prairie phenology, Obama goes native, Chris Reid prairie presentation-video, gaga for Milkweeds…

In prairie, a picture doesn’t speak a thousand words. You have to get out in it to see a prairie first hand to really begin to try to grasp it. Its like trying to describe the vastness of the scenery from a 14000 footer in the rockies with a picture. It doesn’t cut the mustard, as my Dad used to say. Of the many aspects of Malcolm Vidrine’s book The Cajun Prairie: A Natural History, the phenology chart is one of my favorite graphics for conveying the sequenced abundance of the prairie.

Prairie phenolgy describes what transpires florally through the season and in this case, the Cajun Prairie, the Coastal Prairie of southwestern Louisiana. Every month that passes changes the landscape. This listing of 170 species is about half of the 350+ herbaceous species in the Cajun Prairie that have Coefficients of Conservatism, 4 or higher.   fact: Cajun Prairie is one of the most diverse of all prairie grass systems in North America.


IMG_3449 IMG_3450

click photo to enlarge the image

…” as the seasons advance, the panorama of the landscape varies to an extent that is almost kaleidescopic in character…”   John E. Weaver  (amazing prairie dude)

succession chart-1

above: a “succession through the season” interpretive graphic produced by the design team of Roy Dufreche, Adam Perkins, Margaret Wilkinson, and myself for the one-acre prairie/savanna garden at Chapapeela Sports Park in Hammond. Louisiana.

For more on Coefficients of Conservatism, see the link below:

Also, check out the presidential memorandum on native plants and pollinators for federal building projects. saweet!

See an amazingly solid presentation by State botanist Christopher Reid on the interest in conserving new discovered and superbly awesome prairie lands that are in private hands. The presentation was at the State of the Prairie Conference held by the Coastal Prairie Partnership (Louisiana and Texas). It is well worth a sit-down listen.  link-up!

Dr. Mac Vidrine, Milkweed Master.


above: Malcolm guides a group of Louisiana Master Naturalist students through his front-yard plant breeding nursery, Eunice Louisiana, June 2014

If you are a fan of Monarchs and butterflies in general, and you haven’t yet seen the newsletter from the spring of this year from the Cajun Prairie Habitat Preservation Society, you might want to check it out since it is full of good stuff, lots to do with Monarchs and Milkweeds. Dr. Allen and Dr. Vidrine both wrote an article worthy of study. linkarama…

Click to access 201403.pdf

Malcolm has devised some neat ways to counter the mortality rate of nursery grown milkweeds as they transition into the landscape.


Mac Vidrine’s hand adds scale to the fruiting Asclepias tuberosa, Orange Milkweed, in his garden, hidden snugly amongst the Little Bluestem grass. August 2014


above: yearling Tuberosa Milkweeds. Dr. Vidrine starts his seed in peat pots and then transplants them into ten gallon sized nursery containers for the entire first growing season. You can just barely make-out the peat pots here in this image. After a year in the pots, he carefully removes the rootball-soil, he slides the entire rootmass from the pots and then plants it halfway into the prairie garden soil, as a single unit. The upper part of the rootball is left above ground so isn’t susceptible to rot. This leaves half of the rootball above ground, allowing the plants to become fully established during the second year.


an Asclepias perennis crop coming on…


above: a crop of Asclepias verticilata


the very sharp Mac “the Knife” Vidrine surveying his milkweed-permaculture extravaganza


the prairie dudes, circa 2001-2, me on far left, Charles Allen, Peter Loos, Bill Fontenot, Malcolm Vidrine, Larry Allain


this is me after several years, showing the detrimental effects resulting from a chronic interest in diverse natural prairie.  🙂



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