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Chicago Nature Info & News – 06/23/2017

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Chicago Nature Info & News – 06/23/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
June 23, 2017

“Plan your Chicago nature adventure with Chicago nature info and news
to help you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

This has been a very busy week of scouting because so much is about to happen. In our prairies and woodlands, as one flower fades another is ready to take its place. At Bluff Spring Fen, pale purple coneflowers are ready to wilt, but in the wings are the rich purple hues of leadplant and golden blooms of prairie coreopsis. And, in many of our prairies, the whites of foxglove beardtongue are being replaced by wild quinine.

 

 

Here’s what’s happening in Chicago nature:

This week, the preserves with the best blooms are Bluff Spring FenBelmont Prairie, and Somme Prairie Grove. The first two preserves offer impressive displays of pale purple coneflower, among other fascinating blooms, while the latter has many plants in flowers. Still blooming, but not as prolifically, is the miraculous species called spiderwort, but you will only find them blooming in the morning. By the afternoon, the flowers will have melted into a purple liquid! Learn more here. The kooky grass of the week is porcupine grass. Its long needle-like seed drills itself into the soil at a speed that you can actually watch. See my blog post and video. And then there’s  foxglove beardtongue. In fall, it’s seed smells exactly, and I mean “exactly,” like vomit! See my video below. Now, read on to learn where to find these three miracles of Chicago nature.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Bluff Spring Fen is featuring pale purple coneflowerfoxglove beardtongue, butterfly weed, common milkweed, and the beginnings of leadplant and prairie coreopsis.

Belmont Prairie is offering a dramatic show of pale purple coneflowerporcupine grass, and scurfy pea, and several beautiful orange blossoms of butterfly weed.

Somme Prairie Grove has many flowers in bloom, including tuberous (or prairie) Indian plantain, purple milkweed, prairie sundrop, white wild indigo, butterfly weed, and more. Leadplant is just starting and, next week, will be putting on a spectacular show.

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve features lots of hoary puccoon, butterfly weed, and porcupine grass. There’s lots of wildlife, here, even if you just happen to see their tracks in the sand. (See photos below.)

Spears Woods offers displays of foxglove beardtongue throughout the prairies.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie has the regions first displays of prairie coreopsis, and leadplant is just starting to flower.

 

PLAN YOUR CHICAGO NATURE TRIP THIS WEEKEND

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: Your walk begins in the intimate oak savanna under the warm embrace and protection of majestic oaks. Soon, the trails emerge into the open prairie, where y0u’ll find foxglove beardtongue and large shows of pale purple coneflower. Porcupine grass can also be found here, as well as the milkweeds of orange butterfly weed and purplish common milkweed. As you walk deeper into the preserve, notice the grand emergence of leadplant on the southeast kame and prairie coreopsis on the northeast kame. Next week, it they will be fabulous!

Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove: Experience the beautiful symphony of color and texture, this week, at this intimate remnant prairie that’s nestled within a quiet neighborhood of Downers Grove. Playing the starring role is pale purple coneflower, and supported by a cast of scurfy pea, butterfly milkweed, and porcupine grass. Spiderwort is fading fast, but can still be found flowering in the during the morning hours. However, as the day warms, the flowers shrivel and turn to liquid.

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook: There are so many different species of colorful flowers in bloom, right now. It’s like taking a fun course in biology. And don’t forget to use this page on your phone to help identify the various plants. One of my favorite prairie plants is tuberous (or prairie) Indian plantain, which you can find soon after walking in. You’ll also see the gorgeous purple milkweed, but also take the time to take in its delicate fragrance. Along the way, you’ll also find another lovely plant—the yellow prairie sundrop.  Foxglove beardtongue can be found, especially in the northwest corner of the preserve. On your way there, you’ll see a smattering of other blooming flowers, like white wild indigo and butterfly (milk)weed. Then, there’s leadplant, which is getting ready to bloom. So,visit next week for a dramatic show. I often speak of the flowering plants (known as forbs), but the texture of the grasses are also very beautiful, in particular, prairie dropseed or, as I like to call it, Cousin Itt plant. I love Cousin Itt. He made very few appearances on “The Addams Family,” which made that much more exciting to see Itt as a kid (and as an adult). But, now and though the fall, you can see his likeness at Somme Prairie Grove.

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion: This preserve is always a great experience, even if there aren’t a lot of blooms. Right now, under the canopy of oaks, you’ll find hoary puccoon in great numbers along with a smattering of  butterfly weed and pasture rose. But don’t just view this beautiful rose. Get down on hands and knees and press your nose into the pink petals. It’s worth the effort. Out in the sand prairie, you’ll discover thousands of porcupine grass with their long, needlelike seeds still attached. This preserve is so rich and wild that you can easily spend most of your day exploring it. And, if you take your time and look closely, you may even find wildlife or their signs. (See photos below of animal tracks, a snapping turtle, and snapping turtle eggs.)

Spears Woods in Willow Springs: Foxglove beardtongue is blooming across the prairies. While you’re there, don’t forget to find your way to Hogwash Slough. Click here to visit the Spears Woods page to find the GPS coordinates for the prairie and the slough.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie is a nice place to visit, this week, if you’re in the neighborhood, which happens to be pretty close to Bluff Spring Fen. Come for the region’s first display of prairie coreopsis with leadplant just beginning to flower. Next week, this preserve will be a must-see experience.

Miller Woods (Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore) in Gary, Indiana: Last week, there were grand displays of hoary puccoon, spiderwort, and downy phlox. This week, we couldn’t get to this preserve because we still need at least a dozen more volunteer scouts. Please help us scout.

Experience Spiderwort: Head out to just about any http://spears woodof our featured prairies and savannas to discover spiderwort. However, to see the flowers, you need to arrive by 10 o’clock in the morning. At the start of each day over the time span of about a month, the plant produces new purple flowers that turn to liquid by afternoon! To experience this purple liquid, squeeze the closed buds that resemble slightly opened pistachios. For the rest of the day, people will look at your fingers and think you were recently arrested. Read about spiderwort and learn where you can find it.

Experience Porcupine Grass at these preserves: Belmont Prairie, the sand prairie at Illinois Beach Nature PreserveShoe Factory Road Prairie, Bluff Spring Fen, and Powderhorn Prairie.

 

COMING NEXT WEEK: Leadplant, Prairie Coreopsis, and Goat’s Rue

 

PHOTO SECTION

Pale Purple Coneflower & Foxglove Beardtongue

Watch this video from about this time last year at Bluff Spring Fen:

 

In addition to experiencing the prairie as a whole, take a closer look and discover the many attractions that hide in plain sight. Here, within a scene of a thousand coneflowers, I attended a iniature, slow-motion rodeo that was taking place upon one prickly flower head. I watched as a tiny ant rode the back of a slinking inchworm.*

In addition to experiencing the prairie as a whole, take a closer look and discover the many attractions that hide in plain sight. Here, within a scene of a thousand coneflowers, I attended a iniature, slow-motion rodeo that was taking place upon one prickly flower head. I watched as a tiny ant rode the back of a slinking inchworm.*

 

The predawn clouds take on the colors of the pale purple coneflowers at this dolomite limestone prairie at Theodore Stone Preserve in Hodgkins, Illinois.*

The predawn clouds take on the colors of the pale purple coneflowers at this dolomite limestone prairie at Theodore Stone Preserve in Hodgkins, Illinois.*

 

In June, foxglove beardtongue blooms in profusion at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois.*

In June, foxglove beardtongue blooms in profusion in many of Chicago’s prairies.*

Miraculous Spiderwort with Flowers that Melt!

Ohio spiderwort in the morning light at Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove, Illinois.

Spiderwort in the morning light at Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove and at every savanna and prairie that we feature. A flower will open up in the morning and then melt in just a few hours. So, the morning is the time to see the flowers in bloom. Learn more here.

Miraculous Porcupine Grass and Its Spinning Seed!

Porcupine grass (Hesperostipa spartea, previously known as Stipa spartea, for anyone who cares) is a particularly fun and interesting plant because of its fascinating seed. The common name refers to its long needles, which apparently resemble the spines of a porcupine, though I think the needle-like fruit best resembles a six- to seven-inch spear. The seed head represents the blade, and the long shaft is known as the awn. As the javelin-shaped fruit falls from the plant, the heavy seed head leads the way and embeds its sharp tip into the soil. As the awn dries, it twirls counter-clockwise until the shaft becomes so tightly wound that the implanted seed head begins to drill into the ground. Humidity and moisture have the opposite effect on the awn, causing it to uncoil, allowing rain or heavy dew to straighten it out. As the awn unwinds, the seed is left in place. The drilling process resumes when the environment dries out, and the cycle repeats until the seed is deposited as far as three to four inches beneath the surface, where the awn decays and the grain germinates. Seeds of porcupine grass can’t help but drill, so much so that they’ve been known to cause fatal wounds in animals. Hence, trust me when I tell you that putting them in your pocket is a big mistake.

