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Vermilion Co. Conservation District Foundation

Prairies/Native Plants

Forest Glen Preserve and Kennekuk County Park have quite an extensive botanical listing. More so for Forest Glen since it is rated third in the state for number of different botanical species.

The Doris L. Westfall Nature Preserve has 100 native prairie plants with Vermilion County seed origin. The 40 acre prairie is dominated by the tall grasses of Indian grass and Big bluestem, but many other interesting plants are found here, such as Indian paintbrush, puccoon, purple gentian, and Illinois bundleflower. A prairie garden plot is available to help visitors identify the many prairie plants.

Forest Glen Savanna is a 22 acre area that is located just east of the Doris L. Westfall Nature Preserve.  It is a savanna restoration in cooperation the Illinois Native Plant Society and Eastern Illinois University Botany Department (now Department of Biological Sciences).  The area is burned periodically.  There is a constant struggle to remove the invasive autumn olive and encroaching hardwoods.  Prairie plants are moving in naturally.  White oak trees were planted in some areas.  Other savanna species such as any oaks, hazelnuts, wild plum, sassafras, and a few juniper will be maintained.  Volunteers are needed for this area.  Forest Glen Savanna In Memory of Mary Hruska (1956-2005) EIU Botany Graduate Student.

EIU Botany Professor, John Ebinger and grad student, the late Mary Hruska set up a line transect to inventory species.

The savanna burns more slowly than the prairie, due to lower fuel on the ground.

The savanna is a mixture of trees and prairie plants, forming one of the rarest ecosystems in Illinois.

 

Prairie Fire Forest Glen has many other unusual plants. The two seep areas have marsh marigold and skunk cabbage. The beech-maple forest contains partridge berry, running strawberry bush, white lady's slipper, snow trillium, and blue ash.

Kennekuk County Park has many native prairie areas. Besides the tall grasses, Kennekuk has a very large colony of little bluestem and rough blazing star. The Windfall Prairie Nature Preserve has side oats grama and swamp white oak.

Management of the open roadside fields is resulting in an extensive oak savanna. Native prairie grasses are spreading due to the west winds and the Maximillian's sunflower is advancing rapidly. Because the areas are burned, the oak trees are the only hardwoods to survive the fire.