Tom's Blog

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Nice open savanna restoration area

The bur oak savanna on the upper reaches of our south-facing slope is now quite attractive, and it has come a long way since we began restoration work in 1998. Originally, this was a buckthorn desert, but once the toxin dissipated it started to support lots of nice savanna species. However, buckthorn eradication is not easy, so it took quite a few years to bring it to the stage it is in today. In earlier years, this site did not burn well, and we always had to do interior lighting, but for the past several years it has burned fine on its own. (We backburn from the firebreak which is just above the person in the red jacket.)

Since this site was burned early (March 13), now is the time to do a canvas for invasive plants such as remaining buckthorn (only a few), brambles, clonal species such as pale Indian plantain, and various clovers. Thistle, parsnip, and other common invaders are now completely absent.

This year for the first time golden Alexanders (Zizia aureus) has formed nice large patches, so the whole slope has a tinge of yellow. Although spraying here is not exactly easy (finding a good footing is often a problem), it is a pleasure to work on such a nice slope.

In addition to the Zizia, species common now include little bluestem, violet wood sorrel, rosin weed, bergamot, yellow cone flower, zig-zag goldenrod, stiff goldenrod, early meadow rue, and purple hyssop. Just nearby in the open prairie remnant are hoary puccoon, prairie dropseed, prairie turnip, and bird's foot violet.


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