Navigation Menu

Mike’s Chicago Nature Information Blog
Info for Planning Your Weekend Nature Trip

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 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:

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.

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.

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 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

Posted by on 2:40 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

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

 

Chicago Spring Getaways, Nature News & Info – 05/03/2018

Posted by on 12:42 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Spring Getaways, Nature News & Info – 05/03/2018

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
May 3, 2018

“Plan your Chicago spring weekend getaway with Chicago nature news and info
that 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 are some highlights to help you plan a spring outdoor weekend getaway into the woodlands of Chicago, which includes breathtaking, mind-blowing shows of Virginia Bluebells that should not be missed:

 

BLUEBELLS, BLUEBELLS, BLUEBELLS! The Virginia bluebell is the flower of the week and the spring season. These sublime performances are proof that Chicago nature offers beauty equal to the national parks. Experience the magnificence with your eyes as well as your nose, as the scent of these azure flowers fill the air with a smell reminiscent of Froot Loops cereal.

The beginning of May brings an unusual explosion of wildflowers, as late-blooming flowers of April overlap with the timely blooms of May. Currently, you’ll find almost every April wildflower blooming at one time. The delightful yellow flowers of marsh marigold, which have normally dried up by now, are still blooming strong along with the small white or light-pink flowers cutleaf toothwort, false rue anemone, spring beauty, spring cress, Dutchman’s britches, trout lily, and bloodroot. Bright green leaves are also playing a part in turning winter into spring. 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. But the star-of-the-moment is the Virginia bluebell, which will reach peak bloom this weekend and continue for another week. For performances that will take your breathe away while filling your nose with the scent of Froot Loops cereal, visit O’Hara Woods Preserve, Messenger Woods, and Pilcher Park. Usually ending its bloom two weeks ago, you can still see the bright yellow blooms of marsh marigold at Pilcher Park, Camp Sagawau, and across the stream by the parking lot at McClaughry Springs Woods in Palos Park. Red trillium is flowering in most preserves and the glorious large-flowered trillium should be blooming by the weekend at Messenger Woods, the woodland connected to Fermilab Prairie, the Heron Rookery Trail (at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore), and possibly at Pilcher Park and O’Hara Woods. Harms Woods in Glenview and Captain Daniel Wright Woods in Mettawa usually have great displays, too, but they may not be blooming until next week. The preserves to the north are a week behind those to the south. The woodland next to Fermilab Prairie is looking wonderful with a wide range of blooms including sublime yellow patches of large-flowered bellwort.

This is also a good time to see 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.”

 

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

 

O’Hara Woods Preserve in Romeoville is my favorite place to experience Virginia bluebells, and this weekend will be peak bloom. This preserve was once named Dynamite Woods because the site stored explosives during World War II. You can still see the crumbling bunkers that are becoming overgrown by woodland plants. Currently, the white flowers of cutleaf toothwort combine with spring beauty, spring cress, and Dutchman’s breeches, to create small explosions across the woodland floor. The brilliant green leaves of skunk cabbage, mayapple, and wild leek (Chicago’s namesake) mix beautifully with the blooming flowers of other plants.

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. Look for the yellow blooms of marsh marigold in the low, muddy areas of the site, like around the bridge by the nature center, which is also the happy home of skunk cabbage with its large fanning leaves.

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. The woodland gives off that fresh feeling of spring, with its green carpet of foliage.

Raccoon Grove Nature Preserve in Monee offers great biodiversity with dense displays of spring flowers and lush, green leaves of wild leek, mayapple, wild ginger, and skunk cabbageRed trillium is everywhere, along with cutleaf toothwortspring beauty, spring cressfalse rue anemoneDutchman’s breeches, bloodrootwhite trout lily, swamp buttercup, and much more, including a fine display of Virginia bluebells along the banks of the creek.

Fermilab Prairie woodland (Fermilab Natural Areas) in Batavia: The beautiful woodland next to the prairie is a great place to visit, right now. You’ll find many, many flower species that are easily viewed from the trail, including cutleaf toothwort, spring beauty, Dutchman’s breeches, bloodrootwhite trout lily, swamp buttercup, red trillium, large-flowered trillium, and large-flowered bellwort.

