Arboretum South

When I go to the UW Arboretum I usually go to the large section north of the Beltline. Today my friend Jon and I explored the southern end and I discovered it is a jewel in the city.

The Grady Kettle Forest and Grady Oak Savanna were our first stops. This was also a surprisingly quiet part of the arboretum even though it is close to the highway. The thick forest north of the savanna does a good job at drowning out the automobile sounds.

The main plant in bloom at the savanna was common spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis), a knee-high plant with blue/purple 3-petaled flowers. One bird we heard was an eastern towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus), a large member of the sparrow family found at woodland edges. The standard mnemonic for its song is “drink your tea” with the tea syllable trilled. I also saw a few silver-spotted skippers (Epargyreus clarus). Skippers usually throw me for a loop but I was able to identify this species because of the bold wing markings.

Silver-spotted skipper

The biggest treat was the Greene Prairie. For a restoration, this sure has a lot of biodiversity. I couldn’t identify every plant and it would take a while to even recall all the ones I could. Just know this is not your typical restoration. Every twist and turn on the narrow trail led to a new floral discovery.

A small corner of Greene Prairie
Shadows on a prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum) leaf

Jon mentioned that he’d like to see the prairie a few weeks from now when more plants have a chance to bloom. I agree. I would like to visit this amazing (and close!) prairie gem often now that I’ve had a taste. It would give me a chance to work on my plant ID’s that’s for sure. The sun was getting high by the time we got to the prairie (not good for pictures) but I would like to come back and do a few flower posts this summer.

Blue flag iris (Iris versicolor)

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