Collecting, Conferencing, and Common Garter Capturing

Another month of seed collecting commenced with us taking the easy way out. Wonderfully, Midewin has their own seed beds which are populated by many desirable species that have the express purpose of being harvested for their seed. There is no searching and scavenging necessary, we can just go up to a plot and take them. Beautiful Bouteloua curtipendula was taken as well as Ceanothus americanus, commonly known as New Jersey Tea. We didn’t even have to follow the vaunted 20 percent rule because these are seed beds, we just eviscerated the whole population that was ready to be collected, but we’ll be back for them, don’t you worry. 

Bouteloua curtipendula
Ceanothus americanus

This month the team took a trip to the great state of Minnesota for the Grassland Restoration Network Annual Conference Extravaganza. All the heavy hitters of the prairie showed up as there was a star studded line up of scientists. We went to many sites that Minnesota Department of Natural Resources manages. Summer sites looked quite nice with a good mix of valuable prairie forbes and characteristic prairie grasses. But other sites they took us too were more of a mess and the discussion people had around these sites was eye opening to the management process of grassland restorations as well as just the scientific method in action. As the name of the group suggests, we did some networking and met some really cool people, such as the gals at Cook County Forest Preserve. Instead of a hotel, which is quite expensive, we decided to camp at a local state park which was fun at night with the beautiful night sky above us but when sleeping the bugs came out to play which was bugging me. But it was an overall wonderful experience to be a part of and I hope to be at the next one! 

There were lots of stars but you had to be there, phones aren’t great at capturing their majesty

By common garter capturing I don’t mean actually abducting the snake, of course not! I mean capturing beautiful moments with the snake like this. This batch of snake surveys produced more snakes than any other. One snake board had three (!) snakes under it which was quite exciting. The snakes also got excited as multiple times they defecated on me, but that is all part of the snake game. They are absolutely beautiful creatures that I am honored to hold anytime I get the opportunity. 

Me kissing a snake

With Plants of Concern, a program under the auspices of the Chicago Botanic Garden, we did some Panax quinquefolius monitoring. A commercially important species, we secretly delved into the forest to find the American Ginseng and count how many existed. More than expected were seen which was quite nice and I also found another animal bone for my collection.

Map) Where Does Ginseng Grow? | HerbSpeak - Your Botany Resource
Panax quinquefolius