Natural Regeneration in an Unnatural World at the UB Campus
P. M. Eckel
Res Botanica, a Missouri Botanical Garden Web Site
June 30, 2006



Natural Regeneration in an Unnatural World
at the UB Campus

P. M. Eckel


A gallery.


A stroll in August through a patch of the unmown habitat in the great lawns bordering on Maple Road on the campus of the State University of New York at Buffalo would show you the following species, all common and to be found everywhere in the area, in vacant lots, along fences, around the bases of trees - everywhere that escapes the blades of the lawn mower.




Bird’s Foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) is particularly abundant in the mown verges beside asphalt roads. It does not compete well with the other, taller growing species seen below but, like the Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), flourishes when cut and would die out if taller vegetation were allowed to persist for several years.



The Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare) can grow up to the level of your chin. Its leaves and stem are covered with spines, making it unpleasant to walk through in your summer shorts with legs exposed.



Curly Dock (Rumex crispus) is in the Buckwheat family, one of the earliest species in this assemblage to flower in the spring. By August it is already dry and brown and ready to drop its seed load by the end of summer. It is striking to see its stems now in August when the flowers seem in full bloom with all the autumn species, the energetic flowers of the Goldenrods of September and the Asters of October, yet to come.



Moth Mullein (Verbascum blattaria) has tall spires of lovely white flowers (occasionally with yellow flowers) that, when fertilized, develop spherical seedheads widely spaced along the flowering stem. In August this species, too, like the Curly Dock, is ready to seed itself.



Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is well known as a degrader of native habitats of emergent vegetation and of wet soil, such as those dominated by Cattails. They are frequently planted in horticultural settings due to their vivid and lurid flowers, just starting to bloom in August and are then spread to swamps, marshes and stream banks.



Biennial Wormwood (Artemisia biennis) is rather unusual in that its flowers are as green as the leaves and stem. In this picture the flowers are just unfolding.  The species is native in the western United States, but is spreading eastward to our region as a weed. The common name, Wormwood, is suggestive of the use of this plant, and other Mugworts, in treating parasites.



Saint John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)  resembles other species in the genus Hypericum in their poisonous properties when eaten. This species in cattle regions, especially in the western United States, is toxic to livestock, having the peculiar property of making the animal hypersensitive to light, especially animals with white skin.



In three or four week’s time, this tall goldenrod will burst into flower, heralding in the new school year.





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