes out all other plants. 

This is a before-and-after in one area - ignore the lighting difference.

The area was apparently ALL yellow-flag iris as recently as a year or two ago, but volunteers have been restoring the area. The stewards saw the effectiveness of their earlier efforts, which prompted this continued work. I and other volunteers collected the stalks of seed pods in trash bags for composting and lopped off the juicy, celery-like leaves. Then the steward leaders sprayed the tops of the lopped-off stalks with pesticide so the plants wouldn't grow back.

Here's another before-and-after view.

See that clearing in the photos? That is a sign of deer having bedded there the previous night. I know deer are far too numerous, they strip natural areas of native foliage, and they spread ticks, but I was totally charmed by the fact that we had come upon the sanctuary of this peaceful (and cute, ok? They're cute) species.

This was a wetland area, right off the edge of a slough, and I don't know wetland plants. I took a couple snaps and, when I couldn't identify them from iNaturalist, asked the amazing Illinois Botany group on Facebook for some IDs. They are Carex albolutescens, Greenwhite sedge (left) and Sium suave, water parsnip.

The next day I was out in the once-country-now-'burbs so I stopped by Bluff Spring Fen. Land stewards and conservationists get super excited about this area because of its unique ecological characteristics and hospitable conditions for birds and other wildlife, but the only entrance is through a cemetery, and I arrived close to when the cemetery closes, and my car had its Check Engine light on and my phone battery was close to empty, and I'll admit I felt like I was maybe walking into a scary after-school special.

But here are some photos of the fen.

There was a prairie section, too.

Prairie coreopsis (Coreopsis palmata) and lead plant
Lead plant (Amorpha canescens), one of my faves

Black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

Tall thimbleweed (Anemone virginiana)?

Spiderwort (Tradescantia), all closed up for the evening

Pretty. I'll have to return with a little more time. And some juice in my phone. And after the car gets checked out. And with a friend who can distract me from my irrational fear of the dead. Okay, let's get out of here.