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Best Chicago Wildflower Walks, Outdoor Adventures, News & Info – 07/12/2018

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Best Chicago Wildflower Walks, Outdoor Adventures, News & Info – 07/12/2018

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
July 12, 2018

“Plan a Chicago outdoor adventure with this Chicago wildflower report
filled with news and info to discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

Don’t miss one beautiful moment.
Click here to subscribe to received FREE nature alerts!

 

First, I’d like Jim Yassick as our newest Nature Scout. And though it’s not required, it doesn’t hurt that he’s an accomplished photographer. Please scout for us. We can really use the help, even if you only take pictures with your cell phone. Click here to learn more about being on our enthusiastic and supportive team of nature lovers. Nature newbies are welcome. You’ll be amazed how much you’ll learn in such a short time!

 

Here’s are some of the highlights of what’s happening in Chicago nature:

Purple prairie clover is the star of the week, stealing the show at Bluff Spring Fen,, Shoe Factory Road Prairie, and Somme Prairie Grove. Its fresh scent is a blend of carrot and lemon—my favorite (nice) smell in Chicago nature. But it shares the stage with many newly flowering plants, including Culver’s root, rattlesnake master, rosinweed, compass plantrattlesnake master, and the fragrant yellow coneflower, wild bergamot, and mountain mint. Wolf Road Prairie looks spectacular. With so many different species in bloom, the preserve is giving a lesson in biodiversity. Gensburg-Markham Prairie is now covered with wild quinine. I’ve never seen so much. And, not far from there, visit Kickapoo Prairie for Tinker Toy rattlesnake master and the golden blooms of compass plant. This is also your last chance to experience a beautiful native plant that most people only associate with the desert: prickly pear cactus. You can find its transcendent yellow blossoms at several sandy preserves, including Illinois Beach Nature PreserveMiller WoodsPowderhorn Marsh  & Prairie, and Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve. It’s worth the trek.

 

PLAN YOUR CHICAGO OUTDOOR ADVENTURE THIS WEEKEND 

 

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook: Many flowers are blooming, including a sublime display on the north side of the savanna. There, you’ll be immersed in the purples of leadplant combined with the oranges of butterfly weed, the pearly whites of wild quininerattlesnake master, and mountain mint, the lavenders of wild bergamot, the golds of black-eyed Susan and compass plant, and a rich texture of jade foliage from the grand heart-shaped leaves of prairie dock and the stringy bob hairdo of prairie dropseed. In the southern half of the preserve, our star of the week, purple prairie clover, is blooming in dense populations alongside many other flowers that create a beautiful bouquet.

Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester: Visit this week to see the biodiversity of a prairie. There are so many different kinds of flowers, including the white blossoms of wild quininerattlesnake master, and Culver’s root, the golden bouquets of rosinweed, yellow coneflower, and compass plant, and the beautiful orange Michgan lily. And spiderwort is still blooming in the morning hours.

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: Purple prairie clover is blooming in profusion, replacing the shrivelling pale purple coneflower, leadplant, and prairie coreopsis. Staying with the hues of purple, you’ll find nice stands of common milkweed and swamp milkweed alongside splashes of orange butterfly milkweed. New gold flowers are popping up, like rosinweed, yellow coneflower., black-eyed Susan, and the towering stalks of compass plant. You’ll also see sparkles of white atop waist-high blooms of flat-topped wild quinine. And don’t forget to kneel to catch the fragrance of pasture rose found at the northeast kame.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates: This week, I rated the experience as “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood.” This tiny hill prairie is exhibiting two kinds of clover: purple prairie clover and, the less common, white prairie clover. But both are fading. The white flowers of wild quinine and rattlesnake master brighten the landscape, along with a handful of golden blooms atop towering compass plant.

Gensburg-Markham Prairie in Markham: Visit for the ivory landscape with much of the prairie immersed in wild quinine. Yes, there are other flowers blooming here, but you hardly notice them amidst the sea of white.

Kickapoo Prairie in Riverdale: Grand displays of two flowers make this preserve worth attending: the latticework of rattlesnake master, with its white molecular-like flower heads, and the forest of compass plant and its golden blossoms.

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion: This is on this week’s “Go, if you’re in the neighbood” list because we were only able to scout it last week. This is a great preserve to visit with or without wildflowers, even though there are many to see. You should still find the final blooms spiderwort. And prickly pear cactus may still be flowering in the savanna and the sand prairie. There’s also a nice smattering of common milkweedbutterfly milkweed, and hairy puccoon under the oaks of the savanna. The fragrant pink and yellow pasture rose are almost gone, flowering just inches from the ground. I recommend dropping to your knees to smell its divine fragrance . (I do, at least once a day when we’re together.)

Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove: Ranked as “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood.” This intimate remnant prairie that’s nestled within a quiet neighborhood of Downers Grove, You’ll find orange butterfly milkweed, and the golden flowers of compass plant, yellow coneflower, and rosinweed.

Kickapoo Prairie in Riverdale: You tell us! We haven’t been able to get there, this year, and we need someone to scout it.

COMING SOON: PRAIRIE & MARSH BLAZING STAR

 

PHOTO SECTION

Wolf Road Prairie

The July prairie explodes with diversity here at Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Illinois.

This image was made later in July at Wolf Road Prairie, but every plant shown is currently blooming except for the tall purple spikes of prairie blazing star.*

 

 

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.*

 

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.*

This is a view that’s forming in the prairie at Bluff Spring Fen. Just as blooms of leadplant and coreopsis fade, purple prairie clover rises to take their place.*

 

 

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.*

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.*

 

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.*

At Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois, compass plant stretches out its deeply lobed leaves in a sea of purple prairie clover.*

 

Gensburg-Markham Prairie

The summer sun goes down on wild quinine and marsh phlox as nonstop tollway traffic rolls past its eastern aorder. Each hour of each day, people drive by, unaware of the natural treasures they’d discover by taking the West 159th Street exit.*

The summer sun goes down on wild quinine and marsh phlox as nonstop tollway traffic rolls past its eastern aorder. Each hour of each day, people drive by, unaware of the natural treasures they’d discover by taking the West 159th Street exit.*

 

 

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) can bloom in several of Chicagoland’s prairies and savannas around this time, including Bluff Spring Fen, Belmont Prairie, Somme Prairie Grove, and, here, at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion.

