Chicago Nature Now! Alert
July 12, 2018
“Plan a Chicago outdoor adventure with this Chicago wildflower report
filled with news and info to discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”
Don’t miss one beautiful moment.
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First, I’d like Jim Yassick as our newest Nature Scout. And though it’s not required, it doesn’t hurt that he’s an accomplished photographer. Please scout for us. We can really use the help, even if you only take pictures with your cell phone. Click here to learn more about being on our enthusiastic and supportive team of nature lovers. Nature newbies are welcome. You’ll be amazed how much you’ll learn in such a short time!
Here’s are some of the highlights of what’s happening in Chicago nature:
Purple prairie clover is the star of the week, stealing the show at Bluff Spring Fen,, Shoe Factory Road Prairie, and Somme Prairie Grove. Its fresh scent is a blend of carrot and lemon—my favorite (nice) smell in Chicago nature. But it shares the stage with many newly flowering plants, including Culver’s root, rattlesnake master, rosinweed, compass plant, rattlesnake master, and the fragrant yellow coneflower, wild bergamot, and mountain mint. Wolf Road Prairie looks spectacular. With so many different species in bloom, the preserve is giving a lesson in biodiversity. Gensburg-Markham Prairie is now covered with wild quinine. I’ve never seen so much. And, not far from there, visit Kickapoo Prairie for Tinker Toy rattlesnake master and the golden blooms of compass plant. This is also your last chance to experience a beautiful native plant that most people only associate with the desert: prickly pear cactus. You can find its transcendent yellow blossoms at several sandy preserves, including Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, Miller Woods, Powderhorn Marsh & Prairie, and Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve. It’s worth the trek.
PLAN YOUR CHICAGO OUTDOOR ADVENTURE THIS WEEKEND
Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook: Many flowers are blooming, including a sublime display on the north side of the savanna. There, you’ll be immersed in the purples of leadplant combined with the oranges of butterfly weed, the pearly whites of wild quinine, rattlesnake master, and mountain mint, the lavenders of wild bergamot, the golds of black-eyed Susan and compass plant, and a rich texture of jade foliage from the grand heart-shaped leaves of prairie dock and the stringy bob hairdo of prairie dropseed. In the southern half of the preserve, our star of the week, purple prairie clover, is blooming in dense populations alongside many other flowers that create a beautiful bouquet.
Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester: Visit this week to see the biodiversity of a prairie. There are so many different kinds of flowers, including the white blossoms of wild quinine, rattlesnake master, and Culver’s root, the golden bouquets of rosinweed, yellow coneflower, and compass plant, and the beautiful orange Michgan lily. And spiderwort is still blooming in the morning hours.
Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: Purple prairie clover is blooming in profusion, replacing the shrivelling pale purple coneflower, leadplant, and prairie coreopsis. Staying with the hues of purple, you’ll find nice stands of common milkweed and swamp milkweed alongside splashes of orange butterfly milkweed. New gold flowers are popping up, like rosinweed, yellow coneflower., black-eyed Susan, and the towering stalks of compass plant. You’ll also see sparkles of white atop waist-high blooms of flat-topped wild quinine. And don’t forget to kneel to catch the fragrance of pasture rose found at the northeast kame.
Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates: This week, I rated the experience as “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood.” This tiny hill prairie is exhibiting two kinds of clover: purple prairie clover and, the less common, white prairie clover. But both are fading. The white flowers of wild quinine and rattlesnake master brighten the landscape, along with a handful of golden blooms atop towering compass plant.
Gensburg-Markham Prairie in Markham: Visit for the ivory landscape with much of the prairie immersed in wild quinine. Yes, there are other flowers blooming here, but you hardly notice them amidst the sea of white.
Kickapoo Prairie in Riverdale: Grand displays of two flowers make this preserve worth attending: the latticework of rattlesnake master, with its white molecular-like flower heads, and the forest of compass plant and its golden blossoms.
Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion: This is on this week’s “Go, if you’re in the neighbood” list because we were only able to scout it last week. This is a great preserve to visit with or without wildflowers, even though there are many to see. You should still find the final blooms spiderwort. And prickly pear cactus may still be flowering in the savanna and the sand prairie. There’s also a nice smattering of common milkweed, butterfly milkweed, and hairy puccoon under the oaks of the savanna. The fragrant pink and yellow pasture rose are almost gone, flowering just inches from the ground. I recommend dropping to your knees to smell its divine fragrance . (I do, at least once a day when we’re together.)
Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove: Ranked as “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood.” This intimate remnant prairie that’s nestled within a quiet neighborhood of Downers Grove, You’ll find orange butterfly milkweed, and the golden flowers of compass plant, yellow coneflower, and rosinweed.
Kickapoo Prairie in Riverdale: You tell us! We haven’t been able to get there, this year, and we need someone to scout it.
COMING SOON: PRAIRIE & MARSH BLAZING STAR
Wolf Road Prairie
Bluff Spring Fen
Somme Prairie Grove
Illinois Beach Nature Preserve
Purple Prairie Clover and It’s Remarkably Fresh Scent (see caption for details)
More Flagrantly Fragrant Flowers
Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus at Sandy Preserves Around the Region
Pasture Rose at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve & Bluff Spring Fen
Miraculous Spiderwort, with Flowers that Melt, are Still Blooming!
* Photo is representational and was not recorded this year. Bloom times vary from year to year.
If you’d like to help your neighbors discover national-park quality natural events around our homes, then become an official scout. Or, you can help by just sending us pictures and a text description from your visit. Another way is to post your pictures to Instagram using these essential hashtags: #ChicagoNatureNow and #NameOfPreserve.
© 2018, Mike MacDonald. All rights reserved.