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Old 06-29-2016, 02:40 PM   #1
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Default Looking at a Rare and Conservative Plant

Stephen Packard has posted another interesting article about prairie diversity and restoration.

The pictures are beautiful and the questions challenging. We are so lucky to have him here in Illinois.

Maybe some answers to why certain plants do not succeed.

Strategies for Stewards: from woods to prairies : Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Rare and Conservative Plant

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How much difference do the high conservatives make:

To ecosystem function?

To biodiversity conservation?

We consider the frequency of conservative plants key in identifying a Grade A prairie (“very high quality”) – compared to Grade B (“high quality”) – and plain old Grade C (“good”).


Are these plants also important to ecosystem function and ecosystem services? We suspect that diverse conservatives have some importance, in part because of our experience with the early restorations – the ones that were mostly big bluestem grass. Those restorations turned out not to support populations of most prairie birds, prairie butterflies, and indeed most prairie plants.
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Consider the diversity in the above photo. It’s easy to grow an “artificial” prairie lily all alone in a pot. But it’s hard to grow a “real” one in a “restored” prairie. Unnatural associates (like the oversized aggressive native species that make up the bulk of the vegetation in many restorations) apparently aren't compatible with it.

The prairie lily seems to require companions “that play well with others.” These are highly competitive in their own ways – but thrive in situations of great diversity. Consider the species visible around the lily in this photo (can you identify them?):
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Old 06-29-2016, 03:57 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gloria View Post
Stephen Packard has posted another interesting article about prairie diversity and restoration.

The pictures are beautiful and the questions challenging. We are so lucky to have him here in Illinois.

Maybe some answers to why certain plants do not succeed.

Strategies for Stewards: from woods to prairies : Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Rare and Conservative Plant
Interesting article. I began a prairie about five years ago, but I'm unable to burn, due to the proximity of trees and neighbors. In such a small backyard prairie, I thought I'd be able to control the invaders, but found, from year to year, that aggressive species from neighbors as well as my own greater back yard were invading my "prairie garden" and I was unable to tell until the invader began to flower, often much too late to take effective action.

At this point, though I still allow the prairie to grow, it has pretty much reverted to a mixture of a few of the plants I had originally planted mixed in with numerous native aggressives and even some budding shrubs, though I did mow it to the ground at the beginning of this season, destroying many would be shrubs in the process.

I agree with the speculation that a wide diversity of plants in a prairie like setting requires periodical burns and a wide diversity of native animals (like the snakes mentioned) to succeed at all, though, even then, the absence of a large herbivore like the buffalo is bound to have its affect.

The bulk of my wildlife planting now is invested in shrubs and trees that have a high attraction record for wildlife. like oaks, cherries, viburnums, blueberry, etc...
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Old 06-30-2016, 07:12 AM   #3
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I have never had enough land to grow an actual prairie but find that woodies are my primary invaders here is SE Ohio.
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Old 06-30-2016, 09:05 PM   #4
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Gloria,

Thank you for sharing the link and the quotes.

I'm just seeing this now (as my bedtime is approaching after a very draining day). The quotes have me really wanting to open the article, but I fear I will put off getting my much needed sleep.

Will see which wins out.

Either way, I look forward to following this thread.
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Old 06-30-2016, 10:05 PM   #5
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I'm still up; I checked out the blog article. Great photos and a lot of food for thought. Thank you.

Being in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic, I guess I'm not really restoring a prairie...but, I'm sure that the idea of plant communities/associations and conservative species still spply.

I picture keeping our property in various stages of succession...but, more and more, I suspect periodic burning may very well be necessary (although I have no idea yet if it will be feasible). Until, I get vast sections planted and established, I don't yet have to worry about it.
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