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Hidden treasures

By Jeff Williams

The NPS roving crew has been busy controlling invasive woody plants in the prairies at George Washington Carver National Monument and Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield this past month. The amount of invasive species in the prairies is overwhelming and at times feels like a lost cause, but past GIS data shows great progress. By fighting back invasive species, we begin to see more native species returning to the prairie, such as the nodding ladies’ tresses (Spiranthes cernua).

This beautiful orchid species is a rare occurrence in Missouri’s prairies today. We have been very fortunate to have seen several orchids so far this spraying season. The white flowers of the nodding ladies’ tresses are arranged in a spiral around the stem of the plant with few to no leaves present on the stem itself. The flowers bloom in May-June in upland dry prairies. We are excited to continue our work in the prairies and see what other surprises they have in store for us.