Greene Prairie, 9/9/17

In June I first visited the Greene Prairie in the UW Arboretum. I wanted to go back in the following months to see how the vegetation changed throughout the summer, but the frequent rain and buggy summer intervened and I didn’t get outside as much as I wanted to. The weather has been cooler and drier lately, and the mosquitoes have died down for the most part, so on Saturday I finally went back.

The Greene Prairie is a bit of a walk from the parking lot, but the walk is through forest and savanna so I don’t mind.

I didn’t know what the focus of the walk would be beforehand, and I was hoping for more fauna, but I saw more flowers than critters. Other than a turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) and a few blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata), I cannot recall any birds. With an abundance of flowers, they took my focus for the day. Not every flower was done blooming, and the ones that had already bloomed were displaying their seeds. Post-bloom does not imply absence of activity.

Liatris spp.
Unidentified flower
Bottle gentian (Gentiana andrewsii)
Rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium)
Rattlesnake master up close
The large-leafed plants in the foreground are prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum)

Bottle gentians were one of the first blooming plants I noticed. I had not seen any in bloom so far this year (I saw plenty of cream gentians, or Gentiana alba, in the previous few weeks). Already gone to seed was the prairie dock. Rattlesnake master was in the process of changing its white flowers to brown seed heads. Many grasses looked like they were preparing to drop seeds soon too. Sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) was particularily far along in this process and the seed coverings looked somewhat like wheat. The cycle of life is continuing with this next generation that has yet to take root.

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