Saturday, August 6, 2016

Restoring Bottomland Prairie: A Tale of Two Julys (2015 vs. 2016, Part 10)

New Things under the Sun (of July 2016), cont.

New to the Toe: 

The far north end of the Creek Field (the "toe") is a 5-acre area we had put into a Pheasants Forever food plot in 2013, the first year of the restoration.   We didn't do anything with those acres after that, and so for the next two years it was a mix of diminishing millets and increasing horseweeds and ragweeds.

In July 2015, it was predominantly Giant Ragweed.

In July 2016, Ron mowed down large areas of Giant Ragweed, and soon a carpet of newly-germinated foxtails appeared, along with patches of Western Ragweed.   Above this new growth rose 3 species that were new to this part of the Creek Field:

Maryland Figwort
Creek Field
July 2016
1.)  Maryland Figwort (Scrophularia marilandica) bloomed in the Toe.   

Its appearance was a first for the Creek Field as a whole.   

The flower is an interesting one!

Note the ant in the blossom, half-in, half-out!  
Maryland Figwort Flower
Creek Field
July 2016

Blue Vervain
Creek Field
July 2016
Moisture-loving Native Perennial
(A million thanks to the incomparable Jeff Hansen for identifying Maryland Figwort!)  

2.)  In July 2016, Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata) also bloomed in the Toe!

Blue Vervain is a moisture-loving cousin of the more common Hoary Vervain (Verbena stricta).   Blue Vervain is bluer, with more numerous & wider-branching flower spikes, and longer stipules on its leaves.

It is one of those plants that would be common if bottomground had not been plowed up!

Verbena hastata,  Creek Field, July 2016

Blue Vervain has a hauntingly luminescent blue color.  

Blue Vervain was in our seed mix and did bloom at the other end of the field in 2013, but it didn't come back the following year.    It wasn't heard from again until it bloomed in the Toe in July 2016!

Did it spring from our original seeding?  Or is it a complete volunteer? 

Either way, it is a thrill to see it, back where it belongs.  

3.)  Nettle-leaf Vervain (Verbena urticifolia) bloomed near the Blue Vervain and the Maryland Figwort in the Toe of the Creek Field.   

White Vervain, Verbena urticifolia.
Native perennial.
Volunteer.   Creek Field, July 2016

This appearance was a first for the Creek Field as a whole.

Another common name for this species is White Vervain.  

Like Blue Vervain, it is a moisture-loving native perennial, but unlike Blue Vervain, it was not in our seed mix.  

It is a volunteer, deciding on its own to come back to the bottomland!   

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