Sand Cherry Ridge

Sand-Cherry Ridge is a beautiful, well-preserved prairie remnant on the south-facing slope of a steep, narrow ridge. It belongs to some friends who are very interested in protecting and preserving it.

This is a view of the ridge from the south, showing the prairie area.


The prairie is very diverse, with few weeds. The eastern end of the bluff belongs to a different owner, is less diverse, and has pasture grasses and other common weeds. I suspect that the eastern part was grazed at some time, and the western part – perhaps because it’s so steep – was never grazed.

Here are two views of the steep south-facing slope of the prairie.



It’s the first place I’ve found Sand-cherries growing in Buffalo County. They grow over and around the exposed rocks on the steepest parts of the prairie.


These are clumps of Prairie Larkspur (Delphinium carolinianum) leaves.


My favorite find was a Great Spangled Fritillary caterpillar on a Birds-foot Violet plant. Fritillary caterpillars eat violets but are usually very shy and difficult to find.


Here are a few more views of the prairie.

With the edge of the oak woods that’s below it on the slope.


Looking up to the top of the ridge.


An area with more sumac.


One more view of the steep part of the prairie.


Here are some of Rob’s photos of plants in his prairie.

Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)


Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora)


False-foxglove (Agalinis aspera)


Prairie Larkspur (Delphinium carolinianum)


Grooved Yellow Flax (Linum sulcatum)


Canada Tick-trefoil (Desmodium canadense)


Birds Foot Violets (Viola pedata) and Hoary Puccoon (Lithospermum canescens)


Great Plains Ladies Tresses (Spiranthes magnicamporum)


Silky Aster (Aster sericeus)


Primrose Moth (Schinia florida) on Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis).


This is another of Rob’s photos, of the prairie grasses in the fall.


And one of the slope below the prairie looking west


Here are a few more of Rob’s photos from the summer of 2008. The yellow flowers are Prairie Coreopsis (Coreopsis palmata)



One of the most interesting insects I’ve seen there is a moth called a Clouded Veneer (Prionapteryx nebulifera).  Its caterpillars make sand tunnels around the stems of Sand Cherry plants so they can eat the leaves while staying safe from predators.

5/21/2010  Sand tunnels


5/19/2011  Closeup of the end of a sand tunnel


6/10/2010  Adult Clouded Veneer moth



Here’s a species list of the plants I’ve seen there:

Agalinis aspera – Rough False-foxglove
Amorpha canescens – Leadplant
Anemone cylindrica – Thimbleweed
Antennaria sp. – Pussytoes
Apocynum sp. – Dogbane
Aquilegia canadensis – Columbine
Arabis lyrata – Sand Cress
Artemisia campestris – Wormwood
Asclepias verticillata – Whorled Milkweed
Asclepias viridiflora – Green Milkweed
Aster oolentangiensis – Azure Aster
Aster sericeus – Silky Aster
Botrychium virginianum – Rattlesnake Fern
Bouteloua hirsuta – Hairy Grama Grass
Campanula rotundifolia – Harebell
Celastrus scandens – Bittersweet
Comandra umbellata – Bastard Toadflax
Coreopsis palmata – Prairie Coreopsis
Dalea purpurea – Purple Prairie Clover
Delphinium carolinianum – Prairie Larkspur
Desmodium canadense – Canada Tick-trefoil
Draba reptans – Common Whitlow-grass
Euphorbia corollata – Flowering Spurge
Gnaphalium obtusifolium – Old-field Balsam
Hypericum pyramidatum – Giant St. John’s Wort
Linum sulcatum – Grooved Yellow Flax
Lithospermum canescens – Hoary Puccoon
Lithospermum incisum – Fringed Puccoon
Lobelia spicata – Spiked Lobelia
Oenothera biennis – Evening Primrose
Pedicularis candensis – Wood Betony
Physalis longifolia – Ground Cherry
Prunus pumila – Sand Cherry
Rosa sp. – Wild Rose
Senecio paupercula – Balsam Ragwort
Scutellaria parvula var. missouriensis – Small Scullcap
Sisyrichium campestre – Blue-eyed Grass
Solidago nemoralis – Gray Goldenrod
Spiranthes magnicamporum – Great Plains Ladies Tresses
Sporobolus heterolepis – Prairie Dropseed
Viola pedata – Birds-foot Violet
Viola pedatifida – Prairie Violet
Vitis riparia – Grapevine
Zigadenus elegans – White Camas Lily