מרץ 10, 2022

Winter Botany

Winter botany presents an opportunity and many challenges. For me the opportunity is having snow as a background. A uniform background focuses attention on the plant parts in the image. Among the challenges are the fact that in most cases not all the parts remain. In particular the parts of plant of greatest interest to most insects and humans, flowers, rarely remain. People don’t all see (look for) the same things in identifying individuals, so saying something is distinct does not always get agreement, but Eryngium yuccifolium has many features that persist through winter that make it distinctive to everyone. While Helianthus is a difficult genus to identify species, a height of >9 feet is only achieved by H. grosseserratus. Height is important information in identifying many species. While the range of color in winter is not as large, subtle differences among brown are often telltale. A few plants remain green. Many times in winter one knows what the species is because one has been at the place in many times of the year. Woody vegetation leaf scars are only visible when leaves have fallen. Those are my thoughts on winter botany.

פורסם ב מרץ 10, 2022 07:15 אחה"צ על־ידי dennis_nyberg dennis_nyberg | 2 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

נובמבר 21, 2021

From Vermillion Co. south to Wabash Co. along the east border of Illinois

I had taken IL1 down to the Shawnee to observe the 2017 solar eclipse, so the area was not completely new to me. I knew Tom Hintz, currently Superintendent at Lincoln Trail State Park, from restoration activities when he worked for FPCC. I had seen posts by Roger Beadles about Beadles Barrens and I really wanted to see that site. My son Gus, who know plants better than myself, had 4 days available. I used the 1995 Directory of IL Nature Preserves to make a list of all NPs in this region. Then I made a plan.
Vermillion County has 8 NP plus the Pellsville Cemetery prairie (I visited that fine prairie earlier in 2021). I had already been to Horseshoe Bottom and Windfall Prairie as part of an INPS annual meeting which also included visits to preserves within Forest Glen.
14 Oct 21 started at Fairchild Cemetery Savanna. I got a number of new species at this small but nice site. We proceeded to Forest Glen (where we planned to camp). I have said the the Doris Westfall and Fisher Oak Savanna prairie restorations were the only restorations I had difficulty telling from a remnant. I was not as favorably impressed with Westphal this time as it now has a lot of Lespedeza cuneata. It was lightly raining as we proceeded to Howards Hollow Seep. As we left HHS it began raining heavily. We were complete soaked when we got back to the car and decided to look for a motel. While at the motel it stopped raining so we decided to go back to FG and visit Russel M. Duffin NP. We took the trail from near the FG entrance. The woods had little herbaceous vegetation but I photoed a fern or two. The rain returned and became heavy so we returned to the car before we got to the Vermillion River.
15 Oct. The first stop was Upper Embarras Woods NP. We got to a tail head with two unmarked choices. We went right and I was disappointed. We decided to go back and take the left trail. Here we entered a wonderful natural area that had burn management and I added quite few species including Diarrhena obovata. Our next stop was Baber Woods (59 acres) that I had been to at least twice. Thirty years ago Dr. Ebinger, steward, led a tour. He talked about grand fires and the fact that fire suppression allowed the trees to dominate the landscape. A few years later I met Dr. Ebinger and he told me he had reduced the big trees on half of Baber. That inspired my second visit. Today was my third visit. We approached the site from the south and I was surprised that road was a single track adventure. I had never seen a road like that in IL. We went by a huge field (of prairie grasses) probably CRP. We parked along the road through the west end of Baber and headed east. We walked all the way to east end. The herbaceous diversity was low. Asimina was the most common plant. We saw a number of deer. Most rural counties allow hunting and the high abundance of deer and subsequent low herbaceous diversity surprised me. My plan was to go to Rocky Branch NP before going to American Beech Woods NP in Lincoln Trail, but I decided I not to keep Tom waiting. We got a tour of the entire park. The most interesting areas were the frequently burned oak woods on peninsulas into the impoundment. I saw a number of new species and many I was already familiar with such as shooting star. It was beautiful and I want to visit earlier in growing season. The ABW NP was nice but not as diverse as the oak woods. LTSP has a fine restaurant where Gus and I learned about the National Road (started by Thomas Jefferson) trail project Tom is involved with.
16 Oct Our first stop was Chauncey Marsh NP. The 1995 NP book worried about drainage as a threat but apparently that did not happen as we had to walk thru water on the road and could not enter much of the preserve because we did not bring waders. We explored a ridge and I learned there were native Commelina. To the north was a restoration. I liked Chauncey Marsh. We continued to Big Creek Woods south of Olney (where we ate lunch). I did not see any new species at this site, but I always take images to document I had been there. We proceeded to Beadle Barrens. Roger was waiting for us when we arrived. The Beadle Barrens (a NP but not so in 1995) is a wonderful site. Liatris squarrosa is a species I did not know before this visit and there were others as well. Roger knew I was trying to get plant species for INat and he drove Gus and I to a site along the Little Wabash river with lowland species. I was dependent on the IDs of Roger (& Gus in some cases). WOW I saw species I did not even know existed such as sugarberry. I noticed that in Cook Co. iNat correctly identified my my images 80-90% of the time, but as I got further south the iNat accuracy dropped off. Could be because I knew less about features to include and/or the lower number of stored images from the low population counties.
17 Oct The plan was to visit Beall Woods and Robeson Woods and then return to Chicago. At Beall we first took two trails starting from the visitor center. We saw species I did not know plus some huge trees. Then we went to the north end of Beall and took a trail toward the river. These woods had been burned and had a filled in understory. We headed for Robeson Hills. The 1995 ILNP directory indicated the preserve was on both sides of US50 and that there was a Rest Stop and Visitor Center on the north side. We had to go miles into IN before we could get onto westbound US50. When we arrived at the rest stop we found it abandoned. We stopped anyway and walked through invasive species growing thru cracks in concrete. When we finally got to the Nature Preserve we found it rather depauperate, but I got a couple of new species. We reversed direction and headed for the George Rogers Clark National Monument in Vincennes and then headed home. Later I was told south of US50 was the better part of the NP.

