Monday, June 04, 2012

Natural Integrity

It took our group 4 hours to hike a mile trail through my favorite landscape in Missouri. Of course, this after a November fire totaling over 1,000 acres, after 30 years of regularly occurring fires in this magical place. At one point, we were asked if we had planted all those wildflowers in the woods. We were all pretty flummoxed by seeing Aster patens blooming alongside a Missouri evening primrose. I think most of us with native plant flowerbeds back home will be whacking back our asters and goldenrods to make sure there are blooms in the fall, the time of year they're supposed to bloom. Solidago gattengeri is in bud already. I start my vegetation sampling this week and already I couldn't find hide nor hair of the little Drabas that bloomed in March; their little straw skeletons usually stick around until the first week of June, but not this year, not here. One of my esteemed friends found a new record for the woods here, a pretty beat up Platanthera flava (I wanted it to be var. flava, but an astute botanist reader quickly told me it was var herbiola. Regardless, no Platantheras are known from here, an area that has been heavily botanized by some of the region's best botanists. Sometimes it just takes time -like 30 years of good management- for certain plants to show up in the matrix. I was really hoping it's flava var flava because I like the guy with the clock around his neck.) Yes, a full weekend around chats and field sparrows in the woods, lots of blooming Desmodiums, and a great lot of folks who can recognize the best tract of woods in the state when they see it.

2 comments:

A.L. Gibson said...

I would say with a fairly decent degree of confidence you found Platanthera flava var. herbiola. The length of the bracts (from what I can see); shape and color of the lip; and blooming date (var. herbiola [June] blooms a full month before var. flava [July]) all point to var. herbiola in my opinion. The habitat also suggests var. herbiola to me as well. P. flava var. flava is found exclusively in floodplain swamps and forests and in acidic seeps as well (likes it's feet wet) from my experiences and the literature. While var. herbiola can and will occur in the same habitat but it can also be found in sandy soiled sites in upland woods and prairies; albeit much less often.

Allison Vaughn said...

Oh, sigh, was hoping for the other one...still a neat find for the area. Thanks so much for chiming in! Will change post...