Valley Prairie

Another agricultural field (4 acres) is on the south side of Pleasant Valley Road, adjacent to the wetland. Because it was essentially in the "valley" of the creek, we designated this Valley Prairie. Although it is predominantly mesic to wet-mesic in character, it rises sharply towards Pleasant Valley Road, and in this area it is dry-mesic in character. The roadcut itself, which we are treating as part of the prairie, has dry prairie character.

This CRP field was treated with glyphosate in May 2002. The herbicide was very effective and by mid-summer the vegetation was all dead and brown. In July (on a very hot day!) we burned the field. After it greened up, it was treated again with glyphosate. In one part of the field, after the first herbicide treatment, a large population of nutsedge (Cyperus spp.) developed. To eliminate this, the second treatment consisted of a mixture of glyphosate and Permit (halosulfuron-methyl; Montsanto), an herbicide effective against this perennial sedge. A third herbicide treatment was carried out in early September.

In addition to herbiciding the field, we also cut all the undesirable shrubs and trees along the roadside. Because the roadcut itself escaped the plow, the roadside was a jumble of invasive woody plants, mixed in with wild parsnip, sweet clover, and other weeds. A few bur oaks that had become established along the roadcut were retained. Removing the woody vegetation permited us to seed the roadbank with dry prairie species.

In November 2002 this field was planted by volunteers with a mixture of over 130 species. Not all species were planted in every part of the field. The field was divided into dry prairie, mesic prairie, and wet prairie areas, and species adapted to each of those habitat types were used.

In 2003 this field, now a fascinating weed patch, was mowed three times. Particular weed problems were wild parsnip, wild carrot (Daucus carota), and mullein. In some areas where good prairie plants were visible, handpulling instead of mowing was used. The roadcut was particular weedy and was mowed with a brush cutter.

In 2004 (second growing season) this field was mowed once in May and after that only hand weeding was done. By mid-summer a lot of very nice prairie plants were visible. Although there were still some major problems, including several areas with large amounts of wild carrot, wild parsnip, and several nonnativeperennial grasses, there was also excellent development of prairie forbs, including several species that thrive in wetter habitats: great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), blue vervain (Verbena hastata), boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), and swamp thistle (Cirsium muticum). Other interesting species that flowered in the second growing season were butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), New England aster (Aster novae-angliae), gaura (Gaura biennis), ox-eye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides), rough and prairie blazing stars (Liatris aspera, L. pycnostachya), prairie cinquefoil (Potentilla arguta), black- and brown-eyed susans (Rudbeckia hirta, R. triloba), stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida), and golden Alexanders (Zizia aureus).

The butterfly milkweed (photo below) was interesting to us, because this was the first location at Pleasant Valley Conservancy that we were able to establish that species. For some reason it is doing very well in the Valley Prairie, with a few flowering plants in the second growing season (2004). By 2006 it was widespread in this prairie (at least 20 separate locations counted). Also in 2006 we had white wild indigo, Baptisia alba, in flower.




Some management problems, and a solution: 2006-2007

This planted prairie has been fun to work with, and has developed a high species diversity. However, the cool season grasses that we had eliminated by herbicide in 2002 had returned by 2006. We decided to use an early-glyphosate spraying technique that had worked well previously. The principle is to spray the field very early in the spring, after the cool season grasses have developed, but before any warm season plants are visible. Glyphosate is the ideal herbicide for this because it acts only on plants that are above ground (anything green will be killed), and has no soil residual. The prairie was burned in late fall, to eliminate all of the prairie thatch. The cool season grasses that develop early the following spring were thus easily visible and timing of spraying could be accurately monitored. Burning in the fall is important because it is often difficult to find the right set of circumstances for early spring burns.

We had a very successful burn on a nice dry day in mid-November. The field sat fallow all winter, and started to green up once the last snow had disappeared in mid March. By the end of March, we had a brief warm spell and the cool season grasses developed rapidly. On March 27, when the plants were 2-4 inches tall, we had the local farm cooperative spray the field (see photo below). Soon after the spraying, the weather turned cold and it was almost two weeks before the cool season grasses were visibly dead (see second photo below). We did not start seeing many prairie plants until the last part of April, after the weather warmed up.

A survey made on April 29 showed that the procedure had been very effective. Virtually all of the cool season grasses were gone, and good prairie plants, both forbs and grasses, were growing profusely all over the field (see the photos below).




The photos below show four species developing among the dead brome grass about one month after the herbicide spraying.




A species check list for 2005 is in the table below. Photographs of most of these species are given in the complete species check list.


