Senescence

Here’s a word I learned this semester. Mostly in regards to grass but I think it is applicable to other plants as well.

It has to do with the phase of life of a plant from maturity to death. It’s also when a perennial grass translocates all of it’s nutrients and energy down to the roots for winter storage. Those above ground plant parts that are now dead and can be referred to as ‘standing dead’.  They will eventually breakdown. They have senesced. New tillers will come up, they may be there, poking up, now in late December, depending on the plant. The dictionary definitions available in a google search of the word all say it has to do with deterioration with age. I’m not sure if there’s a major difference in how rangeland professionals use the word and the clinical, dictionary definition.

Senesced switch grass, Panicum virgatum, December 2017

Switch grass and others, senesced, McCoy Pocket Prairie Winter 2017

How is this relevant to the pocket prairie? I think it’s important to know just what’s happened to the grass. It’s senesced. It’s translocated it’s stores of food and energy into the roots. What’s standing out there today is not going to come back to life but the roots are still alive and new grasses and forbs will grow from that if they are perennial in our zone. The standing dead still serves a purpose though. It holds the seeds that wildlife need to make it through the winter. It’s also providing cover for wildlife, insects and domestic roaming pets included. All the dead grass out there isn’t very pretty unless you know what’s happened and that it has a purpose. After that, your eyes start to tune into a different kind of beauty. Slowly. Hopefully.

 

 

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Just a heads up, a group I’m part of on Facebook is shifting gears and I’ve been added as an admin and would love to have people with pocket prairies and native landscapes to join us.*

Request to join here: The Urban Prairie Garden

*Pretty sure that’s a giant, run-on sentence. Forgive me.

Fall 2017

I’ve been super busy at school, taking classes for my degree in Natural Resource Ecology and Management (my option is rangeland ecology). The final grades are in and I’ve got 3 A’s and a B! I was NOT expecting a B in Chemistry but this is awesome. I’ve learned so much and I am excited for spring semester.

When I look at this blog, I know the original purpose was to make the Pocket Prairie a little more legit and to hold answers to anticipated questions. I thought it would be a great place to document the seasons and what I’ve done with the Pocket Prairie. But while I’m studying and learning so much about larger prairies and other rangeland types, I feel a bit ashamed. I’m embarrassed that this is not as educational as it could be. Its got a lot of potential but I’m not a writer. I look back at pictures I’ve posted of things I knew were native but could not identify and think I could do more research. Should be doing more research. arrggg.

I’ve had all the time in the world until school started but I needed help. I can’t figure things out from pictures on the internet. A lot of grasses look the same from afar. Or from blurry pictures on the computer screen and I didn’t know enough to use illustrations to distinguish. I’m getting there.  This is part of why I was really excited to join the Society for Rangeland Management (SRM) Student organization at Oklahoma State University (I commute and study there). Every year there is a professional national meeting of the SRM and the student organizations go and participate in contests and events. One such contest is the Plant ID contest so as a member of Range Club, I’ve joined the Plant ID Team (YEAAAAYYY!!!!!!) and have begun learning about 200 plants’ genus, species, family/tribe, lifespan (perennial or annual) and if they are native or introduced. This is done under a VERY knowledgeable professor who I like a lot. Heck, so far I like them all. About 88/200 plants are grasses. Very few are introduced (non-native). I’ve started learning them and can tell more apart now and I’m happy to say that I can identify most of what’s in the Pocket Prairie.

Anyhow. Here’s the plan from here on out:
I may (will probably) still post infrequently but when I do, it will be in more detail.
If I don’t know the ID of something I’ll ask until I get it. I want visitors to this blog to be able to take away knowledge or at least an exposure to a new name or idea.

I want my next post to be about some of the grasses I’ve learned and about rangeland and prairies in general. Do you have a specific question in that area? Let me know.

It’s about 28°F here right now so no picture today.

I’m saving cutting back the Pocket Prairie for mid March so it’s looking pretty scraggly but you know, the wild birds are finding seeds in there and have a place to hide. It’s more than a pretty thing for me in the summer.  ♥️🌱 JD