1993 Proceedings of the Midwest Oak Savanna Conferences
NATIVE ASTERACEAE OF NORTHEASTERN ILLINOIS: SELECTED
SPECIES OF SAVANNAS AND WOODLANDS
Thomas M. Antonio
Chicago Botanic Garden
P.O. Box 400
Glencoe, IL 60022
The Asteraceae is the largest plant family in the Midwest, with more
than 300 species growing in a wide variety of habitats. Two-thirds of these
species are native to the region, while the remainder are naturalized nonnatives
or adventives. Increased knowledge of the life histories of native plants
can aid in the appropriate restoration of these species to wild habitats.
This paper, following a brief introduction the family’s plant structure,
discusses 24 native species of northern Illinois’ savannas and woodlands.
Included for each species are descriptions of key diagnostic features,
habitat preferences in northern Illinois and restoration notes based on
the field experience of restorationists in the region. A list of 64 representative
savanna/woodland species in the Asteraceae is appended.
Appendix I: Native Composites of NE Illinois Savannas
There is significant merit in studying an individual plant family such
as the Asteraceae in relation to habitat restoration. This approach enables
restorationists to utilize the similarities within a plant family for better
understanding of such areas as ecology, propagation, pollination and reintroduction.
While this process often takes place intuitively, making the obvious explicit
generates a framework for easier communication. In addition, by using information
and research generated from previous studies on closely related plants,
one can more efficiently predict how to understand species for which little
Scientific disciplines such as taxonomy and ecology frequently contain
practical information buried within their technical journals. This preliminary
study, which focuses on plant identification and habitat descriptions of
the Asteraceae of northeastern Illinois’ savannas and woodlands, is an
example of the increased understanding possible when one related group
of plants is examined.
The Asteraceae is one of the largest plant families in the world with
more than 20,000 species. In northern Illinois more than 300 native and
introduced species of this family occur, representing 10% of our region’s
flora. Many are familiar prairie plants, but members of this group grow
in a wide variety of habitats from the edges of ponds and woodlands to
forests. The Asteraceae form a significant portion of the species being
used and studied in restoration of natural habitats.
The key feature which characterizes this group of plants taxonomically
is the composite or cluster of individual flowers into a single head. Typically
the flower head consists of many small flowers, usually of two types: the
ray or outer florets which are strap-shaped and the disk or inner central
florets which are tubular-shaped. Some members of the family have only
ray florets, others have only disk florets while many species have both
ray and disk florets, as in a typical daisy.
This aggregation or cluster of individual flowers often functions as
a single unit, especially in the attraction of insects for pollination.
Many members of the Asteraceae must receive pollen from another plant to
produce seed, as they are self-sterile or obligatory outcrossers. Insects
are the single most important means by which this pollen exchange occurs.
In addition to the flowers, features of the outer scales which surround
the base of a composite flower head, known as the involucre or bracts,
are also important in the identification of individual species. Another
important feature is the pappus which is a tuft of bristles attached to
the seed. The pappus often aids in seed dispersal and may be barbed as
in the genus Bidens, tufts of hairs as in Tragopogon, or
may be lacking. Aside from these floral characteristics, leaves, stems,
and pubescence can also be important for accurate identification.
The genera within this family can be fairly easy to distinguish, but
individual species within a genus can be confusing. This results in part
from the high degree of variability within the group and also from frequent
hybridization. Species limits are often not clearly defined, and because
many taxonomists work on composites various interpretations exist for this
large and complex family.
We include 64 native species of Asteraceae on our savanna and woodland
list (Appendix I). Habitats and conditions
for these species vary from site to site and include a wide variety of
shaded communities: savannas, woodlands, shaded floodplains, and wooded
fens. We discuss in detail 24 species which represent a cross section of
those found in shaded habitats. Some are common, even weedy, and others
It is our hope to expand the simple model presented in this paper in
our forthcoming book, Asters, Goldenrods and Sunflowers of the Upper
Midwest, to include additional information such as the reproductive
biology of individual species. This model may also be developed for other
large plant families such as the grasses, sedges or legumes that are especially
critical in restoration work. Such taxonomic studies often contain valuable
information of use to restorationists and conservationists. Opening reciprocal
dialogue between these groups would serve the greater goal of preserving
these plants and their habitats.
