Tom's Blog

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cream gentian flowering

Cream gentian is one of those great prairie/savanna species that has been thriving well at Pleasant Valley Conservancy. It is on the State Threatened list and has a relatively high Coefficient of Conseratism (7). Because it is relatively short, it is generally hidden in our tallgrass prairies, but tends to be more visible in the savannas.

The photo here was taken in the Valley Prairie, and you can see rattlesnake master flowering behind it.

I am not sure why the Valley Prairie populations of this gentian are so large, but it may be related to its interesting hydrology. This prairie is a long, relatively narrow strip of land that is adjacent to the spring-fed sedge meadows and cattail marshes that line Pleasant Valley Creek. The mowed fire break that separates the Valley Prairie from these wet areas was established in a rather arbitrary manner by simply mowing along the edge of the sedge (Carex trichocarpa). The change in elevation between the sedge and the prairie is no more than a few inches, but presumably enough to suit the gentian.


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