Male tarantula (Aphonopelma hentzi)

The dolomite glade is a community of plants and animals that is quite characteristic of the Ozarks, and well represented at Shaw Nature Reserve. These are grassy, flowery openings occurring within upland woods, on outcrops of dolomitic rocks on south- and west-facing slopes. The combination of shallow soil and direction of slope produces a hot, often extremely dry environment with thin, rocky soil which will not support the rapid growth of trees. However, after nearly a century of fire suppression, eastern redcedar did make significant inroads into Shaw Nature Reserve glades. Glades are dominated by herbaceous flora, including breathtakingly beautiful wildflowers. They have been compared to deserts, but are actually much more similar ecologically to drier versions of the tallgrass prairie, with many species or closely related species pairs in common. Birdsfoot violet, Indian paintbrush, Missouri evening primrose, the rare Fremont's leather flower, lance-leaf tickseed and pale purple coneflower bloom in waves of color from April to early July. The plains scorpion and tarantula spider are both found in the warm, dry conditions of the glades.

Crescent Knoll Glade Overlook

The Crescent Knoll Overlook, #9 on the trail map, is located a short walking distance to the west of the Maritz Trail House. This beautifully crafted structure provides panoramic views of the Meramec River valley and acres of dolomite limestone glade habitat. A diversity of plant and animal life can be observed at this location, including numerous species of wildflowers, butterflies and birds. Seasonally changing interpretive flip cards provide photographs and natural history information for commonly observed species. A viewing scope gives visitors the opportunity to take a closer look at the diversity of plants and animals that inhabit this area. The overlook is accessible to wheelchairs from the west end of the Maritz Trail House parking lot.

Glade boardwalk

Just 100 yards south on the Wildflower Trail from the Maritz Trail House, #8 on the trail map, is the glade boardwalk. This 300 foot structure was built using eastern red cedar lumber milled from trees harvested at Shaw Nature Reserve as part of the ongoing glade restoration effort. The boardwalk provides visitors a closer look at the glade ecosystem while protecting the fragile plant life and thin soil of this unique natural area. In spring the glade is alive with Indian paintbrush, bird's foot violet, Fremont's leather flower, pale purple cone flower, Missouri evening primrose and other species of native wildflowers and grasses that thrive in glade habitats.

Glade boardwalk