The Al Sabo Preserve is a "passive recreation nature reserve," meaning that there are no amenities and that trails are minimally maintained. It's a great place to spend a summer morning. You can read more about the Al Sabo Preserve (and download a map) here.
- Al Sabo 1
There is an attractive mix of forest and open prairie around the edges of the preserve.
- Al Sabo 2
The prairie is a mix of grasses and broadleaf plants, mostly yarrow, goldenrod, gentians, and milkweed.
- Al Sabo 3
This is big tick country. Bare legs or insect repellent is a must.
- Al Sabo 4
There is a lot of goldenrod (Solidago spp.) in bloom this time of year. Despite what adverts would have you believe, goldenrod is not responsible for allergies.
- Al Sabo 5
A bunch gall, caused by a midge fly (Rhopalomyia solidaginis) laying her eggs in a goldenrod leaf bud. This species of midge fly is actually an ecosystem engineer, providing shelter and food for other species.
- Al Sabo 6
Another specimen of a goldenrod bunch gall.
- Al Sabo 7
Another specimen of Solidago. There are over 100 species, and it is difficult to identify individual species without specialist knowledge.
- Al Sabo 8
A gossamer spiderweb hidden in the grass. It's amazing what you see when you look down, but most people never do. They just trample over them.
- Al Sabo 9
A small specimen of sassafras (Sassafras albidum). You can see the characteristic four different shapes of leaves. Although many plants have different leaves at maturity than they do when they are young, it is unusual to see so many different leaf shapes at the same time. For more about sassafras, read this.
- Al Sabo 10
A close-up of the sassafras. A tea can be made from the bark of the roots. It's supposed to be delicious, but a lot of work to prepare safely.
- Al Sabo 11
I'm not sure which flower this is. This is why you always take a good field guide with you. I believe that it is evening primrose (Oenothera biennis), but picking flowers in the preserve is not allowed, and I did not take more diagnostic photographs.
- Al Sabo 12
Another specimen of the same plant. Again, I think it is evening primrose (Oenothera biennis).
- Al Sabo 13
I'm not sure what flower this is, either. I believe that it is flowering spurge (Euphorbia corollata). The sap of flowering spurge can cause skin and eye irritation in some people, so be cautious about handling it.
- Al Sabo 14
At one moment you are in the middle of a deep woods, you see a break overhead in the path ahead. You step out and see this.
- Al Sabo 15
The trails are minimally maintained, but they do clear the trunks of fallen trees.
- Al Sabo 16
This reminds me of walking through a woods in Florida, with sugar sand soil.
- Al Sabo 17
I seem to take a lot of pictures of paths when I am in the woods. I sometimes feel that my entire photography career is just photographing potential covers for a new edition of Walden.
- Al Sabo 18
Yet another part of the path.
- Al Sabo 19
I've always had a soft spot for most types of fungi. Here is a fine-looking pair of young puffballs. For more about puffballs, read this.
- Al Sabo 20
Fungus fruiting bodies on a fallen log.