Great volunteers hand cut any remaining tops after the burn in March; it turned out to be a big load with the long canes of giant miscanthus that did not get burned. Thank heavens we could move it off to the compost pile with a Toro cart due to Leslie’s careful driving.
Yellow tufts of anthers are out now on Carex pensylvanica, one of the first graminoids to flower in Minnesota; I saw the first flowers on April 15, 2016.
Not everyone is burning their grasses. The High Line folks in NYC have really pushed the envelope in using alpacas to help with the spring clean up!
Another growing season begins in Minnesota. With the removal of last year’s growth, the Arboretum burn crew worked in the Grass Collection today, burning the warm season grasses. We are just learning that burning is a trade-off for any insects that lay eggs on the foliage or at the base of the plants. The grasses love the rejuvenation, but wildlife may suffer.
Spartina, cord grass, is in the news! At South Dakota State University, Professor Paul Johnson, has identified a new insect, a gall midge, that feeds on young growing seeds of prairie cordgrass, Spartina pectinata, reducing seed set and causing problems for growers who propagate this plant from seed. Prairie cordgrass is native to Minnesota and most of the U.S., and prefers wet sites. Its long strap like leaves and tough rhizomes make it a great plant for shoreline restorations.
In Florida, Grasses in Classes is beginning the fifth year of teaching elementary school children to raise smooth cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora, a Florida native shoreland species. Students in 21 schools end the project by planting smooth cordgrass in salt marsh restoration sites along the Choctawhatchee Bay in northwestern Florida to maintain the stability of the shoreline.
Question: I have a large black walnut tree in my front yard. I was wondering if you could tell me what grasses would be able to tolerate the affects of juglone. I live on the south end of Blaine and have the typical sandy soil of the sand plain. The yard has both sun and shade.
Answer: As far as I know and have experienced, all the grasses are ok with juglone, the chemical from black walnut trees. Many monocots and the whole grass family seem to be immune to juglone, so I think you can try most any grass. A black walnut tree does not have much shade, that is a plus as well. Now you just have to deal with the tree root competition and dry site!! So I would try the drought tolerant grasses, such as blue grama, sideoats grama, little bluestem or prairie dropseed.
Red fall color on Blue HeavenTM little bluestem with prairie dropseed in the foreground.