Saturday, February 27, 2010

Winter Annuals

Some of the barrens lost their cover of snow yesterday, although they’re probably covered again by now. I took advantage of the opportunity to check on the progress of some of the winter annuals. This mix of Leavenworthia and Draba looks in pretty good shape despite being partially covered by cedar needles deposited by the melt water.

This is a pretty tough place to survive. Rain, snow and rocky ground make it difficult for small plants to survive, but those aren’t all of the challenges.

A deer could mash dozens of these little plants with one step. Fortunately deer don’t have any reason to congregate on the rocky barrens, so the only damage they cause is when they stroll through.

Something made a chipmunk sized hole and scattered dirt in a broad circle. Once covered, the winter annuals will not survive. Disturbed soil on these sites can result in the death of plants, but it is also a way that dormant seeds find their way to the surface to germinate.

The excessive moisture has caused the Nostoc population to explode. It is unlikely that small plants trapped beneath the Nostoc will survive.

Despite the hardships, the plants are looking pretty good so far. There will be more losses before growing conditions stabilize, but there should be plenty of plants left to produce seeds for the next generation.

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