Here are some of my favorite images of fall on restored and remnant prairies of the upper midwest.
Fall color on Wisconsin’s prairies and savannas is more subtle, and less dramatic than the flaming colors of a northern Wisconsin forest; but I love the muted earth tones, the smoky golds, and the rusty browns and burgundy of the fall prairie none the less.
The aesthetic of the fall prairie is in the hundreds of shades of browns, tans, and bronze– a panorama that changes daily through the fall.
Occasionally, there is a burst of red on the prairie landscape from a sumac patch or one of Leopold’s “Red Lanterns.
Aldo Leopold talked about the brilliant red of the blackberry patches he called “Red Lanterns” in an essay by the same name in the chapter “October” in A Sand County Almanac.” He used the red lanterns to light his way to hideouts of the partridge and pheasant on his fall hunts. Nowadays though, to the prairie/savanna restorationist, red lanterns are likely to signal a spot of ground that needs a bit of restoration, maybe more frequent prescribed fire followed by seeding with native prairie grasses and forbs (flowers).
Sunrise on the savanna highlights its smoky golds, reds, and russets.
Sometimes the fall prairie colors are as blatant as a north woods forest, other times you have to stop, look around, and discover the colors at your feet.
Long after trees have shed their colorful leaves, the prairie grasses and forbs remain visually interesting.