Tom's Blog

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Species present before restoration began

I recently found time to update the list I had prepared some years ago of plant species that were already present at Pleasant Valley Conservancy before we began restoration. Most of this information is already on our web site, under the page entitled "Increasing species diversity", but in somewhat fragmentary form.

We were fortunate that two skilled botanists, Brian Pruka and Paul West, had made species lists before we began restoration. Later, Kathie made a list of the species present in the small ungrazed and unplowed remnant (Unit 1, also called "Kathie's Prairie"!). Finally, I made a list of species that had been overlooked by the others, including those in remnants existing at the east end of the Conservancy. These latter included the unplowed north side of Toby's Prairie, which has a substantial population of Baptisia alba as well as milkwort and cynthia. Also, the unplowed remnant that we called Toby's Annex, at the east end of Toby's Prairie, which had our native population of showy goldenrod, flowering spurge, Missouri goldenrod, round-headed bush clover, and hawkweed. Further, there were quite a few native species on the north-facing road cut along County Highway F. Also, there were quite a few woodland and wetland species. Finally, I added species that were discovered after restoration was underway but we knew had never been planted, such as prairie turnip.

Some of the species that had not been recorded by Pruka or West were spring flowering plants or wetland species. Others were located at remote parts of the property and were never visited. Others were early spring-flowering species that had senesced before their summer visits. And others were just missed.

The final list, which is too long to post in this blog, contains 307 species. I hope to post it on our web site sometime soon.

This is a useful list, since it gives an idea of the kinds of species that are able to maintain themselves without any help. It gives one encouragement to proceed with restoration work on other degraded sites. Although lengthy, the list is certainly not complete.

A final point: Although the diversity is surprisingly high, many of these species were only present in small numbers, or at only a single site. For instance, Indian grass, which is now widespread at Pleasant Valley, was only present at a single small remnant (Unit 4). There was enough there to serve as the foundation for all the Indian grass we have eventually planted, but we had to build it up gradually.


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