Thursday, March 10, 2016

Restoring Bottomland Prairie: A New Species--Maryland Senna!

Seedpods of Maryland Senna, Senna marilandica
Native perennial
I was feeling sorry for myself that I had to clear fire breaks this afternoon & couldn't poke around looking for plants, when what should happen but I stumbled on a plant species that's new for Bird Runner! This is Maryland Senna, a legume native to the east 2/3 of Kansas.

I had planted this species in the Creek Field restoration back in 2013, thanks to Jeff Hansen & the hand-picked wildflower seeds he made available through his business, Kansas Native Plants.

But the Creek Field isn't where I found this plant.   I found it on the other side of the creek in the "Front 3," a 3-acre former hayfield where native plants battle the remnant brome.   
The long stem & curved pods of  Maryland Senna
show off against the dead leaves & new growth
of the persistent  brome.

I had hand-planted the seeds myself.   How had they traveled so far?  Did they travel through the system of a seed-eating bird or mouse that deposited them here? Did they hitch a ride on a low-slung, furry badger? 

And to think I was so busy with the Creek Field last summer and had such low expectations of the Front 3 that I completely missed this plant when it was in flower.  

Luckily, it was impossible to miss the seedpods as I walked around the Front 3, preparing for a controlled burn in the next few days.

Now I'm wondering:  Should I leave the seedpods where they are & see if fire stimulates them to germinate?   But what if fire damages them?  Better hedge my bet & bury some of the seeds here & replant some others once more in the Creek Field.

However, these are traveling seeds!  They create their own itineraries, no matter what I do with them.   

So you'd better believe I'll be looking everywhere for their gorgeous yellow blossoms come next summer.