Author: Henry "Weeds" Eilers

Plant Profiles: In Defense of ‘Weeds’ (Native ones!)

Better start out with a definition of ‘weeds’ first. That means something quite different, whether you are an industrial farmer or a lawn obsessed suburbanite. Even polling our readers might yield wildly different definitions! One of my few favorite Facebook pages is ‘Illinois Botany’. Some visitors to the site barely know the difference between dandelions…
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Plant Profile: A Glimpse of the Distant Past

After a hiatus of several years I have again be collecting seeds for the Chicago Botanical Gardens SOS Millennium Seed Bank Partnership. They issued a priority list but were looking for other species as well. Apparently, there have been few collectors for the Southern Illinois Tillplain Region.  Not all species are easy to collect, for…
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Plant Profile: Violet Wood Sorrel [Oxalis violacea]

The Chicago Botanic Garden contacted me again this spring about collecting seed for their SOS [Seeds of Success] seed-banking program.  I had done so some 5 years ago. One of my first collections was Oxalis violacea, a fairly common plant in our woodlands and barrens communities.  When the sun shines, it is very showy with…
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Plant Profile: Tree Regeneration and More

The ‘Naturalist at Large’ by the retired biology professor Bernd Heinrich is a feature in the Natural History Magazine; always a favorite of mine. In the last issue of the magazine he writes about ‘The Lives of Trees in the Forest [Growing up in a tough neighborhood]’. Last year in his northern New England woods…
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Plant Profile: Lobelia spicata

A nice colony of Pale-spike Lobelia [Lobelia spicata] is in early bloom in my garden as I sit here one of the last days in June. It is a rather dainty species as compared to its well-known relatives, the robust Great Blue Lobelia and the Cardinal Flower and therefore perhaps less well known. The flower color…
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Puzzling Plant Occurences

Rare plants, unusual plants, that were some alternate headings that came to mind. This exploration is prompted by a long list of plants that I have come across over a period of time that had not previously recorded from ‘my neck of the woods’. They were often far removed from their main area of distribution.…
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Plant Profile and Peregrinations – Part 2

(Read Part 1) Provenance matters. Indian-grass is a good case in point. Mass produced range-land selections have been extensively used in Government set-aside programs far away from their origins. They do very well which is desirable in agronomic ways. Trying to enhance such plantings with prairie forbs has proven impossible—at least in the projects that…
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Plant Profile and Peregrinations

For my birthday last summer I received a reprint of a book: “Flora von Bremen, Oldenburg, Ostfriesland und der Ostfriesischen Inseln.” It was published in 1936. Some old works still resonate, many do not. This one did. First the image on the cover piqued my curiosity—a line drawing of Rice Cut-grass [Leersia oryzoides]. Really! You…
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Plant Profiles: Native Vines & Climbers

On our May/June trip to several countries in Central Europe we took advantage of the frequent opportunities to dine outdoors. Invariably there were lots of flowers and lots of  vines, especially rambling roses  in glorious and fragrant bloom, enhancing the dining experience.

PLANT PROFILES: Melanthium and More

A few weeks ago a prominent botanist stopped by to photograph Bunch Lily [Melanthium virginicum] in flower at the Shoal Creek Conservation Area. It was a bit too late for that.