Sunday, May 06, 2012

Early Echinaceas

Plant phenology has been thrown for a loop this year (to reiterate what I've repeatedly written since March). On a short visit to my favorite tract of burned woodlands today, among the silly yellow breasted chats in the shrubs and the multiple blue gray gnatcatchers in the canopy, I found a woodland full of blooming Psoralea, Monarda that's about to expire, Echinacea pallida just opening up. The glades are progressing much faster than the woodlands with blooms of Echinacea paradoxa tracking three weeks early in the Western Ozarks. My land, if I had stayed out of the Western Ozarks for a few days more, I would have completely missed the big luscious blooms of Missouri evening primrose! They resemble wads of yellow paper thrown along a roadcut, but up close, they're much more elegant than that.

I learned today that deer like Hydrophyllum appendiculatum, snipping off the delicate plant as though a pair of pruning shears had been let loose on the already compact forest understory plant. So far, the hooved creatures have left alone the New Jersey tea and the Aster patens, both ice cream plants for deer. Today, I didn't see a single browsed Liatris aspera, which was surprising. Forbs are erect, dogwood is branching upwards, and I didn't note a browse line, which is almost a rare case in Missouri these days.

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