Chicago Nature Now! Alert
June 14, 2018
“Plan the best Chicago nature walks and outdoor getaways with Chicago nature news and info that helps you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”
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This week’s highlights to help you plan a Chicago outdoor adventure or nature walk this weekend:
Before I begin, one of my intrepid scouts, Zeke, will be taking over the blogging duties for the next two weeks while I’m on vacation. Please make Zeke feel welcome! I’m going to Rocky Mountain National Park which is home to 923 native plant species. That’s far fewer than the 1,706 species that live happily in the Chicago region. And, in terms of land area, the sum of Chicago’s protected natural areas is slightly larger in size. (Learn more here.) But I’ll have a good time, anyway!
The event of the week is taking place at Bluff Spring Fen, where pale purple coneflower and foxglove beardtongue are making a splash. The pale purple coneflowers are also looking good at Belmont Prairie, where they mix with blues of scurfy pea and spiderwort, and the texture of porcupine grass (the plant of the week). Spiderwort is another fun plant with blue or purple flowers that melt in the heat of day. So, get there before noon or you’ll miss it. See my story about spiderwort.
WHERE TO GO THIS WEEKEND FOR A CHICAGO OUTDOOR GETAWAY OR NATURE WALK:
Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove: A beautiful symphony of color and texture this week at this intimate remnant prairie nestled within a quiet neighborhood of Downers Grove. Playing the starring role is pale purple coneflower, and supported by a cast of scurfy pea, porcupine grass and spiderwort. Spiderwort blooms in large numbers during the morning hours. However, as the day warms, the flowers shrivel and turn to liquid.
Fermilab Prairie in Batavia is recommended, but only if you visit in the morning. That’s because the flower of Ohio spiderwort has melted by the afternoon. You will also find nice displays of white wild indigo aside the big leaves of prairie dock and compass plant.
Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion is always a great preserve to visit. Normally, the sand coreopsis is blooming like crazy, right now. But for some reason, it decided not to put on a show this year. Other plants that are flowering there are hairy puccoon, downy phlox, pasture rose, sandwort, spiderwort, and New Jersey tea.
Miller Woods was not scouted this week, but it’s always a great place with some nice blooms and long trails for a nice nature walk. And while you’re there, make your way to over to Tolleston Dunes and West Beach.
Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook is rated as “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood.” It’s a peaceful place with many different flowers to experience.
PLANT OF THE WEEK: PORCUPINE GRASS
You can find this porcupine grass at Belmont Prairie, Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, Bluff Spring Fen, and Powderhorn Marsh & Prairie.
Watch this video to see porcupine grass drill itself into the soil as you watch!
Pale Purple Coneflower & Foxglove Beardtongue
Sand Coreopsis at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve
Pasture Rose at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve & Bluff Spring Fen
The Wonderfully Large Leaves of Compass Plant & Prairie Dock
* Photo is representational and was not recorded this year. Bloom times vary from year to year.
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© 2018, Mike MacDonald. All rights reserved.