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Chicago Wildflower Report & Info – 06/20/2019

Posted by on 2:03 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Wildflower Report & Info – 06/20/2019

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
June 20, 2019

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

Plan Your Weekend Wildflower Walk!

Don’t miss one beautiful moment.
Click here to subscribe to receive FREE wildflower alerts!


Each week, we bring you opportunities to find peace!
Please donate if we’ve helped you find peace in nature.


BECOME 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:

Like last week, 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, again, our Plant of the Week. See the real-time video of the drilling seed, below. And then there are the pearly blooms of foxglove beardtongue that is now in full 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 (6/16). See pictures in Photo Section. A wondrous expanse of pale purple coneflower is yours at Bluff Spring Fen (6/18). And you’ll find spiderwort at several preserves around the region, including Belmont Prairie (6/19), Wolf Road Prairie (6/18), Bluff Spring Fen (6/18), Fermilab PrairiePowderhorn Prairie, Paul H. Douglas Trail, Chiwaukee Prairie, Illinois Beach Nature Preserve (6/16), and Pembroke Savanna (6/20). Finally porcupine grass (our Plant of the Week) can be found at Belmont Prairie (6/19), Illinois Beach Nature Preserve (6/16), Pembroke Savanna (6/20), and Powderhorn Prairie.

PRESERVES TO VISIT 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 (6/16): 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, sand cress, and sandwort, pasture rose., and porcupine grass.

In a celebration of life, blooms of sand coreopsis spread with golden joy along the banks of the Dead River at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois.*

The Sierra Club chose this June image of the sand coreopsis and sandwort at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve to represent the month of July in their 2020 issue of their Sierra Club Wilderness Wall Calendar.*

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin (6/18): The breathtaking show of the gorgeous pink blooms of pale purple coneflower is on. Also, look for porcupine grass and the pearly flowers of foxglove beardtongue and white wild indigo

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook (6/19): You’ll find several displays of spiderwort across the preserve and many more flowers, as well, including foxglove beardtongue, daisy fleabane, blue flag iris, and the start of wild quinine. And I can’t forget mentioning the beautiful foliage of prairie dock and compass plant.

Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove (6/19): Find a beautiful symphony of color and texture at this intimate remnant prairie nestled within a quiet neighborhood. Playing the starring role, this week, is pale purple coneflower, supported by textured sprays of porcupine grass and colorful blooms of scurfy pea and spiderwort. However, to experience the ephemeral flowers of spiderwort, you must get there by 8:00 am. 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. When you arrive early, you’ll be treated to the gorgeous leaves of prairie dock and compass plant that glow a bright green in the low sun.

Here is my most profound recommendation for enjoying your time in nature. If the preserve allows, arrive before first light. A morning rendezvous with nature is a magical experience that vastly transcends what’s possible at other times of day. In the early bright, the world expands beyond the usual three dimensions, as the transformation from darkness into light excites more than just the visual sense. As night gives birth to dawn, and the landscape gently turns from azure to gold, the soft and changing light is a spectacle for the eyes. A moist fog or a splash of crisp dew against your skin affirms your existence. The still atmosphere concentrates the fragrances floating in the air and provides a tranquil stage for birds to project their crystal melodies. In the morning, you’ll find all this, along with the promise of a new day.

Pembroke Savanna in Hopkins Park (6/20): If you want to see spiderwort, this is the place. It’s almost everywhere! But as stated before, you need to get here early. The spiderwort is mixed in with a prolific display of daisy fleabane, along with some pasture rose and remaining hairy puccoon. And you’ll also see lots of porcupine grass.

Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester (6/18): 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 Environmental Center for Education) in Indiana Dunes National Park (report by park ranger on 6/18): The preserve is large and provides a nice long hike to the beach. The most prominent blooming flower is hairy puccoon, and there’s a lot of spiderwort, too. Along your hike, you’ll also see two-flowered Cynthia, wild columbine,, pasture rose, and downy phlox. 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.

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.

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 porcupine grass at Belmont Prairie, Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, Pembroke Savanna, Bluff Spring Fen, and Powderhorn Prairie.

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

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

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


 CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT PORCUPINE GRASS.

PHOTO SECTION

Sand Coreopsis at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve

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 at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, blooms of golden coreopsis and New Jersey tea are set aglow alongside shimmering spider webs that cling to last year’s grasses.*

Pale Purple Coneflower is in Full Flower

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

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

Pale purple coneflowers rise above the prairie at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois.*

Pale purple coneflowers rise above the prairie at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin.*

Purple pale coneflowers, scurfy pea, and porcupine grass at Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove, Illinois.*

Pale purple coneflowers are also putting on a show at Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove.”

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

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

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, Bluff Spring Fen, Pembroke Savanna, Powderhorn Prairie, Indiana Dunes National Park, Wolf Road Prairie, and many more.

Foxglove Beardtongue

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

In June, foxglove beardtongue blooms here at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin and at many other preserves in the region. In the fall, the seeds smell EXACTLY like vomit! Ah, be still my heart!*

Wild Lupine

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 always put on a show. Currently, they’re past their peak bloom, but still looking decent.*

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.

The Wonderfully Large Leaves of Compass Plant & Prairie Dock

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

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

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.*

Beaver Activity at Miller Woods (just off the 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.*

To possibly see a beaver at Miller Woods in Indiana Dunes National Park, 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. Here, we see that the beavers created this dark thoroughfare as they moved across the trail from one swale to another.*

* 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 poetically celebrates all of the preserves featured on this website.

—Mike

Chicago Wildflower Report & Info – 06/13/2019

Posted by on 2:04 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Wildflower Report & Info – 06/13/2019

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.
Click here to subscribe to receive FREE wildflower alerts!


Every week, we inspire your adventurous spirit!
Please donate if you find our work worthwhile.


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 PrairiePowderhorn 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.

In a celebration of life, blooms of sand coreopsis spread with golden joy along the banks of the Dead River at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois.*

The Sierra Club chose this June image of the sand coreopsis and sandwort at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve to represent the month of July in their 2020 issue of their Sierra Club Wilderness Wall Calendar.*

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:

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook (6/9): 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.

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.

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

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

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


 CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT PORCUPINE GRASS.