 

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.*

At Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, Illinois, a common snapping turtle trudges through the sandy Lake Michigan shoreline on its way to the Dead River, about a thousand turtle steps away.*

 

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.*

Purple Prairie Clover and It’s Remarkably Fresh Scent (see caption for details)

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

This flower emanates my favorite (nice) smell in Chicago nature with the fresh scent of carrots and lemon. Here, a bee flies over to purple prairie clover at Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve in Elgin, Illinois.*

 

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.*

More Flagrantly Fragrant Flowers

“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.*

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

White-flowered mountain mint releases its refresh scent at Somme Prairie Grove and many other local preserves.*

 

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 plant at Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, 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.*

 

 

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  & Prairie, and Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve.*

 

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. 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. You can find this flower at preserves like Illinois Beach Nature Preserve and Bluff Spring Fen.*

 

Miraculous Spiderwort, with Flowers that Melt, are Still Blooming!

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.

 

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

If you’d like to help your neighbors discover national-park quality natural events around our homes, then become an official scout. Or, you can help by just sending us pictures and a text description from your visit. Another way is to post your pictures to Instagram using these essential hashtags: #ChicagoNatureNow and #NameOfPreserve.

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

 

Best Chicago Nature Walks, Outdoor Getaways, News & Info – 07/06/2018

Posted by on 2:34 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Best Chicago Nature Walks, Outdoor Getaways, News & Info – 07/06/2018

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
July 6, 2018

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

 

Don’t miss one beautiful moment.
Click here to subscribe to received FREE nature alerts!

 

Here’s are some of the highlights of what’s happening in Chicago nature:

Before I begin, thanks to Zeke for taking over the reins for the past two weeks while I was visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. Except for the tundra, the wildflowers pale in comparison to what we have in Chicago. The tundra display with miles of rugged, diminutive wildflowers was wonderful, especially amidst the backdrop of the mountains. But, the rest of the park did not offer the density of wildflowers that I’ve grown used to at home.

ChicagoNatureNOW! is about alerting people to “national park quality blooming events” that are happening around the region. However, in most national parks, which are located in the mountains of the west, wildflowers are mainly found after the snow has melted in June and only last into August. Here, flowers explode in great quantities from mid-April through the beginning of September. Our prairies and savannas put on floral shows all summer long. Each week or two, a performance will end just in time for a fresh cast of colorful actors to take the stage to begin a brand new show. Sometimes there will be a short lull or quiet transition between shows, but it’s still usually pretty great.

Many of our preserves are currently in this kind of transition, moving from late-June flowers, like leadplant and prairie coreopsis,,to the early-July blossoms that include purple prairie cloverCulver’s root, wild bergamot, prickly pear cactus, yellow coneflower, rosinweed, and rattlesnake master. But it is also your moment to see a beautiful native plant that most people only associate with dry desert climates: eastern prickly pear cactus. Yes, Chicago has a cactus, and you can find its transcendent yellow blossoms at several sandy preserves, including Illinois Beach Nature PreserveMiller WoodsPowderhorn Marsh  & Prairie, and Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve. It’s definitely worth the trek.

As I mentioned, you’ll find cactus at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve along with many other flowers. Somme Prairie Grove is showing off a nice late display of purple leadplant and orange butterfly weed on the knobs in the northeast corner of the savanna. And you’ll find many other species flowering throughout your hike. And the fresh-scented blooms of purple prairie clover is just starting at the relatively approximate preserves of Shoe Factory Road Prairie and Bluff Spring Fen. Purple prairie clover is my favorite (nice) smell of any Chicago flower. (Remember, I love the uncanny (bad) vomit smell of the seed of foxglove beardtongue). Learn more about the smell in the Photo Section below.

 

 

PLAN YOUR CHICAGO NATURE TRIP THIS WEEKEND 

 

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook: Leadplant is about to explode in the northeast corner of the open savanna. It’s a glorious bouquet when mixed with butterfly weed , wild quinine, rattlesnake master, and the grand heart-shaped leaves of prairie dock. Along your hike, you’ll find many other species, as well, including common milkweed and purple milkweed. And, along the western trails, look for the forthcoming purple prairie clover. Even if it’s not flowering, you can still smell its scent by putting your nose against gray oval inflorescence (flower head).

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion: This is a perfect place to find blooming prickly pear cactus in the savanna and the sand prairie. There’s also a nice smattering of common milkweedbutterfly milkweed, and hairy puccoon under the canopy of the black oak savanna. Fragrant pink and yellow pasture rose grows just inches from the ground. I highly recommend dropping to your knees to smell its divine fragrance . (I do, at least once a day when we’re together.) This is a great preserve to visit with or without wildflowers.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates: This tiny hill prairie is exhibiting two kinds of clover: purple prairie clover and, the less common, white prairie clover. You’ll also see fading blooms of June’s leadplant and prairie coreopsis. And the white flowers of wild quinine and rattlesnake master brighten the landscape. The purple prairie clover looks good now and will probably peak next weekend.

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: “Go if you’re in the neighborhood.” As blooms of pale purple coneflower and prairie coreopsis fade, a new show is beginning with the appearance of purple prairie clover blooming throughout the preserve’s prairie. Staying with the hues of purple, you’ll find nice stands of common milkweed and swamp milkweed, along with splashes of orange butterfly milkweed. New gold flowers are popping up, like rosinweed, yellow coneflower., black-eyed Susan, and the towering stalks of compass plant. You’ll also see splashes of white atop waist-high blooms of flat-topped wild quinine. And don’t forget to kneel to catch the fragrance of pasture rose found at the northeast kame. Next weekend, the clover will be at peak.

Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove: Ranked as “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood.” This intimate remnant prairie that’s nestled within a quiet neighborhood of Downers Grove, You’ll find orange butterfly milkweed, and the golden flowers of compass plant, yellow coneflower, and rosinweed.

