This morning, I helped plant 3,000 prairie plant plugs, courtesy of a grant from the US Forest Foundation. Each plant plug stood no more than six inches high. It often takes plants a few years to reach their full height, because much of their initial energy goes into developing their extensive root systems, which can reach depths of 15 feet.
Just across the road where we’re planting plugs lies South Patrol Road Prairie – the largest and oldest restoration area at Midewin. Among the nearly 200 native prairie species now flourishing there are some of the skyscraper species that put the “tall” in the “tallgrass prairie.” For a taste…
Here are rattlesnake master and compass plant seedlings.
Here is rattlesnake master full grown. I can look its clusters of prickly flowers right in the eye.
Here’scompass plant, its rays of yellow blossoms like little suns atop a stalk rising to a height of 12 feet.
Common milkweed is not among the tallest prairie plants, but from the right angle it looks as if it may have been designed by the architect of modernist, mid-rise skyscrapers.
Yellow coneflowers rise to a height of only four feet, but who can resist their petals fluttering in the summer wind like Native American prayer ties.