Plant List Additions

by Carl Strang

Though I have been at Mayslake Forest Preserve for several seasons now, and it has only 90 acres, I continue to find new species of plants. Some of this comes from whittling away at my botanical ignorance, some from needing time to stumble upon those species that are relatively rare there, and some from new species being introduced. The last category has been largely from findings at the restored friary site, which we’ll visit later in the week. The first category has come largely from my diving into the grasses, sedges and rushes. Here’s one that confused me for a time.

Superficially it resembled the bulrushes of genus Scirpus, but despite being fairly common and widespread at Mayslake it matched none of the bulrushes in Swink & Wilhelm’s regional reference.

Eventually I turned to other groups, and with great relief learned it was the common rush, a Juncus. Last week I found a grass that may occur in only one little spot on the preserve, and so it fit into two of the categories.

This is fowl manna grass, a distinctive species growing in a little intermittent trench above the stream.

Another species, common regionally but with few individuals at Mayslake, is the common carrion flower.

This is a thornless member of genus Smilax. Its thorny relatives are called by the colorful name “blasphemy weed” in some parts of the country.

A 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 several indigo bushes were buried in other vegetation along the stream, but now have been freed by the restoration team.

I expect my wild plants list for Mayslake to top 300 species before this season is done.

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