Glades are Special Places
Like islands in a sea of trees, rocky openings called glades are scattered across the mountainsides. Glades are very significant features of the St. Francois Mountains. They are common throughout Taum Sauk Mountain State Park and can be found along the park's trails.
Thin soils and exposed bedrock create dry conditions on glades. This, along with occasional fires, makes it hard for most trees to survive. Park managers periodically burn glades to keep them open and grassy.
The ruggedness of these mountains has helped preserve their quality. You can help preserve these glades by staying on trails and leaving them undisturbed for others to enjoy.
Home to Many Plants and Animals
A special value of glades is the home they provide to a variety of plants and animals. Some of these, like the American goldfinch, are common throughout the state. Others like the eastern collared lizard are Great Plains species that only thrive this far east because of glades.
Still others are adapted specifically to these glades. The lichen grasshopper blends in with the lichen-covered rocks, becoming almost invisible. One of the nation's rarest plants, Mead's milkweed, thrives on some of the region's rocky glades.
Watch for these plants
and animals as you walk the trails.
Many kinds of wildflowers cover Taum Sauk Mountain. Some, like the ashy sunflower, scaly blazing star and Indian grass, (pictured here), suggest links to tallgrass prairies that lapped the edge of the Ozarks in earlier times.
Birds are frequent visitors on Taum Sauk Mountain glades. Among the many kinds are blue-winged warblers, which like to feed and nest among shrubs in these natural forest openings.
Glade wildflowers attract lots of butterflies. Many types of butterflies range widely, but the Missouri woodland swallowtail is an Ozark species of open woodlands and glades.
Lichen grasshoppers are just one of several invertebrates whose form, color or lifestyle favors survival on open glades.
The eastern wood rat is one of several small mammal species at home around glades. A large nest of sticks under rock ledges is sometimes the best sign that this secretive animal is nearby.
Eastern collared lizards seek rocky, open glades where fast movement and keen eyesight help them catch insects and escape predators.
Lying beneath the rocks, the striped scorpion seeks shelter from the summer sun, coming out in the cooler night air to feed.