Brief descriptions with diagnostic features are included for all species
discussed, followed by descriptions of the habitats or communities in which
they occur. We conclude with some of the currently known restoration information
from practitioners in northeastern Illinois. Since information about ecological
restoration is growing rapidly, our remarks are in the nature of field
Aster drummondii (Drummond’s Aster)
This plant is also known as Aster sagittifolius var. drummondii,
but many taxonomists recognize it as a separate species. It may reach 4'
in height. The inforescence is elongated, with flower heads of pale violet
rays and yellow disk florets that become maroon with age. Its stem and
leaves are hairy and the heart-shaped lower leaves have winged petioles.
Habitat: This weedy aster is found
in a variety of disturbed habitats including open woodlands, path edges,
roadsides and degraded prairies. It is not associated with a particular
Restoration: Kane County restorationists
include it in open and closed savanna pioneer seed mixes as an early successional
species in the restoration process.
Aster furcatus (Forked Aster)
....grows from 1.5' to 3'. The flat-topped inflorescence has flower heads
with white rays and yellow disks. The leaves are heart-shaped, toothed
and harshly scabrous or rough to the touch. The basal leaves are usually
Habitat: This species, listed as
endangered in Illinois, is midwestern in its range and rare in every state
where it occurs. There are approximately 50 known locations. Because of
its rarity, it has been subjected to intensive research (Les et al.,
1992). In Wisconsin and northeast Illinois, it occurs in a variety of habitats:
rich floodplain woods, wood edges, north-south facing slopes and dry oak-hickory
forests. It is often associated with Quercus alba and Q. rubra.
Aster furcatus prefers an alkaline soil and moderate levels of disturbances
with low levels of competition. It hasn’t spread well from seed in the
wild, but spreads by rhizomes forming large clones. It flowers more abundantly
under an open canopy.
Restoration: Because it is a listed
species requiring state permit, Aster furcatus reintroduction should
be carefully monitored and appropriate habitat sites carefully selected.
Several experimental plantings are being monitored, at Chicago Botanic
Garden, McHenry County, and northwest Cook County. It has appeared from
seed sown directly on site and does well from transplants. It also produces
seed well in nursery settings.
Aster macrophyllus (Big-leaved Aster)
....grows from 1' to 4' in height, with an inflorescence that is flat-topped
to slightly arched. Flower heads are relatively large for an aster, with
violet ray and yellow disk florets. The large leaves are heart-shaped and
have winged petioles. Basal leaves are abundant, often forming a mat with
few flowering stems if there is much shade. Bracts are glandular, but this
feature is often difficult to see.
Habitat: This is a conservative
species of oak openings and woodlands with open canopy. It is found on
higher ground such as morainal knolls with Quercus alba, Q. rubra
and Q. bicolor, and on slopes of wooded dunes with Fagus grandifolia
and Acer saccharum. In our area it is not usually found further
west than the Des Plaines River. In Wisconsin, especially northward, it
is reported to be abundant in sandy soils, but flowers only in open areas.
Restoration: This aster should be
restored within its natural range. North Branch Prairie Project has successfully
introduced it from seed to Vestal Grove at Somme Prairie Grove, an open
to closed bur oak savanna, where it grows in scattered populations. Nursery
plants do well at Chicago Botanic Garden and seeds are reported to germinate
successfully in containers at The Natural Garden in Kane County.
Aster shortii (Short’s Aster)
....reaches from 1' to 3.5' in height. The elongated inflorescence has
flower heads with blue rays and yellow disk florets. Leaves are smooth,
elongated and heart-shaped with long unwinged petioles, and are arranged
regularly on the stem.
Habitat: This is a plant of well-drained
mesic savanna and upland woodlands associated with Quercus rubra
and Q. alba. It grows from fairly open to more dense canopies -
perhaps 50% canopy is optimum. This fairly widespreadspecies does not tend
to be aggressive even when there is little competition.
Restoration: Most restorationists
find Aster shortii easy to introduce from seed directly sown on
site, either broadcast into an established matrix or raked into bare soil.
It germinates easily in containers and transplants well.
Cacalia atriplicifolia (Pale Indian Plantain)
....is a tall plant reaching up to 8' with an umbel-like flat-topped inflorescence.
Flower heads, having all disk flowers, are cream-white to green-violet.
The fragrant florets number about 5 per head. The distinctive leaves are
irregularly toothed, triangular, leathery, and pale or glaucous beneath.
Stems have a waxy bloom and are round, hollow and striate.
Habitat: This rather uncommon species
occurs in a variety of open habitats from wet mesic to dry mesic: moist
prairie adjacent to savanna, shaded dune slopes, savanna, and oak barrens.
It is associated with Quercus alba, Q. macrocarpa, and Q. rubra.
A study in southwest Michigan found a high correlation between Cacalia
and Juglans nigra. Seedlings grew abundantly directly under Juglans
and mature specimens did well there. In nurseries, it thrives in wet soils
and has been frown as a wetland plant.
Restoration: Cacalia grows
well but not abundantly from direct seeding in completely open or slightly
shaded locations. At Bakers Lake savanna, Barrington, it has been successfully
reintroduced into a bluegrass matrix under an 80% open Quercus macrocarpa
canopy. At Poverty Savanna in DuPage County, it has spread significantly
from natural populations after clearing and burning. At Chicago Botanic
Garden’s Turnbull Woods, transplants have done well in a Juglans nigra/Quercus
rubra woodland edge. Nursery populations are easy to establish and
project abundant seed.
Cirsium altissimum (Tall thistle)
....grows from 3' to 9'. The inflorescence has several to numerous pink
flower heads. The bracts are tipped with spines less than 1/4" long - this
thistle is not very spiny. The leaves are white wooly beneath, and stem
leaves are shallowly lobed or unlobed. C. altissimum is thought
to intergrade with C. discolor, a weedier prairie species which
is a shorter plant with more deeply lobed, firmer and spinier leaves.
Habitat: Tall Thistle grows in varied
habitats from open wood edges and clearings to woodlands with greater than
50% canopy having a rich understory. It grows with Quercus alba, Q.
macrocarpa, Q. rubra, and Q. velutina, but according to Swink
and Wilhelm it has no consistent herbaceous or woody associates and is
considered weedy in some areas. It prefers mesic to dry mesic soil conditions.
Restoration: Cirsium altissimum
is rather uncommon in restoration thus far. It has been successfully established
in mesic closed savanna at Somme Prairie Grove by North Branch Prairie
Project. In Kane County Jim Anderson reports it to be recovering in areas
adjacent to woods where mowing is stopped. Transplants have not done well.
This plant seems to behave as a biennial, forming basal rosettes the first
year, flowering and dying the second year.
Coreopsis lanceolata (Sand coreopsis)
....grows from 6" to 2.5' tall. Its inflorescence has solitary to few heads
on a nearly naked stem. Yellow flower heads on long peduncles have deeply
notched petals. Leaves are lance-shaped and opposite, with fewer than 5
pairs along the stem. Bracts are smooth and broad; the inner bracts are
longer than the outer.
Habitat: This is an early flowering
species of Quercus velutina savanna on lakeshore dunes and also
of dry gravel prairies inland. Cultivated plants of this species, which
tend to be multi-petaled and to grow in clusters, are widely escaped and
Restoration: Coreopsis lanceolata
is part of North Branch Prairie Project’s dry mesic open savanna mix,
but no results are yet known from seeding. Kane County introduces it in
a sandy black oak woods seed mix as part of a relatively conservative grouping
Erigeron pulchellus (Robin’s Plantain)
....is 6" to 2' in height. The flower heads, large for an Erigeron,
have pale violet rays, numbering 50-100, and yellow disk florets. The pubescent
stems have few and clasping leaves. The prominent basal leaves are hairy
Habitat: This plant is found in
the open canopy of Quercus velutina savanna near the Lake Michigan
shore as well as in savannas and very open woodlands inland with Q.
macrocarpa. It prefers dry mesic soil.
Restoration: There is limited experience
to date in northeastern Illinois; it has been successfully introduced from
transplants at the Chicago Botanic Garden, but no known results are in
yet from direct seeding at the Garden or North Branch Prairie Project.
After blooming the parent plant dies, but new basal rosettes are established
nearby from underground rhizomes. Ed Collins in McHenry County found this
species easy to introduce from seed, but says it takes several years for
establishment. In the nursery it provided a good seed source.
Eupatorium purpureum (Purple Joe Pye Weed)
....is a very tall plant, reaching 7' in height. The pale pink inflorescence
is large and hemispherical. Each flower head, comprising disk florets only,
has fewer than 8 florets. The stem is glaucous with a whitish waxy bloom,
usually purple at the nodes. Leaves are arranged in whorls of 3 or 4.