PHOTO SECTION

Sand Coreopsis at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve

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 at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, blooms of golden coreopsis and New Jersey tea are set aglow alongside shimmering spider webs that cling to last year’s grasses.*

Pale Purple Coneflower is in Full Flower

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

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

Pale purple coneflowers rise above the prairie at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois.*

Pale purple coneflowers rise above the prairie at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin.*

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

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

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, Bluff Spring Fen, Pembroke Savanna, Powderhorn Prairie, Indiana Dunes National Park, Wolf Road Prairie, and many more.

Foxglove Beardtongue is Beginning to Bloom

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

In June, foxglove beardtongue blooms in profusion at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin. In the fall, the seeds smell EXACTLY like vomit! Ah, be still my heart!*

Wild Lupine

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.*

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.

The Wonderfully Large Leaves of Compass Plant & Prairie Dock

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

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

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.*

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.*

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.*

Beaver Activity at Miller Woods (just off the 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.*

To possibly see a beaver at Miller Woods in Indiana Dunes National Park, 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. Here, we see that the beavers created this dark thoroughfare as they moved across the trail from one swale to another.*

* 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 poetically celebrates all of the preserves featured on this website.

—Mike[/three_fourth_last]

Chicago Wildflower Report & Info – 06/06/2019

Posted by on 3:13 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Wildflower Report & Info – 06/06/2019

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
June 6, 2019

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

Plan Your Weekend Wildflower Walk!

Don’t miss one beautiful moment.
Click here to subscribe to receive FREE wildflower alerts!


Every week, we move your heart with stunning beauty!
Please donate if you find our work worthwhile.


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]

Chicago Spring Wildflower Report & Info – 05/31/2019

Posted by on 3:40 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Spring Wildflower Report & Info – 05/31/2019

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
May 31, 2019

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

Plan Your Weekend Wildflower Walk!

Don’t miss one beautiful moment.
Click here to subscribe to receive FREE wildflower alerts!


Every week, we bring you breathtaking beauty!
Please donate if you find our work worthwhile.


Check out the inspiring television story about ChicagoNatureNOW! on WTTW Chicago TonightWatch it here.

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 blue-and-white wild lupine and the sublime pinks of shooting star. These events are a must see!

The best place to experience wild lupine is in Indiana Dunes National Park at Paul H. Douglas Trail (5/27) and Tolleston Dunes,. Alongside breathtaking displays of wild lupine, you’ll find golden hoary puccoon and hairy puccoon blooming in great numbers. You can also see lupine and puccoon at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve (5/30) and Chiwaukee Prairie (5/30). But the big reason to visit Chiwaukee Prairie is for the magnificent display of shooting star and the many other blooming species that accompany it.

Wolf Road Prairie is offering a nice display of wild hyacinth. And hoary puccoon is putting on a show at Shoe Factory Road Prairie.

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 (5/27): Like last weekend, this preserve is a dream and tops this week’s list. Come see the vast display of wild lupine mixed with hoary puccoon, along with beavers and rolling ridge-and-swale terrain. See the pictures below for an example of how beautiful it is. While you’re here, take the trail that starts at the nature center to the lakeshore. 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 abandoned 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 (5/30): 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 starry false Solomon’s seal.  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.

GO, IF YOU’RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD:

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion (5/30): If you visit Chiwaukee Prairie to see the shooting stars, then you’ll be in the neighborhood of this stunningly beautiful preserve. There are many flowers blooming, right now, but not enough to call it a “Go.” Yet, this is the only preserve in the region that I’d recommend visiting even if there were no flowers blooming! And there are plenty blooming right now, including wild lupine, hoary puccoon, fringed puccoon, wood betony, blue-eyed grass, yellow star grass, sand cress, and the stunning Indian paintbrush.

Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester (5/31): The prairie and savanna are featuring their beautiful springtime display of wild hyacinth. Usually, I find most of these flowers in the oak savanna. But this year, it’s flowering at many locations throughout the open prairie.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates (5/31): Large patches of golden hoary puccoon steal the show. Sharing the stage are golden Alexander, wood betony, yellow star grass, and a few remaining birdfoot violet.

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook (5/28): This preserve is known for its mix of flowers, and there’s a nice mix right now. The flower with the greatest population throughout the site is golden Alexander. In the woodland, there’s often a vast display. When we visited, the yellows were still a bit muted, but they’re getting better every day. Other flowers you’ll find are balsam ragwort, hoary puccoon, wood betonywild hyacinth, and my favorite flower of the moment, the heart-stirring blue-eyed grass (see picture below).

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.

Pembroke Savanna in Hopkins Park: Two weeks ago, our report read, “Visit this world-class sand savanna for its vast display of birdfoot violet and sand phlox. Starry false Solomon’s seal is now in bloom with it’s geometric leaves, and stout blue-eye grass is also beginning to flower.  On his scouting mission, John was startled by a turkey as he hiked the trail! I’ve twice been startled by quail that suddenly flew out from the brush.” For this week, check for the same flowers and let us know if you notice anything else.

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 looking good as they approach peak bloom. I suggest that you 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.*

May 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 in the morning light at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, Illinois.*

Wild Hyacinth

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

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

Wild hyacinth seem to take on the blue glow of evening at Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Illinois.*

At Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Illinois, these wild hyacinths take on the blue glow of evening.*

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

Like wild lupine, wild hyacinths also bloom from the bottom up. As you can see, these plants at Oldfield Oaks in Darien have flowers that are still waiting to open. Right now, you’ll find them blooming, but they peaked last weekend.*

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.*

Hoary Puccoon at Shoe Factory Road Prairie

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

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

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, Miller Woods, 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 Spring Wildflower Report & Info – 05/24/2019

Posted by on 11:46 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Spring Wildflower Report & Info – 05/24/2019

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
May 24, 2019
Memorial Day Edition

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

Plan Your Spring Wildflower Walk This Weekend!

Don’t miss one beautiful moment.
Click here to subscribe to receive FREE wildflower alerts!


We covered lots of ground, this week!
Please donate if you find our work worthwhile.


Last week, WTTW Chicago Tonight told a beautiful television story about ChicagoNatureNOW!Watch it here.

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 adventure in Chicago nature:

The flower of the week is the sublime blue-and-white wild lupine. Believe it or not, the show is just as breathtaking as the Virginia bluebell performances of previous weeks. Last week, O’Hara Woods was transformed into an azure ocean of bluebells. But when I visited on Wednesday, virtually every flower had fallen off, and the preserve has returned to an emerald sea. The flowering of our woodlands fade as the tree canopy fills with leaves and the sunlight under the trees becomes more scarce. Now, we begin to turn our attention away from the woodlands and to our light-filled oak savannas and sun-drenched prairies.