Miller Woods (Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore) in Gary, Indiana: We’ve assessed the preserve to be “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood.”  There are large quantities of ivory New Jersey tea and many other flowers. You may even find some prickly pear cactus as you hike towards the beach.

 

COMING SOON: MORE PURPLE PRAIRIE CLOVER

 

PHOTO SECTION

 

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.*

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.*

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) can bloom in several of Chicagoland’s prairies and savannas around this time, including Bluff Spring Fen, Belmont Prairie, Somme Prairie Grove, and, here, at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion.

 

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.*

 

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  & Prairie, and Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve.*

Purple Prairie Clover and It’s Remarkably Fresh Scent (see caption for details)

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

This flower emanates my favorite (nice) smell in Chicago nature with the fresh scent of carrots and lemon. Here, a bee flies over to purple prairie clover at Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve in Elgin, Illinois.*

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. 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. You can find this flower at preserves like Illinois Beach Nature Preserve and Bluff Spring Fen.*

Miraculous Spiderwort, with Flowers that Melt, are Still Blooming!

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.

 

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.*

 

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.*

This is a view that is beginning to form at Bluff Spring Fen. 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.*

 

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

 

If you’d like to help your neighbors discover national-park quality natural events around our homes, then become an official scout. Or, you can help by just sending us pictures and a text description from your visit. Another way is to post your pictures to Instagram using these essential hashtags: #ChicagoNatureNow and #NameOfPreserve.

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

 

Best Chicago Nature Walks, Outdoor Getaways, News & Info – 06/28/2018

Posted by on 11:08 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Best Chicago Nature Walks, Outdoor Getaways, News & Info – 06/28/2018

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
June 28, 2018

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

 

Don’t miss one beautiful moment.
Click here to subscribe to received FREE nature alerts!

 

Here’s what’s happening in Chicago nature:

Last week’s top 3 preserves still have very good blooms at Belmont PrairieBluff Spring Fenand Somme Prairie Grove.  Actually throughout the summer, these places have non-stop shows of different wildflowers and plants.  Pale purple coneflower may have just passed the peak at these preserves but is still good for visit.  The show is turning to leadplant, prairie coreopsis, New Jersey tea, and all kinds of milkweeds.  Joining the top group for this week is Miller WoodsAccording to last year’s record, the precious sand savanna can be covered with New Jersey tea right before July 4th time frame.

 

PLAN YOUR CHICAGO NATURE TRIP THIS WEEKEND

Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove: If you followed our alert last week to visit this intimate remnant prairie that’s nestled within a quiet neighborhood of Downers Grove, I bet you were not disappointed.  It is really a good experience of the beautiful symphony of color and texture.  This week, the grand display of pale purple coneflower is still going on, but may have just passed peak.  The blue bloom of scurfy pea is still at peak, blended with New Jersey teablack-eyed Susan, and butterfly milkweed.

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: Foxglove beardtongue and large shows of pale purple coneflower should have passed the peak.  Taking the stage now should be leadplant in large coverage at the central prairie and kames.  You should be able to find large quantities of purplish common milkweed and patches of orange butterfly weed.  One of the kames at the center of the preserve should have some good quantity of yellow prairie coreopsis.

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.  Various milkweeds, purplish common milkweed, orange butterfly weed, and purple milkweed, have just started to bloom.  They will be awesome next week at this restored preserve.  They are good food sources for butterfly and bees, so you can find lots of them over here.  Other flowers that are also blooming here include leadplantprairie sundrop, foxglove beardtonguewhite wild indigo.  Many of the special species are not in large coverage, but it is really fun to find them in the preserve.

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.  This or next week, yellow prairie coreopsis may start to bloom in large coverage in the prairie.  Just outside the fence, there is good display of pale purple coneflower and black-eyed Susan on the slope.

Miller Woods (Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore) in Gary, Indiana was not scouted this week.  According to our record last year, this precious sand savanna should be covered with large quantities of white and tender New Jersey tea right before July 4th.  If it happens again this year as nature tends to repeat every year, it will be fantastic.

 

COMING SOON: PURPLE PRAIRIE CLOVER

 

PHOTO SECTION

 

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.*

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.*

 

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.*

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) can bloom in several of Chicagoland’s prairies and savannas around this time, including Bluff Spring Fen, Belmont Prairie, Somme Prairie Grove, and, here, at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion.

 

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.*

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 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, Zeke

 

Best Chicago Nature Walks, Outdoor Getaways, News & Info – 06/21/2018

Posted by on 9:16 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Best Chicago Nature Walks, Outdoor Getaways, News & Info – 06/21/2018

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
June 21, 2018

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

 

Don’t miss one beautiful moment.
Click here to subscribe to received FREE nature alerts!

Please share the beauty presented here with you loved ones.
And don’t forget to start a conversation in the comments section of the blog post.

 

From April to September, there are non-stop shows at the best of Chicagoland nature preserves.  If you have a chance to visit the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum at Chicago, in the permanent exhibition at the 2nd floor, you will find hundreds of years ago, Chicagoland was mostly covered by the beautiful prairie and woodland, which was mentioned in numerous books that were published hundreds of years ago.  Now 99.9% of those beautiful lands were replaced by agricultural fields and cities.  Many of the 0.1% that were left have been protected and restored by conscious volunteers and nature lovers so that we, our children, and our children’s children can see how beautiful Chicagoland nature looks like thousands of years ago.  What we are trying to bring to you here is the weekly update on best places to visit from the good quality preserves.  It does take some time and learning, and even luck, for someone to develop the connection with fine nature.  I ensure you the journey is well worth it. 

When visiting the preserves, please be conscious of all the precious and tender plants by staying on the trail.  It took years of many volunteers’ effort to restore the area.  We need to be respectful of their works and nature itself.  Note that these good quality preserves are not like the typical parks.  The trails are mostly narrow (most time just for one person to walk on) so that there is little human impact on the land.  As you cannot avoid bugs outdoor in the tall grass in the summer, I recommend wearing long pant and socks or using insect repellent.   

