Sunday, April 12, 2015

Central Plateau in Early April

Stepping out of my 365K miles strong-1995 Honda Civic onto a crunchy warm season grass mat, I was met this week with a cold wind, a wind bitter enough to make me wear a stupid fleece jacket even though the forecast was for temperatures in the upper 70s and sun--rare, rare sun. I do like the field verification of glades I've mapped, to step onto these areas that I've seen from multiple iterations of aerial photos ranging from Google Earth to infrared layers on ArcGIS and all, to see the glade on the ground. So, even though it was a casual hike through the Central Plateau on a cloudy day for a determined purpose that was not glade verification, the glade verification fit in quite nicely while I encountered some lovely spring flora along the way.

There isn't a lot of public land in the Gasconade country, even though the river valley represents some of the largest (the second largest, to be precise) concentrations of glades and intact post oak woodlands with river frontage. Not a lot of development in these parts, which is great in some aspects, but cause for concern in others, such as the lack of regulatory oversight for development, regulation on recreation that can cause serious streambank erosion and sheeting, and so forth. I can't do anything about it, of course, so I enjoy it while it exists. Large expanses of glade-woodland complexes of the Roubidoux Formation and Gasconade dolomite, undoubtedly the most common geologic structures in the Ozarks that still have a forest canopy. Oh, there's logging, of course there's logging, but still lots of intact woods. And glades.

As mentioned previously, and a million times before, the bottoms in Missouri are usually just chocked full of spring wildflowers. I was seriously saddened to see an eight mile stretch of riverine forest covered in garlic mustard, but there's no stopping the inevitable homogenization of our landscapes. I had to pull about thirty garlic mustard plants to frame this picture of a bluebell. They'll all disappear unless someone does something. But nothing will happen and in three years I won't be able to come here to take photos of bluebells. I guess I'll seek them out in gardens in Columbia, all surrounded by bush honeysuckle pruned to be a landscaped shrub.

4 comments:

scott patterson said...

I've followed your blog for a few years now and have learned a tremendous amount - actually one of the first blogs I came across that heldped kindle an ongoing and now intense interest in native plant conservation. This post, to me, speaks both to the practical necessity and ethical imperative of elminating non-natives from the home landscape and going native with, preferably, local ecotypes. While my suburban yard can never be restored to pristine, native condition, I can and have removed the invasives, reduced the yard and planted a riot of bluebells, columbine, sedges, coneflowers, milkweed, etc. If enough people do that, maybe some vestige of the past and some plausible mirage of biodiversity can be perserved and more folks will see the light and care - that, and if you keep on keeping on your most excellent blog. Thanks.

Patricia A. Laster said...

Sunday afternoon, a little south of Jacksonville AR, I looked west as a entered the ramp for I-440 and saw a large expanse of yellow. Would it be garlic mustard plants? All I could come up with for a name of what it might be was "mustard." I love reading your blog.

Allison Vaughn said...

Thanks for reading. You probably saw what is commonly called "yellow rocket," related to the mustards with flowers the color of French's mustard! Yellow rocket covers fields in the area this time of year. Garlic mustard has diminutive white flowers with very persistent vegetation that chokes out everything. Yellow rocket is just a little agricultural weed like henbit, the plant in the mint family that coats fields of purple each March.

Allison Vaughn said...

Scott, We're on the same page! First, thanks for reading, it's always nice to hear that I've encouraged any actions to protect biodiversity! My personal residence is in the heart of downtown but some stray remnant vegetation remains, so I foster it, and while my yard will never be a fully functioning ecosystem, removing all the exotics (except for the daffodils on my dog's grave...those aren't going anywhere), we've been keeping track of what insects and other fauna use the yard, our little patch of woods in an urban setting. I was really surprised at how many species of insects we have seen in the yard through the years! From really charismatic leafhoppers to interesting moths that are only found where oak and cherry live, etc. I do certainly believe in local genotypes, but the native plant business, which is just booming and going really strong in Missouri, can't keep up with the local ecotype specifics. It's unfortunate, really, that sometimes the native versions are crossed with horticultural cultivars for bigger blooms, more resistant to drought, etc., and I wonder if they provide the same "ecosystem services" to biota. You're right, if all of these lawns and Bradford pears were converted to native plants, wildlife would definitely be given a serious boost in the arm! It's really depressing to me to know that the strategy for the sustainability of monarch butterflies, so ubiquitous for my entire life, is now dependent on native plant gardening....and that most of the native milkweeds found in nurseries are either planted in a mix with insect-killing pesticides or are of non-native varieties that end up being harmful to caterpillars. It's all just so much. So, I tend my little woodland yard, get excited when I see my geometer moths on the back door and all the wrens nesting with their little beaks full of caterpillars from my oaks, and I think, this is water. this is water....