The best place to experience wild lupine is in Indiana Dunes National Park at Paul H. Douglas Trail (formerly Miller Woods), Tolleston Dunes, and West Beach,. Alongside breathtaking displays of wild lupine, you’ll find golden hoary puccoon and hairy puccoon blooming in great numbers. Wild geranium was screaming at Messenger Woods (5/22,) Black Partridge Woods (5/22), and Oldfield Oaks (5/23). And wild hyacinth is beginning to flower at  Wolf Road Prairie (5/23) Messenger Woods (5/22), and it’s reached peak bloom at Oldfield Oaks (5/23). I love the beautiful foliage displays of umbrella-like mayapple, spears of wild leek, the grand sprawling leaves of skunk cabbage, and the hearts of wild ginger. Look for flowers hiding under the foliage of wild ginger and double-leafed mayapples. (Mayapples with one leaf do not produce a flower. See picture below.) Note that the bloom times for the northern preserves are about a week behind those in the south.

WHERE TO GO THIS WEEKEND FOR A SPRING 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 (5/19): This preserve is a dream, right now. With its vast display of wild lupine mixed with hoary puccoon, this preserve easily tops this week’s list. See the picture below for an example of the glory you might experience. While you’re here, take the trail to the lake. Then check out Tolleston Dunes and West Beach.

Black Partridge Woods in Lemont (5/23): There are several dense and prominent displays of wild geranium atop the bluffs which is why it is ranked as a “Go.” However, we aren’t sure how long the flowers will last. In any case, this preserve gives an immersive emerald experience that will steal your heart. Its bubbling, sparkling stream is the most beautiful in the region. And the bluffs add to the fairy-tale feel. The lush, green feel is prominent in the lowland area where plants of all sorts show off their foliage, including skunk cabbage, wild leek, mayapple, and wild ginger. Look under the leaves of wild ginger to find a fuzzy burgundy blossom. Moving now to the trails atop the bluffs, I found several dense and prominent displays of wild geranium, but they’re past peak and I don’t now how long it will last. This is why I put it under this category. Woodland phlox is the next most prominent flower which, like geranium, can be found in many spots. The wild hyacinth is just starting to bloom, while shooting star is at its peak.

Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin (5/24): We visit this preserve at this time of year because the display of shooting star can be spectacular. Amongst the newly blooming shooting star, you’ll find some beautiful, colorful patches of hoary puccoon, wood betony, and birdfoot violet.

GO, IF YOU’RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD:

Messenger Woods in Homer Glen (5/22): Normally, this preserve would be rated among “This Week’s Best” because the wild geranium is fantastic. However, on our visits, water covered the trail entrance and the bridge over the creek.  Yet, our intrepid scouts, John Boldt and Zeke Wei, we not dissuaded. John, in particular, was not going to let a little water stop him after driving over 150 round-trip miles to scout the place. Both men rolled up their pants, took off their shoes and socks, and waded across in their bare feet. Please contact Forest Preserve District of Will County and ask them to fix the bridge, otherwise this will keeping happening, as it has for years. After our visits, it rained a couple more times. So, if you’d like a little adventure and want to make your Memorial Day weekend memorable, come and wade through the knee-deep water (at your own risk). You’ll probably have the preserve to yourself, and the experience should be well worth it. And bring a towel!

Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates (5/24): The flowers of the spring prairie grow very low to the ground and aren’t as showy as the woodlands. But take a closer look and you’re in for a treat, as the hill prairie is covered with large patches of golden hoary puccoon, alongside purple birdfoot violet, golden Alexander, and shooting star. Yellow star grass can be found outside the fence. And, in the woodland, there is a clump of the fascinating Jack-in-the-pulpit.

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook (5/23): There are some nice flowers blooming around the preserve, but not in great densities. The bloom with the greatest population throughout the site is wood betony. Other flowers showing their stuff are balsam ragwort, hoary puccoon, large-flowered trillium, red trillium, blue-eyed grass, and hoary puccoon. Golden Alexander is just starting out.

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.

Raccoon Grove Nature Preserve in Monee: Check for wild geranium and woodland phlox , which could be past peak. If you find wild hyacinth, it should be at peak. And check on the status of false Solomon’s seal, which will soon be putting on a nice show.

Fermilab Prairie & woodland (Fermilab Natural Areas) in Batavia: In last week’s report, “The woodland offers a large number of woodland phlox and mayapple. The gorgeous large-flowered trillium blooms alongside red trillium. Also look for swamp buttercup. The prairie is showing the sprouting foliage of soon-to-bloom golden Alexander, the red-leafed wood betony, and the sublime shooting star.” You mission is to first check the woodland to see what remains. Then visit the prairie where you’ll find golden Alexander, wood betony, and the sublime shooting star.

Pembroke Savanna in Hopkins Park: In last week’s report, “Visit this world-class sand savanna for its vast display of birdfoot violet and sand phlox. Starry false Solomon’s seal is now in bloom with it’s geometric leaves, and stout blue-eye grass is also beginning to flower.  On his scouting mission, John was startled by a turkey as he hiked the trail! I’ve twice been startled by quail that suddenly flew out from the brush.” For this week, check for the same flowers and let us know if you notice anything else.

PHOTO SECTION

Wild Lupine in Our Black Oak Savannas (Sand Savannas)

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

Atop this spring dune thrives wild lupine 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.*

Unlike the southern preserves at Indiana Dunes National Park, the lupines at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion are still about a week away.*

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 most of our 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.*

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

Large-flowered Trillium

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

You may still be able to find large-flowered trillium blooming in the northern woodlands, like Captain Daniel Wright Woods and, here, at Harms Woods. Notice how their white flowers turn pink as they age.*

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 as 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.*

This is the time to check underneath the double-leafed plants of mayapple for a single waxy white flower. Here at Black Partridge Woods, I found one! You may also discover a burgundy flower hiding beneath the heart-shaped leaves of wild ginger.*

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.*

Woodland Phlox 

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

Here at Black Partridge Woods, woodland phlox grows up the brae. This flower can also be found at the other featured woodlands, like Raccoon Grove, Messenger Woods, and Fermilab Natural Areas.*

Shooting Star

The beautiful blooms of shooting star

The beautiful blooms of shooting star.

