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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Friday - July 20, 2007

From: Crawford, NE
Region: Midwest
Topic: Meadow Gardens, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Prairie and wetland restoration in Nebraska
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We recently bought property south of Crawford,NE near the Pine Ridge area. It has been grazed by horses for years. We'd like to restore the native grasses and flowers. I have no idea where to begin. We don't even know what grasses and flowers are native. It has been unusually dry the past 7 years. Can you suggest any book to read or do you have any ideas?

ANSWER:

First of all, you will probably want to identify the plants you have to determine if they are native and something you want to save and encourage. You can visit our Bibliography page to search for identification guide books for plants of Nebraska and the Midwest. You can also check your local bookstore for titles that may not yet be included in our bibliography.

The Prairie Plains Resource Institute has a PDF downloadable booklet "A Guide to Prairie and Wetland Restoration in Eastern Nebraska" which should also be applicable to your northwest Nebraska location. Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has an excellent publication in PDF format, "Going Native: a prairie restoration handbook for Minnesota landowners," with lots of step-by-step information for a project similar to yours. The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area and the National Park Service also has information devoted to prairie and oak savanna restoration.

Several titles (e.g., Wildflower Meadow Gardening and Large Scale Wildflower Planting) from our How to Articles might also be useful to you.

You can find Recommended Species for different areas of the US and Canada and you can also narrow these lists to your particular state. Unfortunately, Nebraska is currently "In Progress", but you can find plants native to Nebraska by doing a Combination Search on our Native Plants Database. For example, a search using "Nebraska" and "Grass/Grass-like" results in 217 species. From those species Mr. Smarty Plants has chosen a number of species that are good choices for your area in Dawes County, Nebraska.

Aristida purpurea (purple threeawn)

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss)

Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex vulpinoidea (fox sedge)

Chloris verticillata (tumble windmill grass)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Hordeum pusillum (little barley)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Sporobolus heterolepis (prairie dropseed)

Again, you can do a combination search on the Native Plants Database to find wildflowers in Nebraska by searching on "Herb" and "Nebraska". You can further narrow your search by specifying "Annual" or "Perennial". The following are a few suggestions for your area:

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Calylophus serrulatus (yellow sundrops)

Cleome serrulata (Rocky Mountain beeplant)

Echinacea angustifolia (blacksamson echinacea)

Erigeron annuus (eastern daisy fleabane)

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Dakota mock vervain)

Helianthus annuus (common sunflower)

Liatris punctata (dotted blazing star)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Ratibida columnifera (upright prairie coneflower)

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan)

Solidago nemoralis (gray goldenrod)

Thelesperma filifolium (stiff greenthread)


Achillea millefolium

Calylophus serrulatus

Cleome serrulata

Echinacea angustifolia

Erigeron annuus

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida

Helianthus annuus

Liatris punctata

Monarda fistulosa

Ratibida columnifera

Rudbeckia hirta

Solidago nemoralis

Thelesperma filifolium

 

 

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