Sunday, July 25, 2010

House on the Prairie

Don't expect a post about cute little girls running across the Midwest. Although, there were cute little girls present when Greater Mohican Audubon had a field trip to a tall grass prairie in Knox County yesterday. We spent a fascinating afternoon learning more about prairie plants and the unique ecosystem they create.

A view from the upper rim of the prairie looking across the woods and home site. This prairie, planted in five sections, was carved out of former farmland and now stands tribute to the landscape of mid-Ohio before the agricultural boom. Guy Denny planted his prairie in stages, creating pockets of flowering forbs within the tall grasses.

Our host, Guy Denny is a gifted naturalist and story-teller, he brings to life the history of the prairie with stories of the plants and the people who lived with the grasslands. He explains how Compass plant, Silphium laciniatum, a native sunflower said to be used as directional aid, orients its leaves North/South to reduce the impact of summer days in the scorching sun.

Our group of nearly 30 listen intently to stories of the prairie plants, as the wind teases the grasses well above our heads.
Prairie comes from the French word for meadow. French explorers were stunned by the sight of these massive "meadows" covering the midwest. Nothing in France could compare to these vast oceans of grass and flowers, and all the life forms contained within. Imagine the astonishing array of biodiversity, from bees to buffalo and everything between.

As storm clouds rolled across the open horizon we surrendered to the awe. This is a land where the whole is "greater than the sum of its parts."
How can one describe a circus by one ride, or a prairie by one plant? Grasses, sunflowers, coneflowers, blazing stars, butterflies, bees and dragonflies in abundance. This was our land before it was rendered to corn and beans.
I'll try to highlight some of the individual features in the next couple posts... as I can't pack all of its beauty and diversity into one.


  1. Great post Cheryl- I got a feel for what Ohio's prairies may have been like when I spent four days camping with the Bison in Yellowstone. It's fairly amazing to think how expansive our prairies were even here in Ohio.

  2. Thanks Tom. Your trip must have been incredibe. But I wonder,did the bison bring their own tents?