Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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The Prairie
Nature Bulletin No. 30   September 1, 1945
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Clayton F. Smith, President
Roberts Mann, Superintendent of Conservation

We call this the season of Purple-and-Gold. Particularly is this descriptive of those few remnants of native prairie that still persist. Just now they have a striking characteristic. There is a high level of yellow bloom, a low level of golden bloom and, rising above the lower level, a broad band of purple that thrills you with its vibrant beauty.

The high level is made up of the flowers of Rosin-weed, the Compass Plant and the Prairie Dock. The low level is Goldenrod and Brown- eyed Susan. The purple band is Prairie Blazing Star.

The prairie is ever-changing. Fifteen days ago the Yellow Coneflower was dominant, with the Prairie Bush-clover supplying low staccato dots of reddish purple. In July your eye was struck by magenta islands of Purple Coneflower, pink islands of Prairie Phlox, the deep orange of the Butterfly-weed, and rare daubs of the red of lilies.

Originally there were two kinds of native prairie: the dry, characterized by Big Blue Stem grass; and the wet, characterized by Blue-joint grass. Cook County had a lot of both. Cook County now has but a few remnants that were never plowed, and seldom grazed or mowed. For the botanist appreciative of more than magnitude and color, to whom very tiny and rare plants are more than weeds, and for the ecologist, these prairie remnants are fascinating areas for years of study.

This is fertile land. It's corn land. The tall-grass prairies of western Ohio, Central Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and northern Missouri supply this nation with most of its corn -- the king of grain and the backbone of our agriculture.

Keep your eyes open as you drive the highways. If you are genuinely interested, we will acquaint you with some typical, spectacular examples of native Illinois prairie.

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