Saturday, June 19, 2010


We went to the woods to look for a clump of grass, a clump of Agrostis perennans, to be specific. Common in upland flatwoods, this elegant grass should be sending up a tall seedhead now. We were scouring the flatwoods, me and my trusty vegetation monitoring fieldmates, looking among the thick vegetation for the agrostis. Well, I was looking for the grass, and they, stooping down after every step, were quietly eating dewberries.

Rubus flagellaris, dewberry, is common throughout the state, and can be found in dry, rocky woodlands and on roadsides in the Ozarks. The white flowers of dewberries appear in early May, and their small, juicy fruits are ripening now, making every trip to the woods a little sweet, a little tart. Missouri is home to 14 species of drupe-producing berry vines. But unlike wild blackberries, which ripen in July in large clusters, dewberries do not produce prolifically. Berries are located singly along the long, trailing vines. Look for open woodlands with plenty of dappled light reaching the floor for these excellent wild berries.

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