Thursday, August 23, 2007

Prairie at Bowman Hills Wildflower Preserve

One of the finest examples of native grassland in the area can be found at the entry to Bowman Hills Wildflower Preserve, along the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. I stopped by last Friday, while driving from Washington Crossing to New Hope, and found it in full bloom. The photo shows Wild Senna, which likes the wetter soils at the bottom of the slope. All the classic prairie grasses can be found here: Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Indian Grass and Switchgrass. The Big Bluestem--the dominant grass of the tallgrass prairies of the midwest--are eight feet high.

In Princeton, the most likely place for future native grasslands to be planted is in the retention basins at local parks. One such project is underway at Farm View Fields, with help from Partners for Fish and Wildlife.

Indian Grass is the most common warm-season prairie grass to be found in the area. It needs sun, so likes areas that are mowed yearly, such as roadsides and right of ways. The anthers give it a golden tint this time of year. Back in pre-colonial times, it would have been munched on by buffalo, whose range once extended to the east coast.

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