Wildflowers at Carillon Stonegate Pond: 2020 Highlights
As we start this new year - and try to put 2020 behind us, I thought that a glance at several of the newly identified wildflowers or simply some favorites from last year would make for a good transition and to walk away from 2020 with some positive images of the flora around Carillon Stonegate Ponds.
WILD BERGAMOT. This beautiful lavender wildflower is found in abundance around Carillon Stonegate Pond. It is a summer bloomer that provides a field of lavender tubular flowers into the early fall. And, as a good source of nectar, the Wild Bergamot attracts hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and, shown below, Hummingbird Clearwing Moths. And, in very late summer, American Goldfinches feast on its seeds.
RATTLESNAKE MASTER. The Rattlesnake Master is a unique plant. Upon your first encounter, you will find it to be startlingly different than most other native plant forms. Although it is called Rattlesnake Master, I could find nothing that suggests snakes of any kind are attracted to it. It must be that the flower cone-shaped head is similar to the rattle at the end of a rattlesnake. These whitish green balls contain numerous small white flowers that are individually surrounded by prickly bracts. The flower heads turn purplish in the fall. This plant was found in the restored prairie at Stonegate West park.
CUT LEAF TEASEL. Another unique find during the summer was the Cut Leaf Teasel - actually - an invasive weed. During the first year, this plant consists only of a low rosette of long, basal leaves. It is during the second year that the Cut Leaf Teasel develops stems. Each stem terminates into a long, cylindrical spike consisting of hundreds of tiny white flowers that typically bloom from the bottom of the spike up from mid-summer into fall. The Cut Leaf Teasel is a "monocarpic" perennial - flowers and produces seed only once in a lifetime before dying. The seeds will start the process again. This plant was found in the restored prairie at Stonegate West park.
SWAMP ROSE. When a flower has the word "swamp" in its name, your expectations may be low. But the Swamp Rose was a sight to see. The Swamp Rose is a tall shrub that has branching woody, reddish green stems. As with most roses, there are prickles or thorns on the stems. The flowers, which appear in late spring and early summer, are a dark rose-pink or light pink with contrasting yellow center stamens. While the Swamp Rose’s flowers are showy, they are short-lived. It is usually an indicator species of high quality wetlands such as the Arlene Shoemaker wetlands preserve (a Kane County Forest Preserve site) where these were found.
BUTTERFLY WEED. The Butterfly Weed is perhaps the showiest of the milkweeds because of the long-lasting and colorful orange cluster of flowers. The blooming period of the Butterfly Weed usually occurs from May through September. The flower nectar attracts bees, wasps, and butterflies. Among the butterflies attracted to the Butterfly Weed are Swallowtails and Monarchs. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is also attracted to the flowers. These plants were found in the restored prairie at Stonegate West.