30 January 2010

Thinking Back (And Ahead) To Warmer Temperatures

Boy, was it cold here yesterday; my car thermometer read 6 degrees Farenheit Saturday morning! The only way for me to get through cold snaps like this in the middle of winter is to look back at photographs I took the previous summer, when the landscape was green and the days were long.

On 11 July 2009, Tony Troche and I spent a couple of hours botanizing at Round Lake Nature Preserve in Starke County, Indiana. Our best botanizing at the preserve came in a rich calcareous wet prairie adjacent to the lake and marsh communities.

Shrubby Cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticosa), an excellent indicator of calcareous soils, was abundant. Walking was cumbersome in places because of the low shrubby habit of this species and trying to avoid Poison Sumac (Toxicodendron radicans).

Winged Loosestrife (Lythrum alatum), the plant known by Dioscorides as "lytron" (and hence the origin of the genus name Lythrum), was a common forb throughout the wet prairie. This is another species characteristic of wet areas with pH of 7 or greater.

Sedges were common at this location, with one of the more abundante being Dioecious Sedge (Carex sterilis).

An interesting sedge that I have only seen at a handful of locations was White Beaksedge (Rhynchospora alba), a species of acidic and alkaline soils. The white spikelets make this species unique among our beaksedges.

One of our biggest highlights, though, was the highly charismatic Tuberous Grasspink (Calopogon tuberosus). The flowers of most orchid species, including all of them around here except for grasspink, twist when the flower is opening so that the lip is at the bottom, a process known as resupination. In Tuberous Grasspink, the lip is above the rest of the flower.

"No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn." -Hal Borland


Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Sure hope spring comes soon, I tire of the cold and whiteness.

Scott said...

I'm sure it will be here before I'm really ready for it...

Jennifer said...

Nice Post. Adding Round Lake NP on my list of places to check out this summer.

MartyL said...

Pre-drainage era, Round Lake was quite a bit larger - a long-discussed DNR project will raise the water level this summer, but not to its original level. As I understand it, the property will be closed this summer while the work (a dike and a control structure) is being done.

Scott Namestnik said...

Thanks Jennifer. Hope you're able to make it to Round Lake sometime.

Good point, Marty. I should have known that, since my company has been working on permits for that project! I'm interested to see how raising the water level affects the wet prairie community, and the surrounding land.