7.20- 7.22 – Orland Grasslands

This was an enormous site! It’s part of the Cook County preserves. The size of the site meant that the three different sections we visited had visible differences in their soil, with the “Phoenix” section having much drier soil than the “North” section, for example. There were differences in seeding strategies between the sections too – Phoenix is a “boutique” site hand-seeded by volunteers, rather than a huge seeding by Pizzo, and it shows in the high diversity of that section.

Orland, North section

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Chamaecrista fasciculata (Partridge Pea)

A beautiful little yellow flower, with leaves like a vetch, which is also a legume. This is the first site we’ve seen it at.

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Orland, Phoenix Section

A bit more color from forbs (non-grasses, or flowering plants) in this diverse section.

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A kind of Lobelia

A beautiful little flower that we didn’t positively identify since it wasn’t directly in our plots, any ideas of a species?

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Orland, South Section

You can see from the large amount of dead old growth in this section how important periodic burnings are to prairie health. Burnings clear away plant litter and allow new growth, which otherwise is inhibited by the old plant material.

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Tramping around prairies has done a number on my boots, time for some shoe glue this weekend!

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