Sunday, June 23, 2013

Plant Survey Results for 2013

A view of trees near the pond.

Living on the property this year has allowed ongoing plant surveys to determine existing field and woodland flora. This list will become more complete as the year progresses. As the 40-acres are, without seeding or planting, the following plants have been identified:

Milkweed, green and butterflyweed
Thistle, variety unknown. Color: white or silver
Horse Nettle
Prickly Pear
Blackberry, possibly sawtooth
Poison Ivy
Scurfy Pea
Honeysuckle, probably Japanese
Virginia Creeper
Wild Grape
Meadow Violet
Giant Ragweed
Pepper Grass
Buffalo Grass
Bermuda Grass
Western Wheatgrass
Johnson Grass
Indian Grass
Big Bluestem
Little Bluestem
Canadian Wild Rye, Virginia Rye, and/or Little Barley
Yellow Wood Sorrel
White Clover
Wild Oat, variety unknown
Very large bearded grain, possibly escaped rye
Curly dock
Horseweed/Mare's tail

Lamb's Quarters
Black-Eyed Susan
Indian Paintbrush
Wild Rose
Ohio Spiderwort
False Indigo
Escaped Ligustrum
Prairie Acacia
Winged Sumac
Small Willow
Eastern Redcedar
Red Mulberry
Black Hickory
Blackjack Oak
Post Oak
American Persimmon
Sand Plum/Chickasaw Plum
Something that looks like Queen Anne's lace, hemlock, or wild parsley
There's a bit of Poke Sallet around, but not much

This is not all that is there, just all I can identify. As more plants flower, the list will grow. This property has very different plants from three surrounding properties, this one having been left more or less undisturbed since possibly the Dustbowl. Many of the plants on this list are natives to Oklahoma. Incidentally, a fair number of plants on this list are toxic to livestock, including Blackjack oak, which (together with invasive Eastern Redcedar) comprises the majority of the tree canopy in the woodland and copses. This property is in the Northern Crosstimbers Ecoregion.

June 2013, 2013:

A clumping grass, which I think is Switchgrass, is growing in a wide swath on the North of the property. It currently makes a smoky looking area from the seed heads above the plants, but I do not know if this is recent seed production, or if this growth is leftover from last year. Will monitor. What appears to be Little Bluestem is growing over much of the property, especially about five acres to the East. The seed heads are stripped, so I will monitor through the summer to hopefully make a positive identification. Both grasses are currently doing well, though isolated clumps of Switchgrass on the most marginal soil seem to be turning gray or brown. A thin grass which I believe was Buffalo Grass has mostly disappeared for the year already. It grows in a very small, isolated area in the North/Central section.

A very large area in the Central pasture area is very marginal in quality, and had a flush of widespread but thin grassy growth that never got higher than about three inches. The growth thinned and browned a couple of weeks ago when the temps started staying above 90. The area has since flushed again with an unidentified herbaceous-looking plant, also very short (turned out to be Poorjoe.) It also grows a fair amount of prairie acacia, a nitrogen fixer which grows on very poor soils.

Blackberries in ditches in the North are coming into ripe berries. Larger stands in the South remain green. I completely missed plum production on the Sand Plums. I checked last weekend and there was no sign of fruit, including mummies.

August 9, 2013:

The blackberries have been stellar this year. They started producing at the end on June and still have ripening berries on them.

Central Oklahoma has had a particularly wet year this year, and the weather has been pretty mild for the summers I've seen since I moved here in 2007. The most naturally marginal soils in the couple of acres that surround "deer thunderdome" have started growing up Diodia teres, also called buttonweed or Poorjoe. Most of the top growth on the pasture usually turns a crispy brown by August, so this is the first time we've actually seen that particular area get enough moisture to get an herbaceous summer growth. Poorjoe is an symptom of poor soils, as is the bitterweed that we have seen around the majorly compacted building site areas. Because the rains are allowing this late summer growth, we have seen whole fields (while traveling) growing a monoculture of bitterweed, specifically in overgrazed pastures that would normally just look like dirt at this time of year. For some reason, the Johnsongrass also seems to be totally out of control this year in ditches and pastures that we've seen from the view of the car. I can at least say that we have had a very small amount of Johnsongrass, which I think I learned in school maybe causes Prussic acid poisoning in animals.

I bought wheat and clover seed today, and the rain has been atypically great this year, so I will be planting next week - rain predicted throughout the week. We are particularly excited about the herbaceous residues that will be left this year after the winter kill - most years we don't get this much organic material naturally added to the soil around here. (In this part of Oklahoma, I think we already got our average annual rainfall of 35 inches by some time in July, and as far as I've found, we've gotten more rain for July and August than any other years reported in the online history of Mesonet.) With any luck, the rains will allow us to get these new seeds in to get a better class of plant growing between our native perennial grasses. The idea is to plant between soaking rains because I will not be using any sort of a seeder, just hand-broadcasting. The seeds won't be covered and the soil won't be plowed - we don't want to cause any damage to the existing grasses.

Did you know that 25# of white clover seed is $160, while 100# of hard red winter seed wheat is only $20?

August 26, 2013:

It hasn't been raining, but apparently there is sufficient moisture for plant growth, as none of our prairie has turned brown yet. There is little to report on the plant front, as the Poorjoe and the perennial native grasses continue to dominate. The 2 acres or so that I mowed with my push mower around the house have seeded and now I know: I HAVE BERMUDA. Gross. Never mow again.

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