The seeds of porcupine grass are long sharp needles that fall off the plant and slowly drill themselves into the soil. See my video here.

 

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve

 

Butterfly milkweed (or butterfly weed) blooms in the black oak savanna at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois.*

Butterfly milkweed (or butterfly weed) blooms in several of Chicagoland’s prairies and savannas, including Bluff Spring Fen, Belmont Prairie, Somme Prairie Grove, and, here, at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion.*

 

Near the Lake Michigan shore, the low light of morning revealed shapes in the sand that chronicled the secrets of time and affirmed the existence of wondrous creatures and invisible forces.*

Near the Lake Michigan shore at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, the low light of morning revealed shapes in the sand that chronicled the secrets of time and affirmed the existence of wondrous creatures and invisible forces.*

The hatched eggs of the Common Snapping Turtle of species Chelydra serpentina.

On Thursday, June 23, 2017, I found what I thought to be hatched snapping turtle eggs. However, I was recently informed that the buried eggs would not for another two months, which means that this nest was raided by a raccoon or other predator. This makes sense because this nest was right on the trail along the banks of the Dead River (Illinois Beach Nature Preserve).

 

A common snapping turle trudges through the sandy Lake Michigan shoreline on its way to the Dead River at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, Illinois.*

 

The Dead River, at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, is the only remaining river in Illinois that flows into Lake Michigan. The name comes either from deep pools of quicksand hidden along the banks that devour unsuspecting hikers or from water that remains still and barely flows. On this sapphire morning, the latter was true.*

The Dead River, at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, is the only remaining river in Illinois that flows into Lake Michigan. The name comes either from deep pools of quicksand hidden along the banks that devour unsuspecting hikers or from water that remains still and barely flows. On this sapphire morning, the latter was true.*

 

 

Pasture Rose at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve & Bluff Spring Fen

Pasture Rose in the sand prairie at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve. The fragrance of pasture rose is transcendent—a spiritual experience. Over several weeks in late spring, it blooms barely inches from the ground. During that time, whenever we’re together, I partake in a sacred ritual. I drop to my knees and bow in reverence, nose to petal.*

The fragrance of pasture rose is transcendent—a spiritual experience. Over several weeks in late spring, it blooms barely inches from the ground. During that time, whenever we’re together, I partake in a sacred ritual. I drop to my knees and bow in reverence, nose to petal.*

 

Belmont Prairie

Belmont prairie is special because it is home to an unusually high number of blooming wildflowers and fascinating plant species. During the month of June, this remnant prairie puts on a most impressive floral display: the celebration of the pale purple coneflower.Mixed amongst the coneflowers, the bright-colored grasses crisscrossing the center of the frame are porcupine grass. Its long spear-like seeds miraculously drill themselves into the earth in a counter-clockwise motion that you can actually watch.*

Belmont prairie is special because it is home to an unusually high number of blooming wildflowers and fascinating plant species. During the month of June, this remnant prairie puts on a most impressive floral display: the celebration of the pale purple coneflower. Mixed amongst the coneflowers, the bright-colored grasses crisscrossing the center of the frame are porcupine grass. Its long spear-like seeds miraculously drill themselves into the earth in a counter-clockwise motion that you can actually watch.*

Bluff Spring Fen

Soon after entering Bluff Spring Fen, you’ll find yourself in an intimate oak savanna, where majestic bur oaks with outstretched limbs protect you in their nurturing embrace.*

Soon after entering Bluff Spring Fen, you’ll find yourself in an intimate oak savanna, where majestic bur oaks with outstretched limbs protect you in their nurturing embrace.*

 

Pale purple coneflowers rise above the prairie at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois.

Pale purple coneflowers rise above the prairie at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois.*

 

At Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois, pearl blossoms of foxglove beardtongue catch the morning rays and a new day awakens—one as splendid and picturesque as any place on Earth.*

This year, foxglove beardtongue is not as prolific at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin. Their pearl blossoms catch the morning rays and a new day awakens—one as splendid and picturesque as any place on Earth.*

Spears Woods

The spring prairie at Spears Woods provides a show of foxglove beardtongue.*

The late-spring prairie at Spears Woods provides displays of foxglove beardtongue.*

 NEXT WEEK At Somme Prairie Grove

It was a very dry year in Chicago, yet you wouldn’t know it from looking at this scene. The purple plant in this panorama is leadplant, which can search for water fifteen feet below the arid surface. Other drought-tolerant species seen here include prairie dropseed and wild quinine, in the front; and farther out, prairie dock, compass plant, and rattlesnake master.*

It was a very dry year in Chicago, yet you wouldn’t know it from looking at this scene. The purple plant in this panorama is leadplant, which can search for water fifteen feet below the arid surface. Other drought-tolerant species seen here include prairie dropseed and wild quinine, in the front; and farther out, prairie dock, compass plant, and rattlesnake master.*

 

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

 

SCOUTING NEEDS for my  next report on Thursday, June 22 (in rough order of urgency):

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.

Do you find this website useful? Do you benefit from our many hours of weekly scouting? Then please help keep it going by donating or purchasing my nationally-acclaimed book.

—Mike

 

Chicago Nature Info & News – 06/15/2017

Posted by on 1:13 am in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Nature Info & News – 06/15/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
June 15, 2017

“Plan your Chicago nature adventure with Chicago nature info and news
to help you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

Do you find this website useful? Do you benefit from our many hours of weekly scouting? Then please help keep it going by donating or purchasing my nationally-acclaimed book. It includes over two hundred breathtaking photographs and forty-six chapters of inspirational information that celebrate Chicago’s natural wonders and every preserve featured on this website.

 

Here’s what’s happening in Chicago nature:

The preserve of the week may be Illinois Beach Nature Preserve and it’s golden display of sand coreopsis. This is also the time for grand displays of pale purple coneflower. The kooky flower of the moment is spiderwort, but you will only find them blooming in the morning. By the afternoon, the flowers will have melted into a purple liquid! Learn more here. The kooky grass of the week is porcupine grass. Its long needle-like seed drills itself into the soil at a speed that you can actually watch. See my blog post and video. And then there’s foxglove beardtongue, that’s just beginning to bloom. In fall, it’s seed smells exactly, and I mean “exactly,” like vomit! See my video below. Now, read on to learn where to find these three miracles of Chicago nature.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve is putting on a spectacular show of golden sand coreopsis and downy phlox.

Belmont Prairie offers performances by spiderwortporcupine grass, scurfy pea, and the star of the show, pale purple coneflower.

Bluff Spring Fen is beginning a show of foxglove beardtongue and pale purple coneflower.

Miller Woods is looking very nice with great displays of hoary puccoon, spiderwort, and downy phlox. . Please help us scout this preserve.

Spears Woods offers displays of foxglove beardtongue throughout the prairies.

 

PLAN YOUR CHICAGO NATURE TRIP THIS WEEKEND

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion: The grand, golden show of sand coreopsis is continues in the open sand prairie, though it has faded a little. Just take the trails that lead towards Lake Michigan. And don’t forget to look for spiderwort. You can always find some around the parking lot. A favorite flower of mine grows here. It’s called pasture rose, and its fragrance is sublime. But to press your nose into the pink petals means getting down on your hands and knees to reach the low-growing blossom. Because this preserve is so rich, you can easily spend most of your day exploring it.

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 peaporcupine grass and spiderwort. Spiderwort blooms in large numbers during the morning hours. However, as the day warms, the flowers shrivel and turn to liquid.

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: Your walk begins in the intimate oak savanna under the warm embrace and protection of majestic oaks. Soon, the trails emerge into the open prairie, where y0u’ll find foxglove beardtongue and pale purple coneflower in bloom. Porcupine grass can also be found here.

Miller Woods (Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore) in Gary, Indiana: Hoary puccoon, spiderwort, downy phlox, and ferns make this a great place to visit this weekend. And, while you’re in Indiana, check out these preserves to fill out the rest of your day: Cowles Bog Trail and Tolleston Dunes.

