Mid-Summer Flowers

by Carl Strang

As this season continues its early flowering phenology, already we are seeing blooms typical of the middle of summer. A classic example is the prairie blazing star.

These began blooming at Mayslake Forest Preserve last week.

My off-trail exploration recently turned up a colony of helleborine orchids.

Previously I had seen only one individual of this non-native orchid in another part of the preserve.

Last week I found the wild sennas flowering. I had anticipated this since noticing fruiting ones last winter.

This tall legume is growing along the stream.

At last the friary site is showing patches of native species, if somewhat weedy ones.

Most of the plants here are black-eyed Susan and Canada wild rye.

Restoration steward Conrad Fialkowski had pointed out a patch of fringed loosestrife last year after they were done blooming. This year I got to see the flowers.

The fringes, which don’t show in this photo, are along the edges of the leaf petioles.

Another plant new to my preserve list I found near the stream corridor marsh last week.

Monkey flower grows in relatively wet soils.

More plant species ultimately mean more animal species and a greater ecological redundancy, which supports community stability.

Parade of Weeds Continues

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.

Helleborine orchid 1b

Thanks to the dense, competitive meadows and prairies I have, so far, found only one common mullein plant on the preserve.

Common mullein 2b

Chickory can tolerate some shade, and so has done better.

Chickory b

Thanks to the former residents of the friary, Mayslake has to be the oregano capital of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.

Oregano b

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.

QA lace 2b

So far there have been two sow thistle species flowering at Mayslake, the common sow thistle

Common sow thistle b

and spiny sow thistle.

Spiny sow thistle 2b

Vying for the honor of most beautiful tiny flower is the Deptford pink, relative of carnations.

Deptford pink b

The white sweet clover now is blooming abundantly, starting well after its yellow-flowered relative.

White sweet clover 1b

Common milkweed, weedy in its life history strategy but a native species, has been a bumblebee and butterfly magnet.

Common milkweed 1b

Another native, famed food of pop music’s “Poke Salad Annie,” is the pokeweed.

Pokeweed b

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 1b

Purple loosestrife can become a serious problem in wetlands.

%d bloggers like this: