Friday, August 26, 2016

Glades in August

I never tire of hiking through well-managed, high quality glades in Missouri. Earlier this week, I paid my third visit since April to a stellar dolomite glade in the Niangua Basin to see the beginning of the end of flowering periods. This glade and the adjacent woodlands were burned in January, and every visit since then I've seen increasingly more and more flowering plants in both the woodlands and the glade.

We are in the period of yellow composites, Rudbeckia missouriensis, the Silphiums, the late summer Helianthus occidentalis, blazing stars, all in full flower and serving as magnets for suites of pollinating insects. Unfortunately, I don't know my skippers well at all, but I know I recognized three different species on the brief, casual hike through the composites. Appropriately managed glades are in full bloom now, with the ladies' tresses orchids coming on soon. The woodland Spiranthes orchids are blooming (S. vernalis, especially) and the glade-specific species should be blooming in late September. This site is home to a true motherlode of S. magnicamporum, a glade-specific plant that numbers in the thousands on the dolomite glades here.

Busting through the understory and hiking through glades these days results in covering one's trousers, legs, ankles and abdomen in literally millions of seed ticks, little specks of brown insect life that causes unending itching and redness. Trousers with duct tape around the ankles, horrible chemical spray covering pantlegs and shirt sleeves is required. On Monday, I plan to set out into pristine woods with no trails to flag out firelines for the upcoming prescribed fire season. A heavily chlorinated swimming pool is a necessity after being covered in seed ticks but is unfortunately not in the cards on Monday night. A shower with a brisk scrubbing will have to suffice. Firelines must be flagged. Burn plans must be written. Preparations for the upcoming prescribed season must be made to maintain stellar places like this one.

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