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook: This week, if you’re in the neighborhood, this preserve is probably worth the trip. Foxglove beardtongue can be found blooming in great white masses in the far northwest corner of the preserve. On your way there, you’ll see a smattering of other blooming flowers, white wild indigo.

Spears Woods in Willow Springs: Foxglove beardtongue is blooming across the prairies. While you’re there, don’t forget to find your way to Hogwash Slough. Click here to visit the Spears Woods page to find the GPS coordinates for the prairie and the slough.

Experience Spiderwort: Head out to just about any http://spears woodof our featured prairies and savannas to discover spiderwort. However, to see the flowers, you need to arrive by 10 o’clock in the morning. At the start of each day over the time span of about a month, the plant produces new purple flowers that turn to liquid by afternoon! To experience this purple liquid, squeeze the closed buds that resemble slightly opened pistachios. For the rest of the day, people will look at your fingers and think you were recently arrested. Read about spiderwort and learn where you can find it.

Experience Porcupine Grass at these preserves: Belmont Prairie, the sand prairie at Illinois Beach Nature PreserveShoe Factory Road Prairie, Bluff Spring Fen, and Powderhorn Prairie.

 

COMING SOON: Prairie Coreopsis, Goat’s Rue, & Leadplant

 

PHOTO SECTION

Sand Coreopsis at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve

In a celebration of life, blooms of sand coreopsis spread with golden joy along the banks of the Dead River at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois.*

Based on two visits last weekend, we predict blooms of sand coreopsis in the sand prairie at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois.*

The turning earth is the dimmer switch, gradually recasting every dim dewdrop, petal, and blade of grass into a galaxy of blazing bulbs and lustrous lamps. On this morning in late May, blooms of golden coreopsis and New Jersey tea are set aglow alongside shimmering spider webs that cling to last year’s grasses.

The turning earth is the dimmer switch, gradually recasting every dim dewdrop, petal, and blade of grass into a galaxy of blazing bulbs and lustrous lamps. On this morning, blooms of golden coreopsis and New Jersey tea are set aglow alongside shimmering spider webs that cling to last year’s grasses.*

Pale Purple Coneflower & Foxglove Beardtongue

Watch this video from about this time last year at Bluff Spring Fen:

 

In addition to experiencing the prairie as a whole, take a closer look and discover the many attractions that hide in plain sight. Here, within a scene of a thousand coneflowers, I attended a iniature, slow-motion rodeo that was taking place upon one prickly flower head. I watched as a tiny ant rode the back of a slinking inchworm.*

In addition to experiencing the prairie as a whole, take a closer look and discover the many attractions that hide in plain sight. Here, within a scene of a thousand coneflowers, I attended a iniature, slow-motion rodeo that was taking place upon one prickly flower head. I watched as a tiny ant rode the back of a slinking inchworm.*

 

The predawn clouds take on the colors of the pale purple coneflowers at this dolomite limestone prairie at Theodore Stone Preserve in Hodgkins, Illinois.*

The predawn clouds take on the colors of the pale purple coneflowers at this dolomite limestone prairie at Theodore Stone Preserve in Hodgkins, Illinois.*

In June, foxglove beardtongue blooms in profusion at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois.*

In June, foxglove beardtongue blooms in profusion in many of Chicago’s prairies.*

 

Miraculous Spiderwort with Flowers that Melt!

Ohio spiderwort in the morning light at Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove, Illinois.

Spiderwort in the morning light at Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove and at every savanna and prairie that we feature. A flower will open up in the morning and then melt in just a few hours. So, the morning is the time to see the flowers in bloom. Learn more here.

Miraculous Porcupine Grass and Its Spinning Seed!

Porcupine grass (Hesperostipa spartea, previously known as Stipa spartea, for anyone who cares) is a particularly fun and interesting plant because of its fascinating seed. The common name refers to its long needles, which apparently resemble the spines of a porcupine, though I think the needle-like fruit best resembles a six- to seven-inch spear. The seed head represents the blade, and the long shaft is known as the awn. As the javelin-shaped fruit falls from the plant, the heavy seed head leads the way and embeds its sharp tip into the soil. As the awn dries, it twirls counter-clockwise until the shaft becomes so tightly wound that the implanted seed head begins to drill into the ground. Humidity and moisture have the opposite effect on the awn, causing it to uncoil, allowing rain or heavy dew to straighten it out. As the awn unwinds, the seed is left in place. The drilling process resumes when the environment dries out, and the cycle repeats until the seed is deposited as far as three to four inches beneath the surface, where the awn decays and the grain germinates. Seeds of porcupine grass can’t help but drill, so much so that they’ve been known to cause fatal wounds in animals. Hence, trust me when I tell you that putting them in your pocket is a big mistake.

The seeds of porcupine grass are long sharp needles that fall off the plant and slowly drill themselves into the soil. See my video here.

 

Pasture Rose at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve & Bluff Spring Fen

Pasture Rose in the sand prairie at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve. The fragrance of pasture rose is transcendent—a spiritual experience. Over several weeks in late spring, it blooms barely inches from the ground. During that time, whenever we’re together, I partake in a sacred ritual. I drop to my knees and bow in reverence, nose to petal.*

The fragrance of pasture rose is transcendent—a spiritual experience. Over several weeks in late spring, it blooms barely inches from the ground. During that time, whenever we’re together, I partake in a sacred ritual. I drop to my knees and bow in reverence, nose to petal.*

 

Belmont Prairie

Belmont prairie is special because it is home to an unusually high number of blooming wildflowers and fascinating plant species. During the month of June, this remnant prairie puts on a most impressive floral display: the celebration of the pale purple coneflower.Mixed amongst the coneflowers, the bright-colored grasses crisscrossing the center of the frame are porcupine grass. Its long spear-like seeds miraculously drill themselves into the earth in a counter-clockwise motion that you can actually watch.*

Belmont prairie is special because it is home to an unusually high number of blooming wildflowers and fascinating plant species. During the month of June, this remnant prairie puts on a most impressive floral display: the celebration of the pale purple coneflower. Mixed amongst the coneflowers, the bright-colored grasses crisscrossing the center of the frame are porcupine grass. Its long spear-like seeds miraculously drill themselves into the earth in a counter-clockwise motion that you can actually watch.*

Bluff Spring Fen

Soon after entering Bluff Spring Fen, you’ll find yourself in an intimate oak savanna, where majestic bur oaks with outstretched limbs protect you in their nurturing embrace.*

Soon after entering Bluff Spring Fen, you’ll find yourself in an intimate oak savanna, where majestic bur oaks with outstretched limbs protect you in their nurturing embrace.*

 

Pale purple coneflowers rise above the prairie at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois.

Pale purple coneflowers rise above the prairie at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois.*

 

At Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois, pearl blossoms of foxglove beardtongue catch the morning rays and a new day awakens—one as splendid and picturesque as any place on Earth.*

This year, foxglove beardtongue is not as prolific at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin. Their pearl blossoms catch the morning rays and a new day awakens—one as splendid and picturesque as any place on Earth.*

Spears Woods

The spring prairie at Spears Woods provides a show of foxglove beardtongue.*

The late-spring prairie at Spears Woods provides displays of foxglove beardtongue.*

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

 

SCOUTING NEEDS for my  next report on Thursday, June 22 (in rough order of urgency):

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.

Do you find this website useful? Do you benefit from our many hours of weekly scouting? Then please help keep it going by donating or purchasing my nationally-acclaimed book.

—Mike

 

Chicago Nature Info & News – 06/07/2017

Posted by on 2:36 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Nature Info & News – 06/07/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
June 7, 2017

“Plan your Chicago nature trip with Chicago nature info and news
to help you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

Do you find this website useful? Do you benefit from our many hours of weekly scouting? Then please help keep it going by donating or purchasing my nationally-acclaimed book. It includes over two hundred breathtaking photographs and forty-six chapters of inspirational information that celebrate Chicago’s natural wonders and every preserve featured on this website.

 

Here’s what’s happening in Chicago nature:

The preserve of the week is Illinois Beach Nature Preserve with its grand show of sand coreopsis. This is also a fun week for kooky plants. The flower of the week is spiderwort, but you will only find them blooming in the morning. By the afternoon, the flowers will have melted into a purple liquid! Learn more here. The grass of the week is porcupine grass. Its long needle-like seed drills itself into the soil at a speed that you can actually watch. See my blog post and video. And then there’s foxglove beardtongue, that’s just beginning to bloom. In fall, it’s seed smells exactly, and I mean “exactly,” like vomit! See my video here. Now, read on to learn where to find these three miracles of Chicago nature.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve is putting on a spectacular show of golden sand coreopsis. Thanks to Seth Marcus for scouting this site and sending us pictures and video!

