So, the grazing history on this glade wasn't nearly as severe as I've seen in similar settings throughout Missouri. While this glade suffers from serious damage, there were still some remnant spring forbs and, most importantly for the recoverability, the prairie grass matrix persists. A cedar removal project and some old fashioned fire would undoubtedly help restore the glade, but unfortunately, as is the case with thousands of glades in Missouri, once the conservative elements have been sniffed out and rooted up, they do not magically return. It is because of the long history of grazing that so many of our plants are conservative now. Even Julian Steyermark noted this. But the grass will help to rebuild the soil and work to repair the damage. If the glade lacked a thick grass component, I wouldn't even think of suggesting restoration--the damage is usually too severe, fire can't carry without grass, and so forth.
Sunday, April 12, 2015
There isn't a lot of public land in the Gasconade country, even though the river valley represents some of the largest (the second largest, to be precise) concentrations of glades and intact post oak woodlands with river frontage. Not a lot of development in these parts, which is great in some aspects, but cause for concern in others, such as the lack of regulatory oversight for development, regulation on recreation that can cause serious streambank erosion and sheeting, and so forth. I can't do anything about it, of course, so I enjoy it while it exists. Large expanses of glade-woodland complexes of the Roubidoux Formation and Gasconade dolomite, undoubtedly the most common geologic structures in the Ozarks that still have a forest canopy. Oh, there's logging, of course there's logging, but still lots of intact woods. And glades.
Sunday, April 05, 2015
The world is coming alive now after a long winter's nap. By late March, fire season was officially over in my playbook, so it was time to hit the trail for early spring backpacking. The screech owls have fledged, whinnying all up and down the creekbed, and Eastern phoebes are hawking insects all over warm glade openings before setting up their nests.
I pitched camp early in the day in a wooded bottomland, protected from the fierce south winds and surrounded by blooming spicebush. Just above was a little unmanaged dolomite glade with a few blooming drabas and bird's foot violets, my first of the year. The natural events seem to be on schedule this year, with the songs of Louisiana waterthrush beginning well before the streambank vegetation comes on.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
And so, I return to my wonderful Paul Nelson-illustrated Spring Wildflowers book, used in many places as a coloring book but serving as a great refresher in not only scientific nomenclature--which has probably all changed lately--but in the location of spring wildflowers. Because the book is out of print, with permission of the illustrator, I have scanned all the plates and posted them here for a quick review session before spring wildflower season really ramps up. We're expecting snow this weekend, which is typical, though cruel.
Today's hike took me through really homogeneous Ozark woods of a black oak-red oak character, Roubidoux sandstone-Gasconade dolomite bedrock community, a prized though typical and widespread landscape for timber people. In the unburned condition, these kinds of woods are not very diverse or interesting from a ground flora perspective, but such is the joy of spring wildflower season! One can visit trashed out bottomlands along streams, areas that were once corn fields, and still find spring flora. Unburned, overgrazed, logged woods with some semblance of native diversity and not socked in with bush honeysuckle? You'll still find spring flora. Spring wildflowers are ubiquitous in the Ozarks in Missouri, found even in gravel parking lots where some "rare in Missouri" but widespread in the White River region grow. So, with these longer day lengths, chipping sparrows starting to call, timberdoodles probing for insects, hit up your local woods for some wildflower walks and a dose of long awaited Vitamin D.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Henbit--that sweet non-native purple mint flower common in agricultural fields-- is flowering throughout the region in fallow fields and yards, along with all the other fun lawn weeds like Veronica comosa and the early mustards. I canvassed a wide glade landscape on the Springfield Plateau yesterday and saw no blooming Drabas, just a few early leaves of false garlic and one basal leaf of a Delphinium. This week's cool and rainy conditions will keep all the fun spring flora underground for a few days more, potentially allowing for good fire conditions.