Saturday, June 30, 2018

Heartbreaking Herbivory of an Endangered Species

Two weekends ago - I ventured into a tick-ridden tallgrass prairie habitat that I had previously found three flowers of Fringed Prairie Orchid. Last year, I had found them a little past their ideal flowering stage [click here to see last year's posting], and I made a note of returning this year a little earlier to photograph them in their peak freshness.

So on my first visit, I walked around and only found one Eastern Fringed Prairie Orchid - but it was in a pre-blooming stage (see photo above). The flowers had not emerged.  I figured I would wait about a week and go back. Unfortunately, I went back this week and had a hard time finding the orchid from the previous weekend.  I knew something was wrong when I couldn't "see" the orchid in its expected spot. 

I think this plant might have been victim to herbivory - the act of a plant being eaten by animals. There were deer and racoon tracks around the area. Its disheartening to see herbavory and phragmites infestation take place in this habitat.  Hopefully, this plant gets a better chance next year if its roots stay intact. 

I've included a few other photographs from that habitat which was being taken over by Phragmites. Collicroot and some unidentified sedges and rushes that were noted.

Good botanizing!

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