Sand prairie communities of Matanzas nature preserve, Mason County, Illinois


The Matanzas Prairie Nature Preserve is located near Bath, Mason County, Illinois, in the extensive glacial sand deposits associated with the Illinois River. This Preserve contains the only remaining high quality wet-mesic sand prairie, shrub prairie, and sedge meadow associated with the Illinois River sand deposits. The sedge meadow, about 5 ha in size, was dominated by Carex stricta (Importance Value or IV of 66.6 out of 200), Calamagrostis canadensis, and Rosa palustris (both with IV's of 28.3). The wet-mesic sand prairie occurred on slightly higher ground and was dominated by Solidago canadensis (IV of 34.2), Andropogon gerardii (IV of 25.9), Carex stricta (IV of 21.9), Poa pratensis (IV of 18.0), and Euthamia graminifolia (IV of 17.7). Parts of the Preserve were shrub prairie with a ground layer similar to the wet-mesic sand prairie community. A total of 340 species of vascular plants were encountered on the Preserve: 5 fern and fern-allies; 100 monocots; and, 235 dicots. Except for Poa pratensis, which was among the dominant species in the wet-mesic sand prairie and shrub prairie, the 38 exotic species were rarely encountered (11 of the flora). The Floristic Quality Index (including exotic species) for the sedge meadow was 38.80, the wet-mesic sand prairie 43.65, and the shrub prairie 31.76. © 2008 Southern Appalachian Botanical Society.

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