Tom's Blog

Friday, May 2, 2014

Big year for shooting star

Shooting star (Dodecatheon meadii) is one of the early flowering plants in our area. Although it is found often in high-quality prairies, at Pleasant Valley Conservancy its principal habitat is the oak savannas.

We have extensive native populations in our savannas. However, before restoration they were suppressed by the deep shade. Once the offending brush and invasive trees were removed and fire was introduced, shooting stars magically appeared. For the past 12-15 years that restoration has been going on, flowering plants have appeared in each newly restored savanna area. With continued brush/tree clearing and annual fires, more shooting stars appeared.

This year seems to be a banner year for shooting star in the savannas. Our savanna burn was carried out only 23 days ago and patches of small plants are being found everywhere. The photos here are from the White Oak Savanna (Unit 12A), but we are seeing them all over.

Note that all of these savanna populations are native to the site. We also have seeded this species in our various planted prairies. It takes about 7 years before flowering shooting star plants are seen in the seeded prairies. On the other hand, flowering populations appear in the savannas the first  year after the canopy is opened.


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