by Carl Strang
Today we return to winter botany, staying in a moist-soil prairie at Mayslake Forest Preserve and turning to representatives from a mix of families. I will start with a species I call the plant from Mars: rattlesnake master, a member of the carrot family.
Blue vervain, though not what I would call a cognate, is very distinctive and beautiful in its winter form.
Now we turn to species that are progressively more different from their flowering forms. Yellowish gentian is one of my favorite flowers.
In winter the plant seems to shrink and collapse, but if you squint you can see the connection.
Finally we turn to cardinal flower. In bloom, it’s a knockout:
Here I acknowledge help from restoration guru Conrad Fialkowski, who helped me find some winter plants.
Assorted points and projections from the capsule tips vaguely recall the lobular flower structure. Many more species remain to be photographed and highlighted before this winter is done.