Category: Northeast Chapter

Plants with Stomachs

Somewhere in a lake near you, in a shallow bay, grows a floating plant with pouchlike sacs on its leaflets. The sacs each have a “spring- loaded” trap door that can open and shut in a fraction of a second. The “triggers” are hairs, known as “trichomes” in plants, around the mouth of the sac.…
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New Illustrated Botanical Glossary for the Flora of the Chicago Region

Glossary text by Gerould Wilhelm & Laura RerichaGlossary illustrations by Kathleen Marie Garness An excellent new illustrated botanical glossary was recently published by the Conservation Research Institute and Indiana Academy of Science. It is a freely available companion to the Flora of the Chicago Region (2017), written by Gerould Wilhelm and Laura Rericha. This new…
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White snakeroot (Ageratina altissima)

Ageratina altissima, or white snakeroot, is the only species of its genus found in the Chicagoland region, but it is widespread, even weedy. (The more than 300 species in the genus Ageratina mainly occur in the warmer regions of the Americas and West Indies.) White snakeroot is an herbaceous perennial around 1.5-3’ tall with opposite,…
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Our Native Lilies-of-the-valley

When visiting prairie fens, oak savannas, and woodlands this time of year, you may encounter flowering Maianthemum stellatum (previously Smilacina stellata); its common names include star-flowered lily-of-the-valley and starry false Solomon’s seal. Its name derives from its showy, white flowers, which are replaced by striped green berries that ripen into a deep red later in…
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Karen Johnson Celebrates Life’s Diversity in her Art

The curled up fingers of a dried compass plant leaf, moody blue-gray clouds hanging low over yellowed grasses, a formation of sandhill cranes migrating across a partly cloudy sky. These are some of the observations made in natural science illustrator Karen Johnson’s sketchbook, and which she shares on her Instagram (@karensnatureart) and at karensnatureart.com. Living…
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Violets: Ant’s dream or taxonomist’s nightmare?

Small but formidable, frustrating the manicured lawn gardener and the native plant enthusiast alike: it’s the genus Viola, the violets. More than two dozen violet species have been recorded in our area and the violet was named the state flower of Illinois. But which one? The school children tasked with deciding the state flower in…
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Hosah Park: A Hidden Jewel Under Threat

Four and a half years ago I ran into Ken Klick, restoration ecologist for Lake County Forest Preserves, at Illinois Beach State Park. Ken was headed up to do some rare plant monitoring at Hosah Park and invited me to join him. I had been to Hosah a few years before on a Habitat 2030…
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Climate Change and Starflower in the Midwest

The Illinois Native Plant Society Research Fund was developed to promote the conservation of Illinois native plants and communities through scientific research. llinois is nicknamed “The Prairie State,” but many woodland species also make their home here, visible in our forest preserves and other natural areas. One of these species is starflower (Lysimachia borealis), an…
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Spiranthes on the Moon

What ecological potential can a former steel processing site hold? The answer is being explored at Big Marsh Park in the Calumet Region on Chicago’s Far Southeast Side. Dr. Lauren Umek, an ecologist and project manager with the Chicago Park District, gave an overview of the site’s history and possible future during the INPS Northeast…
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Mid-Summer Field Trip to Montrose Beach Dunes: Plants (Almost) Upstaged by Piping Plovers

Sixteen participants had the great privilege of visiting Montrose Beach Dunes on July 16 under the guidance of its longtime and very knowledgeable site steward.  Montrose Beach Dunes development began in the early 1990s when Lake Michigan’s water level dropped to a historic low, creating a much wider beach soon colonized by plants  such as…
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