Foxglove Beard Tongue and Jerusalem Artichoke in Winter

by Carl Strang

This week’s winter botany focus is on two herbaceous plants, one generally common in our area, the other less so. The common one is the foxglove beard tongue.

Foxglove beard tongue is a familiar, often abundant plant in prairies and meadows.

Foxglove beard tongue is a familiar, often abundant plant in prairies and meadows.

In winter, the stems retain their paired, sessile, pointed leaves.

The leaves can be 2 or more inches long.

The leaves can be 2 or more inches long.

The flowers produce attractive pods.

The pods retain the pointed elements of the calyx, which have turned brown.

The pods retain the pointed elements of the calyx, which have turned brown.

The stems are strong enough to stand, though I found many to have tilted.

The stems of the second plant, Jerusalem artichoke, are stronger still.

The stems reach beyond 6 feet in height.

The stems reach beyond 6 feet in height.

This plant is one of the sunflowers.

Here is a flowering head.

Here is a flowering head.

The head becomes a nice looking array of seeds in winter.

The seed heads are a bit less than an inch in diameter.

The seed heads are a bit less than an inch in diameter.

If you want to see these plants, there is a large colony of them at Mayslake Forest Preserve along the short path between the east parking lot and the off-leash dog area.

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