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

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

Wild Hyacinth in Our Woodlands

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

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

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

Right now, wild hyacinths are blooming in abundance at Oldfield Oaks in Darien.*

Hoary Puccoon at Shoe Factory Road Prairie

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

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

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.*

* 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 Wildflower Report & Info – 05/16/2019

Posted by on 10:04 am in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Spring Wildflower Report & Info – 05/16/2019

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
May 16, 2019

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

Plan Your Spring Wildflower Walk This Weekend!

Don’t miss one beautiful moment.
Click here to subscribe to receive FREE wildflower alerts!


It’s been another busy week!
Please donate if you find our work worthwhile.


ChicagoNatureNOW! is on TV! On Thursday, May 16th, between 7:30 and 8:00 pm, we’ll be featured on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight. If you can’t watch it live, you can watch it here.

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 outdoor adventure into Chicago’s woodlands:

BLUEBELLS, BLUEBELLS! Again, the Virginia bluebells are flowering in profusion at three preserves. Many of the flowers have already reached peak bloom, and we’re nearing the end of their phenomenal performances. See them now or you’ll have to endure another cold winter for your next opportunity!

These sublime performances are proof that Chicago’s natural beauty rivals the national parks. Experience the magnificence of the bluebells with your eyes as well as your nose, as the scent of these azure flowers fill the air with a sweet scent that is reminiscent of Froot Loops cereal.

FROOT LOOPS FINDINGS: I have a sensitive nose, and I like smelling things. (Sometimes I think that I’m part drooling hound dog.) So, when I stuck my face into a box of Froot Loops cereal, I quickly realized that its smell was much sharper than blooms of bluebell. However, when I smelled the multi-colored O’s from farther away, the sharpness faded into what I think is the essential scent that most people are referring to. Still, the flower has its own unique floral fragrance that is slightly stronger than the cereal smell. Therefore, after a side-by-side olfactory comparison, I can describe the smell of the bluebell as “a fragrant floral scent with the clear fruity, citrusy undertone of Froot Loops cereal.” Before I was told of the Froot Loops resemblance, I always described the fragrance as “quintessentially blue.” If blue had a smell, then that would be it. Now it’s time to do the Froot Loops test for yourself. And let me know what your nose comes up with!

For bluebell performances that will take your breath away, visit O’Hara Woods Preserve, Pilcher Park, and Messenger Woods.

If you can’t get to the best preserves to see the bluebells, you’ll find a many other wildflower displays throughout the region. The spectacular large-flowered trillium is blooming at Messenger Woods, the woodland connected to Fermilab Prairie, Heron Rookery Trail (Indiana Dunes National Park), Harms Woods in Glenview and Captain Daniel Wright Woods in Mettawa. Large-flowered trillium was first to bloom at Heron Rookery Trail, and it’s now fading. But their age brings a fresh and wondrous beauty, as their white petals turn to pink. (See image below from Harms Woods.) Yet, as the white trillium fades, another species has emerged to take its place. Drooping trillium is flowering at Raccoon Grove. And the elegant and understated red trillium is now blooming in many of our woodlands.

I love the beautiful foliage displays of umbrella-like mayapple, spears of wild leek, the grand sprawling leaves of skunk cabbage, and the hearts of wild ginger. You may even find flowers hiding under the foliage of wild ginger and double-leafed mayapples. (Mayapples with one leaf do not produce a flower. See picture below.) Note that the bloom time for the northern preserves are about a week behind those to the south.

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

The order of the preserves below is based on the quality of the wildflower experience, starting out with the best. The top preserves this week feature the Virginia bluebells. Also 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.

O’Hara Woods Preserve in Romeoville: This is the preserve that will be featured in the Chicago Tonight segment. On Tuesday, the Virginia bluebells were looking great., and mayapples add to the mix.

Messenger Woods in Homer Glen: On Wednesday, the Virginia bluebells looked fantastic. And the bluebell wasn’t the only flower putting on a show! The pink flowers of wild geranium seem to be everywhere, with a mix of purple woodland phlox, yellow swamp buttercup, red trillium, and the sublime blooms of white large-flowered trillium. The umbrella leaves of mayapple add wonderful texture to the woodland floor.

Pilcher Park Nature Center in Joliet (Report by Pilcher Park staff): Like last week, the Virginia bluebells steal the show. Begin your hike at the kid-friendly nature center, and you’ll be surrounded by a lush understory of spring wildflowers. You should also find nice blooms of wild geranium, and the mayapple and skunk cabbage patches are wonderful.

Black Partridge Woods in Lemont: I love this place. This intimate preserve will steal your heart. Its bubbling, sparkling stream is the most beautiful in the region. And the bluffs add to the fairy-tale feel. You’ll find many spring flowers, including woodland phlox, wild geranium, spring beauty, rue anemone, and false rue anemone. The lowland is rich with the green foliage of skunk cabbage, wild leek, mayapple, and wild ginger. Look under the leaves of mayapple and wild ginger to discover a single hidden flower. There are still some fading patches of Virginia bluebells. And, atop the bluffs, look for the newly blooming shooting star and wild hyacinth.

Raccoon Grove Nature Preserve in Monee: The floral biodiversity and intensity of green is breathtaking. This week, the most prominent blooms come from woodland phlox, rue anemone, and wild geranium. Look for the a gorgeous drooping white flower growing in patches along the trail with the apt name of drooping trillium. As the Virginia bluebells fade, the hidden blooms of mayapple and wild ginger are now flowering. Just look under their leaves. The sword-like foliage of wild leek also adds to the mix.

Pembroke Savanna in Hopkins Park: Visit this world-class sand savanna for its vast display of birdfoot violet and sand phlox. Starry false Solomon’s seal is now in bloom with it’s geometric leaves, and stout blue-eye grass grass is also beginning to flower. Oh, how I love blue-eyed grass! (See picture below in Photo Section.) On Wednesday, our scout, John, was startled by a turkey as he hiked the trail! I’ve twice been startled by quail that suddenly flew out from the brush.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates: The flowers of the spring prairie grow very low to the ground and aren’t as showy as the woodlands. But take a closer look and you’re be in for a treat, as the hill prairie is covered with large patches of buttery wood betony, purple birdfoot violet, the golden blooms of hoary puccoon and the newly flowering golden Alexander. Large areas of mayapple can be found by the trees along the eastern slope. See picture below from Saturday, May 11.

