Twenty-Five Mile Prairie
Points of Interest:
• Explore the largest publicly owned prairie formed on soils developed in loess over limestone and shale deposits.
• Look for over 180 native plant species including dozens of prairie wildflower species.
Natural Features Description: This prairie was part of a larger prairie known to early settlers as the twenty-five mile prairie. Today this prairie remnant is the best and largest high quality piece left. Most prairies that occurred on soils developed in loess deposits over limestone and shale bedrock were converted to row crops and or exotic cool-season grasses (mainly tall fescue). This prairie was spared that and was maintained for decades as a hay meadow.
Unlike most remnant prairies in the Ozarks and Osage Plains ecoregions, the surface soils of this prairie range from just slightly acidic to neutral in reaction. Because of this, many plant species that require higher levels of nutrients in the soil, including calcium, are more prevalent here than on prairies developed over sandstone bedrock. Prairie turnip, scurfy pea, white upland aster, prairie dock, aromatic aster, Missouri coneflower, and narrow-leaved milkweed all are characteristic of soils with a calcareous influence. Prairie turnip was an important native plant food in the diet of Native Americans in portions of the Midwest.
In addition to plants, keep a lookout for the rare regal fritillary butterflies that make their home here. Their caterpillars feed only on violets that grow on prairies, such as prairie, arrow-leaved and bird’s foot violets. Because of this picky diet, regal fritillaries live in few other places. Dickcissel and field sparrow are common grassland birds here.
This natural area is within Twenty-Five Mile Prairie Conservation Area. From Humansville go a half-mile south on Business Highway 123, then east two miles on Gravel Road E330 to the parking area. Hunting is permitted.