Habitat: This plant is most often
found in a closed canopy - up to 75% shade, although it is also found in
more open woodlands. It often occurs near horse trails, barns and pastures,
suggesting to Jim Steffen that is may thrive on a heavy nutrient load.
It grows in wet mesic soils with Quercus alba, Q. macrocarpa and
Q. rubra and also in mixed disturbed woods, often with weedy herbaceous
associates. It tends to grow in aggregations in disturbed woods, but in
a healthy matrix it may well have been a more isolated plant.
Restoration: Restorationists generally
agree it is important to go slowly with this species in early restoration
stages. It can become established too quickly from seed and explode in
bare areas. It will shade out other early successional species and should
be introduced in the later stages of restoration after a good matrix is
Eupatorium sessilifolium var. brittonianum (Upland
....reaches from 2' to 5' tall and has small umbels of white disk florets
that are inconspicuous in comparison to other Eupatorium flowers.
There are only 5-6 florets per head, and the bracts are hairy with blunt
or rounded tips. The upper portion of the stem is hairy, the lower portion
smooth. Sessile leaves are narrow, serrated and long, with sharp tips.
With a hand lens it is possible to see glands dotting the leaves.
Habitat: This species was last recorded
in Cook County in the Willow Springs area in 1909. In 1990, Jim Steffen
of the Chicago Botanic Garden visited a forest preserve site to see the
rare Swertia caroliniensis (American colombo) and noticed an unusual
Eupatorium nearby. It was Upland Boneset, rediscovered in approximately
the same location and the 1909 record. A small population grows on a wooded,
well-drained slope above a stream, in a now closed canopy with Quercus
alba and Q. ellipsoidalis. This species however is reported
to grow and flower most vigorously in open savanna-like conditions.
Helianthus decapetalus (Pale Sunflower).
Several of the woodland sunflowers, including the two featured here, are
often difficult ot distinguish in the field because they tend to hybridize
with each other and other sunflower species. H. decapetalus is from
2' to 5', with a flower head of 8-12 pale yellow rays and yellow disk florets.
Leaves are thin, sharply toothed, with long winged petioles. They are less
than 3 times as long as wide, and only slightly hairy beneath. Leaves are
mostly opposite, but upper leaves can be alternate. The stem is smooth
and hairless below the inflorescence.
Helianthus strumosus (Pale-leaved Sunflower)
....blooms later in July than H. decapetalus along roadsides and
wood edges. It grows from 3' to 6' tall. It differs from the previous species,
with which it hybridizes, chiefly in leaf characteristics: H. strumosus
leaves are thicker, pale, densely pubescent beneath, and more than 3 times
as long as wide. The petioles are shorter.
Habitat: Both Helianthus decapetalus
and H. strumosus tend to be weedy, creating clones that persist
after disturbance in mixed degraded woods. They also associate with Quercus
alba, Q. rubra and Q. velutina and Swink and Wilhelm (1994)
place them in “morainic timbered woodlands.” They tolerate from open to
closed canopy, but are most often seen in open situations.
Restoration: There are varied opinions
about placing these species in restorations. No woodland sunflowers are
used in North Branch Prairie Project seed mixes because they are considered
too aggressive, tending to create monocultures. Some restorationists, including
Tom Vanderpoel of Citizens for Conservation and Wayne Lampa of the DuPage
County Forest Preserve District, believe these sunflowers have a place
in woodlands, where they spread after clearing and burning and may prevent
invasion of weedier species. In the later stages of restoration, with an
established understory matrix, their introduction may not pose a problem.
These species do well with direct seeding, although seed can be hard to
collect since it is eaten by small mammals and birds.
Heliopsis helianthoides (False Sunflower)
....ranges from 1.5' to 5' in height. Flower heads have notched, orange-yellow
petals. Leaves have petioles and are opposite, toothed and firm. False
Sunflower is distinguished from true sunflowers in having both ray and
disk florets that are fertile or seed producing. In sunflowers, only disk
florets are fertile.
Habitat: This is the only species
Curtis (1959) found that reached its optimal occurrence in oak openings,
a savanna community, but he also lists it in ten other vegetation communities.
