Grass Pink Orchid
Grass Pink Grass Pink Orchid © Alden Warner

Places We Protect

Shut-In Mountain Fens

Missouri

Shut-In Mountain Fens Preserve features more than 15 types of fen communities.

Shut-In Mountain Fens contain examples of the driest and wettest natural communities in Missouri, creating a very diverse ecological community and habitat.

Why You Should Visit  

The preserve is named for its two most significant features-a series of three small fen communities along Wildcat Hollow and Shut-In Mountain, a 350 foot rugged rhyolite dome.  During late fall through early spring, the view from the top of Shut-In Mountain provides stunning scenery in all directions.

Why TNC Selected This Site  

The wetland fens of the preserve are the most diverse wetlands of this type in the Ozarks. The stunted blackjack oak forest on Shut-In Mountain represents one of the least disturbed examples of this community type in the Current River Valley.  

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

Restoration work at the site includes frequent management using controlled burns to reduce woody shrubs and stimulate rare plant reproduction in the fen communities. Detailed vegetation monitoring in the woodlands surrounding the fens provides insight into the ecological response of these woodlands to frequent fire.

What to See: Plants

On the mountain, visitors will discover a sparse, exceedingly dry woodland with a mixture of shortleaf pine, black oak, blackjack oak and black hickory. The summit is a mixture of igneous glade and gnarled stunted trees. The view from here is spectacular, with vista for miles in all directions.

Three small fens occur along the small stream on the south side of the county road. Several characteristic fen plants, including small fruited false loosestrife and tussock sedge, can be found here.  The rare grass pink orchid and snake mouth orchids also occur here. Visitors are restricted from walking in the fens themselves, in order to prevent damage to the wet soils.

Elsewhere on the preserve are scenic streambeds with rock outcrops and ledges. The surrounding wooded slopes harbor a rich complement of ferns and wildflowers.

Check the local weather forecast and dress accordingly. Long pants and sleeves, hiking boots, drinking water, hat and compass are recommended. During warm weather, light color and light-weight clothing is suggested. Repellent, binoculars, compass and field guide(s) are also worth bringing.