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Chicago Nature Now! Alert
June 6, 2019

“Weekly Wildflower Reports with
Chicago’s Best Wildflower Walks & Outdoor Outings”

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WE NEED SCOUTS! Each week, we cover up to 5,000 square miles to bring beauty, peace, and hope to Chicago-area residents. Consider volunteering for us by becoming a nature scout. It’s a rich and rewarding experience.

Wildflower highlights to help you plan your weekend outdoor outing in Chicago nature:

The shows of the week comes from the breathtaking wild lupine, the shooting star, and the miraculous melting flowers of spiderwort. If you want to see the spiderwort’s blooms, don’t sleep in. The blue flower only lasts for a few hours before it begins to turn into a purple liquid!

The best place to experience a glorious show of wild lupine is in Indiana Dunes National Park at Paul H. Douglas Trail (6/1) and Tolleston Dunes. Nice patches of the flower can also be found at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve (6/6) and Chiwaukee Prairie (6/6). A magnificent display of shooting star is taking place at Chiwaukee Prairie. And spiderwort can be found at several preserves around the region, including Belmont Prairie, Wolf Road Prairie, Powderhorn Prairie, Paul H. Douglas Trail, and Pembroke Savanna.

WHERE TO GO THIS WEEKEND FOR A WILDFLOWER WALK AROUND CHICAGO:

The order of the preserves below is based on the quality of the wildflower experience, starting out with the best. See our “Go, if You’re in the Neighborhood” section for sites that are worth visiting if you can’t get out to our top preserves. And we have a new section for those preserves that we couldn’t get to this week, but that you can help us explore!

THIS WEEK’S BEST (“GO!”):

Paul H. Douglas Trail (formerly Miller Woods) in Indiana Dunes National Park (6/1): The vast number of wild lupine flowing up and down the wooded ridge-and-swale terrain makes this preserve a dream. Mixed in with the lupines are blooms of hairy puccoon, two-flowered Cynthia, spiderwort, wild columbine, and more. See the pictures below for an example of how beautiful it is.  And then there are the beavers! To possibly see them, begin by taking the trail that starts at the nature center. Along the way, the trail crosses a wide gravel path that goes straight east-west. Head west and you’ll find beaver lodges and beaver activity. If you arrive early in the day, chances are you’ll be greeted by a beaver slapping its flat tail against the water to alert others of its kind about that human lurking about. This gravel railroad right-of-way isn’t as intimate as the official narrow trail, but I like the views better. After your hike, consider checking out the lupines at Tolleston Dunes.

Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin (6/6): Right now, the shooting star is the star of the show, and the colors of this prairie are gorgeous. Right away, the floral color begins at the parking area by the portable john, where you’re immediately greeted by stunning blue patches of wild lupine. The prairie sits upon an undulating topography known as “ridge and swale.” The swales are low and often wet, while the ridges are high, dry, and where you’ll find the flowers. The pinks and whites of shooting star cover large portions of the ridges along with a stunning mix of hoary puccoon, wood betony, birdfoot violet, golden Alexander, blue-eyed grass, yellow star grass, fringed puccoon, wild strawberry, bastard toadflax, and spiderwort. It’s a breathtaking experience and this prairie’s most spectacular show of the year. After your visit, I suggest heading south to Zion to immerse yourself in the rich and beautiful habitats of Illinois Beach Nature Preserve.

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion (6/6): If you visit Chiwaukee Prairie to see the shooting stars, then you’re very close to this stunningly beautiful preserve. There are many flowers blooming here, including wild lupine, hoary puccoon, fringed puccoon, wood betony, blue-eyed grass, yellow star grass, sand cress, and the stunning Indian paintbrush. And sand coreopsis is starting to flower, which usually means that a spectacular, must-see, show is coming soon. We’ll let you know!

Pembroke Savanna in Hopkins Park (6/5): Spiderwort is blooming throughout the preserve along with nice displays of hairy puccoon and daisy fleabane. The intoxicating pasture rose is starting to bloom, and June grass glows in the low sunlight.

Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove (6/4): Visit this intimate preserve before noon to experience the ephemeral purple flowers of spiderwort that only bloom for a few hours, then shrivel and turn to liquid. Learn about spiderwort’s miraculous melting flowers.

