Third Year of Establishment - 2017


This year marked the third season for the 30-acre grassland restoration project. The most significant change in management was the mowing schedule to control invasive plants. The absence of extensive weed flushes during the summer resulted in a single mowing which took place in early May. Regular inspections and removal of invasive plants continued through out the summer in place of large scale mowing. Two interns were hired for a period of 10 weeks with the major responsibility of locating and removing invasives.

The invasive plants that required frequent monitoring and removal were mugwort and Canada thistle. While not extensive both plants occurred in small patches through out the field. Mile-a-Minute was less problematic in its distribution and ease of removal. Black locust saplings grew to a height of 2 to 3 feet by August and were removed by either cutting the roots at 6 inches below the soil surface or digging out the entire root. A small number of multi- flora rose and porcelainberry plants were found along the southwestern border of the field.

The warm season grasses were dense and abundant through out most of the 30 acres. Big bluestem was most abundant followed by Indiangrass. Little bluestem could be found mainly in the hilly sections of the field that had previously suffered erosion and can be described as rocky and sandy substrate. The Little bluestem in these areas was noticeably less dense and shorter compared to other areas of the field where it occurred. Switchgrass is by far the least abundant warm season grass.


From mid-April until mid-June approximately eighty volunteer hours were spent raking thatch off the field to encourage the growth of native vegetation. Although this effort was labor intensive it appeared to be successful judging from the resulting growth of Warm Season Grasses over the summer season.

Volunteers raking cut vegetation off the field in early May.

More volunteers raking cut vegetation off the field in early May.

Growing Season

June 25th vegetation

July 6th vegetation

August 10th vegetation

August 31st vegetation.

Vegetation Transect Results

Vegetation transects were conducted during June and July. The survey consisted of 3 transect lines with a total of 47 stations. Percent composition was estimated in a meter square quadrant every 50 feet.

Data gathered and analyzed for both transect periods indicates the following:

  1. A higher percentage of native vegetation compared with invasive species.
  2. Woody vegetation was minimal and consisted primarily of black locust and multiflora rose.
  3. The percent composition of all identified invasives in June was 0.74% and in July, 0.84%.

Native vs. Invasive Vegetation

While native vegetation maintains a higher percent composition than invasive forbs and woodies in the restoration site, field observations would argue that the presence of invasives maybe greater than transect data suggests. For example, although no woodies were found within the transect samples or along the transect lines, several multiflora rose were located within the south area of the site. It is likely that additional woody vegetation is scattered within the 30-acre site. In addition, small isolated areas of invasive forbs such as Canada thistle and mugwort exist outside of the transect area. Given these findings yearly monitoring and removal of these plants should be continued.

Summer Environmental interns and volunteers in back of Mugwort pile.

Mugwort growing on field edge alongside Goldenrod.

Invasive Species

Despite the success of warm season grasses in comparison to other vegetation, there remains problematic areas of invasive plants including mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), and mile-a-minute (Persicaria perfoliata). These species were difficult to manage and control due to their location within the field, physical characteristics and removal method. Mugwort is thought to be an allelopathic species that colonizes an area through an extensive root system and eliminates native species through its expulsions of chemicals inhibiting native seed germination. Mugwort was most extensive in the southeast section of the restoration field and smaller patches in other locations. Canada thistle, like mugwort, was found throughout the field but was mainly located southwest of the Hickory trees. Moreover, mile-a-minute (MAM), was found primarily east of the hickory trees extending west to east often referred to as the “hickory shadow”. MAM was also found along the northwest border of the field during the month of September. Canada thistle was difficult to remove because of its prickly exterior, as well as its fluffy seed head that was hard to manage under windy conditions.

Transect Data

In June, cool season grasses occupied a substantial percentage of the sampled vegetation and by mid-July native warm season grasses emerged and dominated the vegetation composition. At the end of July the warm season grasses of big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) represented 54.66% of the sampled vegetation.

% Composition Transect Results of July 26, 2017

Warm Season Grasses






Open Soil


Warm season grasses had the largest percent composition in July at times tripling the amount of forbs and dominating the invasive species. Although collected data did not measure the percent composition of the individual warm season grass species, field inspections indicate that big bluestem was the dominant grass in most of the field during the month of August. In late August and early September large areas of Indiangrass dominated the southern and northern areas of the field. Little bluestem was found in higher concentrations in the hilly northern section of the field that had experience erosion during the August of 2014.

Northern edge of Restoration Field on September 12th.

Eastern perimeter of Restoration Field on October 25, 2017.

Looking northeast across the Restoration Field on November 8, 2017.

2017 Plant list in Restoration Site by monthly occurrence.

Common Name Scientific name Month
Alsike Clover Trifolium hybridum June, July
Bedstraw Galium sp June
Big Blue Stem Grass Andropogon gerardi July, August
Black Cherry Prunus serotina June, July, August
Black Eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta June, July, August
Black Locust Robinia pseudocacia July, August
Blue-eyed Grass Sisyrinchium sp June
Butter and Eggs Linaria vulgaris June, July, August
Butterfly Weed Asclepius tuberose June, July
Canada Goldenrod Solidago altissima August
Canada Thistle Cirsium arvense June, July, August
Chicory Cichorium intybus June, July, August
Cinquefoil Potentilla sp June
Common Evening Primrose Oenothera biennia June
Common Milkweed Aclepias syriaca June, July, August
Common Mullen Verbascum thapsus June
Common Plantain Plantago major June
Cow Vetch Vicia cracca June, July
Curled Dock Rumex crispus June, July, August
Daisy Fleabane Erigeron annuus June, July
Early Goldenrod Solidago juncea August
English Plantain Platago lanceolata June, July, August
Hawthorn Crataegus sp June
Joe-Pye Weed Eupatorium sp July, August
Lance-leaved Goldenrod Solidago graminifolia August
Little Blue Stem Grass Schizachyrium scoparium July, August
Mile-A-Minute Persicania perfoliata June, July, August
Mint Mentha sp June
Mugwort Artemisia vulgaris June, July, August
Oxeye Daisy Leucantemum vulgare June, July
Pokeweed Phytolacca americana June, July, August
Purple Love Grass Ergots Spectabilis June, July
Purple Top Grass Tridens flavus July, August
Queen Anne’s Lace Daucus carota July, August
Red Clover Trifolium pratense June, July, August
Rough-stemmed Goldenrod Solidago rugosa August
Showy Goldenrod Solidago speciosa August
Spiderwort Tradescantia sp June
Switch Grass Panicum virgatum July, August
Venus Looking Glass Specularia perfoliata June
Wild Basil Satureja vulgare June, July, August
Wild Madder Galium sp June
Yarrow Archillea millefolium June