Species check list for Valley Prairie, 2008: 148 species
Latin name
Common name
Agastache nepetoides
Yellow giant hyssop
Allium cernuum
Nodding wild onion
Amorpha canescens
Anaphalis margaritacea
Pearly everlasting
Andropogon gerardii
Big bluestem
Anemone canadensis
Meadow anemone
Angelica atropurpurea
Great angelica
Apocynum androsaemifolium
Spreading dogbane
Apocynum sibiricum
Clasping dogbane
Arnoglossum atriplicifolia
Pale Indian plantain
Asclepias syriaca
Common milkweed
Asclepias tuberosa
Butterfly weed
Aster ericoides
Heath aster
Aster laevis
Smooth blue aster
Aster lateriflorus
Calico aster
Aster novae-angliae
New England aster
Aster oolentangiensis
Sky-blue aster
Aster pilosus
Hairy aster
Aster prenanthoides
Crooked aster
Aster puniceus
Red-stemmed aster
Aster sagittifolius
Arrow-leaved aster
Aster sericeus
Silky aster
Astragalus canadensis
Canadian milkvetch
Baptisia alba
White wild indigo
Bouteloua curtipendula
Side oats grama
Brassica sp
Bromus inermis
Smooth brome
Bromus kalmii
Prairie brome
Calamagrostis canadensis
Blue-joint grass
Campanula rapunculoides
European bellflower
Capsella bursa-pastoris
Shepherds purse
Cirsium arvense
Canada thistle
Cirsium discolor
Pasture thistle
Cirsium muticum
Swamp thistle
Cirsium vulgare
Bull thistle
Conyza canadensis
Coreopsis palmata
Prairie tickseed
Dactylis glomerata
Orchard grass
Dalea candida
White prairie clover
Dalea purpureum
Purple prairie clover
Daucus carota
Queen Anne's lace
Desmodium canadense
Showy tick-trefoil
Desmodium glutinosum
Pointed tick-trefoil
Desmodium illinoense
Illinois tick-trefoil
Echinacea pallida
Pale purple coneflower
Elymus canadensis
Canada wild rye
Elymus riparius
Riverbank wild rye
Elymus villosus
Silky wild rye
Elymus virginicus
Virginia wild rye
Elytrigia repens
Erigeron philadelphicus
Marsh fleabane
Erigeron strigosus
Daisy fleabane
Eryngium yuccifolium
Rattlesnake master
Eupatorium altissimum
Tall boneset
Eupatorium maculatum
Spotted joe-pye weed
Eupatorium perfoliatum
Common boneset
Eupatorium rugosum
White snakeroot
Euphorbia corollata
Flowering spurge
Euthamia graminifolia
Grass-leaved goldenrod
Gaura biennis
Biennial gaura
Gentiana alba
Cream gentian
Gentianella quinquefolia
Stiff gentian
Geum canadense
White avens
Hasteola suaveolens
Sweet Indian plantain
Helenium autumnale
Helianthus divaricatus
Woodland sunflower
Helianthus grosseserratus
Saw-tooth sunflower
Helianthus occidentalis
Western sunflower
Helianthus pauciflorus
Prairie sunflower
Heliopsis helianthoides
Ox-eye sunflower
Hippuris vulgaris
Mare's tail
Hypericum pyramidatum
Great St. John's wort
Kuhnia eupatorioides
False boneset
Lactuca canadensis
Tall lettuce
Leonurus cardiaca
Lespedeza capitata
Round-headed bush clover
Leucanthemum vulgare
Ox-eye daisy
Liatris aspera
Rough blazing star
Liatris pycnostachya
Prairie blazing star
Lilium michiganense
Turk's cap lily
Lilium philadelphicum andinum
Prairie lily
Lobelia cardinalis
Cardinal flower
Lobelia siphilitica
Great blue lobelia
Lobelia spicata
Pale spiked lobelia
Medicago sativa
Melilotus alba
White sweet clover
Melilotus officinalis
Yellow sweet clover
Monarda fistulosa
Wild bergamot
Napaea dioica
Glade mallow
Oenothera biennis
Common evening-primrose
Oxalis stricta
Yellow wood-sorrel
Panicum oligosanthes
Few-flowered panic-grass
Parthenium integrifolium
Wild quinine
Pastinaca sativa
Wild parsnip
Pedicularis lanceolata
Penstemon digitalis
Phalaris arundinacea
Reed canary-grass
Phleum pratense
Poa spp
Polygonatum biflorum
Smooth Solomon's seal
Polygonum punctatum
Potentilla argentea
Silvery cinquefoil
Potentilla arguta
Prairie cinquefoil
Potentilla norvegica
Rough cinquefoil
Potentilla recta
Sulfur cinquefoil
Pycnanthemum virginianum
Common mountain mint
Ratibida pinnata
Yellow coneflower
Rosa sp.
Rudbeckia hirta
Black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia laciniata
Cut-leaved coneflower
Rudbeckia triloba
Brown-eyed Susan
Rumex crispus
Curly dock
Rumex orbiculatus
Great water dock
Saponaria officinalis
Bouncing bet
Schizachyrium scoparium
Little bluestem
Setaria faberi
Giant foxtail
Silene spp.
Silphium integrifolium
Silphium laciniatum
Compass plant
Silphium perfoliatum
Cup plant
Silphium terebinthinaceum
Prairie dock
Smilax herbacea
Carrion flower
Solidago canadensis
Common goldenrod
Solidago flexicaulis
Zig-zag goldenrod
Solidago gigantea
Late goldenrod
Solidago juncea
Early goldenrod
Solidago missouriensis
Missouri goldenrod
Solidago nemoralis
Gray goldenrod
Solidago rigida
Stiff goldenrod
Solidago speciosa
Showy goldenrod
Sonchus spp
Sow thistle
Sorghastrum nutans
Indian grass
Spartina pectinata
Prairie cord grass
Stachys palustris
Taraxacum officinale
Common dandelion
Teucrium canadense
Thalictrum dasycarpum
Purple meadow-rue
Tradescantia ohiensis
Common spiderwort
Triosteum perfoliatum
Tinker's weed
Verbascum thapsus
Verbena hastata
Blue vervain
Verbena stricta
Hoary vervain
Verbena urticifolia
White vervain
Vernonia fasciculata
Common ironweed
Veronicastrum virginicum
Culver's root
Viola soraria
Door-yard violet
Viola soraria
Door-yard violet