Wednesday was my last day with Team Echinacea and we all decided to wear tie dye! It was a great day of weeding p1, phenology, and measuring plants. I really enjoyed myself this summer and learned so much! I'm gonna miss Team Echinacea!
Prairie restorations with the non-native Echinacea pallida have been planted close to the prairie remnants with the native Echinacea angustifolia. The two species are able to hybridize, but what effect would this have on the few remaining native species? This week, with the help of a few team members, data was collected on the hybrids planted at Hegg Lake. The plants are only 2 years old, but preliminary data collected on the hybrids will help assess whether they will be a threat to the native species.
Yesterday some of the team set out for a field trip: we counted Western prairie fringed orchids (Platanthera praeclara) in wet prairie. We left at 6 am and drove 3 hours to the Pembina Trail Preserve. The prairie was much wetter than I expected; the water went as deep enough to reach your lower caf muscles. Fortunately, Gretel told us to come prepared with rubber boots. The day was much longer than she and Stuart expected. There were more than 800 orchids within two different areas where we counted.
Check out this cool guy that spent the night at the Hjelm house! We arrived for work at 8:30 as usual, and it was sleeping on the porch! It eventually woke up after receiving so much attention and jumped to a nearby bush. Luckily, it sat still long enough for everyone to take its picture!
Happy Independence Day! This morning was filled with Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea Pallida. Here is the pallida and its visitor. The pallida grow much taller than the native species and even have white pollen rather than yellow. Next week I'll have to be sure to get a photo of a flowering pallida to show the difference.
On Friday the team only worked half the day. We met at Elk Lake to have a nice potluck and Stuart had us all read the Declaration of Independence! Here's a photo of Will's fruit pizza, isn't it beautiful? We also spent time swimming at the lake and canoeing!
Here, we have the team practicing how to operate the machinery purchased from the MIB (Men In Black). There are several prairie remnants we have to visit, so using these tools to "shoot" and "stake" the Echinacea makes them easier to find. The poles are more than 6 feet tall and they can locate an Echinacea within a few centimeters.
(They're not really from the Men In Black by the way!)
This morning we started our day with getting rid of the unwanted yellow sweet clover in a nearby plot. There was so much sweet clover to pull and this was our second attempt. Fortunately, with a lot of pulling and team work, we cleared the area of mostly all the invasive sweet clover. Of course we'll have to go back to get a few we may have missed, but it was so satisfying seeing the amount we got rid of!
This is a beautiful False Sunflower that is a few meters away from one of the Echinacea's plots. It caught my attention because it was the only flowering plant within a short distance. The False Sunflower (Heliopsis) is in the same family as the Echinacea (Asteraceae). This was only my second encounter with this plant and I'm certain that it's becoming my favorite plant!
Wednesday was a very successful day of collecting data. We've spent the past few days squatting and crawling through 2 feet tall grass searching for juvenile Echinacea plants that could range anywhere from 1 cm to 21 cm. In the midst of the searching, I was visited by this butterfly. It looks to me like a Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus). A visit from this lad was much more pleasant than that of the mosquitoes!