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
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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Update: June 2012