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Pere Marquette State Park
This guide lists some of the common wildflowers that can be found in Pere Marquette State Park and the surrounding area. Information on each plant includes the common and scientific names, longevity, average height, color of flower, bloom dates and a description. Please keep in mind that some species vary in form and bloom color. The bloom dates are for when the plant might be in bloom and not if it is actually blooming. The information provided was gathered from various sources and whenever there was conflicting information, the information used was from the The Nature Institute located in Godfrey, Illinois. 

Scurf Pea
Psoralea tenuiflora
(Also called Wild Alfalfa and Slimleaf Scurfpea)
Longevity: Perennial
Height: 2 feet tall
Flowers: Purple
Bloom Dates: Mid June through late September
Scurf Pea is a deep rooted, drought resistant legume common to prairies, woodlands and woodland edges. Scurf Pea resembles domesticated alfalfa, but has smaller and narrower leaves with 3-5 leaflets that grow less thickly. It has tiny purple flowers that come in spikes that grow up to 3 inches in length. During late summer, the stem breaks off and the plant blows like a tumbleweed scattering its seeds. Plains Native Americans were known to make tea from the roots and burned the plant as a mosquito repellent.

Wild Petunia
Ruellia humilis
(Also called Fringeleaf Ruellia and Hairy Ruellia)
Longevity:  Researching
Height: 2 feet
Flowers: Purple
Bloom Dates: Mid August through late September
Wild Petunia is an upright or occasionally spreading forb found on dry sandy or clay soils in open areas. Its stems are square or 4-angled and its 1 inch flowers are purplish-blue to lavender and are trumpet-shaped. The throat of the flower may have dark streaks or lines. The flowers open during the night and fall off by the next night. Shaking the plant can cause the flower to drop off. Wild Petunia is also called Fringeleaf or Hairy Ruellia because of the fringe of hairs on the leaf margins. The plant was named in honor of French physician and botanist, Jean de la Ruelle (1474-1537.)

Helianthus annuus
Longevity: Annual
Height: 2 - 10 feet
Flowers: Yellow with a black center
Bloom Dates: July - September
The Sunflower can be found in open areas, along roadsides and dry prairies. When actively growing, the flowers and leaves follow the sun as it traverses the sky. Sunflowers were cultivated by Native Americans well over 1000 years ago. The large headed sunflowers grown today as crops were developed from the common sunflower. Nearly all parts of this plant can be utilized. The seeds can be eaten raw, cooked, roasted, or dried and ground for use in bread or cakes. The seeds and the roasted seed shells have been used as a coffee substitute. Oil can be extracted and used for cooking and soap making. Yellow dyes have been made from the flowers, and black dyes from the seeds. The residue oil cake has been used as cattle and poultry feed, and high quality silage can be made from the whole plant. The buoyant pith of the stalk has been used in making of life preservers.

Black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia hirta
Longevity: Perennial/biennial
Height: 2-3 feet
Flowers: 1 ˝ inch wide yellow petals with a dark center, like a small sunflower
Bloom Dates: June through late August
Though beautiful, Black-eyed Susan is a weedy forb.

Polygala sanguinea
Longevity: Researching
Height: 12-15 inches
Flowers: Reddish Lavender
Bloom Dates: July through August
Snakeroot has flowers with a round dense head and its leaves are smooth and narrow with 1 stem.

Heath Aster
Aster ericoides
(Also called White Prairie Aster)
Longevity: Perennial
Height: 3 ˝ feet tall
Flowers: White
Bloom Dates: September through October
Heath Aster has many tiny white flowers with a yellow center, the flowers’ stems have tiny leaves.

Shooting Star
Dodecatheon meadia
(Also called American Cowslip and Prairie Roosterbill)
Longevity: Researching
Height: 12-18 inches
Flowers: White or Pink or Lavender
Bloom Dates: April through early May
Shooting Star flower petals turn back and its leaves grow from the ground.

Prairie Phlox
Phlox pilosa
(Also called Downy Phlox)
Longevity: Researching
Height: 1-2 feet
Flowers: Pink
Bloom Dates: May through early June
Prairie Phlox flowers have a rounded head and its stalks are hairy.

Prairie Mimosa
Desmanthus illinoensis
(Also called Illinois Bundleflower and Pickle-weed)
Longevity: Perennial
Height: 2 - 4 feet tall
Flowers: White
Bloom Dates: Mid June through mid July
Prairie Mimosa is a large legume with a much branched, shrublike growth form. Its leaves are touch sensitive, folding together when handled, its seeds are eaten by quail and other birds. Its fruit comes in a cluster (bundle) of pods.

Illinois Tick Trefoil

Desmodium illinoense
(Also called Illinois Tick Clover)
Longevity: Perennial
Height: 3-5 feet tall
Flowers: Purple
Bloom Dates: Mid June through late July
Illinois Tick Trefoil’s leaves are divided into 3 parts on short stems. There are hooked hairs on the loments (seed pods) that cause them to cling to clothing or fur, like ‘ticks’. The plant competes well with native grasses, due to its deep roots, rapid growth, and shade-tolerant leaves.

Amorpha canescens
Longevity: Perennial
Height: 2 feet tall
Flowers: Violet
Bloom Dates: Early June through late July
Leadplant’s flowers come in small spikes and has finely divided greyish leaves. It prefers dry prairies and hillsides and is usually associated with bluestem grasses. Native Americans used the dried leaves for tea and pipe smoking.

Links to Prairie Grasses and Wildflowers

Prairies in the Prairie State
A site covering the various aspects of prairie plants by the Illinois State Museum

Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses
Produced by Kansas State University, this site has pictures and descriptions of many of the wild vegetation that can be found in the West Central Illinois region.

Noble Foundation Plant Image Gallery
Produced by the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Oklahoma, this site has pictures and descriptions of many of the wild vegetation that can be found in the West Central Illinois region.

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