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1993 Proceedings of the Midwest Oak Savanna Conferences

1993 Proceedings of the Midwest Oak Savanna Conferences


Thomas M. Antonio
Susanne Masi
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 and Woodlands 

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 information exists. 

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 are rare. 

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 notes. 

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 vegetation community. 

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 absent. 

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) 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 naturalized. 

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 of species. 

Erigeron pulchellus (Robin’s Plantain) 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 and toothed. 

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) 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 in place. 

Eupatorium sessilifolium var. brittonianum (Upland Boneset) 

....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 lateral roots. 

Krigia biflora (False Dandelion) 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) 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) 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 and sessile. 

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 sites. 

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 mixes. 


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 Illinois. 

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 Conservation). 


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. 

Cronquist, Arthur. 1980. Vascular Plants of the Southeastern United States. Vol. 1 Asteraceae. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. 

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. 


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