Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rosin Weed

Rosin Weed

Silphium integrifolium

3' tall
Up to 4' wide as clump spreads
Leaves are rough and sandpapery to the touch

Indian Grass

Indian Grass
Sorghastrum nutans
Foliage 4' to 5' tall
Flower and seed plume 5' to 6' tall
This plume is in full flower. Each tiny yellow droplet is a tubular flower. They vibrate in the wind.

Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan

Rudbeckia fulgida

2' tall
Long Blooming
Short lived plant that needs to be reseeded in the landscape

Prairie Dropseed

Prairie Dropseed
Sporobolus heterolepsis
Foliage is 24" to 30" long but arches for form a mound only 12" to 18" tall.
Flower and seed are airy and 24" to 30" tall on a thin stiff stem.
Grown as a monoculture, it makes a good lawn supstitute, but needs paths through it, because each plant forms a tussock so it is a bit difficult to walk through.
Also called Northern Dropseed

Mountain Mint

Mountain mint

Pyncanthemum virginianum

18" to 24" tall
Fine foliage in fine straight stem
Fragrant foliage

Spreading airy plant

Attractive to a great many pollinators such that the plants can be abuzz with life:  Bees, bumblebees, wasps, flies, butteflies, clearwing moths.  Often visited by beautiful blue mud dauber wasps.

Getting There

Sometimes you just have to go through a little mud and dirt to get to that prairie remnant!

Summer Scene

Mix of yellow coneflower, rosin weed, prairie dock with bur oaks and shelter belt trees at horizon.

Prairie at Dusk

Prairie Vista

What Is This?

Taken in mid August, this plant has a late flower and a developing seed pod. The leaf is a compound leaf with many paired tiny leaflets.

Bur Oak

Bur Oak

Quercus macrocarpa

70' tall
90' wide

Prairies are kept free of trees and shrubs by prairie fires. The fire kills a woody plant not by burning it but by boiling the water in the vascular system near the surface of the thin bark. This oak seedling would be killed or at least knocked back by a fire. It might sprout back from the root. If there is no fire for a number of years, maybe 5 to 10, the tree sapling will develop a corky bark about an inch thick thick enough to insulate the the tiny water carrying tubes just below its surface from the fire and the tree will continue to thrive.

Illinois Bundleflower

Illinois bundleflower

3' tall
but flops over for lower effect
'Bundleflower' actually refers to this, the seed head, made up of tiny pods curled together
Actual flower is iny white ball

Yellow Coneflower

Yellow coneflower

Ratibida pinnata

4' tall

Flower attractive to butterflies
Fragrant seed head
Loved by songbirds

What Is This?

Mid August
Clusters of flowers
Compound leaf
More than 3 parts
Maroon petals
Substantial petals
Pink outside of unopened flowers

Two Oaks and Beebalm Meadow

Bee balm
Monarda fistulosa
2' tall
fragrant foliage
also called wild bergamot, Oswego tea
square stem shows membership in mint family
attracts many pollinators including butterflies

Rattlesnake Master

Rattlesnake master

Eryngium yuccifolium
Foliage waxy blue 2' tall
Flower 3' tall

Compass Rose

The compass rose
in the stone floor of the
Morton Arboretum
Sculenburg Prairie
Visitor Kiosk

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pale Indian Plantain

Pale Indian Plantain

Cacalia atriplicifolia

5' tall
Red to purple waxy coated stem



Vernonia fasciculata
4' to 5' tall

Modern House in the Prairie

Monday, August 25, 2008

Compass Plant

Compass Plant

Silphium lacineatum
Leaves to 30 inches high
Flower stalk to 48 inches high.
Studies of mature prairie found roots of this plant extending over 35 feet deep down into the prairie subsoils.
Leaves align their edges north and south to take advantage of morning and late afternoon sun but avoid midday sun. This is a water conservation attempt, so mature plants that have deep enough roots no longer need to align their leaves to conserve moisture.

Tall Coreopsis

Tall coreopsis
Coreopsis tripteris

5' tall

Indian Grass with Forbs

Indian Grass
Sorghastrum nutans
5' tall
Upright form good for landscaping
Bright rusty tan flower head followed by pale tan seed plume.
Compass plant in foreground and tall coreopsis in background.

Urban Prairie Dock

Prairie Dock

Silphium terebinthinaceum

Thick stiff sturdy basal rosette of sandpapery leaves about 2'tall
Wiry airy flower stalks that bob in the wind like a mobile sculpture with brilliant yellow blossoms in summer and seed heads in fall and winter that are favorites of songbirds.

Urban Rattlesnake Master

Rattlesnake master
30" tall with a lower basal clump of bluegreen foliage
Sculptural branched heads of spherical flowers
Contrastiing white to the black fence

Urban Rosinweed

Rosinweed used as landscaping with switchgrass
Silphium integrifolium
3' tall
Yellow flowers in August
Stiff stocky plant that holds up well
Seed heads loved by songbirds later

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Prairie Dock

Prairie Dock

Silphium terebinthinaceum
Basal leaf cluster 2' tall
Flower stalk 7' tall

A cool plant that kids find interesting

Goldenrod Gall

Immature gall on goldenrod resembing a seedpod
Harbors the larvea of a wasp

Mildweed Pod




2' tall

Bright yellow plumes

Early August

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Butterfly Milkweed with Solitary Bee

Butterfly Milkweed

Asclepias tuberosa

2' tall
Brilliant orange flowers followed by narrow pointed pod
Favorite of pollinators

This one has a tiny native solitary bee