Partridge Pea, a common prairie wildflower is one of the first plants to mature and bloom.

Pulling back the foxtail reveals tiny prairie seedings. We found wild bergamot, black-eyed Susan, false sunflower and a handful of other species.

Diary of a Restoration

6th Installment, August 15, 2003

Judging from the picture above, the Illinois Raptor Center's prairie reconstruction looks like a patch of weeds.

Believe it or not, that's normal for the early stages. Prairie plants spend their energy putting down deep root systems, and many take up to five years to mature and flower.

Shortly after these pictures were taken, the field was mowed (at the mower's highest setting) to keep the weeds from shading tiny prairie seedlings growing near the ground.

Some signs of the prairie to come have been evident, and these pictures show a few of the species we've identified. One of the most beautiful is side oats grama grass which has brilliant red, but tiny, flowers. Side oats gets its name because the seeds hang off the stem to one side after they mature.

A fall burn is scheduled for late October or early November. It is our hope to burn the prairie, the valley and some of the wooded areas if the weather cooperates. LaGesse and Associates, an ecological restoration firm will conduct our burns.

Low-intensity burns of the forest floor will help control brush and encourage growth of spring wildflowers.

Purple prairie clover gets a start on life.

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