Three Days After the Burn

Wednesday Gary and I went out to the grassland to check on the burn.  We wanted to assess what percentage was actually burned, and what percentage the flames didn’t touch (knapweed).

At first things looked pretty promising.

But then the evidence turned against us.  Here you can see where the fire got the native grasses (which are adapted to fire).  All around them is a charred circle.  Outside that circle:  knapweed.

This red cedar took a hard hit.  While native, this is a successional plant that moves in as old fields start to turn back into forests.  We want to keep the open grassland an open grassland, so the loss of the cedar is not worrisome.

This autumn olive (I didn’t know they had thorns) took a hit as well.  We aren’t sure if the fire was hot enough to kill it, though, so it will bear some watching.  We may have to come back and cut it, then treat with herbicide.

Once we worked our way out into the field, the evidence of spotted knapweed was overwhelming.  Just look at it all!  At first glad I’d have said 60-70% of the area was successfully burned.  Now we are thinking it is less than 50%.

These tiny wee mosses did okay, though.  I believe this is one of the Polytrichum mosses, and the brown cup-like structures are the splash cups (technically called perigonia).  The splash cups contain the sperm, and when rain splashes into them, the sperm are splashed out and then must swim their way through the water clinging to the plant to find receptive female parts.

We also found these lovely ground nests.  Ants or bees?  I’m thinking they are a ground-nesting bee.  I’ve sent the photo off to for their expert opinion.  It’d be very exciting if they are ground bees, like Adrena, because these are useful native pollinators.

The weather has turned cold and wet now, so there won’t be new growth sprouting quickly any time soon.  Still, I hope to keep checking the burn to see how quickly things green up.

You can come out and follow-up on this on your own!  Stop in and let us know what you fine.


About Dahlem Center

The Dahlem Center is a non-profit nature center/environmental education center located on almost 300 acres just south of the city of Jackson, Michigan. The Center is one arm of the Dahlem Conservancy, which includes land conservancy and stewardship in its mission.
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