Miller Woods was putting on a fantastic show of wild lupine and hoary puccoon, but we haven’t been able to get back to see how much it has faded or to determine if other species are blooming. Please help us scout this preserve.

Somme Prairie Grove offers a sensation of blue flag iris in the wetland.

Belmont Prairie is featuring dense displays of spiderwort and porcupine grass.

Bluff Spring Fen is beginning a show of foxglove beardtongue and pale purple coneflower.

 

PLAN YOUR CHICAGO NATURE TRIP THIS WEEKEND

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion: The grand, golden show of sand coreopsis is taking place in the open sand prairie. Just take the trails that lead towards Lake Michigan. The parking lot is surrounded by a fairy-tale savanna where you’ll find displays of wild lupine, hoary puccoon, and downy phlox. And don’t forget to look for spiderwort. You can always find some around the parking lot. Because this preserve is so rich, you can easily spend most of your day exploring it.

Miller Woods (Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore) in Gary, Indiana: Over the past two weeks, the display of wild lupines and hoary puccoon was a must-see event. Now, we’re not so sure because we haven’t been able to scout it. So, consider becoming a volunteer scout or just send us some pictures from your visit. And, while you’re in Indiana, check out these preserves to fill out the rest of your day: Cowles Bog Trail and Tolleston Dunes.

Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove: Both porcupine grass and spiderwort can be found at this gem of a remnant prairie. Porcupine grass is easy to find. Spiderwort blooms in large numbers during the morning hours in the western half of the preserve. As the day warms, the flowers shrivel and turn to liquid.

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: Your walk begins in the intimate oak savanna under the warm embrace and protection of majestic oaks. Soon, the trails emerge into the open prairie where y0u’ll find foxglove beardtongue and pale purple coneflower beginning to bloom.

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook: Take the trail north through the trees and then to the northeast to find a grand offering of blue flag iris in the wetland near Waukegan Road. Continue along the trails to see many other flowers in bloom, including cream wild indigo and American vetch.

Experience Spiderwort: Head out to just about any of our featured prairies and savannas to discover spiderwort. However, to see the flowers, you need to arrive by 10 o’clock in the morning. At the start of each day over the time span of about a month, the plant produces new purple flowers that turn to liquid by afternoon! To experience this purple liquid, squeeze the closed buds that resemble slightly opened pistachios. For the rest of the day, people will look at your fingers and think you were recently arrested. Read about spiderwort and learn where you can find it.

Experience Porcupine Grass at these preserves: Belmont Prairie, the sand prairie at Illinois Beach Nature PreserveShoe Factory Road Prairie, Bluff Spring Fen, and Powderhorn Prairie.

 

COMING SOON: Exciting blooms of foxglove beardtongue (with seeds that smell like vomit) along with pale purple coneflowers!

 

PHOTO SECTION

Sand Coreopsis at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve

In a celebration of life, blooms of sand coreopsis spread with golden joy along the banks of the Dead River at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois.*

Based on two visits last weekend, we predict blooms of sand coreopsis in the sand prairie at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois.*

The turning earth is the dimmer switch, gradually recasting every dim dewdrop, petal, and blade of grass into a galaxy of blazing bulbs and lustrous lamps. On this morning in late May, blooms of golden coreopsis and New Jersey tea are set aglow alongside shimmering spider webs that cling to last year’s grasses.

The turning earth is the dimmer switch, gradually recasting every dim dewdrop, petal, and blade of grass into a galaxy of blazing bulbs and lustrous lamps. On this morning, blooms of golden coreopsis and New Jersey tea are set aglow alongside shimmering spider webs that cling to last year’s grasses.*

 

Miraculous Spiderwort with Flowers that Melt!

Ohio spiderwort in the morning light at Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove, Illinois.

Spiderwort in the morning light at Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove and at every savanna and prairie that we feature. A flower will open up in the morning and then melt in just a few hours. So, the morning is the time to see the flowers in bloom. Learn more here.

Miraculous Porcupine Grass and Spinning Seed!

Porcupine grass (Hesperostipa spartea, previously known as Stipa spartea, for anyone who cares) is a particularly fun and interesting plant because of its fascinating seed. The common name refers to its long needles, which apparently resemble the spines of a porcupine, though I think the needle-like fruit best resembles a six- to seven-inch spear. The seed head represents the blade, and the long shaft is known as the awn. As the javelin-shaped fruit falls from the plant, the heavy seed head leads the way and embeds its sharp tip into the soil. As the awn dries, it twirls counter-clockwise until the shaft becomes so tightly wound that the implanted seed head begins to drill into the ground. Humidity and moisture have the opposite effect on the awn, causing it to uncoil, allowing rain or heavy dew to straighten it out. As the awn unwinds, the seed is left in place. The drilling process resumes when the environment dries out, and the cycle repeats until the seed is deposited as far as three to four inches beneath the surface, where the awn decays and the grain germinates. Seeds of porcupine grass can’t help but drill, so much so that they’ve been known to cause fatal wounds in animals. Hence, trust me when I tell you that putting them in your pocket is a big mistake.

The seeds of porcupine grass are long sharp needles that fall off the plant and slowly drill themselves into the soil. See my video here.

 

Wild Lupine in Our Black Oak Savannas (Sand Savannas)

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, it’s springtime in the savanna, where blue lupines share precious space with hoary puccoon in the sand savanna at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve.*

 

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

On May 22, this was the scene at Miller Woods, with wild lupine and hoary puccoon blanketing the swales and dunes. What is it like, this week? Please help others discover Chicago nature and become one of our scouts.

 

Wild Lupine of species Lupinus perennis.

Wild lupine of species Lupinus perennis.

Somme Prairie Grove

A phalanx of bue flag iris towers over the spring wetland at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois*

A phalanx of bue flag iris towers over the spring wetland at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois.*

 

The purple flowers of American vetch dot the savanna at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook.

This is scene from Tuesday, May 30. The purple flowers of American vetch dot the open savanna at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook.

 

Bluff Spring Fen

Soon after entering Bluff Spring Fen, you’ll find yourself in an intimate oak savanna, where majestic bur oaks with outstretched limbs protect you in their nurturing embrace.*

Soon after entering Bluff Spring Fen, you’ll find yourself in an intimate oak savanna, where majestic bur oaks with outstretched limbs protect you in their nurturing embrace.*

 

Pale Purple Coneflower & Foxglove Beardtongue Are Just Starting to Flower

Watch this video from about this time last year at Bluff Spring Fen:

 

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

 

SCOUTING NEEDS for my  next report on Thursday, June 15 (in rough order of urgency):

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.

Do you find this website useful? Do you benefit from our many hours of weekly scouting? Then please help keep it going by donating or purchasing my nationally-acclaimed book.

—Mike

 

Chicago Nature Info & News – 06/1/2017

Posted by on 5:22 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Nature Info & News – 06/1/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
June 1, 2017

“Chicago nature info and news to help you discover the region’s
finest natural wonders and to plan your Chicago nature trip.”

 

Here’s what’s happening in Chicago nature:

Plan a trip this weekend to experience lupine-covered dunes, a wetland of blue flag iris, and a sand prairie possibly brimming with coreopsis.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Miller Woods is putting on the event of the week with its hyperventilatingly beautiful display of wild lupine and hoary puccoon. If you weren’t already convinced that Chicago offers national-park quality events, this one that will forever change your mind. See Photo Section, below, from my visit on Monday, May 22. At 3:10 am, I got out of bed and drove to Gary, Indiana to take this picture for you. It was well worth it!

Somme Prairie Grove offers a celebration of golden Alexander in the woodland and a sensation of blue flag iris in the wetland.

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve is putting on a nice show of wild lupine and hoary puccoon. And, this should be the weekend to experience the show of sand coreopsis. We scouted it twice last weekend and the coreopsis was just starting. Send us pictures of what you find.

 

PLAN YOUR CHICAGO NATURE TRIP

Miller Woods (Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore) in Gary, Indiana: The display of wild lupines and hoary puccoon is a must-see event. Imagine blue and yellow flowers flowing like a blanket along the sides and atop the wooded dunes. Follow the trail to the beach and you’ll hit the mother lode after you cross the white gravel trail. And while you’re in Indiana, check out these preserves to fill out the rest of your day: Cowles Bog Trail and Tolleston Dunes.

