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The Plant

The Plant is located at 1400 W. 46th Street in Chicago.  The Native Plants Demonstration Garden at The Plant is on the west side of the building and consists of a set of planters with native plants.  The photo below is from Dec. 2015.  These are native perennials and should all be green again next spring.  We included a general information sign (with a QR code that links to this web page) and plant tags.  See here for DIY instructions for making the plant tags.



Following are pictures and short descriptions of plants added in 2015 to this garden space.  The plant descriptions include links to sites that provide more information about the plant.  In the descriptions here we’ve emphasized which bees and butterflies are pollinators and feeders for each plant.

Credits and Terms of Use.  Much of pollinator/feeder information for the plants came from Illinois Wildflowers.  See the ‘more info’ links with each plant.  For the plant photos, there is a link to the source of each photo. IWF: These are photos by John Hilty, Illinois Wildflowers. IWF reuse information.  PUSDA: These photos are from USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.  Follow the link for each photo for terms of use.  CWM: Wikimedia Commons.  CWM general reuse information.  Follow the link for each photo for photo-specific terms of use.   And, Chicago Demo Gardens terms of use general information is here.

id 2.  Cream False Indigo (Babtisia Alba var. Macrophylla)
Common name aliases: White False Indigo, Prairie False Indigo.  The flowers are pollinated primarily by small to medium-sized bees, which seek nectar and pollen. These bee visitors include Halictid bees (Lasioglossum spp.), masked bees (Hylaeus spp.), Andrenid bees (Andrena spp.), little carpenter bees (Ceratina spp.), and cuckoo bees (Nomada spp., Coelioxys spp.).  more info and photo credit: IWF

id 3.  Crooked Stem Aster (Symphyotrichum prenanthoides, alias: Aster prenanthoides)
Illinois native, but not a Cook County native.  Bees collect pollen or suck nectar; flies & beetles feed on pollen or suck nectar; other insects, including butterflies, suck nectar.  more info: DG  WF   IWF  photo credit: PUSDA

id 4. Heath Aster (Aster ericoides, alias: Symphyotrichum ericoides)
A wide variety of insects are attracted to the flowers, including long-tongued bees, shorttongued bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, skippers, moths, beetles, and plant bugs. Bee visitors include honeybees, bumblebees, cuckoo bees, carpenter bees, leaf-cutting bees, Halictid bees, plasterer bees, and Andrenid bees.   more info and photo credit: IWF

id 5. Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum)
Although introduced to the Chicago area, the Mistflower can be found throughout Southern Illinois.  The flowers attract long-tongued bees, butterflies, and skippers. Other occasional visitors include short-tongued bees, various flies, moths, and beetles. more info and photo credit: IWF

id 6. Nodding Pink Onion (Allium cernuum)
The nectar and pollen of the nodding flowers attract primarily bees, including honeybees, bumblebees, Anthophorine bees, and Halictid bees. more info and photo credit:  IWF

id 11.  Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea)
Purple Prairie Clover is palatable and high in protein, therefore mammalian herbivores of all kinds eat this plant readily. The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract many kinds of insects. more info and photo credit:  IWF

Showy Goldenrod (Solidago speciosa) – id 12
The flowers attract honeybees, bumblebees, ants, beetles, and the occasional moth or butterfly. more info and photo credit:  IWF

id 13.  Western Spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis)
This plant is native to the Midwest, but not Illinois. There are 3 species of Spiderwort in the Midwest, all with similar flowers. T. occidentalis is the most slender and spidery of the three, with stiffer leaves and bracts that are consistently folded up the middle.  more info: MWF   photo credit: CWM

id 14.  Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis)
Long-tongued bees are the most important pollinators of the flowers, including Anthophorid bees and Leaf-Cutting bees. more info and photo credit: IWF

id 15. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
We’re not sure which cultivar we have here.  Some cultivars of this species are cold hardy in HZ (hardiness zone) 5. The native species is cold hardy to HZ 8.  The native species has been introduced to warmer parts of the U.S.   Can be grown in light, slightly acidic, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade, but best performance is in full sun. Established plants have good drought tolerance.  more info: MSB  PUSDA  photo credit: CWM

id 16.  Beggarten Sage (Salvia officinalis)
This species has been introduced to the west coast and east coast.  Cold hardy to Hardiness Zone 4.   Grow in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Tolerates very light shade, but best in full sun. Plants tend to sprawl, particularly when grown in less than full sun. Wet soils can be fatal.  more info: MSB  PUSDA  photo credit: CWM

About the Plants (return top)For this demonstration garden, we are using plants in the Prairie Nursery collection,50 Plant Low Growing Garden, from Prairie Nurseries.  Below is a link to a table on plant details.
Low Growing Natives – details (Excel) (PDF)

Species were selected based on their ability to cope with low maintenance growing techniques, Illinois Native characteristics, and perennial, native pollinator-friendly qualities.  Each planter includes signage with information about the plants.

Project (return top)

The demonstration garden presents a collection of Illinois and Midwest Native plant species.  The majority of this plant collection also provides habitats and food sources to a variety of pollinators.  Educational signage will be installed with the garden to explain which species were chosen and the growing needs and characteristics of these species.  We hope visitors will enjoy learning the benefits and ease of creating their own gardens with native plant species.  Below are some detailed explanations of what we hope to accomplish with our demonstration garden.

Growing material in the planters is composted biosolids from MWRD (Metropolitan Water Reclamation District) in Chicago.

The garden was created in 2015.  Thanks to Pleasant Farms and Prairie Nursery for supporting this project.

Future:  In this space we will add more information regarding the significance of planting Native species and their specific importance to a Native ecosystem.

Background (return top)

WHAT are Native Plant Species and WHY did we choose them?

Native plants are those that are believed to have grown naturally in this region prior to settlement by Europeans.  Of the 2,530 types of plants known in the Chicago region, more than one-third were not here prior to European settlement. Yet out of the nearly 900 nonnative species, only about 150 species are generally successful and persistent. These 150 nonnative species dominate more than 95 percent of the vegetated landscape. Most human disturbed or managed landscapes are nearly monocultures, vegetated by only one or a few species. A natural prairie remnant, in contrast, can contain more than 100 species within just two or three acres. This mix of more than 100 species is what is meant by diversity, and is one example of biodiversity.

Using Native plant species for landscaping can save you money!

According to the US Department of Agriculture: Over a ten year period, the combined costs of installation and maintenance for natural landscapes may be one-fifth of the costs for conventional landscape maintenance.

What is meant by the term ‘Pollinators‘?

Pollinators are essential to our world. Bees, butter- flies, hummingbirds, moths, wasps, flies, beetles, even a few bats are some of the animals that move pollen between flowers, enabling them to produce seeds.

The ecological service these pollinating animals provide is necessary for the reproduction of over 85% of the world’s flowering plants. The resulting seeds and fruits provide food for countless other animals ranging from songbirds to grizzly bears.

Pollinators are also essential to human life. Consider for a moment that approximately one in three mouthfuls of food and beverage required the presence of a pollinator!  The United States alone grows more than a hundred crop plants that need pollinators. Without pollinators, there would be no apples, pumpkins, blueberries, or many other fruits and vegetables. Only wind-pollinated crops such as corn and wheat would remain.

Bees are the primary pollinator for most wild- flowers and crops in the United States and Canada. Worldwide, there are an estimated 20,000 species of bees, with approximately 4,000 species native to North America. The non-native European honey bee is the most common domesticated pollinator in the United States. However native pollinators are often adapted for specific plants, resulting in more efficient pollination and the production of larger and more abundant fruits and seeds.

For more information on this subject we urge you to check out