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Spring Ephemerals on Grandad Bluff

On April 27 a crew from Friends of the Blufflands met to plant a variety of bare root plugs of spring ephemerals on the north facing slope of Grandad Bluff. These were obtained from Prairie Moon Nursery and purchased with funds provided by the Pollinator Fund held by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. These included cut-leaved toothwort, white trout-lily, wild geranium, Virginia waterleaf, false rue anemone, wild blue phlox, Mayapple, Solomon's seal, and large-flowered bellwort.

Here is the crew:

Todd, Sunshine, Pat, Al, and Mike

This project was conceived in the spring of 2022 when a survey was done of plants growing on the north slope of Grandad Bluff. At that time we were struck by the open forest floor with few native plants growing, it being mostly free of invasives such as buckthorn, beneath a closed canopy of sugar maples, basswood, and scattered oaks. It was felt to be ideal habitat for spring ephemerals. In the spring of 2023 Friends applied for and was successful in receiving a Pollinator Protection grant from the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. This grant was used to purchase seeds, bare root plugs, and plants in trays from Prairie Moon Nursery. Shortly after this grant was obtained, a wide variety of plants were transplanted from land off-site with permission from the landowner and the City. The seeds from Prairie Moon were dispersed in February 2024, the bare roots planted as above on April 27th, and plants in trays are anticipated to be ready for planting in late May.

Here are a few of the plants already growing this year from those transplanted in April 2023:

Spring-Beauties with some False Rue Anemone

Wild-Ginger (Asarum canadense)

Trout-Lily (Erythronium either albidum or americanum) and Cut-Leaved Toothwort (Cardamine concatenata)

Ramps (Allium tricoccum)

Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)

Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum)

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

Over the coming years we hope that this patch of early flowering plants becomes increasingly attractive to pollinators as it expands. And that those using the trails enjoy these handsome harbingers of spring!

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