Saturday 29 October 2011

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

The Royal Catchfly, Silene regia

The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is a prairie reserve of about 78 km2 (19,000 acres) of land. It is located on the site of the former Joliet Army Ammunition Plant near Elwood south of Chicago in Illinois.

At the headquarter along the road the Welcome Center is surrounded by plantings of different prairie plants you will be able to find at a tallgrass prairie. Inside the building you can get information about suitable walking trails, buy books and learn about the prairie ecosystem from informative posters.

I decided to take the Grass Frog Temporary Trail and indeed I met a lot of frogs along the path. But fist I visited the seed production fields close to the parking area. There I directly already from long distance discovered the bright red Royal Catchfly, Silene regia. It is a very showy slender, upright plant with unbranched stems and glowing red flowers. The Royal Catchfly is rare in nature, but here i captured it growing at the seed beds.

Other plants cultivated for seed production at Midewin were among others Pale Indian Plantain, Arnoglossum atriplicifolium, Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium, Compass Plant, Silphium laciniatum and Prairie Dropseed, Sporobulus heterolepis.

The Welcome Center with prairie plantings

Inside the Welcome Center

If you look closer to the sign above you'll see the yellow area at the small map in the center. Yellow here indicates the pre-settlement extent of prairie habitat around the year 1920. Today most of this land is converted into corn fields or human infrastructur. 

Pale Indian Plantain, Arnoglossum atriplicifolia

Eryngium yuccifolium and Liatris pycnostachya

Seed production of Royal Catchfly, Silene regia

Yellow Coneflower, Ratibida pinnata, at the Grass Frog Temporary Trail

Rudbeckia subtomentosa and Eryngium yuccifolium along the trail

Rudbeckia subtomentosa


  1. There was a Silene at

    Striking flowers, but ours were only a gentle pink. That red is a wonderful colour!

  2. I like the soft pink Silene too, but your Watsonias are really beautiful. There are so many outstanding colorful flowers in South Africa.

    The striking red Silene regia we now have planted at the prairie in Alnarp, so next year I can enjoy it all summer.