All signs of the prescribed burn we did on the prairie a month ago are gone. With each rain, each wind, each day that passes, the burn is less visible. In fact, only a few blackened stalks remain. New green growth rules. But each plant is discrete. This early in the season, patches of the ground are clear.
As I walk the prairie now, it’s encouraging to see now-familiar plants emerging–coneflowers, asters, cup plant, blackeyed Susans. And my favorite from last year–rattlesnake master–is there, too.
But the prairie is full of surprises. The first blooms of spring aren’t any of the plants I recognize. Instead, the first bloom is an entirely new plant to me. Golden Alexanders.
When I first saw them, I feared we had an infestation of wild parsnip–a plant that is noxious and actually dangerous if you get the sap on your skin. But I took my trusty prairie wildflower book to the prairie and made a positive identification. Leaves and flower formations all confirm these plants as Golden Alexanders, a member of the parsley family.
My book notes that early pioneers thought the plant would cure syphilis. One has to wonder how they may have come to this conclusion?!?
Another new resident in the prairie this year is a bluebird. We put a bluebird house at the edge of the prairie last year, but too late to attract anyone interested in nesting. This year, a bluebird moved in right away. When I walked by the birdhouse, thinking I’d take a peek inside to see if anyone had taken up residence, the mama came flying out. I quickly walked away. Now that I know she’s nesting, I’ll give her a wider berth.
The prairie is an endless source of learning and surprise. I’m glad it’s spring in the prairie yet again.