GO, IF YOU’RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD:

Fermilab Prairie woodland (Fermilab Natural Areas) in Batavia: The woodland offers a large number of woodland phlox and mayapple.  The gorgeous large-flowered trillium blooms alongside red trillium. Mayapple can be found in many places, and you may find some swamp buttercup. The prairie is showing the sprouting foliage of soon-to-bloom golden Alexander, the red-leafed wood betony, and the sublime shooting star.

PHOTO SECTION

The Sublime Virginia Bluebell

Virginia bluebell

Virginia Bluebells will blow your mind. But this is the final week! So get out there, or wait another year!

Virginia bluebells fill the April woodland of O'Hara Woods Nature Preserve in Romeoville, Illinois.

SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2019: Virginia bluebells fill the April woodland of O’Hara Woods Nature Preserve in Romeoville, Illinois.

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 breath. Many say that the flower emits a scent reminicent 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.*

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.*

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 Park, the flowers are now fading, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not just as beautiful. See the picture below from Harms Woods.*

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

Large-flowered trillium bloom in profusion at Harms Woods in Cook County, Illinois. Notice how their white flowers turn pink as they age.*

Red Trillium can be seen at many of our woodlands

Red trillium and setting sun.*

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

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 as 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.*

This is the time to check underneath the double-leafed plants of mayapple for a single waxy white flower. Here at Black Partridge Woods, I found one! You may also discover a burgundy flower hiding beneath the heart-shaped leaves of wild ginger.*

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.*

Woodland Phlox 

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

Here at Black Partridge Woods, woodland phlox grows up the brae. This flower can also be found at the other featured woodlands, like Raccoon Grove, Messenger Woods, and Fermilab Natural Areas.*

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.*

Wood Betony at Shoe Factory Road Prairie

On this May morning at Shoe Factory Road Prairie, wood betony blooms under a red sunrise.*

On the morning of Saturday, May 11, 2019, wood betony and golden Alexander bloomed under a red sunrise at Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates.

* 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 Wildflower Report & Info – 05/09/2019

Posted by on 4:29 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Spring Wildflower Report & Info – 05/09/2019

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
May 9, 2019

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

Plan Your Spring Wildflower Walk This Weekend!

Don’t miss one beautiful moment.
Click here to subscribe to receive FREE wildflower alerts!


It’s been another busy week!
Please donate if you find our work worthwhile.


ChicagoNatureNOW! is making news! We’re being featured on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight and also on Jay’s Chicago! On Tuesday, I was out filming with Jay Shefsky, host of Jay’s Chicago, and cameraman Felix Mendez. For more than four hours, we immersed ourselves in the glorious expanse of bluebells at O’Hara Woods. The story is about ChicagoNatureNOW!, my style of photography, and how I use photography to bring attention to Chicago nature. Chicago Tonight will air the segment very soon, and it’ll then be compiled into Jay Shefsky’s TV series called Jay’s Chicago. I’ve been a fan of this show for years, which features interesting people from around town.

WE NEED SCOUTS! You’ll notice that many of our featured sites could not be scouted this week. That’s because we have a lot of ground to cover and not enough scouts.  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 adventure into Chicago’s woodlands:

BLUEBELLS, BLUEBELLS, BLUEBELLS! Again, the Virginia bluebells are flowering in profusion at three preserves. Many of the flowers have already reached peak bloom, and this glorious experience will not last much longer. It is a wonder to behold and easily the best flower show of the week.

On Tuesday, when Jay and Felix first set eyes on the expanse of bluebells at O’Hara Wood, their stunned reactions were priceless! These sublime performances are proof that Chicago’s natural beauty rivals the national parks. Experience the magnificence of the bluebells with your eyes as well as your nose, as the scent of these azure flowers fill the air with a sweet scent that is reminiscent of Froot Loops cereal.

FROOT LOOPS FINDINGS: I have a sensitive nose and sometimes I think that I’m part drooling hound dog. If you stick your face into a box of Froot Loops, you’ll quickly realize that its smell is quite sharp. Bluebells do not emit such sharpness. Though, if you don’t stand so close to the cereal, that sharpness fades, which I think is the essential scent that most people are referring to. And this scent is closer to what I detect when I’m out there with the bluebells. Still, the flower has its own obvious floral scent that tends to come in slightly stronger than that of the cereal. Therefore, after a side-by-side olfactory comparison, I can describe the smell of bluebells as “a fragrant floral scent with the clear fruity, citrusy undertone of Froot Loops cereal.” However, before I was told of the Froot Loops resemblance, I always described the fragrance as “quintessentially blue.” If blue had a smell, then that would be it. For marketing purposes, to get people’s attention, it’s better to use the Froot Loops reference. But, personally, the “quintessentially blue” description is my favorite. And, I’d have to say, it’s much more poetic. Now it’s time to do the Froot Loops test for yourself. And let me know what your nose comes up with!

For bluebell performances that will take your breath away, visit O’Hara Woods Preserve, Pilcher Park, and Messenger Woods.

If you can’t get to the best preserves to see the bluebells, you’ll find a many other wildflower displays throughout the region. The spectacular large-flowered trillium is blooming at Messenger Woods, the woodland connected to Fermilab Prairie, Heron Rookery Trail (Indiana Dunes National Park), Harms Woods in Glenview and Captain Daniel Wright Woods in Mettawa. We didn’t scout the latter two preserves, so please let us know what you find there. This flower was first to bloom at Heron Rookery Trail, and it’s now fading. But their age brings a fresh and wondrous beauty, as their white petals turn to pink. (See image below from Harms Woods.) Yet, as the white trillium fades, another species has emerged to take its place. The elegant and understated red trillium is now blooming in many of our woodlands.

I love the beautiful foliage displays of umbrella-like mayapple, spears of wild leek, the grand sprawling leaves of skunk cabbage, and the hearts of wild ginger. You may even find flowers hiding under the foliage of wild ginger and double-leafed mayapples. (Mayapples with one leaf do not produce a flower.) Note that the bloom time for the northern preserves are about a week behind those to the south.

I mentioned the long emerald swords of wild leek. Research proves that this is 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.” If you pay close attention to your nose in woodlands that do not feature the fragrant bluebell, you may be able to catch its sweet onion scent. Then imagine what the smell would have been like a couple hundred years ago when thousands of these plants grew along the flowing waters. Chicagoua!

