Spring has arrived and Mother Nature is bursting with color and sound! Every year during springtime, you’ll see our crews out planting seeds, pulling weeds, and spot-treating early-season invasive species. Common invaders best to control in spring include Garlic Mustard, Canada Thistle, and Reed Canary Grass. We put our burn gear into storage just as tender plants are emerging and our team will start planting native plant plugs beginning in mid-May. We get to work as soon as the weather starts to turn!

Spring is the perfect time to ask about formulating restoration and stewardship plans for later in the year. Meanwhile, get outside and enjoy this beautiful season. Here’s what’s happening in the natural wooded, prairie, and wetland areas located in Lake Forest, Barrington, and Naperville, IL.

The Woods Are Bursting With Ephemeral Wildflowers

Spring is the only time of year to experience ephemeral wildflowers. The word "ephemeral" means transitory or quickly fading. So, you can probably guess that ephemeral wildflowers don't last long! These plants sprout, flower, set seed, and then wither away in summer’s heat. Because they are fleeting, enjoy them while you can! Woodland areas maintained with prescribed fire are particularly rich in flowers. When underbrush is cleared, flowers thrive!

The woods in our area are bursting with ephemeral flowers such as:

  • Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum and T. recurvatum)
  • Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)
  • False Rue Anemone (Enemion biternatum)
  • Wild Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata)
  • Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)
  • Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)
  • Trout Lilies (Erythronium spp.)
  • Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

The prairies are beginning to bloom with flowers like Prairie Smoke and Golden Alexanders.

Prairie smoke wild flowers growing in Winnetka, IL.

Prairie plants are beginning to sprout, especially where areas have been burned. This is because ash-blackened soil warms up faster, which starts the growing season earlier. You may notice red-winged blackbirds staking out nesting territories while robins feast on worms. Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) starts blooming in the early to mid-spring season. Watch for their distinctive seed heads as they open to resemble their namesake smoke! Some early-season natives are also starting to bloom. These species include:

  • Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea)
  • Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium reptans)
  • Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)

During this time, we also notice that summer flowers are beginning to appear. While they are making headway now, their real showtime is in the month of July. These blooming summer flowers include:

  • Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum)
  • Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)
  • Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum)
  • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea and E. pallida)
  • Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
  • Tall Coreopsis (Coreopsis tripteris)
  • Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea)

Check out the wetlands to see migrating birds and greenery.

The wetlands are hopping! Frogs are singing and great blue herons are returning. Keep an eye out for migrating birds that use wetlands as a valuable pit stop on their journeys north. During the spring season, wetland plants are beginning to break dormancy and green-up. Bright flowers are starting to burst, making for a scenic view of beautiful colors. Some of these plants include:

  • Blue Flag (Iris virginica var. shrevei)
  • Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus)
  • Sedges (Carex spp.) and Rushes (Juncus spp.)
  • Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris). Look for their bright yellow buttercup-like flowers!

Do your woods, prairies, and wetlands need some TLC this spring? We can help!

What are you experiencing in your natural areas? If you aren't seeing at least some of the plants above, we can help. Our company restores and maintains natural areas in Lake Forest, Barrington, and Naperville, IL as well as surrounding cities.

Native plant communities provide habitats for wildlife such as pollinators, songbirds, raptors, and more. If you are not seeing any of the native plant species listed above, it's likely that your natural area needs some time and attention. Our team can turn your woods, prairies, and wetlands into an oasis for our returning wildlife. Call us today at (815) 495-2300 to speak with one of our experts about your needs. Let’s add some diversity to your space!