The woodlands are in full bloom right now, and I have heard from several of you about what you are seeing on your hikes. Thank you.
With the Kankakee River State Park back open it is nice to see some of my favorites like Virginia bluebells and blue-eyed Mary in person again.
I have also been hiking the prairies at Kankakee Sands trying to get to know my new project areas.
The prairie usually lags behind the woodlands for a few weeks unless there is something special.
Kankakee Sands has several unique plants, but one exceptional species is in full glorious bloom right now.
Painted cup or Indian paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea) is scattered across the Illinois in moist black soil prairies, hill prairies and sand prairies.
I rarely ever come across paintbrush unless I’m in a high-quality natural area.
This species is a hemiparasite, which means it has a root system that absorbs nutrients from surrounding plants. Like other hemiparasites it plays an important role in creating vital prairie structure. I am excited to study it further.
The beautiful colors of red, orange and yellow is how this plant gets its name but what you’re seeing is not the flower but instead colorful bracts. The true greenish yellow flower is buried within those bracts.
This plant can be found blooming in late April and May in our area.