Tom's Blog

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Desmodium paniculatum rediscovered

In an earlier post I stated that we had only three species of the genus Desmodium at Pleasant Valley Conservancy. Since then we have found a fourth, D. paniculatum, panicled trefoil (see photo). Cochrane and Iltis, in the Atlas of Wisconsin Prairie and Savanna Flora, call this plant D. perplexum, but the U.W. Herbarium uses paniculatum.

This species was pointed out to us by Armand Bartz during a field trip in early June, and I had assumed that this had been missed in earlier plant identification work. However, a search of this web site will reveal that this species had actually been discovered here by Brian Pruka during his 1995 work. (I should have checked my own web site more thoroughly!)

This plant is a typical oak savanna species but is fairly uncommon in Wisconsin, being listed by the U.W. Herbarium in only a few southern Wisconsin counties. Also, it has a C value (Coefficient of Conservatism) of 8, which on a scale of 0-10 is quite high. (See my recent post for a detailed discussion of C values.)

Once we recognized this species, we were able to find it at other places at Pleasant Valley Conservancy, some with fairly large patches. Today, we collected quite a bit of seed of this species and plan to plant it in other parts of the savannas.

The fact that Pruka found this species here even before we had begun restoration is interesting. This species thus joins the 170 others that had managed to survive years of deterioration of the vegetation.

How many more species are here but have not yet been recognized?


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