Some New Plants

by Carl Strang

The changing seasons have been likened to a kaleidoscope. The perspective they offer on a particular landscape alters with each little turn of the calendar. During the past couple of weeks the opened landscape and changed colors of mid-winter drew my attention to some plants I hadn’t previously noticed in my 3 years at Mayslake. First I found my eye drawn to the persisting leaves of a group of small oaks along the east border of the preserve, just outside the off-leash dog area fence.

The trees appear to have been planted. There is no sign of a parent nearby.

The leaves were different from those of any oak species in the nearby savanna.

They are in the white oak group, lacking bristles, but have wavy edges rather than lobes.

A close look at the undersides of the leaves confirms the species identity.

The fuzzy surface points to swamp white oak.

This is an intermittently wet area, so swamp white oak was a good choice of tree to plant there. The other new plant I noticed as I cut across the savanna ridge one day.

These are the distinctively curled leaves of poverty oat grass.

This grass lives on poor dry soils, and may not even bloom except in rainy years. The patch in the savanna isn’t very big, but this is one species which stands to gain from the recent brush removal work of Conrad Fialkowski, Jacqui Gleason and our other restoration volunteers.

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