Picturing the Prairie Series
Plant Science & Conservation
Pondering the Prairie Series Life in the prairie in the middle of winter is fairly uneventful; at least for humans who focus primarily on life above ground. Perhaps now is a good time to reflect on the diversity of life in a prairie below ground.
Pondering the Prairie Series Did I mention Gentian? If I didn’t, I should have. These are the stars of the autumn prairie. If you're lucky, you may stumble upon a prairie gentian (Gentiana puberulenta). You’ll find them among the myriad of pale blues, whites, and violets of the dominant fall asters, many of them blooming throughout October. Look for bottle and cream gentians in the Garden’s Dixon Prairie or elsewhere.
Pondering the Prairie Series Black-eyed Susans are among the most recognizable and beloved wildflowers, but there are a few things you may not know about them. For one thing, there are several wild species of Rudbeckia growing in the region and several cultivars with bigger and/or fancier flowers that have been developed for people’s gardens.
Pondering the Prairie Series A weevil is a type of beetle. It typically has an elongated head that appears as a snout. In fact, its other name is snout beetle. Weevils, or snout beetles, make up what many believe to be the largest family of insects in the world—estimated at almost 40,000 species. The majority live in and around plants, and feed on plants and various plant parts.
You may have noticed more garlic mustard in your garden, yard, or alley this year. The ecologists who tend to the Chicago Botanic Garden’s natural areas have, too. We had not seen much garlic mustard in our natural areas in recent years, and its reemergence is a reminder for all of us that controlling and managing invasive species is an ongoing challenge.
Perhaps you noticed the spiderwort, with its striking royal blue flowers, in the Dixon Prairie as part of the perimeter walk of the Garden. Or did you say cow slobbers? Whatever you call it, Tradescantia ohiensis is just one of the prairie plants that has a unique story to tell.
There are some remarkable prairie plants in the Midwest. Here at the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Dixon Prairie boasts more than 250 species of native plants. You don’t have to go far to find plants that have something interesting or unique about their life story. Something that might help you remember them when you happen upon them in a local natural area. Something other than a pretty face. Dodecatheon meadia: A Must-see of the Prairie