Public Tour – Grady Oak SavannaSUNDAY, JUNE 30, 2013
Our tour began by walking along the path parallel to Seminole Highway, toward the V1 trail marker, where I pointed out a large decaying stump. Often overlooked, these mini-ecosystems harbor a diversity of insects and microbial organisms, working diligently to return plant-available nutrients to the soil environment. Without these communities, it would be nearly impossible for us to walk through all the woody debris that would accumulate over the years and difficult for plants to acquire enough sunlight to grow from underneath it. On the day prior, I noticed this same stump on my scouting walk and at that time, there was what appeared to be the dried out slime-mold and about 19 (I actually counted them) slugs crawling around the mold, on top of, or on their way towards it. Usually slime molds invoke a more negative response! Unfortunately, there was not much activity visible at the stump during the tour.
Shortly after turning east toward marker X2, we saw two Asclepias species on either side of the trail, making an opportune view for comparisons. On one side of the fire-lane sat the butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa),
Although we could not access the interior trails of Greene Prairie due to high rainfall amounts over the past week, we did use the opportunity to talk a little about the differences in history and impacts of this prairie in contrast to Curtis Prairie. We reviewed how to identify the white oak (round lobes) and red oak (pointed lobes) families and located a bur oak acorn with its distinctive fringed cup.
It was an excellent day to spend a little time in West Grady Knoll. Cool season grasses were evident, such as needlegrass
Just as we exited the intersection marked Y2 and rounded the bend towards Grady Forest, someone noticed another milkweed on the edge of the trail. We looked it up in our field guides and determined it to be clasping or prairie milkweed (A. amplexicaulis)
Overall, a successful gaze at Grady Knoll’s mid-summer offerings.
Amy Jo Dusick