Black Partridge Woods in Lemont is an intimate preserve that’s known for its lush understory, dreamy creek, and steep bluffs. Visit this week for the emerald foliage of wild leek, mayapple, wild ginger, and skunk cabbage. Blooming now are the flowers of false rue anemone, cutleaf toothwort, bloodroot, and spring beauty  And there are some nice patches of Virginia bluebells.

 

PHOTO SECTION

 

The Sublime Virginia Bluebell

Virginia bluebell

Virginia Bluebells will blow your mind this weekend and into next!:

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.*

 

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.*

 

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

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

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

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

Cutleaf toothwort can be found exploding across our woodlands:

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

Like firecrackers, cut-leaved toothwort explodes in profusion against a backdrop of mayapples at O’Hara Woods in Romeoville, Illinois. This preserves was previously known as Dynamite Woods because explosives were stored here during World War II. Nowadays, spring is when the preserve explodes with flora.*

 

Large-flowered Trillium:

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.*

 

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

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

 

Skunk Cabbage:

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

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

 

Mayapple:

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.*

 

 

 

Dutchman’s Breeches (or Dutchman’s Britches):

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.

 

Bloodroot:

Bloodroot

This is bloodroot. The name comes from the fact that breaking the stem makes the plant bleed red. Please, just take my word for it, and don’t pick the flower to find out.

 

Red Trillium can be seen at 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.*

Pilcher Park’s marsh marigolds are still blooming aside large-leaved skunk cabbage:

In early spring, I come to Pilcher Park to play in the mud. Here, skunk cabbage and marsh marigold thrive in a woodland floodplain of inky water and the blackest muck I’ve ever seen.

In April, I come to Pilcher Park to play in the mud. Here, skunk cabbage and marsh marigold thrive in a woodland floodplain of inky water and the blackest muck I’ve ever seen.*

 

Marsh marigolds and skunk cabbage at McClaughry Springs Woods in Palos Park, Illinois.*

Marsh marigolds and skunk cabbage at McClaughry Springs Woods in Palos Park, Illinois.*

 

* 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 Spring Getaways, Nature News & Info – 04/27/2018

Posted by on 5:00 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Spring Getaways, Nature News & Info – 04/27/2018

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
April 27, 2018

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

Welcome to the first official post of the 2018 season!

 

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

 

Here are some highlights to help you plan a spring nature outing into the woodlands of Chicago:

It’s the end of April and, finally, spring has arrived with a celebration of wildflowers in Chicago-area woodlands. At this moment, most of the springtime flowers are blooming white (or a light pink), like cutleaf toothwort, false rue anemone, spring beauty, spring cress, Dutchman’s breeches, and bloodroot. Bright green leaves are also playing a part in turning winter into spring. Umbrella-like leaves of mayapple are just coming up, along with spears of wild leek, and the sprawling leaves of skunk cabbage. And get ready for Virginia bluebells. They are greening up the preserves and, in about a week, they’ll turn woodlands into seas of blue. It is the most dramatic blooming event of early spring. Right now, marsh marigolds are blooming at Pilcher Park and at McClaughry Springs Woods in Palos Park by the parking lot across the stream.

This is also a good time to see 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.”

 

WHERE TO GO THIS WEEKEND FOR A SPRING WEEKEND GETAWAY AROUND CHICAGO:

 

O’Hara Woods Preserve in Romeoville used to be called Dynamite Woods because the site was used to store explosives during World War II. You can still see the crumbling bunkers, but they’re now becoming overgrown by woodland plants. Right now, white flowers of cutleaf toothwort appear as small explosions, like sparklers across the woodland floor. Walk towards the stream at the back of the preserve and you’ll find Dutchman’s breeches (that look like white, puffy overalls), spring beauties, soon-to-bloom Virginia bluebells, skunk cabbage, and wild leek—Chicago’s namesake.

Pilcher Park in Joliet has the best trails in the current alert. Begin your hike at the nature center and you’ll be surrounded by a lush understory of spring wildflowers. My favorite flower-of-the-moment is marsh marigold. Look for its yellow blooms in the low, muddy areas of the site. You can find them near the nature center and around the trail after the bridge at this GPS coordinate: 41.532780, -88.016478. And, when you find a wet and muddy spot, also look for the large fanning foliage of skunk cabbage. It’s hard to miss. This preserve is also one of the best places for Virginia bluebells, which aren’t yet in bloom. They like it a little bit wet. So, look for them along the creek.