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

The order of the preserves below is based on the quality of the wildflower experience, starting out with the best. The top preserves this week feature the Virginia bluebells. Also 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.

O’Hara Woods Preserve in Romeoville: Go here this weekend! See the Virginia bluebells at their finest in a setting that’s simply breathtaking. This is one of America’s finest woodland wildflower displays. The preserve was once 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 being taken over by woodland plants. The mayapples are looking wonderful and they might even be flowering by the weekend.

Pilcher Park Nature Center in Joliet (UNSCOUTED): This is a great preserve to visit, especially if you have kids. They have a nature center with animals on display and the the best maintained trails of those in the current alert. Begin your hike at the nature center and you’ll be surrounded by a lush understory of spring wildflowers. This preserve is also one of the best places to experience a vastitude of Virginia bluebells, which should be peaking this weekend. Bluebells also like the mud. So, look for them along banks of the creek. And the mayapple and skunk cabbage patches are wonderful.

Messenger Woods in Homer Glen (UNSCOUTED): This preserve was unscouted this week, as well, but the Virginia bluebells are still going strong. The bridge leading to the bluebells and the sublime white large-flowered trillium is under water. So wear high boots or just take off your shoes to cross. You should also experience carpets of fresh foliage and blooming ephemerals throughout, including false rue anemone, There are patches of large-flowered trillium that should still be looking quite good. The mayapples may also be blooming by this weekend.

Black Partridge Woods in Lemont (UNSCOUTED): Even though we didn’t see this place with our own eyes, this is my favorite time to visit and I am certain that you’ll love it. This intimate preserve will steal your heart. Its bubbling, sparkling stream is the most beautiful in the region. And the bluffs add to the fairy-tale feel. You’ll find many spring flowers and plants, including woodland phlox, skunk cabbage, and wild leek. You may see the blooms of mayapple and wild ginger hiding under their leaves. Accenting the emerald understory are the sparkling white flowers of rue anemone and false rue anemone. And there are still some nice patches of Virginia bluebells.

Raccoon Grove Nature Preserve in Monee (UNSCOUTED): The floral biodiversity and intensity of green is breathtaking. You’ll find nice strips of Virginia bluebells along the creek. But my favorite display is the mayapple foliage and, right now, you may find many of them flowering. Check under the leaves of plants with two leaves. The foliage of wild leek also adds to the mix.

Heron Rookery Trail at Indiana Dunes National Park (UNSCOUTED): We couldn’t get out to Indiana, this week. Please help us scout this preserve and others by becoming a nature scout. This newly minted national park offers the greatest density of native plants in the entire national park system and, quite possibly, the nation. A week ago, you could still find the magnificent large-flowered trillium. I predict that the white petals are transforming into a beautiful, delicate pink. On your visit, you’ll also find sparkles of false rue anemone, and the lush, green springtime foliage of mayapple and wild leek. I suspect that mayapples are already blooming because this preserve is about a week or two ahead of the others.

GO, IF YOU’RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD:

Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates: Go for the beautiful birdfoot violet and the start of hoary puccoon in the prairie and the dense forest of mayapple along the eastern slope.

Somme Prairie Grove woodland in Northbrook (UNSCOUTED): Last week, you would have found a carpet of spring beauty with some nice patches of  cutleaf toothwort. We also found bloodroot, false rue anemone, and white trout lily. Red trillium is not yet blooming. And wood betony is just showing its reddish foliage at the moment.

Fermilab Prairie woodland (Fermilab Natural Areas) in Batavia (UNSCOUTED): The gorgeous large-flowered trillium blooms alongside red trillium. Mayapple can be found in many places, and you may find some swamp buttercup. The prairie is showing the sprouting foliage of soon-to-bloom golden Alexander, the red-leafed wood betony, and the sublime shooting star.

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: The highlight of your hike will be the golden blooms of marsh marigold growing in the wet areas, which is also where skunk cabbage thrives. You’ll find the gorgeous birdfoot violet scattered about. And, in the savanna, look for rue anemone and colonies of mayapple.

Pembroke Savanna in Hopkins Park (UNSCOUTED): Visit for the vast display of birdfoot violet throughout the preserve and a smattering of sand phlox and wild strawberry.

PHOTO SECTION

The Sublime Virginia Bluebell

Virginia bluebell

Virginia Bluebells will blow your mind. But his is the final week! So get out there, or wait another year!

Virginia bluebells fill the April woodland of O'Hara Woods Nature Preserve in Romeoville, Illinois.

SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2019: Virginia bluebells fill the April woodland of O’Hara Woods Nature Preserve in Romeoville, Illinois.

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 breath. Many say that the flower emits 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

At the end of April or the beginning of May, Virginia bluebells bloom in profusion along the creek at Raccoon Grove in Monee, Illinois.*

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.*

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 Park, the flowers are now fading, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not just as beautiful. See the picture below from Harms Woods.*

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

Large-flowered trillium bloom in profusion at Harms Woods in Cook County, Illinois. Notice how their white flowers turn pink as they age.*

Red Trillium can be seen at many of our woodlands

Red trillium and setting sun.*

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

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.*

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.*

This is the time to check underneath the double-leafed plants of mayapple for a single waxy white flower. Here at Black Partridge Woods, I found one! You may also discover a burgundy flower hiding beneath the heart-shaped leaves of wild ginger.*

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.*

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.*

* 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 Wildflower Report & News – 05/03/2019

Posted by on 1:06 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Spring Wildflower Report & News – 05/03/2019

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
May 3, 2019

“Weekly Wildflower Reports with
Chicago’s Best Wildflower Hikes & Outdoor Adventures”

Plan Your Spring Wildflower Walk This Weekend!

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Wildflower highlights to help you plan your spring outdoor adventure into Chicago’s woodlands:

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. I’m in the midst of comparing this presumed olfactory resemblance with a side-by-side test. I’ll provide the report in a later post, and I encourage you to do the same. Take the cereal out on your bluebell hike and let me know your thoughts. The flower is reaching peak bloom and should continue for another week. For performances that will take your breath away, visit O’Hara Woods Preserve, Pilcher Park, and Messenger Woods.