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois: Take the trail north into the trees to find thousands of golden Alexanders. Then, follow the trail to the northeast to find a grand offering of blue flag iris in the wetland near Waukegan Road. Continue along the trails to see many other flowers in bloom, including cream wild indigo, shooting stars and American vetch.

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion: Hike the trail through this fairy-tale savanna to find displays of wild lupine, hoary puccoon, and downy phlox. Take the trail toward Lake Michigan where you’ll find sand coreopsis in the sand prairie. Our last scouting mission here was last Saturday and sand coreopsis was just starting to bloom. It’s spectacular in full flower. Because this preserve is so rich, you can easily spend most of your day exploring. Afterwards, you may want to head north to see Chiwaukee Prairie‘s display of shooting stars. They’re fading, but still look decent.

Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin: The displays of shooting stars is fading, but it’s worth dropping by if you don’t have a long drive or you also plan to visit Illinois Beach Nature Preserve while you’re out that way.

 

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.*

Last week, I visited the sand savanna at Miller Woods and 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, it’s springtime in the savanna, where blue lupines share precious space with hoary puccoon in the sand savanna at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve.*

 

Wild Lupine of species Lupinus perennis.

Wild lupine of species Lupinus perennis.

Sand Coreopsis at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve (predicted)

In a celebration of life, blooms of sand coreopsis spread with golden joy along the banks of the Dead River at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois.*

Based on two visits last weekend, we predict blooms of sand coreopsis in the sand prairie at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois.*

Somme Prairie Grove

Golden Alexander brightens the oak savanna at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook.

This is scene from Tuesday, May 30. Golden Alexander brightens the oak savanna at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook.

The purple flowers of American vetch dot the savanna at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook.

This is scene from Tuesday, May 30. The purple flowers of American vetch dot the open savanna at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook.

A phalanx of bue flag iris towers over the spring wetland at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois*

A phalanx of bue flag iris towers over the spring wetland at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois*

Shooting Stars at Chiwaukee Prairie

Shooting stars

 

 

Springtime wildflowers bloom in profusion at Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.*

Springtime wildflowers bloom in profusion at Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. Here, we can see shooting star, wood betony, hoary puccoon, and yellow star grass.*

 

Common Blue-eyed Grass

Common blue-eyed grass

Find this gorgeous flower in the prairies and savannas.*

 

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

 

SCOUTING NEEDS for my  next report on Thursday, June 1:

If you’d like to scout the preserves for us, please let us know.

 

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

 

Chicago Nature Info & News – 05/25/2017

Posted by on 10:02 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Nature Info & News – 05/25/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
May 25, 2017

“Chicago nature info and news to help you discover the region’s
finest natural wonders and to plan your Chicago nature trip.”

 

Here’s what’s happening in Chicago nature, just in time for a Memorial Day Adventure!

 

THERE’S A LOT OF NATURE TO SEE THIS MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND.

TWO NEW SCOUTS: I’m excited to announce that Karin Grunow and Charlie Yang have joined the scouting team. That makes four, plus myself. if you’d like to learn about nature and be the first to see Chicago’s breathtaking floral displays, consider volunteering to become a nature scout. And, if this free website is giving you or your family fun and memorable adventures into nature,  please consider giving a donation to keep it running.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Miller Woods is putting on the event of the week with its hyperventilatingly beautiful display of wild lupine and hoary puccoon. If you weren’t already convinced that Chicago offers national-park quality events, this one that will forever change your mind. See Photo Section, below, from my visit on Monday,May 22. At 3:10 am, I woke up and drove to Gary, Indiana to take this picture for you. Though I was exhausted, it was well worth it!

Chiwaukee Prairie in a dream with its breathtaking display of shooting star! It’s definitely worth the drive, especially because you’re not far from Illinois Beach Nature Preserve. Alongside the shooting star, you’ll find Look for the yellow blooms of wood betony, hoary puccoon, and golden Alexander. Experience the blues with birdfoot violet and blue-eyed grass. And watch for shooting stars of white and pink.

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve is putting on a nice show of wild lupine and hoary puccoon.

Wolf Road Prairie‘s savanna has a nice show of wild hyacinths.

 

PLAN YOUR CHICAGO NATURE TRIP

Miller Woods (Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore) in Gary, Indiana: The display of wild lupines and hoary puccoon is a must-see event. Imagine blue and yellow flowers flowing like a blanket along the sides and atop the wooded dunes. Follow the trail to the beach and you’ll hit the mother load after you cross the white gravel trail. And while you’re in Indiana, check out these preserves to fill out the rest of your day: Cowles Bog Trail and Tolleston Dunes.

Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin: The display of shooting stars is a sight to behold. Alongside the shooting stars, look for birdsfoot violet, hoary puccoon, wood betony, and yellow star grass. You may even find some gorgeous wild lupine. While you’re visiting this preserve, it’s not far to Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion.

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion: Hike the trail through this fairy-tale savanna to find displays of wild lupine, hoary puccoon, and downy phlox. Because this preserve is so rich, you can easily spend most of your day exploring. But, save some time to head north to see Chiwaukee Prairie‘s magnificent blooms of shooting stars.

Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester: Wild hyacinth is blooming in profusion in the savanna. Just park at the kiosk and take the sidewalk(s).

Oldfield Oaks (not officially featured) in Darien: Last week, I reported on this unofficial ChicagoNatureNOW! preserve, but it’s now putting on a show of geranium and wild hyacinth in the northwest portion of the preserve.

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: SCOUTING IN PROGRESS. Check back on Friday.

 

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.*

Just a few days ago, I visited the sand savanna at Miller Woods and 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, it’s springtime in the savanna, where blue lupines share precious space with hoary puccoon.*

 

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.

Shooting Stars at Chiwaukee Prairie

Shooting stars

 

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

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

 

Springtime wildflowers bloom in profusion at Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.*

Springtime wildflowers bloom in profusion at Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.* Here, we can see shooting star, wood betony, hoary puccoon, and yellow star grass.

 

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.*

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

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.

 

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

 

SCOUTING NEEDS for my  next report on Thursday, June 1:

If you’d like to scout the preserves for us, please let us know.

 

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

 

Chicago Nature Info & News – 05/19/2017

Posted by on 3:38 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Nature Info & News – 05/19/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
May 19, 2017

“Chicago nature info and news to help you discover the region’s
finest natural wonders and to plan your Chicago nature trip.”

 

Here’s what’s happening in Chicago nature, right now!

 

THE PRAIRIES BEGIN TO FLOWER AS MANY WOODLANDS FADE.

THANK YOU TO MY SCOUTS: First of all, I’d like to thank our scouts, Kathy Deets and Zeke Wei, for venturing out to the farthest preserves to selflessly share this valuable information with the people of the Chicago region! Kathy drove to Wisconsin and then to Zion to file reports on Chiwaukee Prairie and Illinois Beach Nature Preserve. And Zeke went all the way out past Kankakee to report on Pembroke Savanna. This week, we scouted a total a remarkable eleven preserves and, yet, we’re still four short of what we needed. If you find this free website useful, please help us scout or give a donation to keep it running.

WOODLAND HIGHLIGHTS: Wild geranium and wild hyacinth are putting on the woodland show of the week. This is why I recommend the savanna at Wolf Road Prairie and Oldfield Oaks, which is not officially featured here. Check out the bluff trail at Black Partridge Woods for geranium, phlox, and (if you look carefully) shooting star. And while you’re at these preserves,. look for delicate blooms of starry false Solomon’s seal, patches of red trillium, and the green foliage of mayapple, wild ginger, and skunk cabbage.

PRAIRIE HIGHLIGHTS: Chiwaukee Prairie in a dream with its breathtaking display of shooting star! It’s definitely worth the drive. Alongside the shooting star, you’ll find Look for the yellow blooms of wood betony, hoary puccoon, and golden Alexander. Experience the blues with birdfoot violet and blue-eyed grass. And watch for shooting stars of white and pink.

 

SCOUTING NEEDS through Thursday, May 25:

If you’d like to scout the preserves for us, please take several quick pictures of the scene to give us an idea of the experience along with some closer shots of the flowers with their leaves.

 

Plan your Chicago nature trip. Here are the best preserves for lush and colorful displays of springtime flowers:

Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester: Wild hyacinth is blooming in profusion in the savanna. Just park at the kiosk and take the sidewalk(s).

Black Partridge Woods in Lemont: Take the trail atop the bluffs for geranium, phlox, and (if you look carefully) shooting star.

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

Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin: The display of shooting stars is a show to behold. And it’s happening right now! Alongside the shooting stars, look for birdfoot violet, hoary puccoon, wood betony, and yellow star grass. You may even find some gorgeous wild lupine. While you’re visiting this preserve, it’s worth a trip to Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, which is getting ready to explode.

THESE PRESERVES ARE PROBABLY STILL GOOD, but didn’t have enough scouts to get to them:

Fermilab Prairie (and woodland) in Batavia: UNSCOUTED. Last week’s report: The prairie offers some nice patches of wood betony, but the woodland adjacent to the prairie is the place to visit at Fermilab. There, you will find woodland phlox throughout. The display of large-flowered trillium is beautiful. And you’ll also find patches of red trillium, bellwort, and lots of mayapples with their hidden white flowers that smell like gardenia.

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: UNSCOUTED. Last week’s report: There is a fine display of shooting star covers the northern face of the northeast kame. A walk east along the trail to find a beautiful patch of blue-eyed grass. The yellows of wood betony and golden Alexander are also flowering in the open prairie. Mayapple and skunk cabbage can be found in and around the canopy of the oak savanna.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates: UNSCOUTED. Last week’s report: This small hill prairie has several stunning blooms, right now, including blue-eyed grass, and thick patches of wood betony, hoary puccoon, birdfoot violet, and hoary puccoon. Flowering mayapples are located on the eastern slope.

 

PHOTO SECTION

Wild Hyacinth

 

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.*

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

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

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

Shooting Star

Shooting stars

 

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

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

 

Springtime wildflowers bloom in profusion at Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.*

Springtime wildflowers bloom in profusion at Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.* Here, we can see shooting star, wood betony, hoary puccoon, and yellow star grass.

 

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

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

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.*

Wild Geranium

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

This week’s glorious display of wild geranium at Oldfield Oaks in Darien, Illinois.

 

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.*

Common Blue-eyed Grass

Common blue-eyed grass

Find this gorgeous flower in the prairies and savannas.

 

Skunk Cabbage

It's springtime at Pilcher Park and sunlight shines through the enormous fanning foliage of skunk cabbage which, if broken, releases a strong scent reminiscent of skunk, though sweeter and not nearly as overpowering. If you’re someone who, like me, finds the powerful essence of skunk to be an invigorating and life-affirming experience, the skunk inside the cabbage will definitely let you down.*

It’s springtime at Pilcher Park and sunlight shines through the enormous fanning foliage of skunk cabbage which, if broken, releases a strong scent reminiscent of skunk, though sweeter and not nearly as overpowering. If you’re someone who, like me, finds the powerful essence of skunk to be an invigorating and life-affirming experience, the skunk inside the cabbage will definitely let you down.*

 

* 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

 

Chicago Nature Info & News – 05/11/2017

Posted by on 9:28 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
May 11, 2017

“Chicago nature info and news to help you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

Here’s what’s happening in Chicago nature, right now!

 

SPRING WOODLANDS ARE GREEN, LUSH, AND BLOOMING! AND THE PRAIRIES ARE STARTING TO FLOWER.

WOODLAND HIGHLIGHTS: Discover the white waxy flower of mayapple hidden under its spanning umbrella leaf, blue expanses of woodland phlox, pink displays of wild geranium, the delicate blooms of starry false Solomon’s seal, patches of red trillium, and dramatic white displays of large-flowered trillium.

Though fading, large-flowered trillium can be found at Messenger Woods, the woodland next to Fermilab Prairie (see recent picture below), and along the Heron Rookery Trail in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. (I haven’t scouted the latter location. If you’d like to become an official ChicagoNatureNOW! scout and help other Chicagoans fall in love with local nature, click here to learn more.) Large-flowered trillium may also be found in fine performance at preserves not featured here, Captain Daniel Wright Woods and Harms Woods.

PRAIRIE HIGHLIGHTS: Look for the yellow blooms of wood betony, hoary puccoon, and golden Alexander. Experience the blues with birdfoot violet and blue-eyed grass. And watch for shooting stars of white and pink.

SCOUTING NEEDS through Thursday, May 18:

If you’d like to scout the preserves for us, please take several quick pictures of the scene to give us an idea of the experience along with some closer shots of the flowers with their leaves.

 

Here are the best preserves for lush and colorful displays of springtime flowers:

Black Partridge Woods in Lemont: This intimate preserve will steal your heart. Its bubbling, sparkling stream is the most beautiful in the region and the bluffs add another dimension to the fairy-tale feel. You’ll find many spring flowers, including woodland phlox, wild geranium, skunk cabbage, wild leek, mayapple, wild ginger, Solomon’s seal, and shooting star. (See current picture of shooting stars below.)

Pilcher Park in Joliet: Begin your woodland hike at the nature center and you’ll be surround by spring ephemerals throughout your walk. Look for the large, fanning leaves of skunk cabbage in the muddy parts of the preserve. They’re hard to miss.

Messenger Woods in Homer Glen: Parking at the far end of the parking lot. Then walk the grassy path, cross the bridge, and immediately turn left onto an “unofficial official” trail along the creek’s edge. Follow the unmaintained path into the woods to find grand displays of large-flowered trillium. This preserve provides you with the feeling of spring along with a fresh green carpet of foliage and ephemerals throughout.

Raccoon Grove Nature Preserve in Monee: This woodland preserve features many flowers including geranium, woodland phlox, trout lily, leek, ginger, starry false Solomon’s seal, and mayapple. And there are also lots of red trillium.

O’Hara Woods Preserve in Romeoville: Carpets of spring ephemerals abound, and the mayapples are flowering.

Fermilab Prairie (and woodland) in Batavia: The prairie offers some nice patches of wood betony, but the woodland adjacent to the prairie is the place to visit at Fermilab. There, you will find woodland phlox throughout. The display of large-flowered trillium is beautiful. And you’ll also find patches of red trillium, bellwort, and lots of mayapples with their hidden white flowers that smell like gardenia.

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: A fine display of shooting star covers the northern face of the northeast kame. Then, walk east along the trail to find a beautiful patch of blue-eyed grass. The yellows of wood betony and golden Alexander are also flowering in the open prairie. Mayapple and skunk cabbage can be found in and around the canopy of the oak savanna.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates: This small hill prairie has several stunning blooms, right now, including blue-eyed grass, and thick patches of wood betony, hoary puccoon, birdfoot violet, and hoary puccoon. Flowering mayapples are located on the eastern slope.

If you can’t make it to my feature preserves, try McKinley Woods/Fredericks Grove in Channahon, Johnson’s Mound in Elburn, Daniel Wright Woods in Mettawa, and Harms Woods in Glenview. You’re bound to find some good stuff.

 

PHOTO SECTION

Large-flowered Trillium Are Finishing Up

Large-flowered trillium in the springtime woodland at Fermilab Natural Area in Batavia, Illinois.

Here’s a shot from earlier this week of large-flowered trillium in the springtime woodland at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois.

 

White trillium carpet the woodland floor at Messenger Woods in Homer Glen, Illinois.*

White trillium carpet the woodland floor at Messenger Woods in Homer Glen, Illinois.*

 

In May, large-flowered white trillium cover the woodland floor at Heron Rookery Trail at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.*

At Heron Rookery Trail in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, I SUSPECT that the large-flowered white trillium is blooming. I haven’t been able to scout this location, this season. If you’d like be one of our scouts to help Chicagoans fall in love with local nature, click here for information.*

Shooting Star

Shooting stars

 

 

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

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

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.*

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.*

Mayapple

At Black Partridge Woods, take a look underneath the fanning mayapple leaf, and you may find a hidden waxy, white bloom. You may also discover a burgundy flower hiding beneath the heart-shaped leaves of wild ginger.*

Take a look underneath the fanning mayapple leaf, and you may find a hidden waxy, white bloom. You may also discover a burgundy flower hiding beneath the heart-shaped leaves of wild ginger.*

Red Trillium

Red trillium and setting sun.*

Red trillium and setting sun.*

Common Blue-eyed Grass

Common blue-eyed grass

Find this gorgeous flower in the prairies and savannas.

