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An August afternoon at Hegg

As August draws to a close, we have been busy wrapping up phenology, making progress on demography, and harvesting Echinacea heads. While Claire, Elizabeth, and Stuart harvested heads at Hegg Lake, I mapped a patch of Echinacea angustifolia located a couple hundred meters west of P2. The patch centers around a small knoll ringed by poison ivy. I shot GPS points for 7 plants on the periphery of this Echinacea patch. Within the patch, I found 30 Echinacea flowering plants with a total of 37 heads. Most plants were located on the southwest slope of the knoll. Although I did not find any individuals on the north or east slopes, these hillsides should offer good Echinacea habitat.

In preparation for the fall burn at Hegg Lake, we set up a small project to monitor a patch of Hill’s Thistle (Cirsium hilli). We identified, shot GPS points, and measured the basal rosette diameter for 28 individuals. After mapping and measuring the thistles, we split the patch into two plots and mowed burn breaks around our plots. The north plot will not be burned in the fall. Like Echinacea, C. hillii inhabits dry prairies but Hill’s thistle is somewhat rare and is listed as a Species of Special Concern in Minnesota. Fire is thought to be necessary for maintaining the native plant communities of dry prairies but little is known about C. hillii responds to fire.

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