Our final wild collection occurred last Tuesday. We made the most of it by tracking down several pounds of acorns and finishing up our late season aster collection (for real this time!)

Volunteer performing a float test on collected acorns Garry oak (Quercus garryana) seems to be having a mast year in our region. Mast years occur across numerous tree species; they are marked by an abundant production of nuts. One theory as to why mast years occur is 'predator saturation'. Animals which feed off acorns have generally stable populations every year. When a mast year occurs with a surplus of acorns, they are unable to eat them all and acorns have a much higher likelihood of germinating.

We test the viability of our collected acorns by doing a 'float test'. Insect damaged and dehydrated acorns typically have some air space inside the shell and tend to float. Acorns which sink are kept for propagation.

Volunteer performing a float test on collected acorns. Credit: Meredith Rafferty.

Wolf Haven: It was quick work for everyone to collect a few pounds of acorns. So easy in fact, we had to call off the hunt after about 15 minutes, or we would have easily collected our 20 pound goal at our first stop.

Cavness: One half of the group collected acorns under a recent burn at Cavness, while not as productive as Wolf Haven, we came away with several pounds. The other half ventured wet boots and legs as we waded into tall grass to do a last minute harvest of Eaton's aster Symphotrichum eatonii.

Garry oak acorn at Glacial Heritage Preserve. Credit: Meredith Rafferty. Glacial Heritage: We stopped at Glacial for lunch and harvested some Missouri goldenrod Solidago missouriensis var. tolmieana. 

Solidago missiouriensis var. tolmiana seedheads. Credit: Meredith Rafferty. Mima Mounds:Our final stop involved more Solidago missiouriensis var. tolmiana collecting. There were numerous very productive mounds on the Southern end of Mima mounds where we had good luck with White-topped aster Seriocarpus rigidus the previous week.

Once again, thank you to everyone who came out this year. It was such a productive and fun season that went by far too fast!



Tuesday was a beautiful day to finish our collection of late season asters. We will have one more Tuesday collecting acorns.

Scatter Creek North: We started the morning at Scatter Creek while the fog was just burning off. We harvested a good amount of Seriocarpus rigidus.

Glacial Heritage: A small amount of acorns were collected along the riparian oaks in addition to collections of Seriocarpus rigidus and Anaphalis margaritacea.

Spider web on slender cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis). CreditL Jessika Blackport.
Violet Prairie-Scatter Creek: After Scatter Creek we went to the upper portion of Violet Prairie Scatter Creek preserve to harvest acorns. This appears to be a high mast year for the oaks and we were able to collect a good portion of our goal for this year.
White-topped aster (Seriocarpus rigidus). Credit: Jessika Blackport.


A small amount of acorns were collected along the riparian oaks in addition to collections of Seriocarpus rigidus and Anaphalis margaritacea.

Mima Mounds: We stumbled across a great amount of healthy Seriocarpus at the Southern end of Mima Mounds. We were able to collect an amount rivaling our Johnson prairie collection.


The landscape at Mima Mounds. Credit: Jessika Blackport.



Yesterday, we tackled a few different preserves and made decent harvests of Seriocarpus rigidus (white-topped aster) and Anaphalis margaritacea (pearly everlasting).

Pinch technique for collecting seeds. Photo by M Rafferty.Rocky Prairie: Half of the group headed to the South end of Rocky Prairie to look at Anaphalis margaritacea for collection. Unfortunately, most of the plants were at least a couple of weeks from being ripe. The rest of the crew searched for Seriocarpus rigidus. Unfortunately, most patches of the aster were either vegetative, with no flowers or still in flower. We did find some collectible amounts near the end of our visit.
ACHMIL at Scatter Creek. Photo by Jessika Blackport.
Scatter Creek North Unit: Half the group headed to Scatter Creek to focus on Seriocarpus rigidus. We were able to collect a good amount as this population seems the furthest along of any of our sites. The plants at Scatter Creek are also the largest with the most flowers per plant.
Orbweaver on Anaphalis margaritacea. Photo by Jessika Blackport.
Mima Mounds Prairie: The other half of the group went to Mima where they found the Seriocarpus still mostly flowering. However, they found a nice grouping of Anaphalis margaritacea ready for collection.

Silene scouleri seedpod. Photo by M Rafferty.Glacial Heritage: Finally, after lunch at Glacial. We all spread out looking for our familiar targets. We found small amounts of Seriocarpus and Anaphalis for collection.