I use several indicators to assess my progress in enhancing conditions for the survival of rare and unusual plant or animal species found at Blue Jay Barrens. One that is easy to see at this time of year is the presence of uncommon plant species growing in locations from which they had previously been absent. Getting a plant species to increase its numbers in an established population is easy compared to the task of having a species successfully compete for space in a new location. Bluehearts, Buchnera americana, a species listed as Threatened in Ohio, has managed to establish growing colonies in a couple of new places.
This is the site of about 20 Bluehearts plants growing in the center of what I call the Far Field. This site differs from the other Bluehearts sites by being low pH soil formed over shale, rather than high pH soil formed over limestone.
The other incursion of Bluehearts has occurred in the largest of the old cropland fields. This population is currently contained within an area of about ¼ acre, but it is on the move and has the potential to eventually cover most of the field.
I am particularly impressed by the plant density in this area. It is normally difficult to see individual plants in broad field shots like this. In this case, there are so many plants crowded together that they are easily seen.
Closer shots bring a veritable bouquet into frame.
Pollinators, like this Hummingbird Clearwing moth, that are typically attracted to large concentrations of flowering plants, have even found the patch worth their attention.
Scaly Blazing Star, Liatris squarrosa, listed as Potentially Threatened in Ohio, has also managed to expand its range.
Scaly Blazing Star was originally confined to a small collection of plants within about 25 feet of the cedar stump. During the past 30 years, additional plants have about doubled the size of the patch.
Now there are new plants occurring out in the open field. These are about 150 feet from the original site. This increase in plant populations is not the result of seedling transplants or distribution of collected seed. The plants have expanded their range because nearby sites have been made suitable for the growth of these species. I take that as an indication that some of my management techniques are providing positive results.