Harvest Field Preserve is in southern Randolph County. It is home to a population of Helianthus schweinitzii, Schweinitz's sunflower.
It is also home to a population of timber rattlesnakes, not unusual for the area as it is close to the edge of the Uwharries.
There is some evidence that this area may have once been a part of a larger shortleaf pine / oak savannah, in which "prairie plants" such as Schweinitz's sunflower may have been abundant. The management plan includes moving the site toward this vision.
These sunflowers are on the Federal Endangered species list, so we count them every year. If you would like to give us a hand in October, Contact Us. We can always use a little help, and the rattlesnakes are wary of so much activity. We've never seen one during the counts.
Plant monitoring includes keeping up with the population--whether it is steady, increasing, or declining. Data is collected every year as staff and volunteer time permit, as having the information over a period of at least 5 years, and preferably more, gives an indication of trends.
Sometimes, those figures suffer the impact of disturbance (fire or accidental mechanical disturbance (such as utility trucks driving over the site to trim trees; mowing in spite of the NO MOWING signs posted around the population, which is on a roadside).
Some of those disturbances can have a lasting impact, others only temporary, so a trend in needed
Volunteers make the job go more quickly, and results more accurate. Generally, monitoring at Harvest Field requires about 3-4 hours. The terrain is easy, the camaraderie is great :-)
Come and join us - usually late September to early October.
Lesley demonstrates the terrific height that Schweinitz's sunflowers can reach.