I swear I've never seen anything like it in Wisconsin. When I showed up at the ranger station for the wildflower walk and Ranger Don said we were going to look for Lady Slippers, this is not the habitat I was expecting.
There were a few kids in our group
Scuppernong Prairie is a wet mesic prairie and is the largest of its kind west of the Mississippi River.
Controlled burns and brush cutting have opened up the landscape and many native plants have reasserted themselves.
Want to know how to get there? I don't blame you. I know I'll be going back as the seasons change to see what's growing. Here's a map.
When you go wear long pants, not to deter ticks, but because of that brush cutting I mentioned. There is a lot of hard stalks poking up that were hard to avoid and dug into my legs as I stomped around. The one time I didn't wear pants....
|False Solomon's Seal|
I'm sure I missed a few varieties, but I did get a pretty good representation of what was blooming.
|Shooting Star - Dodecatheon Meadia|
|Wood Betony or Lousewort|
The Wood Betony and the Plains Wild Indigo were completely new to me, I swear I've never seen either one before. The weren't plentiful, but they made a nice addition to the mix.
|Plains Wild Indigo|
Prairie Smoke wasn't rampant either, but it was nice to see it poking its pretty little head up here and there.
There was a ton of what I think is Golden Alexanders. They stood taller than the other plants and were very eye-catching.
Birds common to the area include Bobolink, Western Meadowlark and Shorteared Owl. My eyes were on the ground so the only bird I saw was a duck...but I'll tell you about that later. I have some video to edit first.
|Carolina Puccoon and Wild Geranium|
The ground was a little damp and squishy, but not really boggy so you can chance it wearing sneakers like I did. I wouldn't wear anything you care about too much, I did accidentally wander into a wetter area and got my socks a little wet. A nice bonus is the Ice Age Trail passes right along this area too, though the trail is hemmed in by a dense stand of trees so you'd have to leave it as it crosses Wilton Road to see the prairie. Parking to explore this area is just haul-over-on-the-side-anywhere-that-looks-good. Use good judgement and try not to damage any habitat!
A list of some of the plants and birds in this State Natural Area can be found here. I also saw a lot of Lady Slippers, but they deserve their own post as well so I'll show you those tomorrow. Tomorrow is my birthday, by the way. I'll be spending it packing the fifth wheel for Door County!