Photo of the Week – January 27, 2012

During the winter, prairie becomes nearly monochromatic.  The scarcity of color exposes the architecture of the plants.  It’s as if the prairie has been deconstructed before our eyes, stripped down to its framework before being rebuilt for the next season.

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in winter prairie. Sarpy County, Nebraska

About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
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2 Responses to Photo of the Week – January 27, 2012

  1. James McGee says:

    There is a good reason this genus is called Panicum. The ‘panicle’ of Switch Grass breaks off and causes it to travel across the prairie like tumble weed.

  2. Tim Siegmund says:

    I’ve found the more time I spend in the woods and prairies in the winter the easier it is for me to identify plants at any other time of the year. All based on having a greater knowledge of their structure and appearance. Spending time outdoors in all seasons is something that has really helped me with my plant ID. Also, winter time solitude is nice as well.

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