 

Here’s what’s happening in Chicago nature:

This week, the preserves with the best blooms are Belmont PrairieBluff Spring Fenand 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. The miraculous species called spiderwort is still blooming, 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

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

Bluff Spring Fen is featuring pale purple coneflowerfoxglove beardtongue, and the beginnings of common milkweedleadplant and possibly butterfly weedprairie coreopsis.

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.

Spears Woods used to offer displays of foxglove beardtongue throughout the prairies in the past years.  We did not get a chance to scout the area this week.  Please let us know what you find if you visit by leaving comments at the bottom of the blog post.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie has a good display of pale purple coneflower and spiderwort just outside the fence, leadplant is just starting to flower.

 

PLAN YOUR CHICAGO NATURE TRIP THIS WEEKEND

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.  There is a grand display of 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.

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 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 possibly prairie coreopsis on the northeast kame. Next week, they will be fabulous!

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. One of my favorite prairie plants is tuberous (or prairie) Indian plantain, which you can find soon after walking in. 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. Then, there’s leadplant, which is getting ready to bloom.  There are many other special species in bloom.  To name a few: meadow parsnip, thicket parsley, Downy phlox, Pale Spike Lobelia, Veined Pea, Gray dogwood.  Most of of the species are not in large coverage, but it is really fun to find them in the preserve.

Theodore Stone Preserve in Hodgkins: The show is on the east side of the preserve where there is a rare dolomite limestone prairie.  Lovely pale purple coneflower can be found here.

Spears Woods in Willow Springs was not scouted this week.  Foxglove beardtongue used to bloom across the prairies around this time.  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.  This week, there is not much going on within the preserve, but just outside the fence, there is good display of pale purple coneflower and spiderwort on the slope, leadplant and black-eyed Susan will join the show pretty soon.

Miller Woods (Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore) in Gary, Indiana was not scouted this week.  We still need at least a dozen more volunteer scouts. Please help us scout.

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, different kinds of Milkweeds

 

PHOTO SECTION

Pale Purple Coneflower & Foxglove Beardtongue

Watch this video from about this time a few years ago at Bluff Spring Fen:

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Miraculous Spiderwort with Flowers that Melt!

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

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

Miraculous Porcupine Grass and Its Spinning Seed!

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

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

 

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve

 

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

Butterfly milkweed (or butterfly weed) can bloom in several of Chicagoland’s prairies and savannas around this time, 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.*

 

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.*

 

* 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 28 (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, Zeke

 

Best Chicago Nature Walks, Outdoor Getaways, News & Info – 06/14/2018

Posted by on 4:57 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Best Chicago Nature Walks, Outdoor Getaways, News & Info – 06/14/2018

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
June 14, 2018

“Plan the best Chicago nature walks and outdoor getaways with Chicago nature news and info that helps you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

Don’t miss one beautiful moment.
Click here to subscribe to received FREE nature alerts!

Please share the beauty presented here with you loved ones.
And don’t forget to start a conversation in the comments section of the blog post.

 

This week’s highlights to help you plan a Chicago outdoor adventure or nature walk this weekend:

Before I begin, one of my intrepid scouts, Zeke, will be taking over the blogging duties for the next two weeks while I’m on vacation. Please make Zeke feel welcome! I’m going to Rocky Mountain National Park which is home to 923 native plant species. That’s far fewer than the 1,706 species that live happily in the Chicago region. And, in terms of land area, the sum of Chicago’s protected natural areas is slightly larger in size. (Learn more here.)  But I’ll have a good time, anyway!

The event of the week is taking place at Bluff Spring Fen, where pale purple coneflower and foxglove beardtongue are making a splash. The pale purple coneflowers are also looking good at Belmont Prairie, where they mix with blues of scurfy pea and spiderwort, and the texture of porcupine grass (the plant of the week). Spiderwort is another fun plant with blue or purple flowers that melt in the heat of day. So, get there before noon or you’ll miss it. See my story about spiderwort.

 

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

Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove: A beautiful symphony of color and texture this week at this intimate remnant prairie nestled within a quiet neighborhood of Downers Grove. Playing the starring role is pale purple coneflower, and supported by a cast of scurfy 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 is beginning a show of foxglove beardtongue and pale purple coneflower.

Fermilab Prairie in Batavia is recommended, but only if you visit in the morning. That’s because the flower of Ohio spiderwort has melted by the afternoon. You will also find nice displays of white wild indigo aside the big leaves of prairie dock and compass plant.

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion is always a great preserve to visit. Normally, the sand coreopsis is blooming like crazy, right now. But for some reason, it decided not to put on a show this year. Other plants that are flowering there are hairy puccoondowny phlox, pasture rose, sandwort, spiderwort, and New Jersey tea.

Miller Woods was not scouted this week, but it’s always a great place with some nice blooms and long trails for a nice nature walk. And while you’re there, make your way to over to Tolleston Dunes and West Beach.

Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester is offering a nice display of spiderwort, but get there early before they melt.

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook is rated as “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood.” It’s a peaceful place with many different flowers to experience.

 

 

PLANT OF THE WEEK: PORCUPINE GRASS

You can find this porcupine grass at Belmont Prairie, Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, Bluff Spring Fen, and Powderhorn Marsh & Prairie.

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.

Watch this video to see porcupine grass drill itself into the soil as you watch!


 CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT PORCUPINE GRASS.

 

PHOTO SECTION

Pale Purple Coneflower & Foxglove Beardtongue

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.*

 

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.*

 

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.*

 

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 at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois.*

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.*

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.*

 

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.*

Spiderwort

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

Ohio spiderwort comes to life in the morning light, but soon fades to a liquid in the heat of the day. To see this remarkable plant in bloom, you must visit in the morning hours. If you show up late in the day, you’ll find buds with purple liquid inside. Read more about spiderwort by clicking here.

The Wonderfully Large Leaves of 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 plants. The heart-shaped leaf is that of prairie dock, and the long-lobed leaf is from a cousin called compass plant.

Deer Fawns

Mother white-tailed deer and her fawn at Miller Woods Nature Preserve, part of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Gary, Indiana.

This is the time of year to spot deer fawns. I’ve already seen two. Just recently, I made this shot at Miller Woods Nature Preserve. This week, I saw a mother and her fawn at Fermilab Prairie.