Messenger Woods in Homer Glen will provide you with the feeling of spring, with a fresh green carpet of foliage and ephemerals throughout. The preserve is also known for its vast expanses of bluebells, but that’s still about a week away.

Black Partridge Woods in Lemont is showing green on the woodland floor with wild leek, mayapple, and some Virginia bluebells. Wild ginger, with their small heart-shaped leaves, that are just starting out. False rue anemone, cutleaf toothwort, and spring beauties are blooming in small quantities with more on the way.

Raccoon Grove Nature Preserve in Monee went unscouted this week, but this preserve is dense with spring wildflowers. You will not be disappointed. If you’d like to volunteer to scout this preserve for us, click here for information.

 

PHOTO SECTION

 

April 26, 2018 at O’Hara Woods Nature Preserve in Romeoville:

Cut-leaved toothwort begins to bloom in the April woodland at O'Hara Wood in Romeoville, Illinois.

Cut-leaved toothwort begins to bloom in the April woodland at O’Hara Wood in Romeoville, Illinois.

 

Cutleaf toothwort can be found exploding across our woodlands:

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

Like firecrackers, cut-leaved toothwort explodes in profusion against a backdrop of mayapples at O’Hara Woods in Romeoville, Illinois. This preserves was previously known as Dynamite Woods because explosives were stored here during World War II. Nowadays, spring is when the preserve explodes with flora.*

 

Dutchman’s Breeches (or Dutchman’s Britches):

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.

 

Bloodroot:

Bloodroot

This is bloodroot. The name comes from the fact that breaking the stem makes the plant bleed red. Please, just take my word for it, and don’t pick the flower to find out.

 

Pilcher Park’s marsh marigolds and skunk cabbage:

In early spring, I come to Pilcher Park to play in the mud. Here, skunk cabbage and marsh marigold thrive in a woodland floodplain of inky water and the blackest muck I’ve ever seen.

In April, I come to Pilcher Park to play in the mud. Here, skunk cabbage and marsh marigold thrive in a woodland floodplain of inky water and the blackest muck I’ve ever seen.*

* 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

 

Free Live April Performances of “My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago”

Posted by on 7:21 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Free Live April Performances of “My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago”

See My Free Live Performance of
My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago”
for an Exciting Preview of Chicago Nature in 2018

 

While you’re waiting for the first glorious blooms and for the first ChicagoNatureNOW! Alert of 2018, I’m inviting you to my free April performances of “My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago.” This is the show that inspired my book of the same name, where I take you on a virtual hike through the seasons to visit Chicago’s finest natural moments. The performance includes breathtaking mages along with delightful storytelling and readings from the book. See the location and dates below, and please share this with your friends!

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

The turning earth is the dimmer switch, gradually recasting every dim dewdrop, petal, and blade of grass into a galaxy of blazing bulbs and lustrous lamps. On this morning in late May, blooms of golden coreopsis and New Jersey tea are set aglow alongside shimmering spider webs that cling to last year’s grasses. This is just one of the many spectacular natural events happening every day around Chicago. This April, see my show called My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago and let me guide you on a colorful adventure through the seasons.

Here’s where I’m performing “My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago” this month:

Saturday, April 14, 2018 at 2:00 pm at this location:
La Grange Public Library
Dierkes Community Room AB
10 West Cossitt Avenue
La Grange, Illinois 60525
Phone708-215-3200
Click here to register on La Grange Public Library website.
Attendance & Parking Fee: FREE

Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 2:00 pm at this location:
Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanic Gardens
The Nature Center building
7402 West Lake Katherine Drive
Palos Heights, Illinois 60463
Phone: 708-361-1873
Attendance & Parking Fee: FREE

I hope to see you there!

—Mike

Nature Scouting for You and the Kids

Posted by on 8:43 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Nature Scouting for You and the Kids

Nature Scouting for You and the Kids!

 

Saige Cox gathers Indian grass seed as she helps restore Kickapoo Prairie in Riverdale, Illinois.

