Not all wildlife migrates south for the winter. Like people, some species acclimate to the many Midwest climate changes during the year. Here are some native Northerners enjoying the cooler days of autumn in Chicago.
Black eyed Susans, aka Rudbeckia , indicates that summer is well under way in the U.S. heartland, the prairie. Illinois is the “prairie state” yet less than 10% of virgin prairie lands remain. This piece of prairie is part of a restoration project, West Ridge Nature Preserve on Chicago’s north-east side. In Chicago one does not have to travel far to pretend they are a part of a time long ago; the stuff of good summertime daydreams.
Eastern Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron annuus) shows up voluntarily along paths and roadsides. The flowers are thumbnail sized and bloom in bouquet arrangements tempting passersby to capture their loveliness. Today I brought them home as images saved.
Earlier in the month Spiderworts (Tradescantia) were in bloom. They are perennials that tolerate both mesic and “wet feet” (to be in damp soil), so it was appropriate for them to be found near Lake Michigan’s shoreline. The leaves can be 12 inches or longer which, in this case, gently hide its opening buds. What a pleasant find during my morning adventure on the pebbly path.
Time on the beach, for me, includes checking out the plants on the inland edges. My newness to the area had me assuming that this thick, prolific mass was native to the area. Closer study has taught me this is not the case.
Natal Plum (Carissa macrocarpa) is the African relative of Florida’s native Coco Plum. Both species live on the sandy shores. Both have edible plum-like fruits. Natal Plums’s invasive character includes spine tipped leaves which are oft overlooked with focus going to their graceful year-long blooming white flowers and reddish fruit.
I first became aware of Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) when I toured a perennial farm outside of Racine Wisconsin. They recommended it as dependable, colorful addition to any perennial Midwest garden. The native plants in this image adjoin the migratory bird preserve in Lincoln Park, along Lake Michigan. Their presence, just a few blocks from our new condo, makes me feel more at home in this bustling urban neighborhood.
These images show more context of Jerusalem Artichoke to their environment and stages of bloom than the previous single image with the spider and dangling petal. Jerusalem Artichokes are one of a multitude of late-summer, early fall, sunflowers.
For those that like to eat what they grow, check out the following site: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/vegetables/growing-jerusalem-artichokes-zmaz10onzraw.
This native perennial is aptly named, Frost Aster (Symphyotrichum pilosum). It is one of the last blooming perennials in Chicago-land, ending only when a hard frost sets the stage for winter’s dormancy. The abundance of blooms is magnified by the circumstance that the plant is a rhizome, existing as spreading gatherings of the parent plant. The previous post showed the Frost Aster along the lakefront path in Lincoln Park. Those colonies lived on the side of the wall opposite of Lake Michigan, preferring the dryer environment of a gravel path.
Attention is focused as the sun momentarily spot lights this bouquet. I centered the composition, to emphasize the natural vignette around this vibrant cluster.
May frost come later than sooner.
For more information on Frost Aster: http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/weeds/plants/fr_aster.htm