Tom's Blog

Friday, September 4, 2015

Wet prairie restoration work using lousewort as a hemiparasite

The wetland adjacent to the Valley and Crane Prairies is an interesting mix of wetland soils, standing water, and flowing springs. Access is good because of the mowed lane which is almost always dry enough to walk on. For a number of years most of the vegetation in this area consisted of dense mats of the sedge Carex trichocarpa, which, although considered desirable (C value of 7), prevented anything else from growing.

In 2009 I discovered that lousewort (Pedicularis lanceolata) was a hemiparasite on this sedge , and since then we have planted lousewort to set back the sedge and increase the species diversity. (Access these two links to see the details.)

One of these wetland areas has become so nice that it deserves a note here. Visible in the photo are bottle gentian, Gaura, swamp thistle, and cup plant. Nearby are two other gentians, fringed and stiff. Lots of mountain mint, Joe pye weed, cut-leaved Rudbeckia, sneezeweed, and (of course) lousewort. Nearby we have found turtlehead. And, of course, across the lane in the Valley Prairie is a very diverse habitat, including wet-mesic, mesic, and dry-mesic prairie species.

Bottle gentian (Gentiana andrewsii) with mountain mint and black-eyed Susan, and fringed gentian (Gentianopsis crinita) in the background.
This site is only a short walk south of the parking area at the trailhead. There is a rebar marker in the middle of the site. Well worth a visit (but please stay on the trail).


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