The primary purpose of ChicagoNatureNOW! is to introduce people to nature so that they will volunteer at our many ailing preserves and restore them to health. Help us spread the word! Here, at Kickapoo Prairie in Riverdale, Saige Cox does her part by gathering Indian grass seed to rehabilitate the grassland near her home.

It’s April, and the third season of ChicagoNatureNOW! scouting and reporting is about to begin! This means that, each week for the next six months, I’ll be posting an alert telling you exactly where to experience breathtaking displays of wildflowers around Chicago. A small number of volunteer nature scouts will begin venturing across 5,000-square-miles  to find out what’s going on at our twenty-eight showcase preserves.

We need your help exploring these preserves so we can continue to share the exciting news with others.

WHY SCOUTING IS SO GREAT
Here’s what Zeke Wei had to say about his first year of scouting with CNN!:

Last year, I started scouting the featured nature preserves at CNN!, using Mike’s guidance and 15 years of data about the best times visit. My eyes were opened to a whole new world of Chicago nature. This world is full of excitement, sometimes breathtaking: from color, bloom, beauty, tenderness, texture, light, smell, dynamics, biodiversity, and wild animals. It is a non-stop performance with a new show happening every couple of weeks. But these performances can only be found at the right place and at the right time. Because of my wonderful experiences with nature, I’ve transitioned from someone who wasn’t that interested in nature to someone who is now in love with nature. Nature has made my life more colorful and more enjoyable. I am now a happier person.

TWO WAYS TO SCOUT
Wow! So, if you want to be a happier person, like Zeke, there are two great ways to scout: adopt-a-preserve and multi-site scouting. If you regularly visit one of the the showcase preserves on this website because you live nearby or you volunteer at the site, then adopting a preserve is a convenient option. Multi-site scouting is an efficient and rewarding way to discover and learn about the many beautiful preserves in our area. Learn more about joining our fun and enthusiastic team.

GET THE KIDS INVOLVED
Getting out into nature with your kids is a wonderful bonding and learning experience for the entire family. For science teachers and scout troop leaders, having your kids become our nature explorers is an exciting summer project. Ask your kids if they’d like to become a CNN! junior nature scout. (And, let me know if you have a good name to suggest for our kid scouts.)

THE BENEFITS TO YOU
In additional to an end-of-year party, scouting deepens your bond with nature. Plus it’s fun and rewarding. You’ll learn a lot from your adventures and, when you post your reports, everyone chips in to identify plants and to make your journey easier and more enjoyable. You’ll also have the inside track on what’s about to come, as well as receiving expert advice from me and the crew. And, If you’re new to Chicago, you’ll quickly discover where to find natural beauty around your new home.

WE’RE GROWING
At this time last year, we only had 114 subscribers. Now we have 564! This means that more people are relying on CNN! for complete and accurate information. We don’t want to send people on wild goose chases. (No offense to wild geese.) And this means that we need more scouts and also more funding.

FUNDING NEEDED
If you can’t scout and you find this website useful, then consider funding our efforts. If you’re a member of public radio or TV (WBEZ or WTTW), it’s the same idea. We’re providing a public service that’s also good for nature. Our income is well out of step with the number of followers, having only raised $270 in two years. Donate here. I’m also interested in hearing your fundraising ideas, especially if you have experience in this area.

For me, ChicagoNatureNOW! is a labor of love, but it has become quite laborious. Please help me continue the mission by scouting, donating, and/or purchasing my inspirational book about Chicago nature.

Thanks to all!

—Mike

2018 Spring Nature Preview of the Chicago Region

Posted by on 3:23 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

2018 Spring Nature Preview of the Chicago Region

2018 Spring Nature Preview of the Chicago Region

 

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

Come to Pilcher Park in April for the dramatic performance starring Viriginia bluebells. The miracles of nature are all around us. And ChicagoNatureNOW! brings them to you every week from April through September. Please help keep it going by becoming a scout or by donating here.