 

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

 

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

—Mike

 

Best Chicago Outdoor Adventures, Nature Walks, News & Info – 06/07/2018

Posted by on 11:30 am in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Best Chicago Outdoor Adventures, Nature Walks, News & Info – 06/07/2018

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
June 7, 2018

“Plan the best Chicago outdoor getaways and nature walks with Chicago nature news and info that helps you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

Don’t miss one beautiful moment.
Click here to subscribe to received FREE nature alerts!

 

This week’s highlights to help you plan a Chicago outdoor adventure or nature walk this weekend:

The event of the week is taking place at  Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, where sand coreopsis is blooming in golden numbers in the prairie near the lake, and where wild lupine, hairy puccoon, and downy phlox add color to the understory of the black oak savanna. Miller Woods, Tolleston Dunes, and West Beach are still worth visiting for wildflowers like wild lupinehairy puccoon, and it’s slightly more golden brother hoary puccoon. And get over to Fermilab Prairie and Wolf Road Prairie to see Ohio spiderwort. But, the purple flowers melt in the heat of day. So, get there before noon or you’ll miss it. See my story about spiderwort.

 

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

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion is putting on a big show of sand coreopsis in the sand prairie, and wild lupine, hairy puccoon, hoary puccoon, and downy phlox can be found under the canopy of the savanna. In the prairie, you’ll also find sandwort and New Jersey tea.

Miller Woods is still beautiful this week with wild lupine mixed in with great amounts hoary puccoon and hairy puccoon. While you’re there, make your way to see wonderful plants to Tolleston Dunes and West Beach.

Fermilab Prairie in Batavia has been fully burned, leaving the ground free of last year’s growth. You can really see the flowers. Right now, come to see a wonderful blue display of Ohio spiderwort as it combines with white wild indigo and the big leaves of prairie dock and compass plant.

Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester is offering a nice display of spiderwort, but get there early before they melt.

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook is rated as “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood.” The preserve currently offers a nice display of blue flag iris in the wetland and a sprinkling of other flowers throughout the preserve.

 

PHOTO SECTION

Various Wildflowers in Our Sandy Preserves

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

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

 

 

Atop this spring dune thrives wild lupine at Miller Woods Nature Preserve, part of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Gary, Indiana.*

Last week, this was the scene at Miller Woods Nature Preserve. This week, the lupines are fading, but given the other species of wildflowers in bloom, it’s worth the trip..

 

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.*

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.*

Deer Fawns

Mother white-tailed deer and her fawn at Miller Woods Nature Preserve, part of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Gary, Indiana.

This is the time of year to spot deer fawns. I’ve already seen two. Last week, I made this shot at Miller Woods Nature Preserve. This week, I saw a mother and her fawn at Fermilab Prairie.

 

Somme Prairie Grove

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

A phalanx of blue 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 the scene from last year, as purple flowers of American vetch dot the open savanna at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook.*

Ohio Spiderwort

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

Ohio spiderwort comes to life in the morning light, but soon fades to a liquid in the heat of the day. To see this remarkable plant in bloom, you must visit in the morning hours. If you show up late in the day, you’ll find buds with purple liquid inside. Read more about spiderwort by clicking here.

The Wonderfully Large Leaves of 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 plants. The heart-shaped leaf is that of prairie dock, and the long-lobed leaf is from a cousin called compass plant.

 

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

 

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

—Mike

 

Best Chicago Outdoor Adventures, Nature Walks, News & Info – 05/31/2018

Posted by on 4:28 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Best Chicago Outdoor Adventures, Nature Walks, News & Info – 05/31/2018

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
May 31, 2018

“Plant the best Chicago outdoor getaways and nature walks with Chicago nature news and info that helps you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

Don’t miss one beautiful moment.
Click here to subscribe to received FREE nature alerts!

 

This week’s highlights to help you plan a Chicago outdoor adventure or nature walk this weekend:

The event of the week is taking place in the black oak savannas of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, specifically at Miller Woods, Tolleston Dunes, and West Beach, where breathtaking displays of blue wild lupine interspersed with yellow hairy puccoon and it’s slightly more golden brother, hoary puccoon. (See my picture of the gorgeous savanna landscape (below) from Monday, Mary 28, along with an image of a mother deer and her fawn.) These oak savannas, and others, will continue to flower with various species into September because of their open, light-sharing canopies. However, the woodlands have dense canopies that only allow light to reach the ground through mid-May. This means that they have now reached the end of their floral displays. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go for a walk in the woods during the summer months. Just, don’t expect to see many flowers. Instead, head to the oak savannas and, of course, the prairies.

Speaking of oak savannas, Illinois Beach Nature Preserve is also offering wild lupine, yellow hairy puccoon, hoary puccoon, and downy phlox. And our northern-most prairie, Chiwaukee Prairie, is a dream with its breathtaking display of white and pink shooting star! Alongside the shooting star, you’ll find the flavescent blooms of hoary puccoon, golden Alexander, wood betony, and yellow star grass. And Ohio spiderwort is blooming big at Fermilab Prairie . But, the flowers melt in the heat of day. So, you need to get there before noon or earlier to experience the flowers. See my story about spiderwort.

 

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

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

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion is putting on a nice show of wild lupine, hairy puccoon, hoary puccoon, and downy phlox. And, in about a week, the sand prairie should be overflowing with sand coreopsis.

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

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook offers nice displays of shooting stars and blue flag iris. Golden Alexanders are blooming under the trees.

Fermilab Prairie in Batavia has been fully burned, leaving the ground free of last year’s growth and now you can really see the flowers. Right now, come to see a wonderful blue display of Ohio spiderwort as it combines with incoming white wild indigo and the big leaves of prairie dock and compass plant.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates is rated as “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood,” with golden Alexander, fading hoary puccoon, and sparking downy phlox.

Pembroke Savanna in Hopkins Park (near Kankakee) went UNSCOUTED. Please visit, and let us know what’s going on.