This diversity reflects local experience in northeast Illinois with this
species, which is found from wet brushy prairie to dry mesic open oak woods
where it grows with Quercus macrocarpa, Q. alba or Q.
rubra. Most often it is found in moist soil. It seems more aggressive
in prairie, where it ends to clone in dense clumps, than in savanna.
Restoration: There are varying opinions
about the desirability of Heliopsis in restorations. It has not
yet appeared in savanna restorations from seed, but in prairie it has formed
dense mats after seeding. In Poverty Savanna at Waterfall Glen, it has
spread from edges into newly cleared open savanna. It tends to be aggressive
and gangly in gardens. Once established it spreads vegetatively as well
as by seed. For example, Jim Steffen of the Chicago Botanic Garden removes
it at the edge of Turnbull Woods to prevent its aggressive spread from
Krigia biflora (False Dandelion)
....is a short plant reaching 6.5" to 2.5'. The open inflorescence has
a few yellow-orange flower heads with only ray florets. Leaves form a basal
rosette. Stem leaves are few, thin, light green, and clasp the stem at
the point where the flower stalk originates. As a member of the lettuce,
or Lactuceae tribe, Krigia has milky sap in stems and leaves.
Habitat: Krigia is found
in very open mesic to dry mesic, well-drained sites, especially savanna
openings on morainal knolls with Quercus alba, in Q. velutina
savanna and in Q. alba/Q. rubra woodland. It also occurs on ravine
crests and in prairie and is often associated with Silene virginica.
Restoration: This conservative plant
should not be placed in initial mixes, but introduced later into an established
savanna matrix. Based on its known associates, Tom Vanderpoel suggests
it be placed in sites with other short-statured species. It is too early
to know results of direct on-site seeding, but it grows easily in flats
and does well in nurseries, blooming from summer to autumn permitting a
continuous seed harvest.
Liatris aspera (Rough Blazing Star)
...is 1.5' to 3.5' in height. The flower spike has more than 20 flower
heads that tend to be sessile, without stems or peduncles. Like the related
Eupatorium, Liatris heads have only disk florets, in this species
numbering more than 15 per head. Bracts in Liatris are important
diagnostic features. In L. aspera, they are spreading with rounded
tips and middle bracts have jagged edges. Stems are often pubescent.
Habitat: This species is mostly
familiar on dry mesic or gravel hill prairies, but is also found in Quercus
velutina savanna on the lakeshore and in the Fox River watershed in
very open savanna.
Restoration: On North Branch Prairie
Project sites this species has not appeared from seed in the savannas,
although it is part of an open savanna mix. Ed Collins in McHenry County
reports it does well by direct seeding on site or from bulb transplant.
At the Chicago Botanic Garden, David Sollenberger reports transplants into
gravel hill prairie have been successful and are spreading from seed.
Liatris scariosa var. niewlandii (Blazing Star)
In the early 1980s, Steve Packard of The Nature Conservancy noticed this
species growing southwest of Chicago and knew it differed from other Liatris
in the area. It wasconfirmed by botanists Gerould Wilhelm and Marlin Bowles
as L. scariosa var. niewlandii, a recently recognized Liatris
in Illinois, and has been added to Illinois’ list of threatened species
(Bowles et al., 1988). Many characteristics of this species distinguish
it from other Liatris of the region. It ranges form 1' to 2.5' or
more. It is autumn-flowering, having a spike with 4-30 flower heads, with
a range of 25-80 florets per head. Flower heads are large on long peduncles
or flower stalks. The loose bracts are curved back; the middle bracts less
jagged than in L. aspera, but may have hairs on th margins. There
are numerous large leaves on the stem; lower leaves are often very broad.
Habitat: This plant is found only
in northeast and west central Illinois in small populations. Liatris
scariosa var. niewlandii occurs in Will and southern Cook Counties
in remnant savannas and open oak woodlands with Quercus macrocarpa,
Q. alba and Carya ovata. It is restricted to well-drained morainic
ridges, specifically of the Tinley and Valpariaso morainal systems.
Prenanthes alba (White Lettuce)
....grows from 1.5' to 5' tall. An inflorescence of branched stalks supports
nodding heads of white-pink disk florets. Florets number more than 7 per
flower head; principal bracts normally number 8. The stem is smooth and
glaucous with a waxy bloom (unlike the hairy stems of P. racemosa
and P. aspera). Leaf shape is variable, often 3-5 lobed. Leaves
often create a mat-like cover on the ground in spring. Milky sap is present
in stems and leaves.