פורסם ב נובמבר 21, 2021 07:39 אחה"צ על־ידי dennis_nyberg dennis_nyberg | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

נובמבר 20, 2021

Initial Goals for 2021

Early 2021 I decided to participate in iNaturalist and specifically in the ILBBY. I have spent a lot of time in remnants in all parts of Illinois, but especially in Palos and Calumet regions of Cook Co. over the last 40 years and I wanted add to the documentation of the diversity and beauty of Cook County south of 87th St (a town line). The plant diversity has been considerably enhanced by ecological restoration efforts of the FPCC and the Chicago Park District over the last 10 years. I wanted to give their efforts a 'shout out'.
I decided not to obscure locations for two reasons. First, locations to within 20m are far more valuable to science than obscured locations and second specific locations show getting off trails and roads really measures the diversity of a natural area. I did visit areas of Cook south of 87th that I had heard about but had not visited ever or within the last 20 years. People need to get off trails and out of parking lots.
These initial goals were expanded with time. The competition inspired me to try to get as many species as possible. Up until 2021 I was only interested in 'weeds' that invaded natural areas. In 2021 I decided to be more interested in garden and urban weeds (Hegewisch is a part of Chicago that has diverse weeds). As I got more interested in the competition I studied the map and saw that the east edge of IL from Vermillion to Wabash Counties had few observations. I knew Tom Hintz was Superintendent of Lincoln Trail SP and I had heard lots about Beadle Barrens so I decided on a trip to SE IL. I also noted that Hancock and Adams Counties (where my wife had served a church in Tioga and I had visited a number of remnants) were also not represented well on iNaturalist. I did not get to west central IL but I plan to write a journal entry on my trip to SE IL.
As well as documenting plant species I already knew about I have learned new species and visited new sites. iNaturalist was a highlight of 2021.

פורסם ב נובמבר 20, 2021 02:51 לפנה"צ על־ידי dennis_nyberg dennis_nyberg | 2 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

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