 

PHOTO SECTION

Wild Lupine (and other surprises) in Our Black Oak Savannas (Sand Savannas)

Atop this spring dune thrives wild lupine at Miller Woods Nature Preserve, part of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Gary, Indiana.*

On Monday, May 28, I awoke at three in the morning to get this picture. Atop this spring dune thrives wild lupine at Miller Woods Nature Preserve, part of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Gary, Indiana.

 

Mother white-tailed deer and her fawn at Miller Woods Nature Preserve, part of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Gary, Indiana.

At the end of my Monday morning photo session, a mother white-tailed deer and her fawn allowed me to capture their relationship. The fawn kept bounding around, carefree, as the mother stayed on alert. One frequent interaction was when the mother licked the fawn’s anal area and, potentially, eating any feces that would attract a predator to the odor. You’d think mom’s bad breath would then become at problem!

 

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

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

 

Wild Lupine of species Lupinus perennis.

Wild lupine of species Lupinus perennis.

 

Painterly image of Wild lupine of species Lupinus perennis

An exploration into the inner world of wild lupine.

Somme Prairie Grove

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

This is a scene from last year, as golden Alexander brightens the oak savanna at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook.*

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

This is the scene from last year, as purple flowers of American vetch dot the open savanna at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook.*

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

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

Shooting Stars at Chiwaukee Prairie

Shooting stars

 

 

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

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

Ohio Spiderwort

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

Ohio spiderwort comes to life in the morning light, but soon fades to a liquid in the heat of the day. To see this remarkable plant in bloom, you must visit in the morning hours. If you show up late in the day, you’ll find buds with purple liquid inside. Read more about spiderwort by clicking here.

The Wonderfully Large Leaves of 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 plants. The heart-shaped leaf is that of prairie dock, and the long-lobed leaf is from a cousin called compass plant.

Common Blue-eyed Grass

Common blue-eyed grass

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

 

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

 

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

—Mike

 

Chicago Outdoor Getaways, Nature Walks, News & Info – 05/24/2018

Posted by on 1:53 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Outdoor Getaways, Nature Walks, News & Info – 05/24/2018

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

“Plan your Chicago Memorial  Day weekend getaway or nature walk with Chicago nature news and info that helps you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

Don’t miss one beautiful moment.
Click here to subscribe to received FREE nature alerts!

 

This week’s highlights to help you plan a Chicago outdoor getaway or nature walk this Memorial Day weekend:

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

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

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

 

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

WOODLANDS & SAVANNAS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

PRAIRIES:

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

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

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

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

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

 

PHOTO SECTION

Wild Lupine in Our Black Oak Savannas (Sand Savannas)

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

Wild Lupine of species Lupinus perennis.

Wild lupine of species Lupinus perennis.

 

Painterly image of Wild lupine of species Lupinus perennis

An exploration into the inner world of wild lupine.

Wild Geranium

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Woodland Phlox 

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

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

  

Hoary Puccoon

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

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

Shooting Star

Shooting stars

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Wild Hyacinth in Our Woodlands

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Common Blue-eyed Grass

Common blue-eyed grass

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

 

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

 

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

—Mike

 

Chicago Outdoor Getaways, Nature Walks, News & Info – 05/18/2018

Posted by on 10:22 am in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Outdoor Getaways, Nature Walks, News & Info – 05/18/2018

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
May 18, 2018

“Plan your Chicago outdoor weekend getaway or nature walk with Chicago nature news and info that helps you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

Don’t miss one beautiful moment.
Click here to subscribe to received FREE nature alerts!

 

This week’s highlights to help you plan a Chicago outdoor getaway or nature walk:

THE PRAIRIES BEGIN TO FLOWER AS MANY WOODLAND FLOWERS FADE.

WOODLAND HIGHLIGHTS: The breathtaking shows of Virginia bluebell and large-flowered trillium are fading, though the trillium is now in a stage where the flower is turns pink. (See where to find the trillium in last week’s alert.) Wild geranium and woodland phlox are the woodland flowers of the week. They can be found at most wooded preserves, including Black Partridge Woods, Fermilab Prairie woods, Raccoon Grove, Messenger Woods, O’Hara Woods Preserve, Pilcher Park, and Oldfield OaksWild hyacinth is about to burst at Wolf Road Prairie’s savanna, Messenger Woods, and Oldfield Oaks. I estimate peak bloom will be on May 23 or so, in time for the Memorial Day weekend. And while you’re at these preserves, look for delicate blooms of starry false Solomon’s seal, patches of red trillium, the hidden blooms of mayapple and wild ginger, and the great spanning leaves of skunk cabbage.

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

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

 

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

WOODLANDS:

Black Partridge Woods in Lemont: This intimate preserve will steal your heart. Its bubbling, sparkling stream is the most beautiful in the region and the bluffs add another dimension to the fairy-tale feel. Take the trail atop the bluffs for geranium, woodland phlox, and (if you look carefully) shooting star. Flowering mayapple and wild ginger can be found throughout the preserve, along with expanses of skunk cabbage. You’ll find many spring flowers and plants, including blooming mayapple and wild ginger, Solomon’s seal, and starry false Solomon’s seal.

Raccoon Grove, in Monee offers great biodiversity with dense displays of spring flowers, including conspicuous displays of wild geranium and woodland phlox. and red trillium. Lush, green leaves of wild leek and skunk cabbage add texture to the woodland floor, along with carpeted displays of mayapple and wild ginger, which are currently flowering. But you have to look under the leaf to see their bloom.  Skunk cabbageSolomon’s seal, Jack-in-the-pulpit, and many other flowers can also be found at this quiet preserve to the south.

Messenger Woods in Homer Glen is another wonderful place to experience a vast sea wide variety of spring ephemerals, including this week’s hot woodland plants: wild geranium and woodland phlox. Wild hyacinth is also starting to bloom. Look for fading blooms of large-flowered trillium, which are now turning pink. With its verdant carpet of foliage, this woodland exudes that fresh feeling of spring.

O’Hara Woods Preserve in Romeoville is great for seeing a large array of springtime plants, including wild geraniumwoodland phloxmayapplewild ginger, Solomon’s seal, and starry false Solomon’s sealskunk cabbage, and more.

