Curtis-Beauchamp Natural Area

Geology and Topography

Curtis-Beauchamp Natural Area is situated on a ridge and attendant slope near the western edge of the southern extension of the Mitchell karst plain. The area is characterised by Pennsylvanian age sandstone capped ridges and Mississippian age limestone in the valleys.There are numerous sinkholes and no permanent above ground streams. The ridges are underlain by an impermeable layer of loess called a fragipan. Consequently, drainage is horizontal rather than vertical and numerous seeps occur along the edge of the ridges.


Early settlers to the area encountered large treeless areas which they called "barrens". These barrens had a rich flora of prairie forbs and grasses. The old buffalo trace that ran from the Falls of the Ohio to Vincennes is located about two miles to the north of the property.

The property was purchased from the Beauchamp family about 1963. The severely eroded old field on the south end of the ridge was planted in pines. Several pits along the edge of the ridge are evidence that sandstone was mined at some time in the past.

Vascular Plants

From a wet-dry ridge forest to a mesic lowland forest, Curtis-Beauchamp has a diverse flora with over 360 species of vascular plants found to date. The diversity of plant species can be attributed, at least in part, to a variety of microhabitats. Several open areas, including a central limestone glade, provide habitat for prairie and glade species. There is a significant wetland component due to numerous seeps along the edge of the ridge. There are rock outcrops, both limestone and sandstone. The deep ravine that runs near the northwestern edge of the property has a good variety of spring wildflowers.

One of only four populations of the state endangered Devil's-Bit (Chamaelirium luteum) is found here along with several other rare or uncommon species which include Early Ladies'-Tresses (Spiranthes vernalis), Hairy Small Skullcap (Scutellaria parvula var. australis) and Limestone Adder's Tongue (Ophioglossum englemannii). Nine species of native orchids have been found and Yellow Lady's Slipper has been reintroduced.

Endangered, Threatened and Rare Plant List

What's happening at Curtis-Beauchamp

Wildflower Pictures

Click on links below to go to thumbnail pages.

Spring Wildflowers

Summer Wildflowers

Late Summer and Fall Wildflowers


Dragonflies and Damselflies

Newest Lepidoptera find at Curtis-Beauchamp



Robber Flies


Invasive Plant Species

Several exotic or invasive plant species are found on the property. Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) and silky lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) are the most serious and widespread. Others are ailanthus (Ailanthus altissima), white sweet clover (Meilotus alba), and wild carrot (Daucus carota).

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