Savanna Pioneers

by Carl Strang

I went up to the former friary site at Mayslake Forest Preserve on Monday, and found something new.

One of four recently planted bur oak trees.

The small trees at first glance seemed lost in the expanse of the site, separated as they were by distances of about 50 yards. This is, however, an appropriate spacing for a savanna, and even if no other trees were to grow there, when full grown these trees would look just right with prairie plants growing between them.

That condition will not be met, however. As I have mentioned in the past, the woodland at the north edge of the site is ready to send acorns and other propagules south, and with the aid of squirrels soon will expand into the open space. I am glad to see that the decision has been made to acknowledge and support that process through the planting of these four pioneers.

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