Knife Edge Prairie

The Knife Edge is a long narrow ridge that runs north and south along the eastern edge of our property.

This is a view of the south end of the ridge from the valley below.


At the north end the point is wide with a flat top covered with prairie vegetation. We call this part "Knife Edge Prairie". When we first saw it, in 2000, there was a small open area with dry prairie plants, and the rest was a tangle of brush and small trees. This was taken after we had mowed a path through it.  It's the largest mesic prairie remnant we have.


There are many dry/mesic prairie plants in this area. Here's a list that I've done from memory.

Amorpha canescens - Leadplant
Andropogon gerardii - Big Bluestem
Anemone cylindrica - Thimbleweed
Antennaria - Pusseytoes
Asclepias tuberosa - Butterflyweed
Aster ericoides - Heath Aster
Aster sagittifolius - Arrow-leafed Aster
Aster sericeus - Silky Aster
Bouteloua curtipendula - Side-oats Grama
Calystegia spithamaea - Low Bindweed
Campanula rotundifolia - Harebell
Cirsium discolor - Field Thistle
Comandra umbellata - Bastard Toadflax
Desmodium canadense - Canada Tick-trefoil
Gnaphalium obtusifolium - Sweet Everlasting
Kuhnia eupatorioides - False Boneset
Lathyrus venosus - Veiny Pea
Liatris aspera - Rough Blazing Star
Lithospermum canescens - Hoary Puccoon
Monarda fistulosa - Bergamot
Polygala verticillata var. isocycla - WhorledMilkwort
Ratibida pinnata - Yellow Coneflower
Schizachyrium scoparium
- Little Bluestem
Solidago canadensis -
Canada Goldenrod
Solidago juncea -
Early Goldenrod
Solidago nemoralis
- Gray Goldenrod
Solidago speciosa - Showy Goldenrod

South of the prairie area the ridge gets very narrow and the path runs along the top, with steep slopes on both sides.

Prairie plants grow along the path, and under the trees on the steep west-facing slope.

There's a large clump of Butterflyweed along the path.
Asclepias tuberosa


American Bittersweet grows up into the trees along the ridge.

The boundary with our neighbor follows the ridge, just down from the top on the east-facing side.  So the west-facing slope belongs to us, and is dry prairie overgrown with birch, sumac, honeysuckle, prickly ash and wild grape.

West-facing slope

The east-facing slope belongs to our neighbor, and is thick woods with Burr Oak, Elm, Black Walnut, Aspen, and Hackberry.

To the south the ridge ends in a steep, rocky point with big patches of bare sand.

The point slopes down into a woods of birch and aspen. I've found dry prairie plants all the way to the bottom of the slope under the trees. This picture was taken in the woods, looking up the hill to the point.

This is a species list for the Knife Edge Point:
Amorpha canescens - Leadplant
Arabis lyrata - Sand Cress
Artemisia campestris - Field Wormwood
Aster sericeus - Silky Aster
Bouteloua curtipendula - Side-oats Grama
Campanula rotundifolia - Harebell
Cenchrus longispinus - Sandbur
Comandra umbellata - Bastard Toadflax
Fragaria virginiana - Wild Strawberry
Gnaphalium obtusifolium - Sweet Everlasting
Hedeoma hispida - Rough False Pennyroyal
Lithospermum canescens - Hoary Puccoon
Lobelia spicata - Spiked Lobelia
Paspalum setaceum - Hairy Bead Grass
Polygala polygama - Purple Milkwort
Schizachyrium scoparium - Little Bluestem
Sisyrinchium campestre - Prairie Blue-eyed Grass
Solidago nemoralis - Gray Goldenrod
Solidago speciosa - Showy Goldenrod
Viola pedata - Birdfoot Violet

Here's a 1998 aerial photo of the farm with the Knife Edge Prairie marked in red.

aerial - knife edge

I'll put periodic updates here of our restoration work on the Knife Edge















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