For several years now, I and the NC Plant Conservation Program have been working with the Eno River Association to restore their oldest Nature Preserve, the Blue Indigo Slopes. The site is important, in part, due to the rare plants present as well as frontage on the Eno River . In addition, we view it as an important stepping stone in a landscape-level pollinator pathway in northern Durham (perhaps I will explain what that is in a future post).
During a routine visit this year, late in June, I noted general ecological conditions of the site and recorded mental notes on additional ecological restoration needs. A few observations follow:
|Flowering Spurge (Euphorbia corollata)|
widespread in eastern U.S.
often found in open sites or prairies
a few stems flowering here and there on the Slopes in esp. open areas
|Piedmont Barbara's Buttons (Marshallia obovata)|
locally abundant in some of our open, burned sites; this specimen
was flowering much later than typical for the species in our area
a small colony is present on the site
Post Oak (Quercus stellata) and Blackjack Oak (Quercus marilandica) sprouts and seedlings were apparent around the open edges of the site (see below). I think of these two oaks as likely historically important in many Piedmont open woodlands and savannas; both tolerate fire well. However, Blackjack is especially intolerant of shade and may be easily overwhelmed by faster growing, shade tolerant species - a major reason it is rarely seen today in the region.
An open prairie-like portion of the Eno River Association's Indigo Slopes Preserve (above). A Post Oak sapling can be seen near the back of the opening near the large pines, a Prairie Wild Blue Indigo individual occurs on the right, and scattered rosettes of Glade Wild Quinine (Parthenium auriculatum) can be seen throughout. The extent of the opening is less than 1/4 acre and surrounded by dense woods on at least 3 sides. We hope to significantly expand this opening, both up and downslope, in the near future.