It’s not too late to see northern blazing stars in all of their glory. You want to seek out some dry grasslands, ideally with sandy soil, and search for a spiky purple flower. I used to be up visiting the Kennebunk Plains this previous week on the lookout for these lovely flowers, a beautiful place to search for uncommon and strange crops and animals. These grasslands are dwelling to grasshopper sparrows (endangered in Maine) and upland sandpipers (threatened in Maine). This is the house to one in all solely two recognized populations of the endangered black racer snake. There is a giant signal that tells you all about these beautiful snakes, nevertheless (for these of you not into snakes) the possibility of seeing one is nearly nil.
The cause to go to the Kennebunk Plains to see northern blazing stars is that they happen nearly nowhere else in Maine. Also, the Kennebunk Plains inhabitants of this plant is regarded as the most important on this planet. Northern (aka New England) blazing stars are native to the northeastern United States, the truth is they’re endemic to this area-meaning they happen nowhere else on this planet.
Sadly northern blazing stars are uncommon and guarded in most of New England. They are state-listed as threatened in Maine and endangered in New Hampshire. While northern blazing stars may be present in a wide range of habitats-from grasslands, meadows, cliffs, seashores and coastal meadows, even anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed) habitats, a spot just like the Kennebunk Plains with its huge sandplain grasslands which are saved open by way of managed burns presents as best viewing as you will get.
If you have an interest within the larger image you would possibly wish to go to the Kennebunk Plains merely for its grasslands, that are thought of to be one of many rarest and most threatened pure communities in New England.
The Kennebunk Plains was fashioned by glacial retreat roughly 14,000 years in the past. Meltwater streams fashioned outwash plains composed of well-sorted sand and gravel. These sandy soils have little capability to carry water and vitamins and so the vegetation is topic to recurring drought and hearth (maine.gov). Many of the crops that thrive in locations just like the Kennebunk Plains are subsequently drought and fire-adapted. Species just like the pitch pine which have thick bark that acts as armor in opposition to hearth and serotinous pine cones-a kind of pine cone lined with a thick resin that must be melted (by hearth) earlier than the cone can open and launch its seeds. Fire additionally advantages the northern blazing star. Studies have proven that following hearth there is a rise within the variety of flowering crops and seeds produced per flower head, in addition to a lower within the quantity of seed predation by moth larvae. Fire additionally elevated seedling institution and progress by lowering leaf litter (Peter Vickery, 2009).
This specific habitat with this specific soil kind isn’t restricted to the Kennebunk Plains, you will discover it within the Wells Barrens, even my backyard-this is unlucky for all of the non-drought and non-fire-adapted crops I maintain attempting to develop there.
I’ve grown blazing stars in my backyard for years and years; nevertheless I haven’t been rising our native northern blazing star (Liatris novae-angliae). Globally, there are about 45 species in genus Liatris. They are all native to North America.
The blazing star you will discover in most native greenhouses is Liatris spicata (Licata is the genus, spicata is the species), a species with a extra southern pure distribution. This is what I grew in my backyard till I started my quest to protect native biodiversity by planting native species each time potential. Liatris spicata is commonly marketed as a local plant, however now I do know to all the time double examine by on the lookout for the species name-in this case “novae-angliae.”
As a results of visiting the Kennebunk Plains whereas the blazing star was blooming, I’ve a brand new imaginative and prescient for the sandy soil elements of my property-instead of adjusting the soil into one thing it isn’t, I plan to embrace the glacial heritage of this land (this speaks to the Earth science trainer in me!) and work on restoring the sandplain grassland habitat it was meant to be.
Susan Pike, a researcher and an environmental sciences and biology trainer at Dover High School, welcomes your concepts for future column matters. Send your pictures and observations to [email protected]. Read extra of her Nature News columns on-line at Seacoastonline.com and pikes-hikes.com, and comply with her on Instagram @pikeshikes.