Botany 620 - Field Trip Log
The Dormant Flora - Lick Creek Park - 30 January 1996
This extract from
the distributed map provides a rough track of our path through Lick
Creek Park on Tuesday, 30 January 1996. Our goal was to take a look
at the western sandy prairie (area 12 on the map). From the parking
lot to Rocky Creek we sorted out dominant tress and shubs in terms
of characters (leaf, stem, fruit) that are available at this time of year.
These included common tree species of the uplands (Quercus stellata,
Q. marilandica, Ulmas alata, and Carya texana), woody
vines (Vitus mustangensis, V. rotundifolia, Campsis radicans,
and Berchemia scandens), and some herbs. The latter include
three, tall, grasses (Poaceae [Gramineae])) that tend to mark 'Savannah'
or open, grassy areas of the local Post
Oak Savannah (overview) vegetation type. These are 'Little Bluestem'
(Schizachyrium scoparium, 'Broomsedge' (Andropogon
virginicus, and 'Splitbeard Bluestem' (Andropogon ternarius.
These native Texas grasses are favored by grazers and therefore good 'marker'
taxa for relatively natural, undisturbed prairie openings in the Navasota
Valley. They are caespitose (clustered aggregations of culms with
no extended rhizomes) perennials that, at this time of year, show distinctive
differences with regard to relative height, coloration, and inflorescence
While the path
that we followed deviated from that depicted at the TAMU Herbarium
Creek Park WWW pages, these include a 'prairies'
page that carries images of the sandy prairie and its plants as
they appear during the growing season. This suite of WWW pages also features
a species list,
order by family, that can be screened for images representing taxa we encountered
on this trip. A population of one of these species, Verbesina virginica,
is pictured here. This was taken from my 'backyard' on camcorder film.
It reflects what might be seen in mesic
bottomlands at the park after a cold night. A close
look at the base of these herbaceous perennials suggests
the origin of the local name frostweed. While the plants certainly
appear to be 'dormant' at this time of year, their production of these
'iceballs' seem to reflect an active xylem.
While most elements of the local flora are either dormant or working
toward flowering (winter annuals), we encountered some early bloomers.
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Created by HDW
on 1 February 1996