Friday, May 27, 2011

Yellow Stargrass

It’s nice when a plant responds to your management efforts in such a way that gives confirmation that you are moving in the right direction towards your goal. In the distance is a prairie opening that used to be separated from this wooded area by a thick screen of Eastern Red Cedar. Very little light could penetrate the woods and the area remained relatively bare of plants. My goal here was to create a more gradual transition from full sunlight to heavy shade and provide a broader range of conditions in which different plants could thrive.

This is Yellow Stargrass, Hypoxis hirsuta, and the plant that makes me believe I am getting positive management results. When I began clearing, the Stargrass existed solely as a narrow band along the open side of the cedars. The dry, open slope downhill of the cedars seemed to be too harsh and the wooded area too shady for the Stargrass to grow. The Yellow Stargrass has now successfully spread into the partially shaded woodland area and created an extensive colony.

The bloom appears to have six petals, but the six parts are actually made up of three sepals and three petals which share the same shape and color. In this situation, the parts are often referred to as tepals, much as you would refer to a group of men and women by the single term people. Lilies commonly display this characteristic, which works very well since the Yellow Stargrass is of the Lily Family.

Yellow Stargrass has become the dominant species in the newly created transition zone. There wasn’t much growing here before, so you can’t say that the Stargrass has displaced anything else. It has just been more efficient at utilizing the newly available suitable space.

There’s now Stargrass 50 feet into the woods and it still appears to be spreading. Now I’m curious to see how far it goes and to find out if other plants will begin exploiting that same territory.


  1. Man!Steve, you really have some excellent plants..I had found two varieties of the blue-eyed grass here but seeing a sea of yellow star grass is very cool.Speaking of tepals ! Any chance I might persuade you to look at my blog to help me remember the name of the little leafless plant with just three sepal/tepals? I've forgotten the name and have not had any luck looking it up.

  2. Hi, Michael. I always check out your blog, but my internet connection is so tempermental I rarely leave comments. I can read five or six people's blogs in the time it takes me to leave one comment, so I do a lot of reading and very little commenting. Blogger's giving me trouble now. I can hardly get it to recognize my identity and display it with my comments.

  3. I wish I had that problem!..What? yes ..because that would mean I live a paradise like you have..out in the wild where internet connection is not of the utmost priority! And thanks for the! I'm still laughing at myself over that one.:0.

  4. Hi, Michael. There've been many times I've looked at common plants and been stumped because they looked just a little bit off. I'll probably repeat the event many more times.