This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


I took a stroll through the so-called wetlands north of the high school recently and found a plant that I did not know. (There are lots of those, but when they have striking flowers, I for some reason want to identify them.) I think it is ironweed, probably smooth ironweed rather than tall ironweed. It has a pretty flower, but apparently is not considered a desirable plant in pastures because livestock does not like it.
Below is what it looks like from a distance. It is like so many prairie plants--a tall stalk with narrow, pointy leaves and flowers at the top. It must be a good design because so many plants use it.
The most common flower in this attempt to restore some prairie is wild carrot or Queen Anne's Lace. It is not a native plant by an escapee from the garden. I wonder why it grows so readily in the wild and why I have such a hard time getting the domesticated version to grow in my garden.

1 comment:

reMark said...

Technically, the place that you walked is called the Outdoor Lab. It is a wild space that was set up to be used with students to teach them about environmental topics.

The majority of the outdoor lab (the west end) was planted with a mix of native prairie grasses including big and little blue stem. Planted by students who were in middle school, it has always been student centered. In fact, the land was sprayed and tilled up for planting of the seed by Kent Kolhagen (of combine demolition derby fame) when he was in 8th grade. Yes, an 8th grade boy drove his family tractor with a disc on the back to school. It was quite a site!

The east end closest to the ditch was planted with over 50 forbs found in a short grass prairie. This area has beautiful wildflowers, but is succumbing to crown vetch (an invasive species) coming out of the river. Also, poison ivy is near the Schoolhouse Ditch bank, so be careful.

In between the two spaces is the constructed wetlands. It is a small area designed to be wet in the spring for amphibians. Right now, it is in need of some help due to the power of succession. Cottonwoods are taking hold and tend to be tough to control.

I wish I had more time to devote to the outdoor lab. It is a wonderful place to allow children to experience nature.

Thanks Rensselaer Adventures for taking a stroll through its paths. It is a fun place to visit.