Habitat: White Lettuce is common
in mesic to dry mesic oak woodlands. It is seen in oak openings and along
trails often growing directly under oaks: Quercus macrocarpa, Q. alba
and Q. rubra. It occurs on wooded dune slopes with Q. velutina.
this species often does not flower because of inadequate sunlight. In a
study at the Chicago Botanic Garden, flowers were only produced in the
more open, restored areas.
Restoration: This species needs
an open canopy to produce flowers in any number. Lower leaves close to
the ground can be abundant in closed woodlands, but the plant remains in
a vegetative state. P. alba may be early successional since it can
tolerate disturbance. It grows easily from seed, and according to Jim Anderson
of Kane County it also thrives after burns, showing a dramatic increase
in flowering with increased sunlight. Seed formation is much reduced because
deer eat the flowers and seed collecting should therefore be moderate.
Prenanthes altissima (Tall White Lettuce)
....grows to 6' tall. Nodding heads on inflorescence branches are creamy
white to greenish disk florets. Florets number 5-6 per head; principal
bracts are fewer than 7. Stems are smooth and leaves variable, often deeply
lobed. Milky sap is present.
Habitat: P. altissima is
found in the same habitats as P. alba, but is more rare. It may
not be noticed because of a short flowering period (September 18 to October
2 in Swink and Wilhelm) and it closely resembles P. alba. this species
occurs more frequently in the eastern part of our region in Indiana and
Michigan where it is associated with Fagus grandifolia.
Restoration: There is little restoration
experience with this species, but its needs should be similar to those
of Prenanthes alba.
Rudbeckia laciniata (Wild Golden Glow)
....is a large, coarse plant growing to 9' tall. The inflorescence has
few to many heads with drooping yellow rays and gray-yellow disks. Stems
are smooth to glaucous with a waxy bloom; leaves are usually smooth, coarsely
toothed and cut to the midvein in 3-lobes or in 5-7 segments.
Habitat: this species is found on
wooded streambanks and floodplains, often with Verbesina alternifolia
(Wingstem) and associated with tree species Ulmus americana, Acer saccarinum,
A. negundo and Fraxinus americana. It is also found in calcareous
springy habitats. It is similar to Verbesina in habitat. and appearance
of flower heads, but distinctively winged stems distinguish Verbesina
from this Rudbeckia.
Rudbeckia subtomentosa (Sweet Black-eyed Susan)
....grows to 6' in height. Each inflorescence has several heads, with yellow
rays and deep purple-brown disks. Bracts are slightly pubescent (in R.
hirta, Black-eyed Susan, bracts are densly hairy). Leaves are downy
beneath; larger leaves are 3-lobed. The upper stem is wooly (“subtomentose”).
this species differs from the shorter R. triloba, Brown-eyed Susan,
in having fewer branches and larger flower heads.
Habitat: R. subtomentosa
is found at edges of moist open woods and thickets near prairie; it is
associated with Quercus alba and Q. macrocarpa, but often
grows in moist open areas near the oaks.
Restoration: This species is easy
to restore from seed which germinates well in containers as well as on
site. It was initially abundant from seed in more open areas of Somme Prairie
Grove in a Quercus macrocarpa woodland, but decreased there is a
result of deer browsing. Transplants at Chicago Botanic Garden’s Turnbull
Woods were successful on the edges, but shadier areas produced smaller
plants and fewer flowers. This plant may have weedy tendencies and does
well early in restoration with low competition, but is may be much reduced
in later stages.
Solidago caesia (Blue-stemmed goldenrod)
....can reach a height of 3' and has yellow flower heads clustered in leaf
axils along the stem. As the common name implies the stems are frequently
blue-gray and glaucous, with a waxy bloom. The leaves are lanceolate, toothed
Habitat: This species is common
in mesic savanna and woodland where it can tolerate more than 50% shade.
It grows in rich woods with Quercus rubra, Acer saccharum and Tilia
americana. It is also found in sandy Quercus velutina woods
and on shaded dune slopes. Its range seems to be largely in counties bordering
Lakes Michigan, but a few populations occur inland to the southwest. S.
caesia requires well-drained soil.
Restoration: Blue-stemmed Goldenrod
establishes moderately well from seed, according to John Balaban of North
Branch Prairie Project, although not as readily as other goldenrods such
as Elm-leaved Goldenrod (Solidago ulmifolia).
