Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Some Rare (and not so rare) Stuff From the Fen

Yesterday was a Bluff Spring Fen workday. In addition to killing lots of lily of the valley, I took the opportunity to view some of the rare plants and animals at the Fen. Some of what I saw was truly rare.

Small White Ladyslipper (Cyprepedium candidum)

Small white ladyslippers are one of the Fen's rarest plant species. They are on the state list of Threatened species. For a number of years they have been decline at the Fen, so it's a pleasure to see them showing something of a resurgence this year.

Prairie Parsley (Polytaenia nuttallii)

Prairie Parsley is rare to the point that it's hard to find even in catalogs of prairie plants and seed. Ours came from seed collected years ago on a railroad prairie near Elgin. This is only the second time it has shown up on our site. It is not quite fully in bloom yet.

Seneca Snakeroot (Polygala senega)

Some of the plants at the Fen are not spectacularly rare, but still qualify as uncommon. This Seneca Snakeroot is from seed gathered at another railroad prairie remnant in Elgin. The seed was collected on the Fourth of July in 1994. It has been blooming at the Fen for about a decade now, and the population is expanding nicely.

Wood Betony (Pedicularis canadensis)

Wood Betony is both uncommon and uncommonly beautiful. I really like the mandala effect provided when I look directly down at the blooming spike.

Southern Dogface (Zerene cesonia)

Some relatively common things are rarely seen at the Fen. Dogface Butterflies are a southern species that only show up at the Fen about one year in five. Apparently 2011 is one of those years. They don't sit still long for photography. I'm really annoyed at that one blade of grass.

Baltimore Checkerspot Chrysalis (Euphydryas phaeton)

Baltimore Checkerspots are a fairly common species at the Fen. It's not unusual to be able to encounter several dozen on an hour monitoring transect. It's very unusual to find a chrysalis, however. Leon found this one on a skunk cabbage leaf.

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

Pearl Crescents aren't rare at all. I don't care. It's always good to see them, and I was happy with the photo.

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At 17:03, Blogger R.Powers said...

Nice shots Doug!
That Pearl C. is a beauty.

At 00:01, Blogger Ur-spo said...

Pretty photos, indeed.

What is the matter with lily of the valley?

At 00:07, Blogger wcs said...

Lovely. Is prairie parsley edible? Not that you would eat an endangered plant, but still... I wonder.

At 07:55, Blogger Doug Taron said...

FC- Thanks.

Spo- Lily of the valley is an extremely aggressive non-native plant that has already done a lot of damage in our woodlands.

Walt- I don't know if it's edible or not. I wouldn't try to experiment on it. Even though that plant family contains a lot of well-known food plants, there are also a lot of toxic species. Hemlock, for instance.

At 18:33, Blogger Adam Ussishkin said...

Wow, such incredible finds - way to go!

At 09:36, Anonymous bug_girl said...

Oh, I love that betony photo!!


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