by Carl Strang
It’s time to update the list of newly flowering weeds at Mayslake Forest Preserve, following the broad definition of non-natives, undesirables, and species which gain high reproductive rates and dispersal by trading off competitive ability and lifespan.
I’ll begin with a surprise. I was crossing a wooded area and looked down to see an orchid. But it turned out to be our only non-native orchid, the helleborine.
Thanks to the dense, competitive meadows and prairies I have, so far, found only one common mullein plant on the preserve.
Chickory can tolerate some shade, and so has done better.
Thanks to the former residents of the friary, Mayslake has to be the oregano capital of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.
Not only is there a huge patch of this herb in the old friary garden, outliers have spread as far as the meadow west of the off-leash dog area. Last winter I wrote about the interesting dispersal mechanism for Queen Anne’s lace . Here it is in bloom.
So far there have been two sow thistle species flowering at Mayslake, the common sow thistle
and spiny sow thistle.
Vying for the honor of most beautiful tiny flower is the Deptford pink, relative of carnations.
The white sweet clover now is blooming abundantly, starting well after its yellow-flowered relative.
Common milkweed, weedy in its life history strategy but a native species, has been a bumblebee and butterfly magnet.
Another native, famed food of pop music’s “Poke Salad Annie,” is the pokeweed.
Once it’s this big, though, it’s poisonous. I’ll finish with a real undesirable, which I have been finding scattered around the preserve’s northern meadows.
Purple loosestrife can become a serious problem in wetlands.