Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Glades in August

If the big bluestem on high quality dolomite glades isn't 10 ft tall this August, it's at least 8 ft, despite the complete lack of rain these past two months. Busting through the tall grass to find big stands of Rudbeckia missouriensis and Silphium terebinthinaceum (a truly poetic plant name that takes practice to pronounce properly; drag the accent to the antepenult and you have it) won't necessarily leave one covered in ticks to the chest. So far this year, I haven't picked up seed ticks on glades, just in grassy woodlands with deer overpopulation problems.

Dry conditions in the lower Ozarks have caused the resurrection ferns on Jack's Fork and Eleven Point riverbanks and on mossy sandstone boulders north of there to shrivel up completely, ferns just waiting for a hearty rain event to unfurl fronds once again. But glades don't seem to mind this lack of rain, they with their rocky substrate and south and west facing slopes for the most part, glades keep producing beautiful yellow ray flowers in spite of the dry conditions.

Helianthus occidentalis with its sandpaper-rough basal leaves and tall stalks of brilliant yellow blooms are showing off these days. You won't find them on crummy little overgrazed and unburned glades, and when you find one in bloom, it's unmistakeable.

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