Spring is officially here in Chicago, but we’re still waiting for it to look like spring, with verdant woodlands and colorful displays of wildflowers. But you won’t have to wait much longer. Beginning in early April, Chicago nature puts on its inaugural show in the muddy bottoms of some woodlands, with the emergence of marsh marigolds. Soon after comes performances from an array of diminutive spring wildflowers, like toothwort, Dutchman’s breeches, and spring beauties. April’s show concludes with an encore performance, as endless expanses of Virginia bluebells fill your eyes with blue and your nose with the scent of Froot Loops cereal. See the video below for a spring preview through mid-June. SUBSCRIBE NOW (for free) to learn when these wonderful events are taking place.

Also, in April, the third season of ChicagoNatureNOW! scouting and reporting will begin! This means that, each week over the six-month growing season (mid-April through mid-September), you can use this website to find and experience breathtaking displays of wildflowers around Chicago. In just a couple of weeks, I and four nature scouts will begin venturing across the 5,000-square-mile region to find out what’s going on at our twenty-eight showcase preserves. Whoa! That’s a lot of land to cover. Click here to learn about how to help us scout. And, soon, I’ll be announcing how to get your kids involved in this wonderful learning and scouting opportunity!

In the meantime, here’s a “quiet” video to get you excited about what you and your family can find around Chicago this spring:

—Mike

Chicago Nature Now! Alert – 03/02/2018
Spring Is Here!

Posted by on 7:19 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Nature Now! Alert – 03/02/2018Spring Is Here!

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
March 2, 2018
Spring Is Here!

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

 

IT’S OFFICIAL. SPRING HAS SPRUNG IN CHICAGO!

In Chicago, spring officially arrives when sprouts of skunk cabbage push up from the muck. On February 27, I found them at Pilcher Park Nature Center in Joliet (pictured below) and at Black Partridge Woods in Lemont. Given their sizes and numbers, I’d estimate that spring sprung around February 20.

Here’s a photograph of skunk cabbage from my February 27th visit to Pilcher Park Nature Center in Joliet:

Skunk cabbage at Pilcher Park Nature Center in Joliet, Illinois.

Skunk cabbage at Pilcher Park Nature Center in Joliet, Illinois on February 27, 2018.

As is my tradition, each spring I post the entertaining and educational excerpt and poem about skunk cabbage from my book, “My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago: A Celebration of Chicagoland’s Startling Natural Wonders.”

Searching for Spring

For me, the beginning of spring does not arrive in a fanfare of color. Rather, it begins subtly. In early March, burgundy spathes of skunk cabbage, dappled with yellow stripes and spots, quietly emerge from beneath a cloak of brown decaying leaves or, by way of a rare heat-generating process called thermogenesis, melt their way to the surface through layers of late winter ice and snow. And when March arrives, snow or not, I meander my way around Black Partridge Woods in a hopeful search for spring:

Winter is waning;
I’ve made it to March.
With eyes to the ground, I search for Spring.
The temperature rises.
The snow slowly melts.
With eyes to the ground, I search for Spring.
Are you under the white
in a warmth all your own?
With eyes to the ground, I search for Spring.
Are you hiding in leaves
or still waiting to rise?
With eyes to the ground, I search for Spring.
Leafing through litter
on the brown woodland floor,
With eyes to the ground, I search for Spring.
Finally up from the mud
sprouts a burgundy curl.
With eyes to the ground, it is Spring I have found.

 

 

Thermogenesis is a rare property that is shared by only a few of Earth’s plants, one of which is skunk cabbage. Concealed deep inside this burgundy hood is a tiny, “green” furnace, generating heat that can rise as much as 63°F above the ambient air temperature. This easily allows the curling spathe to melt the surrounding snow and break through the surface.

Thermogenesis is a rare property that is shared by only a few of Earth’s plants, one of which is skunk cabbage. Concealed deep inside this burgundy hood is a tiny, “green” furnace, generating heat that can rise as much as 63°F above the ambient air temperature. This easily allows the curling spathe to melt the surrounding snow and break through the surface.*

 

The speckled maroon spathe of skunk cabbage blends with leaf litter on the woodland floor, making it difficult to find when it first emerges. However, the plant becomes more conspicuous as it grows larger and produces its curious, oval-shaped yellow flower head, known as a spadix. The tiny delicate protrusions you see on the spadix are the flowers. The spadix emits a foul odor that, to a human, is reminiscent of skunk. However, to flesh flies, carrion flies, and several kinds of gnats, the spadix smells and looks more like a yummy dead animal, a trick the plant uses to lure them in for pollination. The spadix is also where the process of thermogenesis takes place. It warms the confines of the spathe, providing a cozy haven for pollinating insects while transmitting the smell of carrion far and wide.