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook (6/6): Go for the show of blue flag iris on the east side of the preserve, and then take a tour of the preserve to see the many other flowers, like golden Alexander, balsam ragwort, hoary puccoon, and the heart-stirring blue-eyed grass (see picture below).

GO, IF YOU’RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD:

Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester (6/3): If you’re in the neighborhood during the morning hours, then visit the prairie to see the flowers of Ohio spiderwort that only bloom for a few hours and then melt away. In the prairie, you’ll also find downy phlox, golden Alexander, and some yellow star grass.

Powderhorn Marsh & Prairie in Chicago (5/31): Visit for the mixture of spiderwort, hoary puccoon, and golden Alexander in the prairie. This high-quality preserve is located inside the city of Chicago.

PRESERVES FOR YOU TO SCOUT (A NEW CATEGORY):

This is a new category for those who’d like do a little exploring for us. The preserves listed below were not scouted, this week, but may be worth the trip. Please send us your findings and images by email or, better still, join our Friends of ChicagoNatureNOW! Facebook page. While visiting a preserve, take mostly scenic pictures, tell us which flowers are blooming, and then give us your bottom-line opinion of your experience. Tell us if it’s a “GO,” a “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood,” or a “NO.” If you’d like to scout more regularly, then learn about becoming an official Nature Scout.

Kickapoo Prairie in Riverdale: Let us know what’s going on at this beautiful south-side prairie.

PHOTO SECTION

Wild Lupine

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

Wow! This is the kind of bloom you can expect this weekend at Paul H. Douglas Trail (prev. Miller Woods), part of Indiana Dunes National Park in Gary, Indiana.*

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.*

The lupines at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion are at peak bloom. I suggest that you first visit Chiwaukee Prairie and then go south to finish your trip here.*

Wild Lupine of species Lupinus perennis.

Wild lupine of species Lupinus perennis. Notice how the flowers bloom from the bottom up.

Painterly image of Wild lupine of species Lupinus perennis

An exploration into the inner landscape of the lupine.

 

Beaver Activity at Paul H. Douglas Trail

Along the Paul H. Douglas Trails, part of Indiana Dunes National Park in Gary, Indiana, this path was made by beavers as they moved from their pond in one swale, over a dune, and into an adjacent swale.*

On the gravel road the rides a ridge at Paul H. Douglas Trail in Indiana Dunes National Park, beavers created this dark thoroughfare as they moved across the ridge from one swale to another.*

Shooting Star at Chiwaukee Prairie

The beautiful blooms of shooting star

The beautiful blooms of shooting star.

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

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

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

At Chiwaukee Prairie, there’s a mix of flowers that join the shooting stars. At this spot, on this day, yellow star grass, hoary puccoon, and wood betony add to the celebration.*

Indian Paintbrush

Indian paintbrush in morning light at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, Illinois*

Indian paintbrush can be found at Gensburg-Markham Prairie, Somme Prairie Grove, and here in the morning light at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, Illinois.*

 

Ohio Spiderwort

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

Each morning, Ohio spiderwort opens a new bud or two that only last a few hours before turning into a purple liquid. This process can last for more than a month. You can find spiderwort, right now, at Belmont Prairie, Pembroke Savanna, Powderhorn Prairie, Indiana Dunes National Park, Wolf Road Prairie, and many more.

Pasture Rose

Pasture Rose grows 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.*

Pasture Rose grows here in the sand prairie at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve. And you can also find it at Bluff Spring Fen and Pembroke Savanna. 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.*

Golden Alexander

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

At Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, a show like this savanna scene of golden Alexander is about to occur.*

Stout Blue-Eyed Grass

Common blue-eyed grass

The sublime blooms of stout blue-eyed grass are now being revealed at Pembroke Savanna in Hopkins Park, Illinois. And you can find them at other preserves, including Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, Chiwaukee Prairie, Paul H. Douglas Trail, and Somme Prairie Grove.*

Blue Flag Iris

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

See blue flag iris in the wetlands of many of our featured preserves, including Spears Woods, Powderhorn Prairie, Indiana Dunes National Park, Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, and here at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois.*

Blue flag iris blooms in the late-May wetland at Spears Woods in Willow Springs, Illinois.*

Blue flag iris blooms in the late-May and early June in this wetland at Spears Woods in Willow Springs, 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[/three_fourth_last]

© 2019, Mike MacDonald. All rights reserved.

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