Pilcher Park in Joliet is another woodland preserve with many flowers to see along your walk, like wild geraniumwoodland phloxmayapplewild ginger, Solomon’s seal, and starry false Solomon’s seal, and skunk cabbage.

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

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

Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester is an option this week, but only if the wild hyacinth is blooming. Our scouts suggest to “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood.” In the oak savanna, wild geranium is blooming. Wild hyacinth is just starting to bloom that will come to peak next week. In the savanna and into the prairie, you’ll find starry false Solomon’s seal. And, in the prairie you’ll find wood betony finishing its blooming run.

Pembroke Savanna in Hopkins Park (near Kankakee) is another preserve we deem as “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood.” On Sunday, May 13, there was a great bloom of birdfoot violet, but I can’t predict their current status or if something else might be coming in. Hoary puccoon looks like it’s on the way, as well with blue-eyed grass. They just burned the preserve and the timing is off. Visit and let us know.

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook went UNSCOUTED, but is always a fine place to visit because there’s always something to see. And you can get a nice walk in, too.

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

PRAIRIES:

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

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

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

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion went UNSCOUTED. At this time of year, you should find wood betony and starry false Solomon’s seal. This preserve is provides the finest nature experience in the region, if not the state. Due to its biological richness, it can offer up many surprises.. You can never go wrong by visiting.

Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin went UNSCOUTED, but usually hosts the finest display of shooting stars in the region. Alongside the shooting stars, look for birdfoot violet, hoary puccoon, wood betony, and yellow star grass. While you’re visiting this preserve, it’s worth a trip to Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, which is getting ready to explode.

 

PHOTO SECTION

Wild Geranium

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Woodland Phlox 

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

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

  

Hoary Puccoon

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

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

Shooting Star

Shooting stars

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

It’s possible to find this kind of display of shooting stars at the Chiwaukee Prairie, but it hasn’t been scouted. If you go there, please send us pictures.*

 

Red Trillium can be found at almost every preserve in this week’s alert.

Red trillium and setting sun.*

Red trillium blooms as the sun sets at O’Hara Woods Preserve in Romeoville, Illinois.*

Mayapple

The morning sun greets the fanning rays of mayapple and the fragrant blooms of Virginia bluebell on this spring morning at O'Hara Woods Nature Preserve in Romeoville, Illinois.

The morning sun greets the fanning rays of mayapple and the fragrant blooms of Virginia bluebell on this spring morning at O’Hara Woods Nature Preserve in Romeoville, Illinois.

 

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

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

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

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

Skunk Cabbage

Skunk cabbage and Virginia bluebells along the creek at O'Hara Woods in Romeovillle, Illinois.

This recent scene of O’Hara Woods features the remarkable leaves of skunk cabbage surrounded by a sea of bluebells.

 

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

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

Large-flowered Trillium is fading, but can still be found!

It's May, and large-flowered trillium radiate their beauty in the glow of the morning sun at woodland of Fermilab Natural Areas in Batavia, Illinois.

On May 8, 2018, amidst a filigree of early meadow rue foliage, large-flowered trillium radiated their beauty in the glow of the morning sun at woodland of Fermilab Natural Areas in Batavia, Illinois.

 

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

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

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

At Heron Rookery Trail in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, I SUSPECT that the large-flowered white trillium is in bloom. Out scouts are still spread too thin to scout this location, this spring. If you’d like to volunteer to be an Official Nature Scout and help other Chicagoans fall in love with local nature, click here for information.*

 

Great white trillium bloom in profusion at Harms Woods in Cook County, Illinois.*

Large-flowered trillium bloom in profusion at Harms Woods in Cook County, Illinois. The flowers turn pink as they fade.*

 

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

 

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

—Mike

 

Chicago Outdoor Getaways, Nature Walks, News & Info – 05/11/2018

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Chicago Outdoor Getaways, Nature Walks, News & Info – 05/11/2018

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
May 11, 2018

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

 

Don’t miss one beautiful moment.
Click here to subscribe to received FREE nature alerts!

This week’s highlights to help you plan a Chicago outdoor getaway or nature walk:

WOODLAND HIGHLIGHTS:

The Virginia bluebell is still the star of the week, but it now shares the spotlight with large-flowered trillium, wild geranium, and woodland phlox

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

Want to learn about local nature? Then scouting is for you!
Find out about volunteering as a scout by clicking here. 

The delicate ephemerals that normally bloom in April, like cut-leaved toothwort, rue anemonefalse rue anemone, spring beauty, spring cress, Dutchman’s britches, trout lily, and bloodroot, may still be found in preserves to the north. However, in the south, rue anemone and false rue anemone are the only species in this group that are blooming in any meaningful way. Red trillium is flowering in most preserves in the region. Bright jade foliage is also adding wonderful patterns and textures to the floral color. Umbrella-like leaves of mayapple are now up, along with spears of wild leek, the sprawling leaves of skunk cabbage, and the hearts of wild ginger. Look under the heart and you may find a maroon flower. And look under the mayapple‘s parasol for a large, waxy white flower. Again, the star-of-the-moment is still the Virginia bluebell, but it it won’t be around next week. So, go see the show, now, at O’Hara Woods Preserve, Messenger Woods, and Pilcher Park.

A new, flamboyant star on this week’s stage is the white, large-flowered trillium. It can be found in large amounts at Fermilab Prairie woodlandMessenger Woods, and at the Heron Rookery Trail in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. In the north, you can experience this flower at Daniel Wright Woods in Mettawa, and Harms Woods in Glenview. Wild geranium and woodland phlox are also putting on shows at all of our showcased woodlands (below) and, quite possibly, at Oldfield Oaks Forest Preserve in Darien. And the yellow blooms of large-flowered bellwort can be found in several large patches at Fermilab Prairie woodland in Batavia.

This is also a good time to notice the long emerald spears of wild leek, the plant that gives Chicago its name. In the late 1600s, Potawatomi Indians who traveled the area rivers were commonly heard to yell “Chicagoua!” after catching a strong whiff of chicagoua, or wild leek, growing prolifically along the wooded banks. Wild leek is part of the onion family, hence the Chicago nickname, “The Big Onion.”