The speckled maroon spathe of skunk cabbage blends with leaf litter on the woodland floor, making it difficult to find when it first emerges. However, the plant becomes more conspicuous as it grows larger and produces its curious, oval-shaped yellow flower head, known as a spadix. The tiny delicate protrusions you see on the spadix are the flowers.
The shape and foul odor of the spadix reminds flesh flies, carrion flies, and several kinds of gnats of a yummy dead animal, a trick the plant uses to lure them in for pollination. The spadix is also where the process of thermogenesis takes place. It warms the confines of the spathe, providing a cozy haven for pollinating insects while transmitting the smell of carrion far and wide.*

 

These tender leaves of skunk cabbage will soon develop into giants, up to two feet long and one foot wide.

These tender leaves of skunk cabbage will soon develop into giants, up to two feet long and one foot wide.*

 

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

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

 

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

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

—Mike

 

Chicago Region Tops U.S. National Parks in Native Plant Biodiversity! – Part 2

Posted by on 12:33 am in Blog, Featured | Comments Off on Chicago Region Tops U.S. National Parks in Native Plant Biodiversity! – Part 2

Chicago Region Tops U.S. National Parks in Native Plant Biodiversity! – Part 2

Chicago Region Tops U.S. National Parks in Native Plant Biodiversity!
(Part 2)

 

A national-park quality blooming event happens every single day from mid-April through mid-September in the Chicago area. On this June morning, a celebration of life is unfolding. Endless blooms of sand coreopsis spread with golden joy along the banks of the Dead River at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois.

A national-park quality blooming event happens every single day from mid-April through mid-September in the Chicago area. On this June morning, a celebration of life is unfolding. Endless blooms of sand coreopsis spread with golden joy along the banks of the Dead River at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois.

Last week, in the first part of this series, I compared the natural splendor of the Chicago region to the fifty-nine U.S. national parks. I framed the beauty and biodiversity of the Chicago in terms of the national parks to allow us to communicate the natural splendor of our region in a way that people instantly understand and respect. I used data from the book Flora of the Chicago Region (by Gerould Wilhelm and Laura Rericha), the NPS species database, and Wikipedia.

First, I found that the the combined protected natural area within a narrow 50-mile radius of downtown Chicago ranks 25th in acreage—greater than 35 national parks, including Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, Mount Rainier, Badlands, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Acadia.

I also found that the Chicago region, defined by a 75-mile radius of downtown, ranks 1st in the number of native vascular plant species, totaling 1,867. That’s 323 more than the most prolific national park, Grand Canyon, which comes in with a total of 1,544. But what about a more reasonable 50-mile radius that matches the previous finding? In this second part, I look into this question and get the numbers straight to make it easier to spread the good word.

The authors of Flora of the Chicago Region used species and location data from a 75-mile radius of downtown Chicago, “This circumscription was based upon the idea that a field trip within the region can be reasonably be accomplished in a day.” That sounds reasonable. And it’s a lot more convenient and less costly than visiting any national park. But if you look at the book’s map, it includes unlikely places like Berrien County, Michigan. I can’t imagine any Chicago-area resident naming any Michigan location as part of the Chicago area. And I don’t think many Berrien County residents call their home “Chicago,” unless they were vacationing in Afghanistan and someone asked them where they lived. For me, I feel comfortable saying that Lake County, Indiana is part of the Chicago region. My logic is that it’s right across the Chicago border and a lot closer to downtown than Illinois counties like McHenry or Kankakee. Everyone has his own opinion. Therefore, I’ve broken down the data from the book to help any Chicagoan arrive at a species count based on his own personal definition of the Chicago region.

At this portion of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Porter County, Indiana, wild lupine and hoary puccoon stage a gorgeous duo on the May dunes of this black oak savanna.

At this portion of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Porter County, Indiana, wild lupine and hoary puccoon stage a gorgeous duo on the May dunes of this black oak savanna.

