Tom's Blog

Friday, March 23, 2012

Protecting lady slipper orchid site for burn

Although most of our yellow lady slipper orchids are in the north woods, one of the best stands is in the Unit 8 savanna. Probably because it is a savanna site, it blooms earlier, and the plants are quite lush. In fact, one of Kathie's photos from this site was selected for the Military Ridge Prairie Heritage calendar last year. (Kathie's photo here is not the calendar image. I chose this one because it shows such a nice stand of Zizia aureus in the background.)

Because of the unusually warm weather, Kathie was worried that this stand would get damaged by the savanna burn we hope to do this next week, so she spent some time clearing around it. Although this is indeed micromanaging, for such a spectacular species it is worth it.
Lady slipper orchids have flowered annually at this site for at least 10 years, ever since we cleared it and first burned. However, this is the first year we have protected it from burns (and the first year we have had such a lengthy warm spell).

The site itself is interesting, since the plant it is just uphill of a dolomite outcrop, and there is barely any soil.

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