Sixty-some hikers participated in our first-ever Trail Trek on the 3.25 mile Byron Shutz Nature Trail on Sept. 10. This was part of our first Run Fast | Eat Slow event. I was the “caboose” of the trail trek to make sure everyone found their way and what a glorious experience it was. Here are some images I took along the way (with my camera phone).
The trail head of the lies just north of the Visitor Center just beyond the Fountain Garden. You can see we had a little bug friend admiring the sign.
The bug was a female Walking Stick. It is always a joy to spot and admire this marvelous insect.
Part of the beginning of the trail goes through some rich low woods with tangles of brush and vines. We spotted a very rare butterfly in this rich habitat here during our 9th annual North American Butterfly Society butterfly count on July 30th. It was a Gemmed Satyr butterfly which requires this type of habitat and hasn’t been seen in Greater Kansas City since 1950 but its former habitat is now Shawnee Mission Medical Center. The closest other Gemmed Satyrs can currently be found only in Missouri Counties that border with Arkansas.
Here is a closeup of the Bur-Marigolds or Tickseed Sunflowers (Bidens polylepis) though some current botanists lump this and another into Bidens aristosa. This native, annual wildflower graces many roadsides and low meadows at this season.
Here’s our bridge over the intermittent stream that bisects Powell Gardens’ 970 acre property. The stream flowed all of last year but dried up in the heat of this summer. It is always a peaceful respite with an understory of redbud trees and towering quaking-leaved cottonwood trees above.
Here’s one of our prairie restoration areas you will experience further along the trail. We reclaimed almost 20 acres of native prairie remnants through grants from the Missouri Department of Conservation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Without management these areas would have also been swallowed up with brush and trees and the unique creatures and wildflowers would have been lost. They are currently at peak flower with classic flowers in gold, white and lavender so typical of the native prairie wildflower palate.
Here’s a closeup of one of our unique prairie wildflowers: the Eared False-Foxglove (Aureolaria pedicularia). This wildflower was reviewed as a candidate as a Federal Endangered Species but enough populations were located in the Heartland that it is now listed as a species of special concern. It’s a great example of what we would have lost without proper management of our prairie remnants. I had never seen so many plants here before so it is a botanical success story.
Here’s a beautiful billow of the Bur-Marigolds again — they were simply stunning on Saturday! This species does not have the seeds that stick to you like the other members of this Genus (hence the name bur or tick in the name of flowers in this group) — but Unbur-Marigold or Tickless-Sunflower are even worse names!
The beautiful Rough Blazingstar (Liatris aspera) was in full bloom Saturday too. It is a magnet for migrating Monarch butterflies to nectar on.
Here’s a view looking back across the largest area of our prairie restorations. Once upon a time the whole ridge was prairie with just scattered brush and copses of trees. You can see the distant clouds coming in from the north by late morning.
The bright green foliage in this scene are fresh new leaves on the hackberry trees! We had such a super abundance of two butterflies: the Hackberry and Tawny Emperors this year that their caterpillars stripped many hackberries bare. Many of the smaller hackberry trees sent out new leaves this fall.
Kansas’s state flower the Annual Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) graces the meadow (prairie planting) between the Rock & Waterfall and Island Gardens. It is one my favorite and quintessential wildflowers of the season!