Back when Chicago Wilderness was young, they defined the original Chicago Wilderness region in their 1999 publication An Atlas of Biodiversity. It contained the “Original Six” northeastern-most Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will, the northwest Indiana counties of Lake and Porter, and a small patch of Kenosha County, Wisconsin that I think only included Chiwaukee Prairie. This original Chicago Wilderness region is roughly contained within a 50-mile radius of downtown Chicago. Its border forms a choppy semicircle to the west and slightly south of Lake Michigan. Personally, I find this regional definition quite acceptable, and I don’t mind adding Kankakee, Kendall, and Grundy counties to the mix.

Currently, the only way to count the species for each county is to go through every page of Flora of the Chicago Region and record them by hand. After last week’s post, I did just that. I thought it would take at least a week to create a spreadsheet, but it only took twelve hours.

More than twice, I turned through the 1,135 species pages and evaluated the locator (dot) map for each of the 3,149 plant species. I excluded the non-native plants and parsed the native ones by county. Because the Chicago Wilderness’s Original Six Illinois counties make up the core of the region, I didn’t create individual counts for those counties. However, I did break down the counts for species that uniquely occurred inside the Illinois counties of Grundy, Kankakee, and Kendall, the Indiana counties of Lake and Porter, and the Wisconsin county of Kenosha. This way, like Mr. Potato Head, you can start with the Original Six and then attach the counties of your liking to come up with your own regional mishmashes and their associated species counts.

Regarding any error in the counts, I don’t think my counts are off by very much. I went through the data more than once and approached it from different directions. However, until an official database of this information is compiled, you can assume that it’s easily reliable enough for your messaging. Download the spreadsheet. If you dare, please feel free to check the results against the pages of the book, make the appropriate corrections, and let me know.

Here are my results1 for the number of total vascular native plant species:

 •  Grand Canyon National Park: 1,544 (most of any national park)
 •  Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore: 1,196 (remarkably, all within just 15,000 acres)
 •  11-County Region2: 1,756
 •  “Original Six” Illinois Counties3: 1,608 (well within a 50-mile radius)
 •  Original Chicago Wilderness Region4: 1,706 (within a 50-mile radius)
 •  Outside the “Original Six”Illinois Counties3: 148

1 – Guestimated human error +/-3
2 – The 11 Counties. IL: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will, Kankakee, Kendall, and Grundy / IN: Lake and Porter
3 – The “Original Six” Illinois counties from Chicago Wilderness’s “An Atlas of Biodiversity” are Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will
4 – Original Six2 Illinois counties plus Lake (IN), Porter (IN), and Kenosha County (WI)
In May, Pembroke Savanna in Kankakee County is home to a sublime floral display of white sand phlox and rare bird-foot violet.

In May, Pembroke Savanna in Kankakee County is home to a sublime floral display of white sand phlox and rare bird-foot violet.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, located in Lake and Porter Counties of Indiana, is home to 1,196 species within just 15,000 acres. I wondered how the numbers would react if I left out those two Indiana counties, which was originally part of the original Chicago Wilderness region. It turns out that the Original Six Illinois counties is home to 1,608 native species, still more than any national park. I was surprised to see that just 34 species from Lake and 62 from Porter do not reside in northeastern Illinois (the “Original Illinois Six” counties plus Kendall, Grundy, and Kankakee).

So what does all of this mean? The Chicago region ranks first in the number of native vascular plant species compared to any U.S. national park, with the Grand Canyon being the highest of the parks at 1,544. The total for just the Original Six Illinois counties is 1,608 species, and it only goes up from there. If you add in the Indiana counties of Lake and Porter, the total grows to 1,704. Throw in Kenosha County, Wisconsin to complete the Original Chicago Wilderness Region, and it’s 1,706. No matter how you slice it, Chicago ranks first. It is no coincidence that the first chapter of my book bears the title “Second City, Second to None.”

Stay tuned for a part three of this series when I write about using these exciting comparisons to the national parks to communicate with the general public.

Again, mark your calendar to hear a special 30-minute radio interview about this topic on WBEZ’s Worldview show (91.5 FM) on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 at 12:25 pm. I will be appearing in studio with the esteemed Gerould “Jerry” Wilhelm. Jerry is a fountain of wonderful information that can splash well beyond the science and into the existential role of nature in our everyday lives.

—Mike