Spring Ephemerals near Thorn Creek

Spring is a wonderful time to visit the new parcels on Brookside Drive in Park Forest. These parcels were acquired at the August 2012 Will County property tax sale and are now owned by LCWC. The photographs illustrate some of the spring ephemerals that bloom as the leaves begin to appear on trees and shrubs. They are the spring beauties of our woodland habitats. For more information on spring ephemerals, visit: http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/ .
Messenger Woods nature preserve in Homer Glen is another great local place to view these spring wildflowers. Go quickly, though, as they begin blooming around Mothers’ Day and don’t last long!

Sessile Trillium

Sessile Trillium

Sessille Trillium (Trillium sessile) is a beautiful plant named for the three leaves on the plant, as well as the three petals on the rather unpleasant-smelling flower. “Sessile” refers to the fact that the flower has no stalk. Other common names include sessile wake-robin and toadshade.

 

Jack in the Pulpit and Wild Ginger

Jack in the Pulpit and Wild Ginger

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) and Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense reflexum) are two more really interesting spring flowers. Jack-in-the-Pulpit has a very unique flower that is composed of a spathe (the cylindrical tube) with the actual flowers crowded around a stalk in the center referred to as a spadix. In the fall, you can see the fruit of this plant, a cluster of bright red berry-like fruits on a stalk.

Wild Ginger is one of my favorite plants. It has a very inconspicuous burgundy colored flower that hides under the heart-shaped leaves. While the crushed root (and to some extent the leaves) smells strongly like the ginger often used in cooking, the two plants are not related. It was, however, used as a cooking seasoning by Native American people.

 

Wild Geraniums

Wild Geraniums

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) is lovely pink flower with large leaves. It is related to the bright red conventional geraniums that are often found in garden centers. Native Americans had many medicinal uses for this plant.

 

Woodland Phlox

Woodland Phlox along the shore of Thorn Creek

Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata) is another cute woodland flower that is very common in the springtime. With 5 sky-blue petals and bright green foliage, this striking plant is a joy to see in the springtime.