 

Skunk Cabbage

It's springtime at Pilcher Park and sunlight shines through the enormous fanning foliage of skunk cabbage which, if broken, releases a strong scent reminiscent of skunk, though sweeter and not nearly as overpowering. If you’re someone who, like me, finds the powerful essence of skunk to be an invigorating and life-affirming experience, the skunk inside the cabbage will definitely let you down.*

It’s springtime at Pilcher Park and sunlight shines through the enormous fanning foliage of skunk cabbage which, if broken, releases a strong scent reminiscent of skunk, though sweeter and not nearly as overpowering. If you’re someone who, like me, finds the powerful essence of skunk to be an invigorating and life-affirming experience, the skunk inside the cabbage will definitely let you down.*

 

Birdfoot Violet at Pembroke Savanna

In May, Pembroke Savanna is home to blooms of white sand phlox and rare bird-foot violet."

Pembroke Savanna is home to blooms of white sand phlox and rare bird-foot violet. The leaf in the foreground is from the black oak trees that dominate this black oak savanna. We need a scout for this important location.*

* 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

 

Chicago Nature Info & News – 05/03/2017

Posted by on 9:55 am in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
May 3, 2017

“Chicago nature info and news to help you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

Here’s what’s happening in Chicago nature, right now!

 

MUCH LIKE LAST WEEK, THE SPRING WOODLANDS ARE LUSH AND AT PEAK FLOWERING! This report is a repeat of last week’s, but with a couple additions. The big rains have made the woodlands even greener, if that’s even possible! This is a wonderful time to experience springtime in Chicago nature.

I visited Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, and wood betony (a.k.a., lousewort) is blooming throughout the savanna (the open area that looks like a prairie, but is really an oak savanna). At Pembroke Savanna, a rare sand savanna located in Hopkins Park, you’ll find a wonderful display of birdfoot violet as you hike the mowed, grassy loop. Usually, the violets are mixed in white sand phlox, but there was only a few plants that I saw. Possibly, I was a little early.

Two weeks ago week, the displays of Virginia bluebells were jaw-dropping, the star of the spring season. Now, the bluebells are still fading. However, many new actors are taking the stage and joining the spring celebration. The new, flamboyant star on the scene is the white, large-flowered trillium. It can be found in large amounts at Messenger Woods and along the Heron Rookery Trail in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. (I haven’t scouted the latter location. If you’d like to become an official ChicagoNatureNOW! scout and help other Chicagoans fall in love with local nature, click here to learn more.) Large-flowered trillium may also be found in fine performance at preserves not featured here, Captain Daniel Wright Woods and Harms Woods.

The fresh, green backdrop of the woodlands is breathtaking, from foliage that conceal your feet to a leafy canopy of lace above your head. The jade understory is covered with wide umbrellas of mayapple, hearts of wild ginger, stars of geranium, spears of wild leek, and fanning leaves of skunk cabbage. Sprinkled amongst the greenery, you may find sparkling displays of false rue anemone and spring beauty. Woodland phlox and wild geranium provide beautiful purple and pink additions to spring’s color scheme. And red trillium adds a touch of burgundy.

SCOUTING NEEDS through Thursday, May 11:

  • Woodlands listed below.
  • Wolf Road Prairie: Wild Hyacinth in oak savanna located at main kiosk on 31st Street
  • Raccoon Grove: Starry False Solomon’s Seal

If you can scout the preserves, please take several quick pictures of the scene to give an idea of the experience along with some closer shots of the flowers with their leaves.

 

Here are the best preserves for lush and colorful displays of springtime flowers:

O’Hara Woods Preserve in Romeoville: No matter where you walk, you’ll find bluebells. My favorite place is along the stream in the southern part of the preserve. They go on as far as you can see. Mayapples, ginger, trout lily, leek, and many other flowers abound here.

Pilcher Park in Joliet: You’ll find an endless display of bluebells along the creek, as well as many other flowers. Begin your hike at the nature center and you’ll be surround by spring ephemerals throughout your walk. Look for the large, fanning leaves of skunk cabbage in the muddy parts of the preserve. They’re hard to miss.

Messenger Woods in Homer Glen: Parking at the far end of the parking lot. Then walk the grassy path, cross the bridge, and immediately turn left onto an “unofficial official” trail along the creek’s edge. Follow the unmaintained path into the woods to find endless vistas of bluebells and grand displays of large-flowered trillium. This preserve provides you with the feeling of spring along with a fresh green carpet of foliage and ephemerals throughout.

Raccoon Grove Nature Preserve in Monee: In addition to fading patches of bluebells, this preserve is currently brimming with many types of flowers: wild geranium, woodland phlox, trout lily, wild leek, ginger, and mayapple. Check under the leaves of the latter two to find their flowers. There are also lots of red trillium.

Black Partridge Woods in Lemont: This intimate preserve will steal your heart. Its bubbling, sparkling stream is the most beautiful in the region and the bluffs add another dimension to the fairy-tale feel. This place is a miracle. You’ll find many spring flowers, including woodland phlox, wild geranium, false rue anemone, skunk cabbage, wild leek, mayapple, wild ginger, Solomon’s seal, and shooting star.

If you can’t make it to my feature preserves, try McKinley Woods/Fredericks Grove in Channahon, Johnson’s Mound in Elburn, Daniel Wright Woods in Mettawa, and Harms Woods in Glenview. You’re bound to find some good stuff.

 

PHOTO SECTION

The Sublime Virginia Bluebell (but now fading away)

Virginia bluebell

 

Virginia Bluebells at O’Hara Woods

At O'Hara Woods in Romeoville, Illinois, the April sun rises to warm the springtime woodland brimming with Virginia bluebells.

At O’Hara Woods in Romeoville, Illinois, the April sun rises to warm the springtime woodland brimming with Virginia bluebells. Right now, they flowers are dropping at all preserves.*

Virginia Bluebells at Messenger Woods

April at Messenger Woods in Lockport features a breathtaking display of Virginia bluebells.

April at Messenger Woods in Lockport features a breathtaking display of Virginia bluebells. The flowers are currently fading.*

Virginia Bluebells at Raccoon Grove

In April, Virginia bluebells bloom in profusion along the creek at Raccoon Grove in Monee, Illinois

In April, Virginia bluebells bloom in profusion along the creek at Raccoon Grove in Monee, Illinois.*

 

Virginia Bluebells at Pilcher Park

Come to Pilcher Park in April for the dramatic performance starring Viriginia bluebells.

Come to Pilcher Park for the dramatic performance starring Virginia bluebells.*

Skunk Cabbage

It's springtime at Pilcher Park and sunlight shines through the enormous fanning foliage of skunk cabbage which, if broken, releases a strong scent reminiscent of skunk, though sweeter and not nearly as overpowering. If you’re someone who, like me, finds the powerful essence of skunk to be an invigorating and life-affirming experience, the skunk inside the cabbage will definitely let you down.*

It’s springtime at Pilcher Park and sunlight shines through the enormous fanning foliage of skunk cabbage which, if broken, releases a strong scent reminiscent of skunk, though sweeter and not nearly as overpowering. If you’re someone who, like me, finds the powerful essence of skunk to be an invigorating and life-affirming experience, the skunk inside the cabbage will definitely let you down.*

 

Large-flowered Trillium Are Already Blooming

White trillium carpet the woodland floor at Messenger Woods in Homer Glen, Illinois.*

White trillium carpet the woodland floor at Messenger Woods in Homer Glen, Illinois.*

 

In May, large-flowered white trillium cover the woodland floor at Heron Rookery Trail at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.*

At Heron Rookery Trail in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, I SUSPECT that the large-flowered white trillium is in bloom. I haven’t scouted this location, this year. If you’d like to volunteer to be an 0fficial scout to help other Chicagoans fall in love with local nature, click here for information.*

Mayapple & More

Above: Imagine. It’s a rainy April morning in the city and, from a window above, shiny hexagons, mostly black, can be seen floating over wet sidewalks and along glassy, gray streets. In woodlands across northeastern Illinois, April showers bring out the umbrellas, too. Green, and up to a foot wide, the large leaves of mayapples open up across the forest floor. In May, a single waxy, white flower will secretly bloom beneath the plant’s fanning foliage, like a pedestrian under a parasol. (To see the flower, turn to page 204.)