PRAIRIE & OAK SAVANNA HIGHLIGHTS:

Look for the yellow blooms of wood betony, hoary puccoon, and golden Alexander. Experience the blues with birdfoot violet and blue-eyed grass. And watch for white and pink shooting star. All of these flowers can be seen, right now, at Shoe Factory Road PrairieBluff Spring Fen and Somme Prairie Grove also feature several of these flowers. Pembroke Savanna has gone unscouted because of its lack of propinquity. I suspect that birdfoot violet is bloom, possibly alongside sand phlox. If you visit, please let us know and take a few pictures for us to see.

 

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

WOODLANDS:

O’Hara Woods Preserve in Romeoville is my favorite place to experience Virginia bluebells, and this weekend will be peak bloom. The brilliant green leaves of skunk cabbage, mayapple, wild ginger, and wild leek (Chicago’s namesake) mix beautifully with the blooming flowers of other plants. Virginia bluebells

Messenger Woods in Homer Glen is another wonderful place to experience a vast sea of Virginia bluebells, as well as a wide array of other spring ephemerals. With its verdant carpet of foliage, this woodland exudes that fresh feeling of spring.

Pilcher Park in Joliet is a great spot for Virginia bluebells. They can be found along the banks of the meandering creek that cuts through the preserve. Begin your hike at the nature center, and you’ll be surrounded by a lush understory of spring wildflowers of many kinds. It is also the happy home of skunk cabbage. Look in the low, wet areas for their enormous leaves.

Raccoon Grove Nature Preserve in Monee offers great biodiversity with dense displays of spring flowers, including conspicuous displays of wild geranium and woodland phloxVirginia bluebells are fading and red trillium can be found everywhere. Lush, green leaves of wild leek and skunk cabbage add texture to the woodland floor, along with carpeted displays of mayapple and wild ginger, which are currently flowering. But you have to look under the leaf to see their bloom.  skunk cabbageSolomon’s seal, Jack-in-the-pulpit, and many other flowers can also be found at this quiet preserve to the south.

Fermilab Prairie woodland (Fermilab Natural Areas) in Batavia: take a nature walk, this weekend, through this beautiful woodland next to the prairie to find grand displays of large-flowered trilliumlarge-flowered bellwort, and red trillium. Look for wild geranium, mayapplewild ginger, and more.

Black Partridge Woods in Lemont: This intimate preserve will steal your heart. Its bubbling, sparkling stream is the most beautiful in the region and the bluffs add another dimension to the fairy-tale feel. You’ll find many spring flowers and plants, including wild geranium, woodland phlox, skunk cabbage, wild leek, blooming mayapple and wild ginger, Solomon’s seal, and shooting star. Accenting the emerald understory are the sparkling white flowers of rue anemone and false rue anemone. And there are also some fading patches of Virginia bluebells.

 

PRAIRIES:

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: A fine display of shooting star covers the northern face of the northeast kame. Then, walk east along the trail to find a beautiful patch of blue-eyed grass. The yellows of wood betony and golden Alexander are also flowering in the open prairie. Mayapple and skunk cabbage can be found in and around the canopy of the oak savanna. And, believe it or not, marsh marigold is still blooming in the soggy areas.

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

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

 

PHOTO SECTION

 

The Sublime Virginia Bluebell

Virginia bluebell

Virginia Bluebells will blow your mind this weekend!

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

At O’Hara Woods in Romeoville, Illinois, the sun rises to warm the springtime woodland brimming with Virginia bluebells. While you’re there, take a deep breathe. The air is filled with the sweet scent of Froot Loops cereal.*

 

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

Visit Pilcher Park now for the dramatic performance starring Virginia bluebells.*

 

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

At Messenger Woods in Homer Glen, sunlight filters through the thin green foliage of the foggy forest where a profusion of Virginia bluebells populate the woodland floor.*

 

Large-flowered Trillium is at peak bloom!

It's May, and large-flowered trillium radiate their beauty in the glow of the morning sun at woodland of Fermilab Natural Areas in Batavia, Illinois.

Earlier this week amidst a filigree of early meadow rue foliage, large-flowered trillium radiated their beauty in the glow of the morning sun at woodland of Fermilab Natural Areas in Batavia, Illinois.

 

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

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

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

At Heron Rookery Trail in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, I SUSPECT that the large-flowered white trillium is in bloom. Out scouts are still spread too thin to scout this location, this spring. If you’d like to volunteer to be an Official Nature Scout and help other Chicagoans fall in love with local nature, click here for information.*

 

Red Trillium can be found at almost every preserve in this week’s alert.

Red trillium and setting sun.*

Red trillium blooms as the sun sets at O’Hara Woods Preserve in Romeoville, Illinois.*

Shooting Star

Shooting stars

 

 

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

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

Woodland Phlox 

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

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

Wild Geranium

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Mayapple

The morning sun greets the fanning rays of mayapple and the fragrant blooms of Virginia bluebell on this spring morning at O'Hara Woods Nature Preserve in Romeoville, Illinois.

The morning sun greets the fanning rays of mayapple and the fragrant blooms of Virginia bluebell on this spring morning at O’Hara Woods Nature Preserve in Romeoville, Illinois.

 

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

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

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

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

Skunk Cabbage

Skunk cabbage and Virginia bluebells along the creek at O'Hara Woods in Romeovillle, Illinois.

This recent scene of O’Hara Woods features the remarkable leaves of skunk cabbage surrounded by a sea of bluebells.

 

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

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

Cut-leaved (or cutleaf) toothwort can probably still be seen in woodlands to the north.

In April, cut-leaved toothwort blooms in profusion amongst a backdrop of mayapples at O'Hara Woods in Romeoville, Illinois.

On this cloudy afternoon, the flowers of cut-leaved toothwort are only partially open and the inflorescence (flower head) is drooping downward. In the sunshine, however, the inflorescence becomes more erect and the flowers will open up.*

Dutchman’s Breeches (or Dutchman’s Britches) may still be blooming in the northern preserves:

Dutchman's Breeches at O'Hara Woods

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

 

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

 

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

—Mike