|Overgrown glade before mulching|
|Edge of the mulching|
|Mulched glade - 180 degree panorama|
When Henry Rowe Schoolcraft made his historic trek through Ozarks, he rarely mentioned cedars in his detailed descriptions of the country. Writings of Civil War soldiers from Kansas and Iowa described the impressive oak-hickory forests but still not cedars. Cedars were certainly present The oldest reported cedar, 795 years old, was reported here in Missouri.*
Cedars are fire intolerant and their low lying branches provide a ladder for fire to engulf the entire tree. The removal of Native American tribes in 1830 ended their periodic burning which cleared new growth trees and shrubs that hampered hunting and also stimulated fresh grass for feeding game animals. This and the later suppression of fire allowed cedars to take over these desert-like south and west facing slopes, adding the word cedar to the glades, the cedar glades that cover the southern Missouri Ozarks today. Our eastern red cedars (Juniperus virginiana) are actually in the juniper family.
Cedars are not all bad, just growing too densely in the wrong places. Fallow fields are rapidly seeded. Robins love a good batch of cedar berries before hopping all over the exposed ground, planting as they go. Cedar berries also feed other birds such as cedar waxwings, and the dense foliage provides winter wind protection for birds as well. Branson had a major pencil factory in 1908 until the commercially available cedar timber was gone in the area. There is still a market for eastern red cedar wood products although the western species is preferred for many uses.
|Glades of Christian and Taney County (dark green) - Click to enlarge|
"On steep, south and west facing slopes where soils are very thin and bedrock erupts at or near the surface we find prairie glades. Unlike prairies, glades were always natural island communities, usually surrounded by woods. Glade communities are determined by the type of rock below, such as limestone, sandstone, shale or chert. Although their foundations vary, all types of glades have extremely shallow soil–a maximum of 15 inches and usually much less–frequently disrupted by frost upheavals. Often the bedrock itself is exposed. Dry conditions prevail throughout much of the growing season, although the ground may be saturated in spring, winter and fall. Some glades even boast seasonal or permanent spring seeps.
Glades are far more complex than they appear–and more fragile. Many glade inhabitants, both plants and animals, are dependent on this special habitat. The beautiful spring wildflower hoary puccoon and the six-lined racerunner lizard are two such species. Wildflowers are abundant in prairie glades, and the species in bloom change constantly throughout the growing season. Glade life sometimes seems almost incongruous. Lichens are abundant, including reindeer moss, the same plant upon which the tundra caribou depend. Yet thriving nearby is prickly pear cactus, a settler from the Southwest."
|Bull Mills glade project - note the south and west location of all the glades|
uses a Takeuchi TL 150 Skid Steer with Fecon Mower which you can see in action on this video.
* Wikipedia describes its role as an early succession plant and prairie invader.
Allthingsplants.com has folklore, history and other information on cedars.