by Carl Strang

One has to be a decent field botanist to do restoration work. This thought took me back to Mayslake Forest Preserve’s little stream yesterday. I had photographed an intriguing legume, following up a comment by Mayslake’s restoration volunteers that indigo bush was growing there. As it turned out, I put 2 and 2 together and got 3. The legume I photographed proved (thanks again to Scott Namestnik of the Handlens and Binoculars blog) to be wild senna, as I reported a couple days ago. I have not known Jacqui Gleason and Conrad Fialkowski to be wrong about a plant, so I needed to return and be sure. My eye was drawn to this spindly shrub.

Superficially it resembled a young willow beside the stream.

Close up, though, it had some strange fruits attached to its tip.

I recognized these as indigo bush fruits from my review of photos on the Internet.

And so indeed there are both the wild senna and the indigo bush growing beside the stream: two legumes new to my experience, not just one after all. And now there can be no confusing the two. One is a shrub, the other has herbaceous stems. Not only are the fruits different in shape, they are different in size as well. Senna pods are about 4 inches long. Indigo bush pods are half an inch long at most. So now I have two flowers to look forward to, one bright yellow and one purple.


  1. February 10, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Very nice!

  2. June 12, 2012 at 5:58 am

    […] shrub that was new to me over the winter (when I featured its tiny pods) now is in bloom. How did I miss this spectacular plant in previous years? My excuse is that the […]

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