Places to Go: Osage Prairie Conservation Area

By Larry Archer | June 1, 2023
From Missouri Conservationist: June 2023

Osage Prairie Conservation Area

An oasis among the row crops

Like most of Missouri’s remnant prairies, Osage Prairie Conservation Area (CA) is an oasis of nature surrounded by agricultural land. What distinguishes it is what lies just under the surface.

“It is a dry mesic upland prairie with exposed sandstone and shale much like most of the prairies around here,” said MDC Wildlife Management Biologist Stasia Whitaker. “But what makes it slightly different is it has a bit of a hardpan to it. There is a clay component to the soil that basically holds the water on the surface in certain areas, so there’s going to be these little pools of water that create their own little micro habitat during wet seasons.”

These micro habitats contribute to a “highly diverse” population of prairie species, which includes more than 170 species of plants, Whitaker said.

“You’re going to see conservative plants, animals, or invertebrates, such as your regal fritillary, ornate box turtle, and northern bobwhite,” she said.

June is also a good time to catch the prairie in bloom.

“Some of those species would include pale purple coneflower, hoary puccoon, slender mountain mint, golden Alexanders, and a really cool species, goat’s rue,” she said. “It’s quite different than anything you could see anywhere else.”

Osage Prairie CA

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Photography Editor - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Staff Writer – Dianne Van Dien
Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner