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Chicago Outdoor Adventure Info & News – 08/17/2017

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Chicago Outdoor Adventure Info & News – 08/17/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
August 17, 2017

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

MORE SCOUTS NEEDED! CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.

ENJOY THE INFO WE PROVIDE? CONSIDER BUYING MY BOOK!

 

Here are some highlights to help you plan your Chicago weekend getaway:

Chicagoland is putting on great performances of tall flowers and grasses. Again, Somme Prairie Grove tops this week’s list. Then comes Bluff Spring Fen and Shoe Factory Road Prairie. This is also a time to watch hummingbirds, see fanning ferns, and go on a canyon tour. Yes, we have a canyon! And, if you’re near Zion, I’m never going to stop you from visiting Illinois Beach Nature Preserve. You never know what you’ll discover there.

Thank you to Dave Hodge and the volunteers at Bluff Spring Fen for clearing the trails of overgrowth.

NOTE: Prairies are wet in the morning, so wear raingear or you’ll become drenched in dew.

 

WHERE TO GO THIS WEEKEND FOR A CHICAGO OUTDOOR GETAWAY


Somme Prairie Grove
in Northbrook: There are many flowers in bloom throughout the preserve. The trails are narrow and, currently, overgrown. So watch your step. If you visit in the morning, wear raingear or the plants will drench you with dew. The big show is under the trees where the thousands of yellow woodland sunflowers and taller brown-eyed Susans combine with skybound pale-purple plumes of sweet Joe-Pye weed. In the sunny areas of the savanna, you’ll find yourself travelling through tunnels of big bluestem grass and Indian grass, which is probably the reason for the misnomer “tallgrass prairie.” It’s a misnomer because most of the species in a prairie are actually forbs (flowering plants). Still, when the first settlers travelling from the forest of the east came across the late-summer prairies, the towering grasses of Illinois would have been a unexpected obstacle. As you pass through, look carefully for the tiny flowers upon their tassels and plumes. You’ll find dense stands of molecular rattlesnake master, along with mountain mint, wild quinine, ironweed, obedient plant, and newly emerging blooms of goldenrod. Then, there’s the skyward stalks of compass plant that can easily reach eight feet into the air, along with its tall cousin prairie dock with its enormous heart-shaped leaves. (See comparison below in the large Photo Section.) In addition to appreciating the kaleidoscopic colors, notice the rich textures, including the symmetrical sprays of prairie dropseed.

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: Towering displays of purplish sweet Joe-Pye weed can be found under the oak savanna that opens the preserve. As you continue, you’ll see tall yellow sunflowers. One is wingstem, which you can identify by the flange running down the stem. Another is cutleaf coneflower, with its the deeply lobed leaves. Then you’ll also see cup plant, especially in the wetter areas. It has large opposing leaves that join at the stem and holds pooled water for birds and insects. Other yellow flowers include rosinweed, shrubby cinquefoil, skyrocketing compass plant, and goldenrods like stiff goldenrod and grass-leaved golderod. Experience that alabaster tones of wild quinine, flowering spurge, and rattlesnake master. Along with the purplish sweet Joe-Pye weed, experience the pinks and purples of cylindrical blazing star, rough blazing star, American bellflower, nodding wild onion, wild bergamot, and, in the wetter areas, swamp milkweed and spotted Joe-Pye weed. At this time of year, the grasses are prominent, including Canada wild rye, little bluestem, big bluestem, Indian grass, all acting as brushes loaded with morning dew. Notice the minute flowers atop the tassels of big bluestem and Indian grass. And then there’s the aptly named bottlebrush grass that can be found in the shade of the oak savanna.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman States offers wonderful displays of cylindrical blazing star and obedient plant atop the hill prairie, along with compass plant, rosinweed, round-headed bush clover, and the beginnings of goldenrod. Under cover of the oak savanna, you’ll find lots of woodland sunflower and sweet Joe-Pye weed. In the prairie outside the fence, look into the distance to see expanses of purple from the tassels of big bluestem. Then, immerse yourself by taking the wide trails through a vast panorama of big bluestem and Indian grass. And, don’t forget, Bluff Spring Fen is just fifteen minutes away by car.

 

IF YOU’RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, IT’S PROBABLY WORTH A TRIP TO:

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion (unscouted this week) always provides a wonderful and wild experience. Look for the emergence of rough blazing star in the prairie and savanna. This spectacular event is only days away.

Pembroke Savanna in Hopkins Park is about to explode with always provides a wonderful and wild experience. Look for the emergence of rough blazing star in the prairie and savanna. This spectacular event is only days away.

 

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS:

Hummingbirds, Hummingbirds, Hummingbirds!
The hummingbirds are still around and should be for the next couple of weeks. You can find them buzzing about at many nature centers including: Sagawau Canyon, Pilcher Park (at the nature center and south of the greenhouse), and Little Red Schoolhouse.

Ferns & Canyon Tours
Cowles Bog Trail, Miller Woods, and Hoosier Prairie (all in northwestern Indiana) are leaping with gymnastic ferns. If you’d like to experience a beautiful fern-lined canyon, call Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois to sign up for their next canyon tour. Hurry! They fill up fast.

See a Summer Sunset
Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills, Illinois is sensational for sunsets, as our celestial star—a bright, burning brass ball—slowly sinks in the sky to start a sultry summer eve.

 

PHOTO SECTION

Woodland Sunflowers

At Somme Prairie Grove, woodland sunflowers surround this majestic bur oak in the savanna.*

At Somme Prairie Grove, woodland sunflowers surround this majestic bur oak in the savanna.*

 

Sweet Joe-Pye Weed

In the open woodland at Spears Woods in Willow Springs, Illinois, summer brings tall blooms of sweet Joe-Pye weed.*

In the open woodland at Spears Woods and other preserves, discover summer tall, feathery blooms of sweet Joe-Pye weed.*

Compass Plant & Prairie Dock

These are the large leaves of the prairie's most iconic plants. The heart-shaped leaf is that of prairie dock, and the long-lobed leaf is from a cousin called compass plant.

These are the large leaves of the prairie’s most iconic and unmistakable plants. The heart-shaped leaf is that of prairie dock, and the long-lobed leaf is from a cousin called compass plant.*

 

Compass plant towers into the sky.*

This bloom of compass plant reaches for the sky.*

 

You can find prairie dock at Middlefork Savanna, an imaginative creation dreamt up by Mother Nature. Stretching at least twelve feet beneath the prairie is the taproot—the life, the energy source, and the heart of this plant. The root is also the artery, transporting cold water from deep below to nourish and cool the affection of heartshaped leaves, which are prone to shriveling under the summer sun.Where the root meets the air, a blood-red stalk takes over the job. Swerving towards the sky, the thick stem carries life to multiple golden flowers that may float as high as ten feet above the prairie. Here, the first flower has bloomed, while many ball-like buds are about to follow suit.

You can find prairie dock at many preserves, including Middlefork Savanna in Lake Forest. It’s an imaginative creation dreamt up by Mother Nature. Stretching at least twelve feet beneath the prairie is the taproot—the life, the energy source, and the heart of this plant. The root is also the artery, transporting cold water from deep below to nourish and cool the affection of heart-shaped leaves, which are prone to shriveling under the summer sun.Where the root meets the air, a blood-red stalk takes over the job. Swerving towards the sky, the thick stem carries life to multiple golden flowers that may float as high as ten feet above the prairie. Here, the first flower has bloomed, while many ball-like buds are about to follow suit.*

 

Landscape of Compass Plants at Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, Illinois.*

Landscape of Compass Plants at Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, Illinois.*

 

In August, a knee-high carpet of grass-leaved goldenrod sparkles in the midst of tall goldenrod and a soaring phalanx of prairie dock.

In August, at Lake in the Hills Fen, you can find knee-high carpets of grass-leaved goldenrod and a soaring stands of prairie dock.*

 

Big Bluestem Grass and the Tallgrass Prairie

Big bluestem grass gives the true meaning to the term "tallgrass prairie."*

Here at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, big bluestem grass gives true meaning to the term “tallgrass prairie.” Find big bluestem at Belmont Prairie, Somme Prairie Grove, Shoe Factory Road Prairie, Wolf Road Prairie, Fermilab Prairie, Gensburg Markham Prairie, Kickapoo Woods and Prairie, Spears Woods, Theodore Stone Preserve, and other local prairies over the next several weeks.*

 

Miniature flowers delicately hang from the tassel of big bluestem grass.*

Look closely for miniature flowers that delicately hang from the tassel of big bluestem grass.*

Somme Prairie Grove

In 1985, this area was cast in total darkness, a dirt floor under an endless gray barrier of scraggly buckthorn. Now, after lots of love from volunteers, it is the edge of a woodland, well lit and teeming with tall flowers that reach for the sun.*

In 1985, this area was cast in total darkness, a dirt floor under an endless gray barrier of scraggly buckthorn. Now, after lots of love from volunteers, it is the edge of a woodland, well lit and teeming with tall flowers that reach for the sun.*

 

Obedient plant at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois.*

Obedient plant at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois.*

 

Bluff Spring Fen

Soft sunlight, diffused by morning mist, filters across the preserve. Gathered at the base of the kame, fire-resistant bur oaks hover above a colorful caboodle of Joe-Pye weed and tall goldenrod.*

Soft sunlight, diffused by morning mist, filters across the preserve. Gathered at the base of the kame, fire-resistant bur oaks hover above a colorful caboodle of Joe-Pye weed and tall goldenrod.*

 

Shoe Factory Road Prairie

Atop this hill prairie called Shoe Factory Road Prairie, obedient plant and Indian grass take in the view.*

 

Ferns & Canyon Tours

Royal ferns in the light fog of the savanna at Hoosier Prairie in Highland, Indiana

Royal ferns in the light fog of the savanna at Hoosier Prairie in Schererville, Indiana.*

 

A forest of royal ferns thrives in a wetland that has formed at the base of a high dune.

In the Cowles Bog area, you’ll find many species of fern. Here, a forest of royal ferns thrives in a wetland that has formed at the base of a high dune.*

 

Lush ferns line the walls of Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois.

Lush ferns line the walls of Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois. But you can only see it if you sign up for their upcoming canyon tours. Register soon. They fill up quickly.*

 

Sultry Summer Sunsets Over Saganashkee Slough (That’s a mouthful!)

The sun sets on this hot summer afternoon at Saganashkee Slough in Willow Springs, Illinois near Chicago.

On this sweltering, sultry afternoon, a golden sun sets over Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills, Illinois.*

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

 

SCOUTING NEEDS for my next report on Thursday, August 24 (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 Adventure Info & News – 08/03/2017 & 08/10/2017

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Chicago Nature Adventure Info & News – 08/03/2017 & 08/10/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
August 3 & 10, 2017

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

MORE SCOUTS NEEDED! CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.

ENJOY THE INFO WE PROVIDE? CLICK HERE TO DONATE!

 

I will be on vacation for the August 10th report. Therefore, for that week, use this page as a guide, and visit the Friends of ChicagoNatureNOW! Facebook group for up-to-date posts from our wonderful scouts.

 

Here are some highlights to help you plan your Chicago weekend getaway:

Chicagoland is putting on a breathtaking show of flowers and grasses. Somme Prairie Grove tops the list this week. Then comes Spears Woods and Bluff Spring FenIf you’re in the neighborhood, it’s worth a visit to Illinois Beach Nature PreserveGensburg-Markham PrairieBelmont Prairie, and Shoe Factory Road Prairie.

 

WHERE TO GO THIS WEEKEND FOR A CHICAGO OUTDOOR GETAWAY

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook: About two dozen different flowers are blooming throughout the preserve. As you stroll the narrow trails, there’s never a spot without floral color. Under the trees, look for white starry campion, skybound plumes of sweet Joe-Pye weed , and thousands of yellow woodland sunflowers.  In the sunny areas of the savanna, I love the dense stands of molecular rattlesnake master. They’re structural tops look like Tinker Toys. You’ll also find towering and flowering stalks of compass plant that can easily reach eight feet into the air, along with blooms of mountain mint, Culver’s rootwild quinine, early goldenrod, and the feathery, deep-purple flowers of ironweed. Speaking of tall, soon after entering the preserve, a tunnel of big bluestem grass engulfs you along the trail. Look for their newly formed “turkey foot” tassels and the miniature flowers that hang from them. Early in the morning, if you don’t dress for it, these grasses will drench you with dew. In addition to appreciating the color, notice the rich textures, especially the symmetrical sprays of prairie dropseed.

Spears Woods in Willow Springs has displays of flowers in both the woodland and the prairie. (See the Spears Woods page for GPS coordinates.)  The elegant prairie blazing star is in bloom, along with early goldenrod, mountain mintrattlesnake masterwild quininecompass plant, and ironweed. And don’t forget the grasses. Look for the tiny flowers of big bluestem grass dangling from their towering tassels. Along the prairie edges and under the soft shade of the trees, you’ll find woodland sunflower. And, in the woodland, look for the fluffy flowers of the tall sweet Joe-Pye weed.

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: The purple stalks of marsh blazing star is exploding at the fen’s seep  Also, in the wet areas, look for swamp milkweed and spotted Joe-Pye weed, In the your hike, you’ll find yellow hues of rosinweed, yellow coneflower, shrubby cinquefoil, lance-leaved loosestrife, and skyrocketing compass plant. Experience that alabaster tones of wild quinineflowering spurge, and rattlesnake master. In addition to the purples of marsh blazing star,  there’s hoary vervaincylindrical blazing starsweet Joe-Pye weed in the savanna, and spotted Joe-Pye weed and swamp milkweed  in the wet areas. The grasses are beautiful, as well, including big bluestem, little bluestem, and Canada wild rye, which act as a brushes loaded with morning dew. And then there’s the aptly named bottlebrush grass under the trees of the oak savanna.

IF YOU’RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, IT’S PROBABLY WORTH A TRIP TO:

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion always provides a wonderful and wild experience. On a visit, just a couple of weeks back, I helped a small turtle across the road and saw mating dragonflies in flight. And with every step, I scared up a flurry of startled grasshoppers. Delicate, silver sprays of flowering spurge are blooming throughout the preserve.

Belmont Prairie in Downers grove is also worth a visit to see compass plantrattlesnake master, flowering spurge, wild quinine, and the diminutive blooms of big bluestem grass. The best show comes from the prairie blazing star in the northwest corner of the preserve.

Gensburg-Markham Prairie in Markham is putting on a show of marsh blazing starrattlesnake masterflowering spurgewild quinine, yellow coneflower, and more. This display of flowers can be found on the trails that lead to the left as you walk in. The rest of the preserve is mostly green. NOTE: The gate is NOT locked. It just looks that way. The lock and chain are just draped over the top.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman States offers cylindrical blazing star in the sunny parts and woodland sunflower in the shade of the savanna to the east. In the prairie just outside the fence, you’ll find a magical amounts of rattlesnake master. While you’re here, consider visiting Bluff Spring Fen, which is just fifteen minutes away by car.

 

PHOTO SECTION

Prairie Blazing Star (and Marsh Blazing Star): Only the nerds can tell the difference.

Prairie blazing star and rosinweed in July at Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove, Illinois.*

Prairie blazing star and rosinweed in July at Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove, Illinois.*

 

 

Rattlesnake Master

Rattlesnake master

Rattlesnake master is a wonderful Chicago prairie flower that looks like something you’d find in Arizona or Texas. To experience rattlesnake master, visit Belmont Prairie, Somme Prairie Grove, Shoe Factory Road PrairieWolf Road PrairieFermilab PrairieGensburg Markham PrairieKickapoo Woods and PrairieSpears WoodsTheodore Stone Preserve, and other local prairies over the next few weeks.*

Compass Plant

Compass plant towers into the sky.*

This bloom of compass plant reaches for the sky.*

 

Landscape of Compass Plants at Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, Illinois.*

A landscape of Compass Plants at Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, Illinois.*

Big Bluestem Grass

Big bluestem grass gives the true meaning to the term "tallgrass prairie."*

Here at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, big bluestem grass gives true meaning to the term “tallgrass prairie.” Find big bluestem at Belmont PrairieSomme Prairie GroveShoe Factory Road PrairieWolf Road PrairieFermilab PrairieGensburg Markham PrairieKickapoo Woods and PrairieSpears WoodsTheodore Stone Preserve, and other local prairies over the next several weeks.*

 

Miniature flowers delicately hang from the tassel of big bluestem grass.*

Look closely for miniature flowers that delicately hang from the tassel of big bluestem grass.*

Somme Prairie Grove

At Somme Prairie Grove, woodland sunflowers surround this majestic bur oak in the savanna.*

At Somme Prairie Grove, woodland sunflowers surround this majestic bur oak in the savanna.*

 

In 1985, this area was cast in total darkness, a dirt floor under an endless gray barrier of scraggly buckthorn. Now, after lots of love from volunteers, it is the edge of a woodland, well lit and teeming with tall flowers that reach for the sun.*

In 1985, this area was cast in total darkness, a dirt floor under an endless gray barrier of scraggly buckthorn. Now, after lots of love from volunteers, it is the edge of a woodland, well lit and teeming with tall flowers that reach for the sun.*

 

Late July in the savanna at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois.

At Somme Prairie Grove on Tuesday, July 26, rattlesnake master and early goldenrod are lit by the first light of day.

Spears Woods

Prairie blazing star and wild quinine light up the prairie at Spears Woods in Willow Springs, Illinois.*

Prairie blazing star and wild quinine light up the prairie at Spears Woods in Willow Springs, Illinois.*

 

In the open woodland at Spears Woods in Willow Springs, Illinois, summer brings tall blooms of sweet Joe-Pye weed.*

In the open woodland at Spears Woods, discover summer tall, feathery blooms of sweet Joe-Pye weed.*

Bluff Spring Fen

Soft sunlight, diffused by morning mist, filters across the preserve. Gathered at the base of the kame, fire-resistant bur oaks hover above a colorful caboodle of Joe-Pye weed and tall goldenrod.*

Soft sunlight, diffused by morning mist, filters across the preserve. Gathered at the base of the kame, fire-resistant bur oaks hover above a colorful caboodle of Joe-Pye weed and tall goldenrod.*

 

Blazing star blooms at the seep of the fen at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois.

Blazing star blooms at the seep of the fen at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois.*

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

 

SCOUTING NEEDS for my next report on Thursday, August 17 (in rough order of urgency):

The August 10th report will rely on the information posted by the members of Friends of ChicagoNatureNOW! Facebook group. I’ll be on vacation.

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 Adventure Info & News – 07/27/2017

Posted by on 11:42 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Nature Adventure Info & News – 07/27/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
July 27, 2017

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

 

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE GOING!

 

Here are some highlights to help you plan your Chicago weekend getaway:

Chicagoland is putting on a breathtaking show of flowers and grasses. Much like last week, at Bluff Spring Fen, alone, I counted twenty-four different species in bloom. I wasn’t even trying. Somme Prairie Grove is much the same and, in my opinion, the best preserve to visit this weekend. Shoe Factory Road Prairie, is also a great experience, especially if you include the surrounding prairie outside the fence. Illinois Beach Nature Preserve is also big on my list, this week. It isn’t as colorful as the other preserves, but it’s the wildest. If you’re in the La Grange area, then a trip to the vast Spears Woods is a good choice. If you’re near Markham, then Gensburg-Markham Prairie has some blooms to offering. And, if you’re in Downers Grove, a visit to Belmont Prairie is worthwhile.

 

WHERE TO GO THIS WEEKEND FOR A CHICAGO OUTDOOR GETAWAY

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook: About two dozen different flowers are blooming throughout the preserve. As you stroll the narrow trails, there’s never a spot without floral color. In the sunny areas of the savanna, I love the the dense stands of round-headed rattlesnake master. They’re structural tops look like Tinker Toys. You’ll also find towering and flowering stalks of compass plant that can easily reach eight feet into the air. Speaking of tall, soon after entering the preserve, a sea of big bluestem grass engulfs you as you walk through a tunnel of this plant. Look for their newly formed “turkey foot” tassels and the miniature flowers that hang from them. Early in the morning, if you don’t dress for it, these grasses will drench you with dew. In addition to appreciating the color, notice the rich textures, especially the symmetrical sprays of prairie dropseed. Under the shade of the woodland, look for skybound plumes of sweet Joe-Pye weed. You’ll also notice yellow woodland sunflowers just starting to bloom. In the next week, the woodland will be covered in gold!

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: The vast celebration of purple prairie clover has faded, but the purple of marsh blazing star has taken the lead role at the seep of the fen. You’ll find yellow hues of rosinweed, black-eyed Susanyellow coneflower, shrubby cinquefoil, lance-leaved loosestrife, and skyrocketing compass plant. Experience that alabaster tones of Culver’s root, wild quinineflowering spurge, and rattlesnake master. In addition to the purples of marsh blazing star and purple prairie clover,  there’s wild bergamothoary vervainsweet Joe-Pye weed in the savanna, spotted Joe-Pye weed in the wetland, and the beginnings of cylindrical blazing star. The grasses are beautiful, as well, including big bluestem, little bluestem, and Canada wild rye, which acts as a brush when loaded with morning dew. And then there’s the aptly named bottlebrush grass under the trees of the oak savanna.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman States is putting on a beautiful show of  rattlesnake master. And there are lots of other plants blooming outside the fence. While you’re here, consider visiting Bluff Spring Fen, which is just fifteen minutes away by car.

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion always provides a wonderful and wild experience. Last week, Tuesday, I helped a small turtle across the road. I saw dragonflies mating in flight. And, with every step, I scared up a flurry of startled grasshoppers. Delicate, silver sprays of flowering spurge are blooming throughout the preserve, which combine beautifully with orange butterfly weed in the black oak savanna and rare shrubby cinquefoil in the sand prairie.

Spears Woods  in Willow Springs has displays of flowers in both the woodland and prairie. (See the Spears Woods page for GPS coordinates.)  Often, the July prairie appears as a sea of purple from the tall and elegant prairie blazing star. However, this year, there are only a few beautiful, dense patches. This is why ChicagoNatureNOW! is so important. Nature is inconsistent and we need people on the ground to provide you with this wonderful information. A hike through the prairie will also put you in touch with blooms of wild bergamotrattlesnake masterwild quinine, early goldenrod, compass plant, and deep-purple feathery flowers of ironweed. And look for the tiny flowers of big bluestems grass dangling from their towering tassels. In the soft shade of the trees, you’ll find woodland sunflower and the magnificent fluffy flowers of the tall sweet Joe-Pye weed.

IF YOU’RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, IT’S PROBABLY WORTH A TRIP TO:

Belmont Prairie in Downers grove is also worth a visit to see compass plantrattlesnake master, flowering spurge, wild quinine, and the diminutive blooms of big bluestem grass. Make sure you see the show of prairie blazing star in the northwest corner of the preserve.

Gensburg-Markham Prairie in Markham is putting on a show of marsh blazing starrattlesnake masterflowering spurgewild quinine, yellow coneflower, and more. This display of flowers can be found on the trails that lead to the left as you walk in. NOTE: The gate is NOT locked. It just looks that way. The lock and chain are just draped over the top.

 

 

PHOTO SECTION

Prairie Blazing Star (and Marsh Blazing Star): Only the nerds can tell the difference.

Prairie blazing star and rosinweed in July at Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove, Illinois.*

Prairie blazing star and rosinweed in July at Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove, Illinois.*

 

 

Rattlesnake Master

Rattlesnake master

Rattlesnake master is a wonderful Chicago prairie flower that looks like something you’d find in Arizona or Texas. To experience rattlesnake master, visit Belmont Prairie, Somme Prairie Grove, Shoe Factory Road PrairieWolf Road PrairieFermilab PrairieGensburg Markham PrairieKickapoo Woods and PrairieSpears WoodsTheodore Stone Preserve, and other local prairies over the next few weeks.*

Compass Plant

Compass plant towers into the sky.*

This bloom of compass plant reaches for the sky.*

 

Landscape of Compass Plants at Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, Illinois.*

A landscape of Compass Plants at Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, Illinois.*

Big Bluestem Grass

Big bluestem grass gives the true meaning to the term "tallgrass prairie."*

Here at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, big bluestem grass gives true meaning to the term “tallgrass prairie.”*

 

Miniature flowers delicately hang from the tassel of big bluestem grass.*

Look closely for miniature flowers that delicately hang from the tassel of big bluestem grass.*

Somme Prairie Grove

Purple prairie clover and mountain mint steal the show in this area of Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois.

On Tuesday, July 26, purple prairie clover and mountain mint steal the show in this area of Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois.

 

Late July in the savanna at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois.

At Somme Prairie Grove on Tuesday, July 26, rattlesnake master and early goldenrod are lit by the first light of day.

Bluff Spring Fen

Soft sunlight, diffused by morning mist, filters across the preserve. Gathered at the base of the kame, fire-resistant bur oaks hover above a colorful caboodle of Joe-Pye weed and tall goldenrod.*

Soft sunlight, diffused by morning mist, filters across the preserve. Gathered at the base of the kame, fire-resistant bur oaks hover above a colorful caboodle of Joe-Pye weed and tall goldenrod.*

 

“Lavender in color and mint in fragrance” describes wild bergamot. “Whimsical with an aroma of anise” describes yellow coneflower. Both are native to the prairie, and both are healers. Known as pioneer species, they are among the first plants to colonize disturbed or degraded areas. Their presence improves soil quality while allowing other plants to move in, leading to greater biodiversity.*

“Lavender in color and mint in fragrance” describes wild bergamot. “Whimsical with an aroma of anise” describes yellow coneflower. Both are native to the prairie, and both are healers. Known as pioneer species,
they are among the first plants to colonize disturbed or degraded areas. Their presence improves soil quality while allowing other plants to move in, leading to greater biodiversity.*

Blazing star blooms at the seep of the fen at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois.

Blazing star blooms at the seep of the fen at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois.*

Spears Woods

Prairie blazing star and wild quinine light up the prairie at Spears Woods in Willow Springs, Illinois.*

Prairie blazing star and wild quinine light up the prairie at Spears Woods in Willow Springs, Illinois.*

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

 

SCOUTING NEEDS for my next report on Thursday, August 3 (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 Adventure Info & News – 07/20/2017

Posted by on 8:26 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Nature Adventure Info & News – 07/20/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
July 20, 2017

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

 

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE GOING!

 

Here are some highlights to help you plan your Chicago weekend getaway:

Chicagoland is putting on a breathtaking show of flowers and grasses. At Bluff Spring Fen, alone, I counted twenty-four different species in bloom. I wasn’t even trying. Somme Prairie Grove is much the same and, in my opinion, the best preserve to visit this weekend. Shoe Factory Road Prairie, is also a great experience, especially if you include the surrounding prairie outside the fence. Illinois Beach Nature Preserve is also big on my list, this week. It isn’t nearly as colorful as the other preserves, but it’s the wildest. If you’re in the Downers Grove area, then Belmont Prairie is also worth a visit to see the yellow coneflowers and other prairie blooms.

 

WHERE TO GO THIS WEEKEND FOR A CHICAGO OUTDOOR GETAWAY

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook: Most of the blooming is happening in the sunny areas of the preserve. The dramatic display of purple prairie clover is pretty and fragrant, but that’s just the beginning. As you walk the narrow trails of this preserve, there’s never a spot without floral color. I love the the dense stands of round-headed rattlesnake master. I feel like I’m inside a science exhibit about molecular bonds. Right now, you’ll also find towering and flowering stalks of compass plant that can easily reach eight feet into the air. Speaking of tall, soon after entering the preserve, a sea of big bluestem grass engulfs you as you walk through a tunnel of this plant. Look for their newly formed “turkey foot” tassels. Early in the morning, if you don’t dress for it, these grasses will drench you with dew. In addition to appreciating the color, notice the rich textures, especially the symmetrical sprays of prairie dropseed. Under the shade of the woodland, look for skybound plumes of sweet Joe-Pye weed. You may notice some yellow woodland sunflowers just starting to bloom. In a very short time, the woodland will be covered in gold!

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: Come to see the vast celebration of purple prairie clover, which has taken most of the dry, gravelly area of the prairie, along with the many other forbs that are showing their colors throughout the preserve. You’ll find yellow hues of rosinweed, black-eyed Susanyellow coneflower, shrubby cinquefoil, lance-leaved loosestrife, and skyrocketing compass plant. Experience that alabaster tones of Culver’s root, wild quinineflowering spurge, and rattlesnake master. And look for the purples. Along with the purple prairie clover, there’s an early display of marsh blazing star at the seep of the fen. Then there’s wild bergamothoary vervainsweet Joe-Pye weed in the savanna, spotted Joe-Pye weed in the wetland, along the beginnings of cylindrical blazing star. The grasses are beautiful, as well, including big bluestem, little bluestem, and Canada wild rye, which acts as a brush when loaded with morning dew. And then there’s the aptly named bottlebrush grass in savanna.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman States is putting on a beautiful show of purple prairie clover and rattlesnake master. And there are lots of other plants blooming outside the fence. While you’re here, consider visiting Bluff Spring Fen, which is just fifteen minutes away by car.

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion always provides a wonderful and wild experience. Just this Tuesday, I helped a small turtle across the road. I saw dragonflies mating in flight. And, with every step, I scared up a flurry of startled grasshoppers. Delicate, silver sprays of flowering spurge are blooming throughout the preserve, which combine beautifully with orange butterfly weed in the black oak savanna and rare shrubby cinquefoil in the sand prairie.

Belmont Prairie is also worth a visit to see large display of yellow coneflower alongside compass plant and rattlesnake master.

 

COMING SOON: PRAIRIE & MARSH BLAZING STAR

 

PHOTO SECTION

Purple Prairie Clover

A bee flies over to purple prairie clover at Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve in Elgin, Illinois.*

A honey bee flies over to purple prairie clover at Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve in Elgin, Illinois. You must smell this refreshingly fragrant flower. To me, its smells like a mix of carrot and lemon. *

 

There’s hardly a dull moment in Bluff Spring Fen’s prairie. Just as blooms of leadplant and coreopsis fade, purple prairie clover rises to take their place.*

There’s hardly a dull moment in Bluff Spring Fen’s prairie. Just as blooms of leadplant and coreopsis fade, purple prairie clover rises to take their place.*

 

Rattlesnake Master

Rattlesnake master

Rattlesnake master is a wonderful Chicago prairie flower that looks like something you’d find in Arizona or Texas. To experience rattlesnake master, visit Belmont Prairie, Somme Prairie Grove, Shoe Factory Road PrairieWolf Road PrairieFermilab PrairieGensburg Markham PrairieKickapoo Woods and PrairieSpears WoodsTheodore Stone Preserve, and other local prairies over the next few weeks.*

Compass Plant

Compass plant towers into the sky.*

This bloom of compass plant reaches for the sky.*

 

Landscape of Compass Plants at Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, Illinois.*

A landscape of Compass Plants at Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, Illinois.*

 

Somme Prairie Grove

Here, at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois , we see the large, deeply lobed leaf of compass plant among a sea of purple prairie clover.*

Here, at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois , we see the large, deeply lobed leaf of compass plant among a sea of purple prairie clover.*

 

Myriad species bloom in the mid-July savanna at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois.*

Just this Tuesday, myriad species bloom in the mid-July savanna at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois. In this  picture, nine flowers and grasses can be found: black-eyed Susan, purple prairie clover, mountain mint, wild bergamot, wild quinine, rattlesnake master, yellow coneflower, early goldenrod, and big bluestem grass.

 

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.*

 

 

Come to Bluff Spring Fen early on a July morning and you might experience a chromatic expanse of purple prairie clover.

Come to Bluff Spring Fen early on a July morning and you might experience a chromatic expanse of purple prairie clover.*

 

“Lavender in color and mint in fragrance” describes wild bergamot. “Whimsical with an aroma of anise” describes yellow coneflower. Both are native to the prairie, and both are healers. Known as pioneer species, they are among the first plants to colonize disturbed or degraded areas. Their presence improves soil quality while allowing other plants to move in, leading to greater biodiversity.*

“Lavender in color and mint in fragrance” describes wild bergamot. “Whimsical with an aroma of anise” describes yellow coneflower. Both are native to the prairie, and both are healers. Known as pioneer species,
they are among the first plants to colonize disturbed or degraded areas. Their presence improves soil quality while allowing other plants to move in, leading to greater biodiversity.*

Blazing star blooms at the seep of the fen at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois.

Blazing star blooms at the seep of the fen at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois.*

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

 

SCOUTING NEEDS for my next report on Thursday, July 27 (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 Adventure Info & News – 07/13/2017

Posted by on 8:49 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Nature Adventure Info & News – 07/13/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
July 13, 2017

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

 

Click here to see my interview about Chicago nature on CBS 2 Chicago “Sunday Morning News.”

 

Here’s what’s happening in Chicago nature to help you plan your Chicago outdoor adventure:

This week, the preserves with the best blooms are Bluff Spring FenSomme Prairie Grove, and Shoe Factory Road Prairie. All three feature beautiful displays of purple prairie clover. But, don’t just view the prairie clover. Take in its refreshing fragrance that resembles a medley of carrot and lemon.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Bluff Spring Fen is gorgeous, right now, with flowering purple prairie clover throughout the preserve and many other species in bloom.

Somme Prairie Grove is putting on a show of many flowers, with purple prairie clover playing the leading role.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie offers a fanfare of prairie coreopsis and rattlesnake master.

 

WHERE TO GO THIS WEEKEND FOR A CHICAGO OUTDOOR ADVENTURE

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: Come to see the vast celebration of purple prairie clover, which has taken most of the dry, gravelly area of the prairie. You’ll also find many other flowering species, like yellow black-eyed Susanyellow coneflowerrosinweed, and sky-bound compass plant. Butterfly milkweed, common milkweed, wild bergamot, and hoary vervain are also part of the kaleidoscopic mix.

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook:  The beautiful display of purple prairie clover is this week’s reason to visit. However, you’ll also see the gorgeous purple milkweed that only grows in oak savannas. Take the time to inhale its delicate fragrance. Along your way, you’ll also find other blooms of wild quininerattlesnake masterblack-eyed Susan, butterfly weed, and towering compass plants. I often speak of the forbs (flowering plants), but the texture of the grasses are also quite beautiful, in particular, prairie dropseed.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie is putting on a dramatic show of purple prairie clover and rattlesnake master. While you’re here, consider visiting Bluff Spring Fen, which is fifteen minutes away by car.

Miller Woods (Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore) in Gary, Indiana: We weren’t able scouting this preserve, this week. Please consider volunteering for us. Last week, there was a big display of New Jersey tea along the Beach Trail that combines beautifully with with yellow blooms of black-eyed Susan.

 

COMING SOON: PRAIRIE BLAZING STAR

 

PHOTO SECTION

Purple Prairie Clover

A bee flies over to purple prairie clover at Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve in Elgin, Illinois.*

A honey bee flies over to purple prairie clover at Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve in Elgin, Illinois. You must smell this refreshingly fragrant flower. To me, its smells like a mix of carrot and lemon. *

 

There’s hardly a dull moment in Bluff Spring Fen’s prairie. Just as blooms of leadplant and coreopsis fade, purple prairie clover rises to take their place.*

There’s hardly a dull moment in Bluff Spring Fen’s prairie. Just as blooms of leadplant and coreopsis fade, purple prairie clover rises to take their place.*

 

Rattlesnake Master

Rattlesnake master

Rattlesnake master is a wonderful Chicago prairie flower that looks like something you’d find in Arizona or Texas. To experience rattlesnake master, visit Belmont Prairie, Somme Prairie Grove, Shoe Factory Road PrairieWolf Road PrairieFermilab PrairieGensburg Markham PrairieKickapoo Woods and PrairieSpears WoodsTheodore Stone Preserve, and other local prairies over the next few weeks.*

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.*

 

 

Come to Bluff Spring Fen early on a July morning and you might experience a chromatic expanse of purple prairie clover.

Come to Bluff Spring Fen early on a July morning and you might experience a chromatic expanse of purple prairie clover.*

 

“Lavender in color and mint in fragrance” describes wild bergamot. “Whimsical with an aroma of anise” describes yellow coneflower. Both are native to the prairie, and both are healers. Known as pioneer species, they are among the first plants to colonize disturbed or degraded areas. Their presence improves soil quality while allowing other plants to move in, leading to greater biodiversity.*

“Lavender in color and mint in fragrance” describes wild bergamot. “Whimsical with an aroma of anise” describes yellow coneflower. Both are native to the prairie, and both are healers. Known as pioneer species,
they are among the first plants to colonize disturbed or degraded areas. Their presence improves soil quality while allowing other plants to move in, leading to greater biodiversity.*

Somme Prairie Grove

Here, at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois , we see the large, deeply lobed leaf of compass plant among a sea of purple prairie clover.*

Here, at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois , we see the large, deeply lobed leaf of compass plant among a sea of purple prairie clover.*

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

 

SCOUTING NEEDS for my next report on Thursday, July 20 (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 – 07/07/2017

Posted by on 8:49 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Nature Info & News – 07/07/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
July 7, 2017

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

 

Watch my interview about ChicagoNatureNOW! on CBS 2 Chicago “Sunday Morning News” at 6:45 am on Sunday, July 9.

 

Here’s what’s happening in Chicago nature:

This week, the preserves with the best blooms are Somme Prairie Grove, Bluff Spring Fen, and Shoe Factory Road Prairie. All are featuring grand displays of leadplantpurple prairie clover, and compass plant with golden blooms upon its towering, hairy stalk. You just have to smell the prairie clover. It’s my favorite plant smell. It gives off a refreshing fragrance that resembles a combination of carrot and lemon. Eastern prickly pear cactus is also flowering at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve and other preserves (see info below). Yes, Chicago has a native cactus!

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Somme Prairie Grove is the preserve of the week for wildflowers. See a spectacular show of leadplant along with many other flowering species, including the refreshingly fragrant purple prairie clover.

Bluff Spring Fen is features a magnificent show of purple prairie clover blooming throughout the preserve.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie offers a fanfare of prairie coreopsis, and leadplant. And in the prairie outside the fence, you’ll find other flowers like pale purple coneflower.

Belmont Prairie is offering a nice presentation of butterfly weedblack-eyed Susan, and mix of other flowers.

Miller Woods is worth visiting, if you’re near Indiana, for its show of New Jersey tea and the chance to find eastern prickly pear cactus in flower. You can even take a walk to the beach where you can experience the cool Lake Michigan water.

 

PLAN YOUR CHICAGO OUTDOOR ADVENTURE THIS WEEKEND

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook: Leadplant is putting on a spectacular show, but there are also many different species of colorful flowers in bloom. 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 that only grows in oak savannas. Take the time to inhale its delicate fragrance. Along your way, you’ll also find another lovely plant—the yellow prairie sundrop and a smattering of other blooms, including wild quininerattlesnake masterNew Jersey teablack-eyed Susan, prairie coreopsis, butterfly weed, and tall stalks of compass plants. Soon, you’ll come upon the main event, the purple pageant of leadplant and purple prairie clover. I often speak of the forbs (flowering plants), but the texture of the grasses are also quite 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). Now and though the fall, you can see his likeness at Somme Prairie Grove.

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: The flowering plant of the moment is purple prairie clover. It’s everywhere. You’ll also find many other flowering species, like yellow black-eyed Susanyellow coneflower, and rosinweed, along with orange butterfly milkweed and purplish common milkweed.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie is putting on a dramatic show of prairie coreopsis, alongside leadplant and purple prairie clover. And outside the fence on the hillsides, you’ll find other flowers like pale purple coneflower. While you’re here, consider visiting Bluff Spring Fen which is only about fifteen minutes away by car.

Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove: The preserve looks good this week with many plants of bright plants of orange butterfly milkweed, black-eyed Susan, and wild quinine. Other flowering plants include yellow coneflower, rosinweed, and rattlesnake master. As you scan the prairie, look for the towering stalks of compass plant. They’re just stating to bloom with yellow flowers. Compass plant gets its name from directional leaves that face east/west and point north/south.

Miller Woods (Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore) in Gary, Indiana: There’s a big display of New Jersey tea along the Beach Trail that combines beautifully with with yellow blooms of black-eyed Susan. While you’re there, look for eastern prickly pear cactus. It should be blooming, now, but I couldn’t find any. Ask at the visitor center where to find it. If you take the Beach Trail to the end, you’ll be rewarded by the cool waters of Lake Michigan. Please help us scout this preserve.

Experience Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus at these preserves: Illinois Beach Nature PreserveMiller Woods, Powderhorn Marsh  & Prairie, Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve, and Braidwood Dunes.

 

COMING SOON: PRAIRIE BLAZING STAR

 

PHOTO SECTION

Purple Prairie Clover

A bee flies over to purple prairie clover at Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve in Elgin, Illinois.*

A honey bee flies over to purple prairie clover at Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve in Elgin, Illinois. You must smell this refreshingly fragrant flower. To me, its smells like a mix of carrot and lemon. *

 

There’s hardly a dull moment in Bluff Spring Fen’s prairie. Just as blooms of leadplant and coreopsis fade, purple prairie clover rises to take their place.*

There’s hardly a dull moment in Bluff Spring Fen’s prairie. Just as blooms of leadplant and coreopsis fade, purple prairie clover rises to take their place.*

 

Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus at Sandy Preserves Around the Region

Eastern prickly pear cactus blooms in late June in sandy preserves around the Chicago area.*

Blooms of eastern prickly pear cactus can be found in late June in sandy preserves around the Chicago area, like Illinois Beach Nature PreserveMiller WoodsPowderhorn Marsh  & PrairieJon J. Duerr Forest Preserve, and Braidwood Dunes.*

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.*

 

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.*

 

Behold! Morning in a Chicagoland prairie. This fine June day awakens to a magnificent panorama of pale purple coneflower, leadplant, and stiff coreopsis.*

Behold! Morning in a Chicagoland prairie. This fine June day awakens to a magnificent panorama of pale purple coneflower, leadplant, and stiff coreopsis.*

 

At Bluff Spring Fen, in the golden light of morning, wild quinine, stiff coreopsis, and leadplant overlook the foggy fen from atop the reconstructed kame and the remnants of Healy Road Prairie which was miraculously transplanted here from six miles down the road.*

At Bluff Spring Fen, in the golden light of morning, wild quinine, stiff coreopsis, and leadplant overlook the foggy fen from atop the reconstructed kame and the remnants of Healy Road Prairie, which was miraculously transplanted here from six miles down the road.*

 

Shoe Factory Road Prairie

Atop this hill prairie, deep-rooted leadplants combine with the happy yellow faces of coreopsis as they shine through the dissipating fog.

Atop this hill prairie, deep-rooted leadplants combine with the happy yellow faces of coreopsis as they shine through the dissipating fog.*

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

 

SCOUTING NEEDS for my  next report on Thursday, July 13 (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 – 06/29/2017

Posted by on 8:20 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Nature Info & News – 06/29/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
June 29, 2017
Fourth of July Edition

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

 

Plan your Fourth of July Chicago nature adventure. This week, there is so much to see and explore!

 

Here’s what’s happening in Chicago nature:

This week, the preserves with the best blooms are Somme Prairie Grove, Bluff Spring Fen, and Shoe Factory Road Prairie. This week also features grand displays of leadplant and other fascinating blooms like eastern prickly pear cactus. Yes, Chicago has a native cactus! The remarkable spiderwort is still blooming in many preserves, but not as prolifically as before. You will only see their flowers in the morning. By the afternoon, their purple blooms will have melted into a purple liquid! Learn more here.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Somme Prairie Grove is the preserve of the week for wildflowers. According to Nature Scout Charlie Yang, the preserve “lights up with all kinds of flowers” led by a spectacular show of leadplant.

