Fall comes to the prairie…

colored grass and trees

Prairie in the foreground with a view of the countryside.

colored grasses and plants

The colors of the fall prairie.

When we think fall we often picture colorful stands of trees… especially maples with their beautiful hues of red, orange, and yellow. We picture New England (or Northern Wisconsin) falls. Not many people think of the prairie when it comes to fall, but the prairie too goes through color changes in the fall. When you live by one you take notice of the changes. As I walk the prairie every morning I marvel at the colors I find there in the fall. The native grasses turn shades of gold, red, rust, and mahogany. Rose hips ripen, rose leaves and stems turn red and burgundy. Other plants, such as flowering spurge leaves and stems, turn a vivid red. Yet other prairie plants turn rust, orange, and yellow. As the trees lose their leaves and their beautiful colors with them the prairie continues to wear her fall colors almost until the snow flies. Many of the plants will eventually lose their leaves and their stems will fade… but grasses often hold out longer. Sometimes bright rust-colored little bluestem can be seen poking out of the snow. Overall, the show just lasts longer!

yellow leave with black berries

Carrion plant with yellow leaves and clusters of black berries.

red grass and a ball of green-gold grass

Litte bluestem grass in its fall color (left) and prairie dropseed grass tuning golden yellow (right).

red leaves and red rose hips

Rose leaves in their fall red (left) and ripe rose hips (right).

grasses

Fall prairie in all of its glory.

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