Plants and Animals

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From Missouri Conservationist: Aug 2009

Species of Concern

Decurrent False Aster

  • Common Name: Decurrent False Aster
  • Scientific Name: Boltonia decurrens
  • Distribution: St. Charles County
  • Classification: State and federally endangered
  • To learn more about endangered species: explore the links listed below.

The nation’s leading expert on decurrent false aster calls this critically imperiled plant a “floodplain fugitive.” Unable to compete with other plants for sun and space, it sprouts in areas where flooding or other disturbances create patches of bare soil along ditches or in other moist, sandy, low-lying areas. Development of most of its potential habitat has relegated this plant to wet edges of fields, borrow areas and lake shores. Plowing and planting in river bottoms increases soil erosion, which smothers decurrent false aster’s seeds and seedlings beneath a blanket of silt. At the same time, levees have greatly reduced the floods that create bare-soil areas where this species can thrive. Because of decurrent false aster’s gypsy lifestyle, its distribution changes from year to year. This complicates efforts to ensure its survival. The Conservation Department partners with other government agencies and private landowners to document and protect existing populations.

Plains Spadefoot

Dig this unique little amphibian!

Often mistaken for a toad, the plains spadefoot (Spea bombifrons) has smoother skin and vertical eye pupils, like a cat’s. Toads’ pupils are horizontal. Its defining characteristic is a hard, wedge-shaped spade on each hind leg. This “spade” gives spadefoots their name and equips them well for life underground. Plains spadefoots live along the Missouri River, where they burrow in sandy soil. They are smallish frogs, measuring 1.5 to 2 inches. They eat earthworms and insects.

Plants Go Wild at State Fair

Demo garden showcases native plants’ versatility.

Whether your yard is moist and loamy or dry and rocky, you can find ideas about landscaping with native plants at the 2009 Missouri State Fair Aug. 13–23. This year’s demonstration gardens at the Conservation Pavilion follow the fair’s “Rural Lifestyles” theme by inviting fair goers to “Discover Nature Near You.” Features include a rocky glade, a woodland setting, a water feature and sunny border areas. Indoors you will find a riverbank diorama with live native plants. The Conservation Pavilion is near the south end of the fairgrounds. While there, take time to cool off in front of several aquariums or in the air-conditioned discovery room.

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/Editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler