Monday, September 12, 2011

Flowering Indiangrass

Things have been out of sync all season at Blue Jay Barrens. Both plants and animals have failed to perform annual events within the normally accepted time limits. Now, several weeks later than normal, Indiangrass has burst into flower.

Indiangrass has wind borne pollen that adds to the aggravation of seasonal allergy sufferers. Spiders trying to maintain their webs in the tall grass have to cope with a continual buildup of pollen on the sticky strands.

Some Indiangrass plants bloomed at their expected time and are now developing seed. In a few places entire patches flowered in unison. In others, only scattered plants produced flowers. This is the opposite of what happened last year at this time when most of the grass had passed flowering and only a few isolated patches and plants were blooming.

I had plans to harvest some Indiangrass seed to help with a local prairie restoration project. The massive delayed bloom means that ripe seed won’t be available as early as I had anticipated. This could be a problem if we have a rainy fall.

It’s nice to have a few mowed trails when the grass gets like this. My off trail excursions through the Indiangrass have left me covered in yellow dust. When it reaches the point where everything I look at is yellow, I know that it’s time to clean off my glasses. This is the way I would expect the grass to look around the third week of August, as it did in 2009.

Sometimes even a mowed path doesn’t help. Tall plants rely on support given by their neighbors in order to remain upright during windy or rainy conditions. Without that support, the tall plants begin to lean. Even a six foot wide path can be quickly blocked.

Migrant dragonflies maintain a constant patrol above the tall grass. It’s not until evening that they come down to roost overnight in the tall grass. Dozens of these Common Green Darners can be seen over the field at any one place.

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