Sunday, May 29, 2011

Long wait for a sunny day

Last week's spate of rainy, cloudy, stormy, tornado-prone weather almost interfered with well-laid plans to spend a couple of days in the woods. Rotating clouds near Ironton, a tornado on the ground in Ellsinore, quarter-sized hail somewhere on my drive up Highway 8, all of these horrible tornado warning boxes scattered throughout the Ozarks, this past week saw more terrible weather events--not what Missouri needed. The mornings, however, remained cloudy and muggy but clear enough.

We visted an acid seep this week to find the past-its-prime flowering stalk of showy orchis and the leaves of Habenaria clavellata. Carex bromoides grew along the side of the waterway (pictured right), thick tufts that resemble prairie dropseed. The discussions here pertained to classification: Is it a fen or an acid seep? Few of the calcareous fen plants and more of the acid seep plants were there. Carex crinita was there, but no Lysimachia, no grass of
Parnassus. Rudbeckia fulgida, a seep and fen plant, grew on the banks of the stream. Some in the group remained on the fence--it has characteristics of both. Considering its proximity to acid seep country around Ste. Genevieve, the regal fern/sensitive fern dominance and sandstone substrate, deep down it was decided this was an acid seep. But it could also be a fen.

In the uplands, good woodland plants are in bloom, like the pale pink Monarda bradburiana and Asclepias quadrifolia. If you're lucky, you can still catch the tail end of yellow lady slipper orchid blooms.

Dolomite glades are erupting in Echinacea paradoxablooms this week, and the tail end of the Indian paintbrush bloom cycle remains a bright spot on glades. Summer is finally here, and soon enough, katydids and fireflies will begin their ritual on early summer nights as we set up camp on an isolated gravel bar to gorge on perfectly prepared s'mores.


James C. Trager said...

I love it when a natural community doesn't conform to the pidgeon hole concepts of our minds. Acid fen?

Nickelplate said...

When you can't find morels, coral mushrooms are the next best thing.