Curtis Prairie Walk

SUNDAY, JUNE 10, 2012

I encourage you to come and enjoy the show on the prairie in front of the visitor center. White Wild Indigo (Baptisia alba) is in full bloom! Above the lush “sea” of green, white pea-shaped flowers on one to two-foot spires or racemes make for a breath taking scene. Look closely for movements, not only bumblebees (ten native species were observed in the Arboretum last year) but also ruby-throated humming birds visit the flowers for nectar. This 26 year old prairie was burned in the spring and fire encouraged the Baptisia to flourish. The native grasses are thick and very few shrubs can be seen.
Most of our 77 year old Curtis prairie was not burned and unfortunately native Gray Dogwood and other shrubs dominate the prairie landscape. As a result, there are not many forbs or flowering plants in bloom. However, here and there, one can find wild rose, the beard tongue or penstemon, hairy vetch, yarrow and fleabane in bloom.
And so, I began our Sunday tour featuring Curtis prairie with a brief walk around the native prairie garden to identify and display of pretty flowers, thanks to Susan Carpenter and her volunteers. The list includes prairie and lance-leaved coreopsis, harebell, Canada anemone, an abundance of common and also butterfly milkweed, one lupine, wild petunia, cut-leaf compass plant, prairie phlox, ox-eye, wild quinine, rose, columbine, tall cinqfoil, alumroot, black-eyed susan, hoary vervain, Canadian tick-trefoil, prickly pear cactus and white and purple prairie clover almost in bloom.
We continued our walk past the snowy baptisia and along the fireline through the savanna to the limestone prairie near Curtis pond. (A4, A5, A3, B3-B7) There we had a good opportunity to view many beautiful pale purple coneflowers and more baptisia. Also in bloom were a few flowering spurge and northern bedstraw.
As we headed back to the parking lot, the temperature reached 84 degrees but the humidity was only 34% and a very strong breeze kept us quite comfortable despite the heat of the sun.
I must share the following exciting news. Saturday while I was checking the boxes along our 24 year old bluebird trail, I heard what I thought sounded like an indigo bunting. Earlier that morning Mike McDowell called me and said a yellow-throated warbler has been seen and heard in the pinetum. My indigo bunting was a yellow-throated warbler! What a thrill to see that feathered beauty in the Arboretum. It is considered a rare bird in this area. Later in Wingra woods near mi, I saw and heard a hooded warbler thinks to chuck n. and another friend. And I am excited to report the bluebirds are having a good season so far. Twenty-three young have fledged. There are five one-week old birds, five eggs, and two new nests. I hope to give you more good updates.
The Arboretum has much to offer. Visit often and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. It is a wonderful place!

Sylvia Marek

Located between Lake Wingra and the West Beltline Highway at 1207 Seminole Highway, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum features the restored prairies, forests and wetlands of pre-settlement Wisconsin. This 1,260-acre arboretum also houses flowering trees, shrubs and a world-famous lilac collection. Educational tours for groups and the general public, science and nature-based classes for all ages and abilities, and a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for groups, families and individuals are available.