Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rogers Refuge in the Fall

It was a good year for wild rice at Rogers Refuge, down next to the Stony Brook in Princeton. This broad marsh, seen from the observation deck, looks monochromatic this time of year, but actually harbors a great diversity of native wetland species.

The second photo shows the seeds maturing a few at a time, soon to fall off or be grabbed by birds.

Like corn, wild rice is an annual grass that in just a few months can grow twelve feet high from a small seed that sprouts in the mud in shallow water.

The third photo shows towering wild rice stalks, already stripped of seed. Some years are better than others for the wild rice, though 2008 was a banner year, aided by the removal of an acre or two of Phragmitis by the Partners for Fish and Wildlife in 2006.

Providing some bright color at the refuge is Virginia Creeper. Like many other vines, it only blooms and bears seeds when it climbs up a tree.

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