Chicory (Cichorium intybus) graces the walls edge along Lincoln Park’s lakefront pathway. I call this plant by its nickname, “Cornflower“. Typical of many plant names both Chicory and Cornflower identify several unique species. Chicory shown here is an invasive Eurasian weed. Its cheerful blue flower is a welcome sight along an otherwise gray-toned location.
This is a member of the lovely vining Morning Glory family, opening its blossoms as the morning light highlights its beauty. However, this species is one of those non-native, Eurasian varieties that is a dreaded invasive visitor in American gardens. Known as Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) I enjoyed taking its portrait during a morning bike ride along a Lake Michigan pathway in Lincoln Park, far from any cultivated gardens. They appeared a fair distance from a prairie restoration area and were isolated from the golf course by a stone wall making their appearance more tolerable to the native purist. This Bind Weed did emulate its name wrapping around other vegetation proliferating this informal, unplanned area of horticulture.
First impressions are that this plant is a native of the Midwest prairie. It’s sturdy, upright; six foot presence seems to echo the perennial strength of native prairie plants. Yet, Cutleaf Teasel is one of many invasive species, whose homeland is Europe.
Cutleaf teasel (Dipsacus laciniatus) is one of the non-native plants in this restored prairie. This land, adjacent to Cook County Forest Preserve’s Linne Woods, was reclaimed by the CCFP after use by the Deep Tunnel project which created pipeline for Lake Michigan water use by western suburbs of Chicago.
Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) Two of a kind, both invasive ivies found in gardens and woodlands. Poison Ivy is a bedfellow to any plants in a garden bed; but it is frequently found partnering with Virginia Creeper. The leaves are distinct. The Virginia Creeper has five leaves, each edged with many continuous teeth. Poison Ivy has the tell-tale leaves of three which have few teeth.
Their colorings and leaf sizes are very similar, so first impressions often fail to recognize these dual characters in a groundcover or ivy covered trunk. Often their difference is discovered only after passing through, when Poison Ivy’s irritating personality is revealed.
“Parthenocissus” literally means “virgin ivy”. Virginia Creeper and Poison Ivy together is another example that so often in life the innocent and the not-so innocent are intertwined.
Bark beetle is a collective term for a variety of insects that tend to infiltrate trees with dead or dying bark and may inhabit stressed or weak trees insuring their demise. The biggest problem is that some beetles may attack live healthy trees nearby; so any infected dead trees should be removed as quickly as beetles are observed. University of Illinois Urban Extension names two beetles that might be responsible for the tracks in these images. They don’t mention attacks on Oak trees explicitly, but Maple, Mulberry and Serviceberry surround our forest’s Oak. The Oak trees would be the original residents of this natural savannah wetland. Some trees were planted decades ago to define the area as forest. Other trees were “volunteers” as my sister would say, establishing themselves from carried or blown seeds. So if the beetles were originally attracted to either of these neighbors then it’s reasonable to assume that they continued their existence using the stressed or dying Oak in the same space.
It’s unclear which of the two beetles that IU’s Urban Extension site notes is responsible for the marks on these trees. Or it could be tracks from some other inhabitant.
- There are numerous beetles that attack bark on trees and thus are categorized as bark beetles. Almost any tree is attacked by bark beetles, particularly that part that is dead or dying. Shothole borer (Scolytus rugulosus) attacks dead and stressed trees. It infests most fruit trees, serviceberry, ornamental fruit trees, mountain ash, elm, and mulberry. Corthylus spp. attack maples, dogwood, sasafras, azaleas, rhododendron and other plants.
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Witches Candle is an apropos name for Great Mullein (Verbascum thapsu) with its single, sturdy flower stalk rising high above its neighbors. The dense long hairs on the leaves yield a wooly presence inviting it to be called Lambs tongues by other viewers. To the naturalist it is a European weed, capable of producing 100,000 seeds per plant which are able to lie dormant for up to one hundred years. So not too surprising it found its way into this restored prairie. Makes me wonder what other uninvited guests lie within this labored area.