Curious about a plant or animal you found in your yard? Spot something neat along our trails but don't know what it is? Wondering who left that footprint? Looking for a particular bird or animal and want to know more? Found a flower or berry and want to know if it’s edible?

Visitors to the Nature Reserve frequently pose questions such as these for our naturalists to answer. View some of the most popular inquiries and our responses below.

Popular Questions and Answers

Why do you have bamboo at the Shaw Nature Reserve?

The bamboo growing next to Pinetum Lake is an Asian species, Golden bamboo, but it is safely contained there, and certainly provides a fun spot for kids (and adults) to play, and provides food and shelter for birds. Fun facts! 1) Bamboo is in the grass family. 2) There is a native type of bamboo in Missouri, called “giant cane” Giant cane may be seen in the Whitmire wildflower Garden near the Bascom House, and in the woods along the lower ends of both the Barn and Quarry Roads.

How many different types of trees are at the Shaw Nature Reserve?

About 100 different kinds. In the 1920’s over 25 species of pine, fir, spruce, cypress, and juniper were planted around Pinetum Lake. Today many of those trees are still standing! In our natural woodlands, we have several different kinds of oak-hickory forest (different combinations of oak and hickory species on the ridges, slopes, and valleys, respectively), sycamore-silver maple-green ash forest in the Meramec River floodplain, creek-bottom woodlands with river birch along Brush Creek, (planted) Shortleaf Pine forest, and second-growth cedar-shingle oak-elm forests that have occupied former farmland abandoned in the 1920’s.

What kinds of animals will I see at the Shaw Nature Reserve? Are they dangerous?

For over 30 years Shaw Nature Reserve has managed and restored diverse native habitats. It is a safe haven for plant/animal species, so a variety of animals live at the Reserve.  We have kinds of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, and lots of land and water invertebrates. You might not see all these animals but we have spotted: bobcat, beaver, mink, fox, bats, hawk, eagle, bluebirds, box turtles, snapping turtles, black rat snakes, skinks, toads, frogs, salamanders, ants, tarantulas, butterflies, and many more.

Animals will protect themselves and anything with a mouth can bite, so do not attempt to pet or pick up wild animals.

What are those large strange looking fish in Wolf Run Lake?

They are Grass Carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella). These fish are native to Asia and have been stocked in Wolf Run Lake to help control aquatic plants. They have pharyngeal teeth in their throat which help them crush and break down plants. You can usually spot these animals in the shaded back corner of the lake.

I spotted a mushroom and wondered if I can take it home?

Several mushrooms grow at the Nature Reserve: Morel, Cinnabar Chanterelle, Turkey Tail, and Ear Wood to name a few. Most of our mushrooms are poisonous, or at least not very tasty. A few kinds are edible, but we do not permit harvesting or collecting of any kind on the Reserve. We welcome you to hike on the trails and observe the diverse plant life at the Reserve but please, no collecting. Take a camera on your hike so you can take a picture to keep instead!


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