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Growing Violets for the Prairie

Katie and Amy potting violets

Katie Voelke and Amy Hutmacher potting violets with Amy’s dad, Bill.

A HUGE thanks to everyone who helped us pot violets on Friday, Jan. 31. There were seven of us nursery worker bees and we potted 11,760 violets in one day! These violets are going to grow at the Northwest Oregon Restoration Partnership nursery in Tillamook for a year until they are big enough to make it on their own out in the wild.

Photo Jan 31, 10 11 54 AM_web

(Left to right) Allison Wilski, Tammi Lesh, and Melissa Reich of NCLC and Celeste Lebo of Northwest Oregon Restoration Partnership.

We will be planting these violets into several properties in the Clatsop Plains as part of a five-year study that we are working on with Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, Institute for Applied Ecology, and Lewis and Clark National Historic Park.  Together, we are researching the most effective way to restore the native prairie here on the North Coast.

Photo Jan 31, 10 12 09 AM_web

These violets are just one of the many native prairie plants that we are going to be planting in the coming years. Early blue violets are also the host plant for the Oregon silverspot butterfly, a small orange butterfly whose populations are declining everywhere due to the loss of native prairie habitat up and down the coast.  Being a host plant means that the violets are absolutely the only thing that the picky little silverspot caterpillars will eat! So move out of the way, Scotch broom: we are bringing the native prairie back!

Feeding on the native thistle.

Oregon silverspot butterflies feeding on the native thistle.

The total number of violets potted was actually 16,000–1,000 more than the goal–after Melissa and Amy returned to Tillamook on Thursday, Feb. 6, with NCLC volunteer Regina Southworth and board member Tammi Lesh to get the job done (stranding Regina, Melissa and Amy overnight in Manzanita after snow closed US 101!)


Early blue violets

Early blue violets



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