Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Plants of Tusculum

Last Sunday's plant inventory walk included some pleasant surprises. Tusculum has 35 some acres of meadows and forest purchased for preservation this year. The plant inventory will be part of the management plan being prepared for the property.

The fields have great potential as habitat for prairie wildflowers. Some are already there. The first photo shows butterflyweed, living up to its name. The flower was also attracting lots of tiny green bees during our visit, which reminded me of a NY Times article about the many kinds of native bees, and how various of them have evolved to favor particular flower shapes.

Particularly suggestive of these fields' potential for dramatic wildflower displays was this gathering of black-eyed susans, with narrow-leaved mountain mint in the background (white). The insect activity in this patch was tremendous.

Mountain mint, common in the fields, also attracts butterflies.

One plant that sent me scrambling for my plant book was this ragged fringed orchis, of which only two were found.

Another fairly rare plant found at Tusculum is green milkweed (not shown).

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