Bluff Spring Fen is beautiful, right now, as it shows off thick displays of leadplant, prairie coreopis, and pale purple coneflower.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie offers a fanfare of prairie coreopsis, and leadplant. And in the prairie outside the fence, you’ll find other flowers like pale purple coneflower.

Belmont Prairie is offering an exciting presentation of pale purple coneflowerporcupine grass, and scurfy pea, and many gorgeous orange blossoms of butterfly weed.

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve features lots of hairy 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 flowers of silver and gold and several different habits to explore.

Miller Woods is worth visiting, if you’re near Indiana, for its flourish of hairy puccoon and the chance to find eastern prickly pear cactus in flower. You can even take a walk to the beach where you can experience the cool Lake Michigan water.

 

 

PLAN YOUR CHICAGO NATURE TRIP THIS WEEKEND

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook: Leadplant is putting on a spectacular show, but there are also many different species of colorful flowers in bloom. One of my favorite prairie plant species is tuberous (or prairie) Indian plantain, which you can find soon after walking in. You’ll also see the gorgeous purple milkweed that only grows in oak savannas. Take the time to inhale its delicate fragrance. Along your way, you’ll also find another lovely plant—the yellow prairie sundrop and a smattering of other blooms, including wild quininewhite wild indigo, rattlesnake masterNew Jersey teablack-eyed Susan, prairie coreopsis, and butterfly weed. Soon, you’ll come upon the main event, the purple pageant of leadplant. I often speak of the forbs (flowering plants), but the texture of the grasses are also quite 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). Now and though the fall, you can see his likeness at Somme Prairie Grove.

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 you’ll find numerous wildflowers like pale purple coneflower. Porcupine grass can also be found here, as well as butterfly milkweed and purplish common milkweed. As you walk deeper into the preserve, notice the rich display of leadplant and prairie coreopsis—the flowers of the week.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie is putting on a dramatic show of prairie coreopsis and leadplant. And outside the fence on the hillsides, you’ll find other flowers like pale purple coneflower. While you’re here, consider visiting Bluff Spring Fen which is only about fifteen minutes away by car.

Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove: Experience the beautiful symphony of color and texture, this week, at this intimate remnant prairie nestled within a quiet neighborhood of Downers Grove. Orange butterfly milkweed is looking fantastic, especially when it’s draped in the purple flowers of scurfy pea and the whitish texture of porcupine grass that have given up their spear-like seeds. Pale purple coneflower is still prominent, but fading, which is also true for the purple blooms of spiderwort. Its flowers can only be viewed during the morning hours because, as the day warms, the flowers melt away and turn to liquid.

Spears Woods in Willow Springs: “Silver and gold” describes the floral color of the prairies. The silvers come from the alabaster blooms of wild quinine, white wild indigo, and upcoming rattlesnake master. The flowers of black-eyed Susan provide the gold. The preserve is big and gives you a lot to explore. 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.

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion: This preserve is always a great experience, even when there aren’t a lot of blooms. Right now, under the canopy of oaks, you’ll find hairy 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. And finally, look closely for the lemon-colored blooms of eastern prickly pear cactus. 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 napping turtle eggs.)

Miller Woods (Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore) in Gary, Indiana: If you’re in Indiana, visit for a nice long walk hike among the hairy puccoon, which is prominent throughout the preserve. And, while you’re there, look for eastern prickly pear cactus. It should be blooming, now. Ask at the visitor center where to find it. Take the Beach Trail and, if you go the the end, you’ll be rewarded by the cool waters of Lake Michigan. Please help us scout this preserve.

Experience Spiderwort: The blooming time for spiderwort is coming to an end. So, head out to just about any of our featured prairies and savannas, or you’ll have to wait until next year. To see the flowers, arrive by 10 o’clock in the morning. At the start of each day and over the 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.

Experience Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus at these preserves: Illinois Beach Nature PreserveMiller Woods, Powderhorn Marsh  & Prairie, Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve, and Braidwood Dunes.

 

COMING SOON: PURPLE PRAIRIE CLOVER

 

PHOTO SECTION

Pale Purple Coneflower

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 miniature, 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.*

 

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.

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.*

 

Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus at Sandy Preserves Around the Region

Eastern prickly pear cactus blooms in late June in sandy preserves around the Chicago area.*

Blooms of eastern prickly pear cactus can be found in late June in sandy preserves around the Chicago area, like Illinois Beach Nature PreserveMiller WoodsPowderhorn Marsh  & PrairieJon J. Duerr Forest Preserve, and Braidwood Dunes.*

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.*

 

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.*

 

Behold! Morning in a Chicagoland prairie. This fine June day awakens to a magnificent panorama of pale purple coneflower, leadplant, and stiff coreopsis.*

Behold! Morning in a Chicagoland prairie. This fine June day awakens to a magnificent panorama of pale purple coneflower, leadplant, and stiff coreopsis.*

 

At Bluff Spring Fen, in the golden light of morning, wild quinine, stiff coreopsis, and leadplant overlook the foggy fen from atop the reconstructed kame and the remnants of Healy Road Prairie which was miraculously transplanted here from six miles down the road.*

At Bluff Spring Fen, in the golden light of morning, wild quinine, stiff coreopsis, and leadplant overlook the foggy fen from atop the reconstructed kame and the remnants of Healy Road Prairie, which was miraculously transplanted here from six miles down the road.*

 

Shoe Factory Road Prairie

Atop this hill prairie, deep-rooted leadplants combine with the happy yellow faces of coreopsis as they shine through the dissipating fog.

Atop this hill prairie, deep-rooted leadplants combine with the happy yellow faces of coreopsis as they shine through the dissipating fog.*

 

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.*

 

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, in the middle of the trail that leads to the Dead River, I found a snapping turtle nest that was raided by a raccoon or other predator. Maybe next time, the mother-t0-be will smarten up and pick a more secluded spot.

 

A common snapping turtle 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.*

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

 

SCOUTING NEEDS for my  next report on Thursday, July 6 (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 – 06/23/2017

Posted by on 5:19 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

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 hairy 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 hairy 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 hairy 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 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 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 miniature, 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 29 (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

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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