In woodlands across northeastern Illinois, like here at Black Partridge Woods in Lemont, Illinois, April showers bring out the umbrellas in the form of mayapples. And the white flowers of false rue anemone sparkle like raindrops.*

At Black Partridge Woods, take a look underneath the fanning mayapple leaf, and you may find a hidden waxy, white bloom. You may also discover a burgundy flower hiding beneath the heart-shaped leaves of wild ginger.*

Take a look underneath the fanning mayapple leaf, and you may find a hidden waxy, white bloom. You may also discover a burgundy flower hiding beneath the heart-shaped leaves of wild ginger.*

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.*

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.*

Red Trillium

Red trillium and setting sun.*

Red trillium and setting sun.*

Birdfoot Violet at Pembroke Savanna

In May, Pembroke Savanna is home to blooms of white sand phlox and rare bird-foot violet."

Pembroke Savanna is home to blooms of white sand phlox and rare bird-foot violet. The leaf in the foreground is from the black oak trees that dominate this black oak savanna.”

* 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

 

Chicago Nature Info & News – 04/27/2017

Posted by on 7:33 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
April 27, 2017

“Chicago nature info and news to help you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

Here’s what’s happening in Chicago nature, right now!

 

THE SPRING WOODLANDS ARE LUSH AND AT PEAK FLOWERING! Now is the perfect time to experience springtime in Chicago nature.

Last week, the displays of Virginia bluebells were jaw-dropping, the star of the spring season. This week, the bluebells are still putting on a fine performance, but its time in the spotlight is fading. However, many new actors are taking the stage and joining the spring celebration. The new, flamboyant star on the scene is the white, large-flowered trillium. It can be found in large amounts at Messenger Woods and along the Heron Rookery Trail in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. (I haven’t scouted the latter location. If you’d like to become an official ChicagoNatureNOW! scout and help other Chicagoans fall in love with local nature, click here to learn more.) Large-flowered trillium may also be found in fine performance at preserves not featured here, Captain Daniel Wright Woods and Harms Woods.

The fresh, green backdrop of the woodlands is breathtaking, from foliage that conceal your feet to a leafy canopy of lace above your head. The jade understory is covered with wide umbrellas of mayapple, hearts of wild ginger, stars of geranium, spears of wild leek, and fanning leaves of skunk cabbage. Sprinkled amongst the greenery, you may find sparkling displays of false rue anemone and spring beauty. Woodland phlox and wild geranium provide beautiful purple and pink additions to spring’s color scheme. And red trillium adds a touch of burgundy.

 

Here are the best preserves for lush and colorful displays of springtime wildflowers:

O’Hara Woods Preserve in Romeoville: No matter where you walk, you’ll find bluebells. My favorite place is along the stream in the southern part of the preserve. They go on as far as you can see. Mayapples, ginger, trout lily, leek, and many other flowers abound here.

Pilcher Park in Joliet: You’ll find an endless display of bluebells along the creek, as well as many other flowers. Begin your hike at the nature center and you’ll be surround by spring ephemerals throughout your walk. Look for the large, fanning leaves of skunk cabbage in the muddy parts of the preserve. They’re hard to miss.

Messenger Woods in Homer Glen: Parking at the far end of the parking lot. Then walk the grassy path, cross the bridge, and immediately turn left onto an “unofficial official” trail along the creek’s edge. Follow the unmaintained path into the woods to find endless vistas of bluebells and grand displays of large-flowered trillium. This preserve provides you with the feeling of spring along with a fresh green carpet of foliage and ephemerals throughout.

Raccoon Grove Nature Preserve in Monee: In addition to rich patches of bluebells, this preserve is currently brimming with many types of flowers: wild geranium, woodland phlox, trout lily, wild leek, ginger, and mayapple. Check under the leaves of the latter two to find their flowers.

Black Partridge Woods in Lemont: Bluebells can be found here, though not as many as the above preserves. But, I must say that this intimate preserve will win your heart. Its bubbling, sparkling stream is the most beautiful in the region and the bluffs add another dimension to the fairy-tale feel. This place is a miracle. You’ll find many spring flowers, including woodland phlox, wild geranium, false rue anemone, skunk cabbage, wild leek, mayapple, wild ginger, Solomon’s seal, and shooting star.

If you can’t make it to my feature preserves, try McKinley Woods/Fredericks Grove in Channahon, Johnson’s Mound in Elburn, Daniel Wright Woods in Mettawa, and Harms Woods in Glenview. You’re bound to find some good stuff.

 

PHOTO SECTION

The Sublime Virginia Bluebell

Virginia bluebell

 

Virginia Bluebells at O’Hara Woods

At O'Hara Woods in Romeoville, Illinois, the April sun rises to warm the springtime woodland brimming with Virginia bluebells.

At O’Hara Woods in Romeoville, Illinois, the April sun rises to warm the springtime woodland brimming with Virginia bluebells.*

Virginia Bluebells at Messenger Woods

April at Messenger Woods in Lockport features a breathtaking display of Virginia bluebells.

April at Messenger Woods in Lockport features a breathtaking display of Virginia bluebells.*

Virginia Bluebells at Raccoon Grove

In April, Virginia bluebells bloom in profusion along the creek at Raccoon Grove in Monee, Illinois

In April, Virginia bluebells bloom in profusion along the creek at Raccoon Grove in Monee, Illinois.*

 

Virginia Bluebells at Raccoon Grove

Come to Pilcher Park in April for the dramatic performance starring Viriginia bluebells.

Come to Pilcher Park for the dramatic performance starring Virginia bluebells.*

Skunk Cabbage

It's springtime at Pilcher Park and sunlight shines through the enormous fanning foliage of skunk cabbage which, if broken, releases a strong scent reminiscent of skunk, though sweeter and not nearly as overpowering. If you’re someone who, like me, finds the powerful essence of skunk to be an invigorating and life-affirming experience, the skunk inside the cabbage will definitely let you down.*

It’s springtime at Pilcher Park and sunlight shines through the enormous fanning foliage of skunk cabbage which, if broken, releases a strong scent reminiscent of skunk, though sweeter and not nearly as overpowering. If you’re someone who, like me, finds the powerful essence of skunk to be an invigorating and life-affirming experience, the skunk inside the cabbage will definitely let you down.*

 

Large-flowered Trillium Are Already Blooming

White trillium carpet the woodland floor at Messenger Woods in Homer Glen, Illinois.*

White trillium carpet the woodland floor at Messenger Woods in Homer Glen, Illinois.*

 

In May, large-flowered white trillium cover the woodland floor at Heron Rookery Trail at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.*

At Heron Rookery Trail in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, I SUSPECT that the large-flowered white trillium is in bloom. I haven’t scouted this location, this year. If you’d like to volunteer to be an 0fficial scout to help other Chicagoans fall in love with local nature, click here for information.*

Mayapple & More

Above: Imagine. It’s a rainy April morning in the city and, from a window above, shiny hexagons, mostly black, can be seen floating over wet sidewalks and along glassy, gray streets. In woodlands across northeastern Illinois, April showers bring out the umbrellas, too. Green, and up to a foot wide, the large leaves of mayapples open up across the forest floor. In May, a single waxy, white flower will secretly bloom beneath the plant’s fanning foliage, like a pedestrian under a parasol. (To see the flower, turn to page 204.)

In woodlands across northeastern Illinois, like here at Black Partridge Woods in Lemont, Illinois, April showers bring out the umbrellas in the form of mayapples. And the white flowers of false rue anemone sparkle like raindrops.*

At Black Partridge Woods, take a look underneath the fanning mayapple leaf, and you may find a hidden waxy, white bloom. You may also discover a burgundy flower hiding beneath the heart-shaped leaves of wild ginger.*

Take a look underneath the fanning mayapple leaf, and you may find a hidden waxy, white bloom. You may also discover a burgundy flower hiding beneath the heart-shaped leaves of wild ginger.*

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.*

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.*

Red Trillium

Red trillium and setting sun.*

Red trillium and the setting sun.*

Dutchman’s Breeches (or Dutchman’s Britches) Are Still Blooming

Dutchman's Breeches at O'Hara Woods

O’Hara Woods has a large number of Dutchman’s Breeches. It is one of my favorite spring flowers because the flower is just so kooky and the leaves are a dream.*

 

* 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

 

WBEZ Worldview Radio Interview of Mike MacDonald – 04-18-2017

Posted by on 4:17 am in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

ChicagoNatureNOW! featured on WBEZ’s Worldview Program

 

At O'Hara Woods in Romeoville, Illinois, the April sun rises to warm the springtime woodland brimming with Virginia bluebells.

This is just a quick post to let you know that, on Tuesday, April 18, ChicagoNatureNOW! was the topic of discussion on Chicago Public Radio’s Worldview program. I was interviewed by host Jerome McDonnell. If you weren’t able to catch it, click here to listen.

—Mike