Back to the Friary Site

by Carl Strang

Recently I went back up to the site of the former friary at Mayslake Forest Preserve. Late last year abundant, lawn-like grasses had sprouted abundantly around the edges, and I was curious as to what they might be.

They looked like this in the autumn.

They had indeed grown tall and begun to flower.

The site looked like this on May 29.

I hadn’t really expected them to be prairie grasses. They proved to be a soil-holding temporary fill-in, the Italian rye grass.

This is a taller, coarser relative of the smaller rye grass commonly included in lawn mixes.

Otherwise, the area continues to be dominated by weeds. One that is a personal guilty pleasure is the squirrel-tail grass.

Yes, it is a weed, but I think it’s beautiful. Also it has a bouncy name: Hordeum jubatum. Jubilation is a word that comes to mind when the wind combs this grass.

I look forward to the eventual incursion of prairie and savanna plants.

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