Chicago Nature Now! Alert
June 13, 2019
“Weekly Wildflower Reports with
Chicago’s Best Wildflower Walks & Outdoor Outings”
Plan Your Weekend Wildflower Walk!
Don’t miss one beautiful moment.
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CONSIDER BECOMING A NATURE SCOUT! Each week, we cover up to 5,000 square miles to bring beauty, peace, and hope to Chicago-area residents. Lean about 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 floral stars of the week are sand coreopsis and pale purple coneflower in glorious expanses, and the miraculous melting flowers of Ohio spiderwort. But if you want to see spiderwort’s blooms, don’t sleep in. The blue flower only opens for a few hours before it begins to turn into a purple liquid! And if spiderwort weren’t weird enough, you can now see a plant called porcupine grass with a seed that drills itself into the soil. Porcupine grass is our Plant of the Week, which includes a real-time video of the drilling seed. And then there are the pearly blooms of foxglove beardtongue that is just beginning to flower. I love this plant because, in the fall, their seeds smell exactly, and I mean “exactly,” like vomit! In contrast, right now, you can find a most wonderful fragrance by dropping to your knees to inhale the intoxicating scent of the sublime pasture rose.
Experience the magnificent vastitude of sand coreopsis at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve (6/9). See pictures in Photo Section. A wondrous expanse of pale purple coneflower is yours at Bluff Spring Fen (6/12). And you’ll find spiderwort at several preserves around the region, including Belmont Prairie (6/10), Wolf Road Prairie (6/10), Bluff Spring Fen (6/12), Fermilab Prairie, Powderhorn Prairie, Paul H. Douglas Trail, Chiwaukee Prairie, Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, and Pembroke Savanna. Finally porcupine grass (our Plant of the Week) can be found at Belmont Prairie and Illinois Beach Nature Preserve.
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 special “Preserves for You to Scout” section for those preserves that we couldn’t get to this week, but that you can help us explore!
THIS WEEK’S BEST (“GO!”):
Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion (6/9): This preserve tops our list because the show of golden sand coreopsis in the sand prairie (along the Dunes Trail) is one of the region’s most beautiful performances of the year. In fact, the Sierra Club thinks that it rivals any place in the country, as the image (below) will represent the month of July in their upcoming 2020 Sierra Club Wilderness Wall Calendar. But sand coreopsis is not the only flowers to see here. The wild lupine is still looking good, along with hoary puccoon, fringed puccoon, sand cress, sandwort, the stunning Indian paintbrush., and the aforementioned pasture rose.
Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin (6/12): The grand show of the gorgeous pink blooms of pale purple coneflower is on. And it’s breathtaking. Also, look for the pearl flowers of foxglove beardtongue and white wild indigo.
Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove (6/11): This preserve should be visited before 8:00 am to see the ephemeral blooms of spiderwort. Their purple flowers open with the sun and only last a few hours before shriveling and turning to liquid. Learn about spiderwort’s miraculous melting flowers. You’ll also find the gorgeous leaves of prairie dock and compass plant that look especially captivating when they glow a bright green from a low sun.
Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester (6/10): Like Belmont Prairie, this preserve is a “Go!” for the Ohio spiderwort but only if you visit by 8:00 am. You might be able to get away with a later time, but the flowers fade pretty quickly, especially when it’s hot. In the prairie, you’ll also find downy phlox and the large beautiful leaves of prairie dock.
GO, IF YOU’RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD:
Miller Woods (at Paul H. Douglas Trail) in Indiana Dunes National Park (6/1): The wild lupine flowers had their breathtaking run and are now turning into seeds, but you’ll still have a lot to find and explore here. Mixed in with the remaining blooms of lupine are the flowers of hairy puccoon, spiderwort, two-flowered Cynthia, wild columbine, and more. And then there are the beavers! See photo and caption below to learn where to find them. After your hike, consider checking out Tolleston Dunes.
Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin (6/12): The blooms of shooting star and wild lupine still remain after last week’s peak bloom, though the density and color have diminished. Also blooming is a mix of hoary puccoon, golden Alexander, yellow star grass, fringed puccoon, wild strawberry, bastard toadflax, and spiderwort. This preserve is close to Illinois Beach Nature Preserve which is currently putting on one of the finest floral displays of the season.
PRESERVES FOR YOU TO SCOUT:
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.
Pembroke Savanna in Hopkins Park: On June 5, Spiderwort was blooming throughout the preserve along with nice displays of hairy puccoon and daisy fleabane. The intoxicating pasture rose was starting to bloom, and June grass glowed in the low sunlight. While on your scouting mission, look for a potentially prominent bloom of goat’s rue.
Powderhorn Marsh & Prairie in Chicago (last scouted on 5/31): This high-quality preserve is located inside the city of Chicago.
PLANT OF THE WEEK: PORCUPINE GRASS
You can find this porcupine grass at Belmont Prairie, Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, Bluff Spring Fen, and Powderhorn Marsh & Prairie.
Watch this video to see porcupine grass drill itself into the soil as you watch!
Sand Coreopsis at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve
Pale Purple Coneflower is in Full Flower
Foxglove Beardtongue is Beginning to Bloom
The Wonderfully Large Leaves of Compass Plant & Prairie Dock
Blue Flag Iris
Beaver Activity at Miller Woods (just off the Paul H. Douglas Trail)
If you find this website of Chicago nature information useful, please consider donating or purchasing my nationally-acclaimed book that poetically celebrates all of the preserves featured on this website.
© 2019, Mike MacDonald. All rights reserved.