The spectacular large-flowered trillium is blooming at at Messenger Woods, the woodland connected to Fermilab Prairie, the Heron Rookery Trail (at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore), and most likely at Harms Woods in Glenview and Captain Daniel Wright Woods in Mettawa. The elegant and understated red trillium is flowering in most of our woodlands.

The beginning of May brings an unusual explosion of wildflowers, as the late-blooming flowers of April overlap with the timely blooms of May. Currently, you’ll find many different species. Of course, the highlight of the week is the overwhelming blooms of Virginia bluebells. But if you can’t get to the best preserves to see them (above), you’ll find a lot of flowers elsewhere in the region. You’ll find the diminutive white or light-pink flowers of cutleaf toothwort, false rue anemone, spring beauty, spring cress, Dutchman’s britches, and trout lily. And I love the beautiful foliage displays of umbrella-like mayapple, spears of wild leek, the grand sprawling leaves of skunk cabbage, and the hearts of wild ginger. 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 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.

I mentioned the long emerald swords of wild leek. Research proves that this is 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.” If you pay close attention to your nose in woodlands that do not feature the fragrant bluebell, you may be able to catch its sweet onion scent. Then imagine what the smell would have been like a couple hundred years ago when thousands of these plants grew along the flowing waters. Chicagoua!

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

The order of the preserves below is based on the quality of the wildflower experience, starting out with the best. The top preserves this week feature the Virginia bluebells. Also 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.

O’Hara Woods Preserve in Romeoville: See the Virginia bluebells without having to deal with the flooding, though you still want to wear boots on the side trails. The preserve was once 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 being taken over by woodland plants. Right now, white flowers of cutleaf toothwort are in full explosion, like sparklers across the woodland floor. Walk towards the stream along the south end of the preserve, and you’ll find Dutchman’s breeches (that look like white, puffy overalls), spring beauties, skunk cabbage, and wild leek (Chicago’s namesake), and soon-to-bloom Virginia bluebells.

Pilcher Park Nature Center in Joliet: This is a great preserve to visit, especially if you have kids. They have a nature center with animals on display and the the best maintained trails of those 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, but it’s at the end of its run. 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. In the same place and anywhere you find muddy spot, look for the large fanning foliage of skunk cabbage. They’re hard to miss. This preserve is also one of the best places to experience a see vastitude of Virginia bluebells, which should be peaking this weekend. Bluebells also like the mud. So, look for them along banks of the creek.

Black Partridge Woods in Lemont: I cannot express the beauty of this place, even though there aren’t as many flowers to see. It’s mostly green. And that is its magic! This preserve makes me happy because of its lushness and its many shades and patterns of emerald foliage from mayapple, wild leek, skunk cabbage, and the heart-shaped leaves of wild ginger. And right now, you’ll also find shimmers of white sparkling amongst the greenery coming mainly from false rue anemone, though you’ll find cutleaf toothwort, spring beauty, and the occasional Dutchman’s breechesVirginia bluebells are at full peak, but not in great expanses.

Raccoon Grove Nature Preserve in Monee: The floral biodiversity and intensity of green is breathtaking. You’ll find nice strips of Virginia bluebells along the creek, if it’s not flooded, but my favorite display are the mayapple foliage. The foliage of wild leek also adds to the mix of spring beauty Dutchman’s breeches, false rue anemone, and surprisingly large colonies of flowering white trout lily.

Heron Rookery Trail at Indiana Dunes National Park: You should go to see the sublime display of large-flowered trillium at peak bloom! This newly minted national park offers the greatest density of native plants in the entire national park system and, quite possibly, the nation. On your visit, you’ll also find sparkles of false rue anemone, Dutchman’s breeches, and a few remaining blooms of cutleaf toothwort and spring beauty. Also look for flowers of yellow trout lily occasionally poking up above its carpet of spotted trout-like leaves. The lush, green springtime experience is further enhanced by the spreading foliage of mayapple and wild leek.

Messenger Woods in Homer Glen: This preserve was unscouted this week, which is why it’s at the bottom of our list. (Please help us by becoming an official nature scout. Learn more here.) It’s possible that the bridge leading to the bluebells and the sublime white large-flowered trillium is under water. If you go, wear high boots. You should also experience carpets of fresh foliage and blooming ephemerals throughout. The most common flowers in bloom are spring beautycutleaf toothwortDutchman’s breeches, and false rue anemone, There are patches of large-flowered trillium that are probably at peak bloom.

GO, IF YOU’RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD:

Pembroke Savanna in Hopkins Park: Visit for the vast display of birdfoot violet throughout the preserve and a smattering of sand phlox and wild strawberry.

Fermilab Prairie woodland (Fermilab Natural Areas) in Batavia: We rated this “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood” because the flowers are not as fully bloomed and the trail is also quite muddy. The yet-to-flower mayapple is stealing the show here. However, you should be able to find the gorgeous large-flowered trillium alongside red trillium, spring beauty Dutchman’s breeches, the occasional large-flowered bellwort, and possibly swamp buttercup. The prairie is showing sprouting foliage of golden Alexander, the red-leafed wood betony, and the sublime shooting star.

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: The highlight of your hike will be the golden blooms of marsh marigold growing in the wet areas, which is also where skunk cabbage thrives. You’ll find the gorgeous birdfoot violet scattered about. And, in the savanna, look for false rue anemone and colonies of mayapple.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates: Go for the beautiful birdfoot violet and the start of hoary puccoon in the prairie and the dense forest of mayapple under the trees.

Somme Prairie Grove woodland in Northbrook (UNSCOUTED): Last week, you would have found a carpet of spring beauty with some nice patches of  cutleaf toothwort. We also found bloodroot, false rue anemone, and white trout lily. Red trillium is not yet blooming. And wood betony is just showing its reddish foliage at the moment.

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 breath. Many say that the flower emits 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

At the end of April or the beginning of May, Virginia bluebells bloom in profusion along the creek at Raccoon Grove in Monee, Illinois.*

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.*

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 Park, large-flowered white trillium is at peak bloom. It’s a magnificent sight.*

Red Trillium can be seen at many of our woodlands:

Red trillium and setting sun.*

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

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.*

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.*

The Hidden Flowers of Mayapple and Wild Ginger:

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.*

At Black Partridge Woods, the green foliage is the star of the springtime show. Here you see the heart-shaped leaves of wild ginger alongside a blooming mayapple. The flowers of both plants can be found hiding beneath the leaves. Both plants will begin their bloom soon.*

Cutleaf toothwort can still be found 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.

