After all the playing indoors with pens, it feels so good to get out into the field! Last year the human female very kindly let Loki and me help her with looking for the rare plant she studies. What with one thing and another (mostly being busy and/or sick, as well as coordinating with other botanists), she is late getting back out to the outcrop this year. But here we are, with our eyes open, looking for Prairie False Foxglove.
Look at all the flowers! Fall is apparently a very bloomy season here, drought notwithstanding. I just got out of the car, and I already found this bright-blue dayflower (Commelina erecta.)
They call them that because they only last one day. The human female says they are also known as Widow’s Tears, for the same reason. I don’t think that’s very nice. You can read more about them here.
Loki has also found something blue. This is autumn sage, Salvia azurea. He’s frowning. I suppose it is more beautiful than comfy to sit in.
My next plant is a fall-flowering Obedient Plant. All the others flower in the spring–remember? We saw some in the local woods back in May.
But is the Agalinis here? There are a lot of white flowers, and yellow ones…
… and green ones, and grass, but is the rare plant blooming this year? I remember that they are pink and rather showy, but I’m not seeing ANY, which is a little scary.
The human female has stopped to make some notes about what we aren’t seeing.
Um? What is this right here next to your knee?
This is it, right? This is it! See? Two flowers in bud! Hello, old friend! And look, this one is in full flower.
But wait. Weren’t there hundreds last year? And this year there are only five? That is so sad! What a disappointing year. Maybe it has been too dry? Or maybe there is too much grass, using up all the sun and water and nutrients?
That is a lot of grass. It looks pretty, but the Agalinis doesn’t like to be crowded, and some of it is an invasive, non-native grass. Is there anything we can do?
The human female is saying we need to have a controlled burn* to take care of the leaf litter, woody plants, and excessive grass. We never did get to do it last year. It sounds dangerous, but maybe it’s the right thing to do. It would help the grasses and the other wildflowers too. Now we just need a still, dry day after rain, when we are not under a burn ban.
The human female is sad about her plant. Cheer up. Next year will be better, and I think there’s some rain in the forecast.
* To read about a previous controlled burn and see pictures, you can go here.