Sunday, October 27, 2013

Glenn Road Prairie Wildflowers Threatened by Sidewalk Requirement

These are but a few of the 111 native species threatened by a sidewalk requirement in eastern Durham, NC. There are no pedestrians in this rural area, and no prospect for any in the future. These photos are being posted as part of an effort to either avoid construction of a "sidewalk to nowhere" or route the sidewalk around this unusually rich remnant of rare piedmont prairie habitat.

The leather flower clematis (Clematis ochroleuca) is one of the rarer wildflowers found at the Glenn Road prairie remnant, in Durham, NC. This is one of many native wildflower species there that is found nowhere else in Durham's Ellerbe Creek watershed. The boulder in the photo is evidence of the diabase rock from which this prairie's special soil was formed.
The seed pods of the leatherflower clematis look like this. Unlike the clematis commonly found in gardens, this species does not climb but instead stands erect, about two feet tall, and produces one flower per stem.
Here is a close-up of a very small aster, whose identity remains a mystery.
The monarch butterfly depends on the presence of milkweed in the landscape to feed its young. The Glenn Road prairie has four species of milkweed, including this butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa). A well-established plant can be very showy, producing a large disk of these long-lasting orange flowers.
Wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) is another Glenn Road prairie wildflower that puts on a sustained display.
Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) grows in the woods behind the prairie.

Dwarf hawthorn (Crataegus uniflora) is another native species found nowhere else in the Ellerbe watershed. In fact, in all my decades of botanizing, I had never seen it before. There are two additional species of hawthorn at the Glenn Road prairie remnant--parsley hawthorn and another species as yet unidentified.

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