Schaefer Prairie - Minnesota

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RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21
Schaefer Prairie - Minnesota

The 165 acres of Schaefer Prairie is in south central Minnesota, and was bought by the Nature Conservancy in 1967 to preserve its natural resources.  Although it was mowed for hay yearly in the first half of the century, it has never been plowed. It contains both wet and mesic habitat, making it a gem of diversity.  I visited on 15 August, although this is a prairie with great treasures throughout the season.  This area has been heavily drought stricken, as evidenced by the unusually low water table.  I could have walked in dry tenners where in a normal year, high rubber boots would be required.  Still, prairie plants in general have very deep root systems (2-20ft and deeper), and most species seem relatively unaffected.

Allium stellatum (Prairie onion) variations.

      

 

      

Asclepias incarnata (Swamp milkweed) x3, Andropogon gerardii (Big Bluestem) in a sea of same, and Artemisia ludoviciana (white sage).

   

 

                   

 

Edited to reload photos

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Brickellia (Kuhnia) eupatorioides (False boneset)
       

Bromus kalmii (Prairie Brome)

The invasive Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) is present, but only at the edges of the prairie where it abuts with agricultural fields.  Native wetland thistles are tall and have beautiful flowers at eye level, enhanced greatly by their intricate involucres (floral bracts).  
Cirsium muticum (Swamp thistle) x3, another Cirsium sp.
       

       

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Cypripedium candidum (Small White ladyslipper) was one that was severely hit by the drought and/or heat.
       

It was the very end of the Prairie clover season.  Both the purple (Dalea purpurea) and whte (Dalea candida) forms are here, but I don't know them well enough to tell them apart without the flowers.  I only found a few Purple Prairie clover still blooming.  In the second pic, the little black upright "sausages" are the  Prairie clover seedheads among Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii).
       

I usually find Desmodium canadensis (Canada Tick trefoil) with multiple stems, giving more of a shrub look to the species.  Again at the tail end of bloom, here is a single stem plant.  I have plenty of seed, if anyone would like any...
       

             

Dyssodia papposa (Dogweed) isn't that pretty and the flower is less than a half inch tall, but I'm always wondering what these are, so I did some research.  Insects seem to love them.
       

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Elymus canadensis (Canada Wild rye)
       

Gentiana andrewsii (Bottle gentian) is fairly common throughout Minnesota, but never in abundance.

Helenium autumnale (Sneezeweed) is a single to few stemmed plant in the wild.
       

       

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

cohan
cohan's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-02-03

Great views and great set of plants, Rick! I love the open spaces of natural prairie.. We get some prairie edge plants here in roadsides and pastures, but open grassland is not something that survives here without intervention, so any plants that take longer to establish do not make it this far ..

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

Booker
Booker's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-30

Brilliant trip report and images, Rick ... many thanks for posting.

Cliff Booker A.K.A. Ranunculus
On the moors in Lancashire, U.K.
Usually wet, often windy, sometimes cold ... and that's just me!

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Really interesting, Rick!  Neat to see Helenium autumnale in its natural habitat.  The variation among Allium stellatum is quite amazing.  Thanks for taking us along!

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Actually Cohan, in this area, land would be forested without periodic fires or some kind of human intervention.  The prairie is managed with fire, and it is bordered on three of four sides by gravel roads, so controlled burning is relatively easy.  I saw very little of the invasive sweetclover, and then only in its first year stage, so I think they have been doing a good job.

Thanks, Lori and Cliff.  I only got through to "H" before I ran out of time and am only getting to finish the post now...

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

I haven't really delved into identifying all the Helianthus spp. that are native in Minnesota, a project for some later date.  This is a "typical" one.
       

Lespedeza capitata (Round-headed Bushclover) makes a nice addition to dried "floral" arrangements.  Weathered seedheads from the previous yeaar are shown in the last photo.
       

       

All the native Liatris spp. I have not yet mastered, either.  They are often misidentified due to variation within the each species and the relative difficulty of ascertaining the differentiating features.  But these I can be quite sure of:
Liatris aspera (Rough Blazing Star) with Dalea sp. seedheads.  Flowers are pink-lavender, and the white bracts will darken a bit with age.  Pics 2 and 3 are Liatris pychnostachya (Prairie Blazing Star).  It has one of the hairiest stems of all the liatris species.  
   

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

More liatris pics.  These are probably Liatris ligulistylis (Showy Blazing Star).
   

A trick I "invented" to highlight a plant where it would otherwise be lost in the surroundings: when the conditions are right, sometimes you can get your shadow to fall on only the subject. One pic with, one pic without.
             

Not sure about this one, but I like it.
       

This one is probably Liatris punctata (Dotted Blazing Star).
   

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Great Blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) is only invasive in a garden setting.
             

Lysimachia quadrifolia (Prairie Loosetrife) is abundant here, although fairly rare in the state.  The last pic with the rounded seedpods.
       

                

Purple Loostrife (Lythrum salicaria) is a terrible European invasive in wetlands all over the eastern US.  Sweetclover in the upland prairie habitat can be bad, but not nearly as much, at least partly because it is a biennial.  L. salicaria almost automatically displaces all the natives where ever it invades.  We are extremely lucky it has not found Schaefer prairie... yet.  Our native Lytrum species, Lytrum alatum (Winged Loostrife) has fewer, but larger flowers on shorter stalks.
       

             

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

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