Saturday, June 8, 2013

Success and a new villain

Over the last week or so, I have been collecting Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia parviflora, at the top in the bowl) and Larkspur (Delphinium nuttallianum, the box on the bottom) on my walks to Idaho.  This is an awesome haul, especially the larkspur, which is about five times the amount I've ever been able to collect in one season.  Larkspur seems to dump most of its seed over a 3-4 day period, and I think I must be competing with some animal that finds these seeds very tasty, but this year I was walking every day and caught the plants right as they started dumping their seeds, and came back a couple of days later to catch the end of the ripening seeds.   These are the seed pods that you can see here; the actual seeds are tiny.    

Here is the new villain.  Medusahead grass (Taeniatherum caput-medusae) is an invasive species that is spreading through the Western US, and is a real problem for cattle ranching, since it is inedible to cattle and it aggressively crowds out native plants and desirable grass species.  When the team from the Palouse Conservation District came to check out my prairie earlier this Spring, they found seed heads from medusahead in a few spots, and encouraged me to go after it when it came up.  Just the other day I saw that it had come up in a few places, and so today I mowed every spot where it has shown up.  This ought to work because the seeds have not yet formed and it's an annual grass.  We shall see.   

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