* 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 Wildflower Report & News – 04/26/2019

Posted by on 11:37 am in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Spring Wildflower Report & News – 04/26/2019

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
April 26, 2019

“Plan your Chicago spring outdoor adventure
with our weekly Chicago wildflower reports.”

Welcome to the first official post of the 2019 season!

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




Wildflower highlights to help you plan your spring outdoor adventure into Chicago’s woodlands:

It’s the end of April and, finally, spring has arrived with a celebration of delicate wildflowers in many of Chicago’s woodlands. The first flowers to bloom are plentiful, but they are also diminutive. But bend down and take a closer look. You’ll be marveled by their intricate beauty. At the moment, most of the springtime flowers are flowering white (or a light pink), like cutleaf toothwort, spring beautyfalse rue anemone, spring cress, Dutchman’s breeches, and bloodroot. Marsh marigold is still in bloom at Pilcher Park, Bluff Spring Fen, and at McClaughry Springs Woods in Palos Park (by the parking lot across the stream). In some woodlands, you’ll find the shy yellow bloom of large-flowered bellwort. Also, red trillium is beginning its understated run in our high-quality woodlands. And let’s not forget the bright green leaves of spring. The umbrella leaves of mayapple are looking great, along with the think spears of wild leek and the sprawling leaves of skunk cabbage. And finally, the Virginia Bluebell is just beginning to flower, but we don’t expect peak bloom until later next week or the weekend of May 4. The sea of blue is the most breathtaking event of early spring.

Now 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 WILDFLOWER GETAWAY AROUND CHICAGO:

The order of the preserves below is based on the quality of the wildflower experience, starting out with the best.

Raccoon Grove Nature Preserve in Monee: This is my favorite preserve of the week. I visited Raccoon Grove on Earth Day, April 22, and I was impressed with the whitish pink expanse of spring beauty and myriad of other spring wildflowers, including Dutchman’s breeches, false rue anemone, and surprisingly large colonies of flowering white trout lily. And then there’s the jade hues and patterns of wild leek and mayapple that beautifully add to the mix. This preserve will soon offer a nice display of Virginia bluebells, but not an overwhelming ocean.

Heron Rookery Trail at Indiana Dunes National Park: You should go to see the sublime display large-flowered trillium at peak bloom! This newly minted national park offers the greatest density of native plants in the entire national park system and, quite possibly, the nation. On your visit, you’ll also find sparkles of false rue anemone, Dutchman’s breeches, and a few remaining blooms of cutleaf toothwort and spring beauty. Also look for flowers of yellow trout lily occasionally poking up above its carpet of spotted trout-like leaves. The lush, green springtime experience is further enhanced by the spreading foliage of mayapple and wild leek. Thanks to Laura Brennan, ranger at Indiana Dunes National Park, for phoning in her report to me.

O’Hara Woods Preserve in Romeoville: The preserve was once 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 being taken over by woodland plants. Right now, white flowers of cutleaf toothwort are in full explosion, like sparklers across the woodland floor. Walk towards the stream along the south end of the preserve, and you’ll find Dutchman’s breeches (that look like white, puffy overalls), spring beauties, skunk cabbage, and wild leek (Chicago’s namesake), and soon-to-bloom Virginia bluebells. This should be the top preserve to visit next weekend when I predict Virginia bluebells. to be at peak bloom.

Pilcher Park Nature Center in Joliet: This is a great preserve to visit, especially if you have kids. They have a nature center with animals on display and the the best maintained trails of those 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, but it’s at the end of its run. 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. In the same place and anywhere you find muddy spot, look for the large fanning foliage of skunk cabbage. They’re hard to miss. This preserve is also one of the best places to experience a see vastitude of Virginia bluebells, which should be at peak during the weekend of May 4. Bluebells also like the mud. So, look for them along banks of the creek.

Black Partridge Woods in Lemont: This preserve makes me happy because of its lushness and its many shades and patterns of emerald foliage, especially wild leek, mayapple, the glorious leaves skunk cabbage, and the small heart-shaped leaves of wild ginger.. And right now, you’ll also find shimmers of white sparkling amongst the greenery coming mainly from cutleaf toothwort, along with some false rue anemone, spring beauty, and the occasional Dutchman’s breechesVirginia bluebells are present, but not in great expanses. They should begin their bloom this weekend.

Messenger Woods in Homer Glen: This preserve is always provides that green and luxuriant feeling of spring. Currently, you’ll see a carpet of fresh foliage and blooming ephemerals throughout. The most common flowers in bloom are spring beauty cutleaf toothwortDutchman’s breeches, and false rue anemone, In the uplands, I also spotted several patches of the sublime white large-flowered trillium, only days away from bloom. This preserve was known nationwide for its vast display of bluebells, which will probably reach peak bloom by the May 4th weekend.

Fermilab Prairie woodland (Fermilab Natural Areas) in Batavia: We rated this “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood” because the flowers are just starting out, as opposed to the warmer southern preserves listed above. This beautiful woodland abuts the east side of the prairie. You’ll find many flower species that are easily viewed from the trail, which can get muddy at times. Just wear your boots. (Learn some Outdoor Tips.) The white, pink-striped spring beauty is the most prominent blooming flower. You’ll also see some nice colonies of bloodroot and white trout lily, along with cutleaf toothwort, Dutchman’s breeches, and the occasional large-flowered bellwort. Swamp buttercup, red trillium, and large-flowered trillium are not quite flowering.

Somme Prairie Grove woodland in Northbrook: Like Fermilab’s woodland, we rated this “Go, if you’re in the neighborhood” because the flowers are just starting out. You’ll find a carpet of spring beauty with some nice patches of  cutleaf toothwort. We also found bloodroot, false rue anemone, and white trout lily. Red trillium is not yet blooming. And wood betony is just showing its reddish foliage at the moment.

 

PHOTO SECTION

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 (catch it before it goes away for another year):

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.

Wow! Large-flowered Trillium is in PEAK BLOOM at Indiana Dunes National Park:

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 Park, large-flowered white trillium is at peak bloom. It’s a magnificent sight.*

Red Trillium is just starting to bloom and 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 ending their blooms:

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. They can also be found at Bluff Spring Fen, Pilcher Park Nature Center, and Black Partridge Woods.*

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.*