A Walk to Harvest Native Grass Seed

Last December, while other people were out finishing their shopping, I went out walking with a small group, to gather native grass seed from a remnant prairie.

Pocket prairie.

Encroaching neighborhood.

 

It doesn’t look like much.   It’s a flat field with ankle deep mud in a lot of places, covered in waist-high plants.  It’s close to a major highway, and neighborhoods have been springing up all around.  Although it is next to a big park, it is also slated for development within a few years.

Even though it looks so ordinary, it is full of native grasses, including Switch Grass, Brushy Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Gulf Muhly, Rosette Grass, Indian Grass, and this one in the picture, Broomsedge Bluestem.

Broomsedge Bluestem. I learned about it on the remnant prairie, and we have a lot of it here on the farm.

There aren’t any rare plants there, but there are a good amount of native plants all within this small area, which makes it easier to gather the seeds, and the owner kindly lets conservation groups have access to take what they want.

Tiny wildflower.

While I was walking, I kept seeing sparrows swoop through the grass.  I followed one over to a little group of yaupon shrubs.  It stayed hidden but another bird popped out and studied me.

A Sedge Wren in a lichen-covered yaupon.

It turned out to be a Sedge Wren (which was a new bird for my Life List).

It seemed like the perfect bird to represent the area — a plain-looking little bird in a field no one would look at twice, about to become another typical Houston neighborhood.  Thankfully the park next door is huge, so when that happens, I hope all the birds and other creatures will find a safe home there.

Indian Grass and Wild Indigo.

As volunteers, we were allowed to take seeds home with us if we wanted.  I gave most of mine to the Katy Prairie Conservancy group, but I did take home some Indian Grass seedheads, and some dried Wild Indigo.  I have read that it can be used for dye and I want to try it out.