Tom's Blog

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lead plant

Lead plant (Amorpha canescens) is about at its peak of flowering. This legume is one of the preminent prairie plants and is usually considered desirable in any prairie planting. However, our experience has been that it is generally hard to get established from seed, although it flourishes in remnants. According to the literature, it is quite palatable to livestock and hence disappears under any significant grazing pressure.

At Black Earth Rettenmund Prairie, which has never been grazed, lead plant flourishes, although it is not present uniformly. It seems to be absent from those areas that before restoration were heavily wooded, and has not returned even though these areas have been clear of woods for over 25 years.

At Pleasant Valley Conservancy lead plant was present before restoration began at four remnant sites (Units 1, 4, 11A, and 23), but was absent at sites that had been grazed. However, although we had what we considered good seed sources, we have been unsuccessful in getting it established in any of our planted prairies.

On the other hand, we have been very successful in getting lead plant established from seed at the Gateway Prairie, the small restoration that we initiated near the Rettenmund Prairie entrance in 2005. In a casual survey yesterday, I found over 50 flowering lead plant patches scattered all over this 2.5 acre site. I'm not sure why we have been successful here but not at Pleasant Valley Conservancy, but it is gratifying to know that seeding does sometimes work.


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