Solidago flexicaulis (Broad-leaved Goldenrod)
....grows from 1' to 3' in height and has yellow flower heads clustered
in leaf axils along the stem. The angled green stems have a zig-zag form
and the ovate, deeply toothed leaves have long, winged petioles.
Habitat: S. flexicaulis prefers
a more open canopy than S. caesia. It is fairly common in mesic
to wet mesic woodland with Quercus rubra and Q. alba. It
is often seen in clusters at wood edges, where there is more light, or
on shaded slopes with calcareous seepage.
Restoration: This species does well
from seed sown directly on site and is suited to the first wave of restoration
seed mixes because it competes well with weeds and other early successional
species. It is a desirable nursery species since its seed is not as abundant
as that of other goldenrods. In other areas it is reported to be aggressive
as well as an abundant seed producer.
Solidago nemoralis (Old-field Goldenrod)
....can grow to 3' tall, but is normally a shorter goldenrod. The yellow
inflorescence is a terminal plume often nodding at the tip. Basal leaves
are persistent, hairy and usually toothed, and stem leaves are reduced.
What distinguishes this species are the fascicles of smaller leaves in
the leaf axils. The stem is grayish and hairy.
Habitat: This goldenrod grows in
a very open canopy. It is often seen in remnant prairies and old fields,
but is also found in Quercus velutina savanna and in savanna grading
into prairie with Quercus alba (Nemoralis means “growing
in shady places.”) It prefers mesic to dry mesic sites.
Restoration: Its relative abundance
makes this species easy to collect and use in seed mixes that are broadcast
over the site without previous raking.
Solidago ulmifolia (Elm-leaved Goldenrod)
....can grow to a height of 1.5' to 4'. Its open inflorescence has arching,
often elm-shaped branches. The yellow flower heads are secund, that is,
arranged on one side of the branch. In contrast to Solidago altissima
which has two lateral leaf veins nearly parallel to the midvein, S. ulmifolia
has a network of veins on the underside of the leaf.
Habitat: this plant has a wide shade
tolerance from open to closed canopy. It is associated with Quercus
alba and Q. rubra, and also with Fraximus americana, Acer
saccharum and Tilia americana. It is common along paths and
indisturbed areas. It grows on better-drained soils on dry mesic to mesic
Restoration: This species has been
introduced successfully from seed in the first wave of restoration and
is one of the more easily restored species in the open and closed canopy
Community information in this paper is descriptive and is based on habitat
information from the authors’ experience, Plants of the Chicago Region
(Swink and Wilhelm 1994) and discussions with restorationists in northeastern
Restoration information is based on Susanne Masi’s experience with North
Branch Prairie Project and The Nature Conservancy as well as on discussions
with northeastern Illinois restorationists (Jim Anderson, Kane County Forest
Preserve District; John Balaban, North Branch Prairie Project; Ed Collins,
McHenry County Conservation District; Wayne Lampa, DuPage County Forest
Preserve District; Steve Packard, Illinois Nature Conservancy; David Sollenberger
and Jim Steffen, Chicago Botanic Garden; and Tom Vanderpoel, Citizens for
Bowles, Marlin, Gerould Wilhelm and Stephen Packard. 1988. The Illinois
status of Liatris scariosa (L.) Willd. var. nieuwlandii Lundll.
A new threatened species for Illinois. Erigenia 10:1-26.
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United States. Vol. 1 Asteraceae. University of North Carolina Press,
Curtis, John. 1959. Vegetation of Wisconsin. University
of Wisconsin Press, Madison. WI.
Fisher, T. Richard. 1988. The Vascular Flora of Ohio.
Vol. 2: The Dicotyledoneae of Ohio. Part 3: Asteraceae. Ohio State University
Press, Columbus, OH.
Gleason, Henry A. 1952. The New Britton and Brown Illustrated
Flora of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Vol. 3. Hafner
Press, New York, NY.
Heiser, Jr., Charles B. 1976. The Sunflower. University
of Oklahoma Press. Norman, OK.
Les, Donald H., James A. Reinartz and Letner, Lawrence A. 1992.
Distribution and habitats of the forked aster (Aster furcatus: Asteraceae),
a threatened Wisconsin plant. The Michigan Botanist 31(4):143-152.
Swink, Floyd and Gerould Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago
Region, 4th ed. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis, IN.