(This section is incomplete – under construction!)
This section is intended to introduce the visitor to the Sutton Wilderness to some of the most basic aspects of the flora of the wilderness. The vegetation, or flora, of the Sutton wilderness is the most apparent feature. It will be present on any day you visit and will be obvious to almost everyone. Animals, on the other hand, many not be obvious on some cold and windy days, or might be much less evident. So we begin by discussing the flora, since that is the basis for the entire ecosystem.
The forested areas
Most of the vegetation in the Sutton Wilderness, by biomass or some other comparable measure, is associated with Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), and Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera) trees. Bradford Pears (Pyrus calleryana) are invasive in many parts of the Sutton Wilderness as well. These are the so-called dominants of the forested parts of the Sutton Wilderness.
Approximately half of the Sutton Wilderness is grassland. Much of this is mowed annually and contains a fair representation of native species. Some of these species are described here. There are small patches of grassland where mowing has been impractical and where older specimens of some of the grasses are evident.
Wetlands are land areas that are permanently wet or wet for appreciable parts of the year. The Sutton Wilderness contains one large reservoir (on some mas it is designated “Hospital Lake”) and at least three other ponds that usually contain water. In addition to these, there are other ponds that are seasonally wet, usually during the spring period of maximum precipitation. Some of these contain water only long enough for the breeding of some amphibians, while others have water for most or all of the year.
The main reservoir in Sutton does not have much aquatic vegetation associated with it. There are currently no water lilies, no cattails, and few other wetland plants present around its borders. The main area of cattails lies below the dam, where there is a slow and steady trickle of water from the main reservoir. Some cattails also occur around a small pond, immediately above the main reservoir, that is currently dammed by beavers.
The recent reconstruction of Hospital Lake’s dam required lowering the water level to very low levels. The lack of enough rain has prevented the lake from refilling as of summer 2017, and virtual forests of young Willows (Salix species) and Cottonwoods (Populus deltoides) are fringing the upper parts of the lake. The cottonwoods probably originate from seedlings from mature trees that fringe part of one lake just above Hospital Lake. That lake also has several mature-ish Baldcypress trees (Taxodium distichum) that were undoubtably planted many years ago. They occur in southeast Oklahoma but are not native to central Oklahoma because of a lack of natural habitats. They do survive the winters however.
Try to identify the plants shown below. Most people find it harder to identify plants than animals, despite the fact that plants are always present and don’t run away from you.
And a few more images: