Native Grasses

by Carl Strang

We are moving into the second half of summer, and late season prairie grasses are beginning to bloom at Mayslake Forest Preserve. Big bluestem has the tallest stature.

The stems reach above your head.

Another name for this grass is turkey foot.

The spikes radiate like a big bird’s toes.

My favorite among the common prairie grasses is Indian grass.

The beautiful color of the coppery spikelets contrasts with the yellow anthers.

Drier places in the prairie support side-oats grama.

Here the anthers are bright red.

Earlier in the season a grass began to flower that I could not identify. Now, with the seeds well developed, I find that it is an unusual species in DuPage County.

A couple clumps of slender wheat grass, Agropyron trachycaulum, are growing at the very edge of the prairie adjacent to the parking lot. I assume the seed came in with a vehicle.

It is native to the area, but apparently seldom finds suitable soil in DuPage.

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