Posts Tagged ‘Harrell Prairie’

A Day in the Prairie – Part II

Yesterday – I began documenting my recent trip to visit prairie remnants in the Bienville National Forest near the town of Forest, Mississippi.

The day began when a fairly large and diverse group of people assembled for a Mississippi Native Plant Society sponsored field trip to see the purple coneflowers in bloom at Harrell Prairie.

We all had a great time following our trip leader Heather Sullivan through the prairie – admiring the flowers and the butterflies.  But… around lunch time the majority of attendees had experienced enough sun, heat, thirst and bug bites.  They headed for some a.c. and cold beverages.

Meanwhile, I fell in with 3 other die-hards and we continued the foray.  My companions were Jennifer Heffner, Toby Gray and Rob Anders.

According to Wikipedia, there are 68 identified prairies in the Bienville National Forest.  Toby had set up research plots in some of them as part of his Master’s Thesis in Landscape Architecture.  He drove us to a few of the sites and we continued our exploration.

We spent most of our time at the largest site which is near Homewood, Mississippi.

The Homewood Prairie has lots of butterfly milkweed.  The southern dogface butterfly sipping nectar here is a common resident of the prairie.   When the wings are open, the markings resemble the outline of a dog’s head.

My most exciting moment of the day was when I came within 6 feet of this nest and flushed out the Mama turkey.  I’m not sure if I shrieked or squealed but I did make some sort of loud sound of alarm!

The narrowleaf mountain mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium) was blooming with purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea) and black eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

I took this picture of  Toby, Jennifer and Rob clustered under a spindly persimmon just to prove that there can be shade in a prairie.

Despite the heat and bug bites, I was delighted to spend the day gawking at wildflowers with these kindred spirits.

A Day in the Prairie – Part I

Two weeks ago I spent the day touring prairie remnants near Forest, Mississippi.

The outing was sponsored by the Mississippi Native Plant Society.  Heather Sullivan, our fearless leader, is a Botanist and Curator of the Herbarium at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.  So.. we were in good hands.

Our primary goal was to visit Harrell Prairie Hill a 160 acre tallgrass prairie preserve to view the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) display.  Harrell Prairie is part of the Jackson Prairie Belt which is a type of Black Belt Prairie.  The site is located in the Bienville National Forest.

I’m going to try something new with this blog post.  It will mostly consist of pictures and captions.

Here our whole group wanders through Harrell Prairie.  The sky always looks so large in a prairie!

We quickly found purple coneflower in bloom along with purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea), white prairie clover (Dalea candida) and yellow prairie coneflower (Ratibida pinnata).

Monty had more fun than anyone.  He paused for a brief moment in the photo above to pose with New Jersey (Ceanothus americanus) tea in full fruit.

Speaking of fruit – I have never seen a deerberry (Vaccinium staminium) with so much fruit.  Every one of these huckleberries that we encountered in the prairie was loaded.  But… unfortunately the fruit was not ripe.

Rosepink (Sabatia angularis) was blooming throughout the prairie.  I hope my Latin name on this one is correct.  At any rate, this plant is a member of the gentian family and is an annual that comes back from seed every year.  It is very delicate in appearance but tough as nails.

I was having such a good time  and finding so many interesting plants that I decided to continue the field trip after the main group headed out in search of ac and cool beverages.  Many might describe them as the “smart ones”.

Luckily I found three other diehards to accompany me.   I will post Part 2 of the Prairie Trip tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

Harrell Prairie

The Harrell Prairie sign in a pool of slender bluestem.

Liatris squarrosa is a type of blazing star or gayfeather.

Last weekend on the way home from the Mississippi Native Plant Society Meeting my friend Peter Loos and I decided to stop off and take a look at Harrell Prairie.

We were inspired to make our visit because Fall is a lovely time to be in a prairie.

We were fortunate to be there at sunset.

Harrell Prairie is a Jackson Prairie formation.  It is a disjunct of  Black Belt Prairie which means it is very similar but not located nearby.

Harrell Prairie Botanical Area or Harrell Prairie Hill is a 160 acres tallgrass prairie remnant.

Here is Pete roaming around in the prairie.

It is located in Bienville National Forest  in Scott County, Mississippi.  It is near I-20 about halfway between Jackson and Meridian in Forest, Mississippi.

After getting off the Interstate, we drove past the fast food joints and turn onto a gravel road.   We cruised about 3 miles and reached the prairie at dusk when the light was perfect.

I have visited Harrell many times.

In spring, I admire the beautiful baptisia and the emerging grasses.

In summer, the butterfly weed, button snakeroot and purple coneflower are delightful.

But in autumn, the grasses rule.

Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans)

Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) has an inflorescence that looks like a turkey's foot.

Big Bluestem, Indian Grass and Switchgrass assume their amber fall colors and display their various seedheads.

On Saturday evening, the wind was blowing and the grasses were whispering.

The sky was pink and purple when we left for home.

Images from our prairie visit have haunted me all week.


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