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Chicago Nature Now! Alert
May 24, 2018
Memorial Day Edition

“Plan your Chicago Memorial  Day weekend getaway or nature walk 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 getaway or nature walk this Memorial Day weekend:

WOODLAND & SAVANNA HIGHLIGHTS:  There is so much to report leading up to the Memorial Day weekend. The event of the week is taking place in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, including Miller Woods, Tolleston Dunes, and West Beach, where breathtaking displays of blue wild lupine and golden hoary puccoon and hairy puccoon are blooming in soul-stirring numbers. Wild hyacinth is flowering in great numbers at Wolf Road Prairie, Messenger Woods, and Oldfield Oaks . And wild geranium is screaming at Wolf Road PrairieBlack Partridge Woods, Fermilab Prairie woods, Raccoon Grove, Messenger Woods, Pilcher Park, and Oldfield Oaks . And while you’re at these preserves, look for delicate blooms of starry false Solomon’s seal, patches of red trillium, the hidden blooms of mayapple and wild ginger, and the great spanning leaves of skunk cabbage.

Note: The best springtime woodlands in our region reside to the south and west, which are featured on this website. But there’s are several nice woodlands to the north, as well. The blooming in the southern preserves usually run about a week ahead of those in the north. So, northern woodlands should still have flowers blooming that have already faded in the south. For example, try northern preserves like Daniel Wright Woods in Mettawa and and Harms Woods in Glenview.

PRAIRIE HIGHLIGHTS: The prairie flowers of the week are shooting star,and hoary puccoonShoe Factory Road Prairie is the most scenic preserve to visit with its beaming displays of hoary puccoon, shooting star, blue-eyed grass, birdfoot violet, and golden Alexander. Fermilab Prairie is next on the list with shows of shooting star, blue-eyed grass, and golden Alexander. Chiwaukee Prairie in a dream with its breathtaking display of white and pink shooting star! Alongside the shooting star, you’ll find the yellow blooms of wood betony, hoary puccoon, and golden Alexander. And you’ll experience the blues with birdfoot violet and blue-eyed grass.

 

WHERE TO GO THIS WEEKEND FOR A CHICAGO OUTDOOR GETAWAY OR NATURE WALK:

WOODLANDS & SAVANNAS:

Miller Woods is possibly putting on the event of the week with its gorgeous display of wild lupine mixed in with great amounts hoary puccoon and hairy puccoon. While you’re there, make your way to see wonderful plants to Tolleston Dunes and West Beach. If you weren’t already convinced that Chicago offers national-park quality blooming events, this one that will forever change your mind.

Black Partridge Woods in Lemont: Take the trail atop the bluffs for geranium, woodland phlox, and (if you look carefully) shooting star.  Mayapple and wild ginger can be found throughout the preserve, along with expanses of skunk cabbage. You’ll find many other spring flowers and plants, including Solomon’s seal, and starry false Solomon’s seal.

Messenger Woods in Homer Glen is another wonderful place to experience a vast sea wide variety of spring ephemerals, including this week’s hot woodland plants: wild geraniumwoodland phlox,and wild hyacinth. Look for fading blooms of large-flowered trillium, which are now turning pink.

Fermilab Prairie woodland (Fermilab Natural Areas) in Batavia is a great place to see both woodland and prairie plants (see below). In the woodland, wild geranium is the big bloomer, this week. take a nature walk. Look carefully for large-flowered trillium under the erupting foliage of nearby plants to uncover their blooms that have faded to pink. Other interesting plants to be found are red trilliummayapple, and wild ginger.

Oldfield Oaks in Darien: This is not a ChicagoNatureNOW! preserve, but it’s now putting on a show of geranium and, soon, wild hyacinth in the northwest portion of the preserve.

Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester offers a wonderful displays of wild hyacinth and wild geranium. Both are blooming in the savanna, but the former can also be found scattered across the southern prairie. In the savanna and the prairie, you’ll find starry false Solomon’s seal in large number. The flowers is nice, but the leaves are my favorite part of this flowers. Ohio spiderwort is just starting in the prairie.

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook was scouted on May 24, after this post was originally published. You will find beautiful patches of wood betony throughout the preserve along with nice displays of shooting stars. Golden Alexanders are starting to bloom, which should make for a particularly grand show under the trees.

Raccoon Grove, in Monee is a “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood.” You find conspicuous displays of wild geranium.

Pembroke Savanna in Hopkins Park (near Kankakee) went UNSCOUTED that deem as “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood.” Expect to find hoary puccoon land blue-eyed grass. They just burned the preserve and the timing is off. If you visit, please let us know what’s going on.

 

If you can’t make it to any of our showcase woodlands, try McKinley Woods/Fredericks Grove in Channahon, Johnson’s Mound in Elburn, Daniel Wright Woods in Mettawa, and Harms Woods in Glenview. See the final picture in this post for what Harms Woods might look like. You’re bound to find some great stuff at these preserves.

PRAIRIES:

Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates: This small hill prairie has several stunning blooms, right now, including sublime blue-eyed grass, and thick patches of hoary puccoonbirdfoot violet, and golden Alexander.

Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin offers finest display of shooting stars in the region, though not as prolific as other years. Alongside the shooting stars, look for birdfoot violet, hoary puccoon, wood betonyyellow star grass , and wild lupine along the edges. While you’re visiting this preserve, it’s worth a trip to Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, which is getting ready to explode with wild lupine.

Fermilab Prairie in Batavia is looking its best in the prairie, though check out the woodland while you’re there. See woodland info above. looking very nice with its displays of shooting star and golden Alexander. The best view is from atop the hill by the bench. See woodland information above.

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: Our scouts suggest to “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood” to see the shooting stars upon the kame on the south edge of the preserve. There are many other flowers blooming at other spots, but they’re not as flashy as the other preserves. Still, this preserve is very beautiful and sets me at easy from the moment I enter preserve under the canopy of majestic oaks.

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion is always a rich experience. In the black oak savanna, you will find such flowers as hoary puccoonhairy puccoon, wood betony, and starry false Solomon’s seal. The beautiful displays of wild lupine are still about a week away.

 

PHOTO SECTION

Wild Lupine in Our Black Oak Savannas (Sand Savannas)

Wild lupine and hoary puccoon blanket the savanna floor amongst the swale and dunes at Miller Woods.*

This is a photo from last year at Miller Woods, where I found this breathtaking display of wild lupine and hoary puccoon blanketing the wooded swales and dunes.*

 

 

Biodiversity is about the many, not the few. Here, it’s springtime in the savanna, where blue lupines share precious space with hoary puccoon. But, as the season advances, both will fade, making room for an array of other species, in a cycle where each has its time in the sun and then returns to the soil.*

Biodiversity is about the many, not the few. Here at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, it’s springtime in the savanna, where blue lupines share precious space with hoary puccoon. This kind of display is still about a week away at this preserve.*

 

Wild Lupine of species Lupinus perennis.

Wild lupine of species Lupinus perennis.

 

Painterly image of Wild lupine of species Lupinus perennis

An exploration into the inner world of wild lupine.

Wild Geranium

You can find wild geranium at all featured woodlands. Here, at Black Partridge Woods, the pink blooms float above its star-shaped foliage.*

You can find wild geranium at all featured woodlands. Here, at Black Partridge Woods, the pink blooms float above its star-shaped foliage.*

 

At Raccoon Grove, as evening nears in this beautiful spring woodland, the final streaks of sunlight penetrate the emerald canopy. The shining rays highlight the broad leaves of false Solomon’s seal and animate the soft, pink blooms of wild geranium, making all that is illuminated stand apart from the surrounding foliage.*

At Raccoon Grove, as evening nears in this beautiful spring woodland, the final streaks of sunlight penetrate the emerald canopy. The shining rays highlight the broad leaves of false Solomon’s seal and animate the soft, pink blooms of wild geranium, making all that is illuminated stand apart from the surrounding foliage.*

May brings glorious displays of wild geranium to Oldfield Oaks in Darien, Illinois, part of Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.*

May brings glorious displays of wild geranium to Oldfield Oaks in Darien, Illinois, part of Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.*

Woodland Phlox 

In May, woodland phlox covers the bluffs at Black Partridge Woods.*

Woodland phlox covers the bluffs at Black Partridge Woods. They can also be found at the other featured woodlands, like Raccoon Grove and Fermilab Natural Areas.*

  

Hoary Puccoon

Hoary puccoon and birdfoot violet glow in the morning light at the hill prairie called Shoe Factory Road Prairie.*

This is a recent scene of hoary puccoon and birdfoot violet from the hill prairie known as Shoe Factory Road Prairie.

Shooting Star

Shooting stars

 

 

Shooting Stars glow in the final light of day at Fermilab Prairie in Batavia, Illinois.*

On May 16, 2018, shooting stars glowed in the final light of day at Fermilab Prairie in Batavia, Illinois.

 

Shooting stars and woodland phlox at Black Partridge Woods in Lemont, Illinois

Shooting stars and woodland phlox at Black Partridge Woods in Lemont, Illinois.”

May at Chiwaukee Prairie offers a breathtaking display of shooting stars.*

This is picture from a previous year at Chiwaukee Prairie that shows how dense the shooting stars can grow. This year, it’s beautiful, but not as prolific. If you’re in the area, it’s worth the trip.*

 

Wild Hyacinth in Our Woodlands

Wild hyacinth at Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Illinois.*

Wild hyacinth at Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Illinois.*

 

Each May, wild hyacinths bloom in the oak savanna at Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Illinois.*

This is what could be possible, each May at Wolf Road Prairie, as wild hyacinths bloom in the oak savanna.*

Wild hyacinths bloom in abundance at Oldfield Oaks in Darien.*

Wild hyacinths bloom in abundance at Oldfield Oaks in Darien, though it may be past its peak.*

 

Common Blue-eyed Grass

Common blue-eyed grass

Find this gorgeous flower in the prairies and savannas, like Chiwaukee Prairie, Shoe Factory Road Prairie, Pembroke Savanna, Fermilab Prairie, and Somme Prairie Grove.*

 

* Photo is representational and was not recorded this year. Bloom times vary from year to year.

 

If you find this website of Chicago nature information useful, please consider donating or purchasing my nationally-acclaimed book that celebrates all of the preserves featured on this website.

—Mike

 

© 2018, Mike MacDonald. All rights reserved.

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