showin’ the love for the praealtus

Occasionally, in this neck of the woods, you’ll see an old field with two dominant species of wild flowers in full flower, this time of year: Canada Goldenrod and Aster praealtus, both are really common.

I am glad to say that I am the proud owner of such a field.

Much of the prairie gardens at my farm were planted in an old cow field, mostly covered in Bahia grass but with lots of the Goldenrod and Aster mixed in. In some of the gardens, the Bahia, Golderod and Aster have actually been pushed out through pressure from prairie succession, the  prairie’s natural ability to compete. But in many of the plots, where I didn’t use grass seed, the prairie pressure wasn’t enough competition and the Goldenrod and Aster have persisted and have done just fine, much to the delight of the many species insects that seem to thoroughly enjoy gathering the nectar and pollen, or whatever it is they gather, when fall comes to south Mississippi.

“Aster praealtus blooms the third week of October, just when the Monarchs are passing through”   Malcolm Vidrine 2014

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Aster Praealtus, in lavender purple color, above, is a demure thing, not particularly well known in horticultural circles but a fantastic eco-plant.

Aster laevis video with bugs and a Variegated Fritillary butterfly (I think its a Variegated).

Normally, the Golderod is two or three weeks ahead of the Aster, in flowering time, phenology. But I burned this particular 3 acre patch on July 18th and the two are blooming in sequence together now as a result of that burn.

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burned in July, with fifteen year old Long Leaf Pines

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the pines = el fab!

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Goldenrod glory is, too. Is there a more beautiful flowering plant? click the photo to enlarge…

Here is the Goldenrod in living color with lots of buzzy, busy bugs.

 

COOL GRASSES – I brake for Bluestems (etc.)!

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above, Little Bluestem grass, a one-year old seedling

 

Bluestem seed gathering by hand, below

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Bluestem looks good even on gloomy days when its rainy and the sun doesn’t shine

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a cool native lawn that I did with seed of the grass, Sporoblus junceus, here on a soggy day, in fruit

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Split-Beard Bluestem is an obvious thing. When you know it, you can spot it a hundred feet away. Silvery-white inflorescences are an easy-peasy ID.

more critters

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Lots of Fritillary caterpillars at the farm, and Butterflies, too. There were sulfurs and Gulf Fritillaries, Variegated Fritillaries, and many many Monarchs. I was there from 7:00 in the morning to 6:00 in the evening and it was in the hundreds of butterflies for the day for me and I wasn’t even paying that close attention, I was a-workin’!  🙂

monarch intoxicated by aster praealtus, video from el Farm

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above, seed wrapped and ready for the ride to storage. All day the Fritillaries were landing on the Bluestem seed, seeming to like it even after it was harvested. They must have smelled something on it…. hmmm. They were all over the stuff.

Cajun Prairie birdees

Was in Cameron Parish collecting in an amazing Bluestem prairie before that crazy Pacific hurricane rolled in last week and shot this video of birds I have seen in this same open-field condition before. They were enjoying the machine’s stirring of vegetation which I think brought out the critters they were feeding on. They followed me around the field for hours. black with blue and white markings, very pretty.

Maybe they were after the Mosquito hawks-dragon flies whose numbers seemed as great as the birds. or maybe it was the mosquitos which were great in number, too!

youch!

 

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