Illinois Calcareous Hill Prairies

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Title: Guest

Here are some plant photos from my recent trip to a local nature preserve.  Most of these plants are found on the hill prairie.  The exceptions follow.  Stiff Gentian is usually found in areas where moisture seeps out of the sides of hills.  Helenium autumnale, Pycnanthemum tenuifolium, and Aster novae-angliae are found in areas with more moisture.  Aster shortii is a woodland/savannah species.  The mushroom does not fit in with the plants, but I have never seen anything like it so I included it anyway. 

Title: Guest

This post will show the fauna I saw in the woodlands and prairies.

The first fellow is a chipmunk in the woodlands.

All the rest were taken in prairie restorations.


Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Fantastic shots, James.  How do you get the jumping spider to sit still?  ;DAnd Praying mantis leaf imitation is superb!

I see you use Fastone.  How do you like it?

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

Title: Guest

The spider only had two choices on the stem.  These choices were forwards and backwards.  This precarious situation kept him from moving too quickly.  The wind was a much bigger problem.  This is why the jumping spider is a little out of focus.  If I took a dozen pictures I am sure I could have gotten one that was focused.  I just did not want to put the time into it.  I wanted to see other things.  Some photographers stake flowers to keep them from moving.  If I had tried to stake the grass I am sure the Jumping Spider would have been gone.

I actually don't use Fastone.  I just re-sized and cropped the pictures in Microsoft Office Picture Manager.  My camera is not the best quality.  Some of the colors are a little off.  The gentian had a more purplish color in person.  However, I like the gentian photo's blue much better than the gentian's actual color.  Interesting how it worked out that way.

I'm glad you enjoyed the Jumping Spider and Praying Mantis imitating a leaf.


Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

We have spiders here but no mantises! No chipmunks either. Interesting animals.

Trond Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

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

No mantises or chipmunks here either!

James, interesting place and history!I wonder if anyone has a clear idea of what was growing where I live before European settlers came- more recently than your area-mostly early 1900's in my area.. We are in a zone where foothills, northern boreal and prairie biomes meet- untouched land will mostly go to boreal mixed-woods, but the natives apparently used to burn the forest away to bring the grassland grazing animals in (don't know how often or thoroughly), so I have no idea how much forest existed in those times, or what balance of forbs/grasses etc was encouraged (I don't think we have any fire adapted woody species in my immediate area; our native grasses are mid height, not the tall grasses of the east, nor the short grass farther south).Now mixed farming (everything from fully cultivated fields-dead zones! to half and fully natural pasture areas and -currently- untouched woodlands) and clearing of roadsides maintains a greater diversity of habitat than would exist if the area were allowed to fully re-forest.Not without a cost though- a lot of agricultural weeds were introduced by farming, and spread on the hooves and in the droppings of farm animals, so that they occur even quite distant from cultivated fields.. and spraying programs target any plant not specifically desired as fodder-luckily these are not that universal in my immediate area, where agriculture is often not that intensive, at least not over any sizable area..

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F;

Kelaidis's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-02-03

The Gentiana pulverulenta is gorgeous! This has been on my bucket list for years. Amazing that no nursery I know of has ever grown it (gentians are tricky but not impossible). I wonder if the Spiranthes is cernua or magnicamporum?

Beautiful ecosystems,

Thanks fo r posting...

For every minion of the peaks there are a dozen steppe children growing in the dry Continental heart of all hemispheres still unknown to horticulture.


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