August Conservation Insights from Powell Gardens and Ona's Prairie

Conservation Insights: August 2023

Powell Gardens
August 29, 2023

Learn more about prairie management at Powell Gardens and research at Ona’s Prairie. 

As Kansas City’s botanical garden, Powell Gardens is an active steward of the #MidwestSpiritOfPlace by caring for our 900+ acre property in Kingsville, MO, and our 40-acre tallgrass prairie near Sedalia, MO. Our non-profit botanical garden exists to inspire an appreciation for the importance of plants in our lives. One key step to appreciating plants is making sure our native species thrive for years to come! This summer has been full of exciting conservation steps and projects

Prairie Management

Prairie management can take on many forms, and this summer we’ve used one of the most fun approaches! If you noticed goats around the gardens this summer, you saw a glimpse of our sustainable partnership with Goats on the Go.   

Goats on the Go, a national organization, employs local herds to assist with targeted grazing. The local herd, delivered to Powell Gardens and placed in strategic prairie reconstruction areas, helps balance invasive plant species, such as Sericea Lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata), one of Missouri’s more notorious invasive species.  

A single Sericea Lespedeza plant produces thousands of seeds each year. These seeds will fall on the ground where it can be hard to prevent their growth. Goats on the Go helps combat unwanted vegetation in a sustainable way by eating up to 75% of all biomass, clearing out the unwanted plants–  seeds and all!  

On their last visit to Powell Gardens, the goat herd grazed on four acres of prairie reconstruction and helped provide opportunities for a greater diversity of species to survive. Their conservation efforts are appreciated and employed at Powell Gardens.   

Ona’s Prairie

Ona’s Prairie, located near Sedalia, MO, is Powell Gardens’ living representative of a pre-settlement landscape in North America. These 40-acres of tallgrass prairie support a rich diversity of plants and are within a Conservation Opportunity Area. (In fact, the Butterfly Meadow at Powell Gardens was cultivated from specimen from Ona’s Prairie!)  

Powell Gardens is proud to announce a partnership with researchers from the University of Central Missouri (UCM) for their research on the Regal Fritillary at Ona’s Prairie.   

The Regal Fritillary is a butterfly of conservation concern and has been in decline in recent years. Researchers are investigating how its population is affected by land management techniques. The study includes two summers of vegetative and butterfly sampling (started at Ona’s Prairie in May 2023) and will be complete by spring of 2025.  

Powell Gardens is grateful for the opportunity to further support conservation efforts for tallgrass prairies!  To learn more about Ona’s Prairie, go to   


Upcoming Conservation Class

Native Prairie Series: Why Prairies Matter (New Relevancies of a Vanishing Landscape) 
Saturday, September 23 | 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Boxed lunch and non-alcoholic drink included 

Nearly 2,000 plant species are native to Missouri. They are the foundation of many facets of our economies–from timber production to outdoor recreation–and are the backbone of our agricultural history. Today, there are new uses of native plants in communities that improve quality of life for all, including creation of pollinator habitat, reduction of Nature Deficit Disorder, stormwater management, and carbon storage. 

In her presentation, Executive Director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation and its Grow Native! program, Carol Davit, will share past, present, and potentially future uses of native plants in Missouri communities.  

Register for Native Prairie Series

Want to take a class in the Native Prairie series but can’t attend in September? Keep an eye on Powell Gardens’ online calendar to see what’s coming up next!