We are excited to bring you monthly phenology reports about the Kinnickinnic River and watershed. Stephanie Erlandson will be providing information about the unique qualities and ecology of the landscape, stayed tuned for January’s report.
The dried dead stalks of Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) can also be seen. In summer it is a tall plant with bright yellow flowers; its leaves form a little cup around the stem, so that the stem seems to poke right through them. Water collects in these cups, and this prevents insect pests from moving very far up or down the stem, from one part of the plant to another. If you visit in July or August, I challenge you to find the spot where a large clump of these plants is growing. Since they can grow as high as 8 feet, you won’t miss them!
Kelly Creek bursts out underneath a shelf of rock, seeming to appear from nowhere. The water is clean and cold. It never freezes over, maintaining a temperature of 45-55 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. The presence of the green invasive watercress seen in the picture indicates high-quality water. These plants will stay alive as long as they do not freeze, so there may be green watercress here all winter long!
Kelly Creek Preserve is a restored prairie, containing some of the dominant and most important prairie grasses – including Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), pictured here. The dry, old seedheads are all that remain right now, but their presence makes winter explorations all that much more fun. The seedhead is a rich golden-brown color, and the seeds are tightly packed into a long oval or lance-shaped cluster. Many plants can be identified based on their old dead stalks like this.