Sometimes we wait

By Bill Kleiman

Recently I wrote how it could be a good thing to use a tractor applied boom spray across a failed restoration to return it to grass. But there is the other way too, waiting. Fourteen years ago we sprayed glyphosate (Roundup) on a fallow cattle pasture that was mostly brome grass and a few weeds. We then seeded with a rich mix of prairie species, mowed it a few times that first year, and then did annual weed work on it year after year. The weed work was not hard, but there was always some to do, mostly sweet clover and parsnip. We saw some native plants established but we looked down on this planting for years because we mostly saw the silly yellow coneflower and bee balm which screams out “prairie planting”.

But slowly this restoration has spiraled upwards. I walked around for 15 minutes today and wrote down 37 native plants and 8 weeds and saw no invasive plants. It is good enough to keep adding seed to and keep up the hand weeding.  Here is a photo of a portion:

meiners uplands photo

Why keep this planting but boom spray another planting to grass only? If the planting is not a weed headache, a time sink, full of invasive legumes that can’t be controlled then using a boom spray may be the right path. Also,is the emerging plant community reasonably diverse and abundant? As with everything, there is no one answer.

Here are the plants I saw in that 15 minute walk with Bernie Buchholz:

Achillea millefolium Yarrow Comp
Anemone cylindrica Thimbleweed Ranan
Apocynum cannabinum Dogbane (Indian Hemp) Apocy
Artemisia ludoviciana gnaphalodes White Sage; Prairie Sage Comp
Asclepias syriaca Common Milkweed Asclp
Asclepias tuberosa interior Butterfly Weed Asclp
Aster ericoides (prostratus) Heath Aster Comp
Astragalus canadensis Canadian Milk Vetch Legu
Baptisia leucantha White Wild Indigo Legu
Bromus inermus Smooth (Hungarian) Brome Grami
Carex bicknellii Copper-shouldered oval Sedge Cypera
Carex muhlenbergii (enervis) Sand Bracted Sedge  (Muhlenberg’s) Cypera
Cirsium discolor Pasture Thistle Comp
Convulvulus arvensis Field Bindweed Convo
Cornus racemosa Gray DoWilhelm Good Corna
Daucus carota Queen Anne’s Lace Umbel
Desmodium illinoense Ill. Tick Trefoil Legu
Echinacea pallida Pale Purple Coneflower Comp
Elymus canadensis Prairie Wild Rye Grami
Erigeron strigosus Daisy Fleabane Comp
Helianthus grosseserratus Sawtooth Sunflower Comp
Helianthus rigidus (laetiflorus) Prairie Sunflower Comp
Heliopsis helianthoides False Sunflower; ” Ox-eye “ Comp
Lespedeza capitata  — Round-headed Bush Clover Legu
Medicago lupulina Black Medic Legu
Mirabilis nyctaginea (oxybaphus) Four O’Clock Nycta
Monarda fistulosa Wild Bergamot Labia
Phleum pratense Timothy Grami
Poa compressa Canada Blue Grass Grami
Pycnanthemum tenuifolium Narrow-leaved Mountain Mint Labia
Ratibida pinnata Yellow  Coneflower Comp
Rhus glabra Smooth Sumac Anaca
Rubus allegheniensis Common Blackberry Rosac
Rudbeckia hirta Black-eyed Susan Comp
Rudbeckia subtomentosa Sweet Blackeyed Susan Comp
Silphium integrifolium Rosinweed Comp
Solidago canadensis Canada Goldenrod Comp
Solidago rigida Stiff Goldenrod Comp
Sorghastrum nutans Indian Grass Grami
Sporobolus asper Rough Dropseed Grami
Sporobolus heterolepis Prairie Dropseed Grami
Tradescantia ohiensis Ohio Spiderwort Comm
Trifolium pratense Red Clover Legu
Verbena stricta Hoary Vervain Verbe
Vitis riparia Wild (Riverbank) Grape Vitac
Zizia aurea Golden Alexanders Umbel

About Grassland Restoration Network blog

Bill Kleiman publishes this blog. Bill's daytime job is manager of Nachusa Grasslands. We are looking for guest authors on various topics of grassland habitat restoration. Contact me with your ideas or drafts.
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2 Responses to Sometimes we wait

  1. tony says:

    Canada goldenrod is not invasive for you?

    • bkleiman2013 says:

      We don’t see Canada goldenrod increasing in our remnants or in our better plantings. In plantings where we did not get an early full cover of native plants I see more C goldenrod.

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