Aster Prairie

This is a long narrow prairie area on a steeply sloped south-facing hillside along the bottom of a hill. Above it is a thick aspen woods, below is a road that runs along the bottom of the valley. The prairie has never been plowed, and a few years ago it was planted with rows of pine trees. The trees are still quite small – just a few feet tall.

The prairie area is about half a mile long and has several different kinds of areas. Some areas have mesic prairie vegetation, dominated by Big Bluestem with prairie flowers scattered through the grass. Other areas have almost no grasses, and have a thick growth of mostly asters and goldenrods.

This is one of the areas with lots of asters and goldenrod but almost no grasses.

Here’s the list of plants I found:
Ambrosia psilostachya – Western Ragweed
Amorpha canescens – Leadplant
Andropogon gerardii – Big bluestem
Anemone cylindrical – Thimbleweed
Apios americana – Common Groundnut
Aromatic Aster – Aster oblongifolius
Asclepias verticillata – Whorled Milkweed
Aster ericoides – Heath Aster
Aster oolentangiensis – Azure Aster
Bouteloua curtipendula – Side Oats Grama
Cirsium discolor – Field Thistle
Dalea candida – White Prairie Clover
Desmodium canadensis – Canada Tick-trefoil
Eragrostis spectabilis – Purple Lovegrass
Euphorbia corollata – Flowering Spurge
Fragrant Cudweed – Gnaphalium obtusifolium
Helianthus sp. – Sunflowers
Hypericum pyramidatum – Giant St. John’s-wort
Kuhnia eupatorioides – False Boneset
Lespedeza capitata – Round-headed Bush Clover
Liatris aspera – Rough Blazing Star
Monarda fistulosa – Bergamot
Pycnanthemum virginicum – Mountain Mint
Ratibida pinnata – Yellow Coneflower
Rubus flagellaris – Dewberry
Solidago canadensis – Canada Goldenrod
Solidago missouriensis – Missouri Goldenrod
Solidago rigida – Stiff goldenrod
Solidago speciosa – Showy Goldenrod
Vernonia fasciculate – Ironweed

I also saw many butterflies and other insects on the flowers. This is an Eastern-tailed Blue on Round-headed Bush Clover.

These plants grow under the aspen trees just above the prairie:
Ambrosia pilostachya – Western Ragweed
Antennaria plantaginifolia – Plantain Pussytoes
Asclepias verticillata – Whorled Milkweed
Aster lateriflorus – Calico Aster
Bouteloua curtipendula – Side-oats Grama
Bromus kalmii – Prairie Brome
Celtis occidentalis – Hackberry
Cornus racemosa – Gray Dogwood
Desmodium canadense – Canada Tick-trefoil
Eragrostis spectabilis – Purple Lovegrass
Fraxinus pennsylvanica – Green Ash
Hieracium kalmii – Canada Hawkweed
Monarda fistulosa – Bergamot
Prunus serotina – Black Cherry
Pycnanthemum virginianum – Mountain Mint
Quercus macrocarpa – Bur Oak
Quercus sp. – Red/Black Oaks
Rhus sp. – Sumac
Solidago canadensis – Canada Goldenrod
Solidago speciosa – Showy Goldenrod
Verbena urticifolia – White Vervain
Zanthoxylum americanum – Prickly Ash

Update – 3/2009

Unfortunately, our friends sold this land, and a few years ago about half of Aster Prairie was plowed and planted with corn.