All about prairie conservation efforts in Central Illinois

Jul 19, 2010

Updates from Mid July

Updates 7/12/10
This post is compiled by Miriam from conversation with Dave.

On pollinators and food . . .

Pollinators are important! If you haven’t heard about it, the pollinatarium is a bee keepers cottage south of orchard Downs east on Windsor Road. It has mural by Glen Davies. They have a bee hive, you can see the bees wandering around. It’s open on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

This past week was national pollinators week (Check out the national site and the U of I site). There is good reason to be concerned about pollinators since they have a role to play in relation to every food you eat. If you herbicide and pesticide pollinators they have trouble. If you are in California and you want to grow alfalfa, you have to bring in a truckload of bees to do the pollinating because there are no native pollinators.

On prairie restoration philosophies . . .
My prairie preservation is pretty rough and tough because I want to preserve what is left, not to restore.

On language and prairies . . .
If it’s a royal catch-fly, it’s red and stick so that it’s botanical name probably says “I am sticky.” If you are a specialist, you don’t talk about New Jersey Tea you talk about Ceanothus. But if you are talking to other folks, they think you are talking over them and they get annoyed. So you have to be careful. The man I visited at the nursery said the same thing. He used to use common names but now uses the latin names because they are more explanatory but he is still careful because if there are people that don’t understand then they need the direct explanation. This is refering to Bluestem Prairie Nursery (Ken Schaal is the owner), Hillsboro, IL (

On Dave’s visit to southern, IL: the Bluestem Prairie Nursery and the Ballard Center. . .
Ken Scaal is a retired school teacher who bought farm land, put in a pond, a small prairie with a large number of species. His talent has been to teach others, provide prairie seed and note growth patters of the plants. It’s interesting to see how louse-wort can live in one spot until the soil runs out and then it moves. You don’t think of prairie plants being mobile but they are. He knows the tricks of some of these creatures. He knew that one bird nest was a cow-bird nest that replaces one bird’s eggs with their eggs so the other bird is taking care of them. He knows about different plant charactersistics – they might need gravel, they might need clay, bulrush needs to live in water, hibiscus likes to be damp. He gave us a program for WEFT.
Then we went to the Ballard Center, run by a man that owned a farm that also had an excellent forest. So they built a nature center and invited interpreters who are professionals who will make displays and other activities for kids and other adults. There is a bird blind so you sit in the woods in a little shed so it can rain on you but you can see the prairie chickens dancing, and other things, but they can’t see you. Like the people who hunt pheasants and run around holding trees, or they stand up behind a tree and put their hands up so they look like branches in order to blend in.

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