Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Native Prairie Plants for Use Along Roadsides in Illinois

Part 2. Scientific Names I - Z

Go to Part 1. Scientific Names A - H

Developed for the Corridors for Tomorrow Project by Kenneth R. Robertson

 

Scientific Name

Common Name

Natural Habitat in Illinois 1

Regions of Illinois Where Native 2

Ultimate Height3

Pollinator Type and Insect Visitors4

Fruit Type5

Wildlife Attracted6

Special Features7

Establishment8

Adaptability8

Iris shrevei

wild blue iris

wet prairies; marshes; edges of ponds

N, C, S

2-3'

bees, Diptera

capsules with plump seeds

waterfowl, small mammals

beautiful flowers

fresh seed or rootstock

 

Juncus interior

inland rush

mesic to prairies; ditches; roadsides

N, C, S

0.5-1.5'

wind

capsules with tiny seeds

ungulates

excellent nesting cover

from seed

 

Koeleria macrantha (K. cristata)

June grass

hill and sand prairies; mesic prairies; savannas

N, C, S

2-3'

wind

grains

gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals

attractive inflorescence

transplants or dry stratified seeds

 

Lespedeza capitata

round-headed bush clover

hill and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies; open woodlands

N, C, S

2-5'

long-tongue bees (2), short-tongue bees (1), Lepidoptera (1)

one seeded legume

gamebirds, small mammals

nesting cover; nitrogen fixing; very deep taproot

easy from scarified, inoculated, moist stratified seed

 

Liatris aspera

rough blazing star

hill and sand prairies; mesic to dry prairies

N, C, S

1.5-4'

bees, butterflies, flies

achenes with tufts of hair

small mammals

beautiful flowers

easy from dry stratified seed

drought resistant; excellent plant for dry areas

Liatris cylindracea

cylindrical blazing star

hill prairies; dry prairies; dry open woods

N, C, S

1-2'

bees, butterflies, flies

achenes with tufts of hair

small mammals

beautiful flowers

easy from dry stratified seed

drought resistant

Liatris pycnostachya

prairie blazing star

mesic to wet prairies;

N, C, S

2-4'

long-tongued bees (14), short tongued bees (2), Diptera (6), Lepidoptera (12)

achenes with tufts of hair

small mammals

beautiful flowers

easy from moist stratified seed

drought resistant

Lilium michiganense

turk's cap lily

mesic to wet prairies; swales; woods

N, C, S

2-6'

Lepidoptera

capsules with plump seeds

hummingbirds

beautiful large flowers

seed or transplants

 

Lithospermum canescens

hoary puccoon

hill prairies; dry to mesic prairies; woods (sand prairies??)

N, C, S

8''-1'

long-tongued bees (17), Diptera (2), Lepidoptera (18)

hard nutlets

 

beautiful flowers

from seeds soaked in hot water or scarified

 

Lobelia cardinalis

cardinal flower

wet prairies; swamps; wet ditches

N, C, S

3'

hummingbirds, long-tongued bees (1), Lepidoptera (2)

capsules with tiny seeds

hummingbirds

beautiful red flowers

from transplants or moist stratified seed

does well in moist soils

Lobelia siphilitica

giant blue Lobelia

wet prairies; low woods; swamps

N, C, S

2'

long-tongued bees (5), short-tongued bees (3), Lepidoptera (2)

capsules with tiny seed

bees

beautiful blue flowers

from transplants or moist stratified seed

 

Lupinus perennis

wild lupine

sand prairies; savannas; dunes

N

1-2'

bees

legumes with few seeds

bees, moths, butterflies

excellent soil builder

from scarified, inoculated, and moist stratified seeds

 

Lythrum alatum

winged loosestrife

mesic to wet prairies; marshes; fens; alkaline seeps

N, C, S

2-3'

heterostylous; insects

capsules with tiny seeds

       

Monarda fistulosa

wild bergamot

hill prairies; dry to mesic prairies; edges of woods

N, C, S

2-3'

long-tongued bees (21), short-tongued bees (7), Lepidoptera (23)

nutlets

attracts many insects

quite competitive

easy from moist stratified seeds

adaptable to roadsides

Oenothera pilosella

prairie sundrops

mesic to wet prairies

N, C, S

1.5-3'

moths

capsules with many seeds

upland gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals

beautiful flowers

easy from dry stratified seeds and root cuts

often found on roadsides

Oenothera rhombipetala

sand primrose

sand prairies

N, C, S

1.5-3'

moths

capsules with many seeds

upland gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals

beautiful flowers

probably simliar to O. pilosella

 

Oxalis violacea

purple oxalis

hill and gravel prairies; mesic prairies; bluffs

N, C, S

4-8'

long-tongued bees (12), short-tongued bees (14), Diptera (1), Lepidoptera (3)

capsules

waterfowl, upland gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals

 

easy from transplants, difficult from seeds

 

Panicum virgatum

switch grass

dry to mesic prairies

N, C, S

3-5'

wind

grain

meadow voles, small mammals

aggressive grass; provides excellent nesting cover

easy from dry stratified seed

adaptable to roadsides

Parthenium integrifolium

American feverfew

dry to mesic prairies; dry open woods

N, C, S

2-3'

long-tongued bees (4), short-tongued bees (7), other Hymenoptera (15), Diptera (20), Coleoptera (6), Hemiptera (3)

achenes

   

easy

 

Pedicularis canadensis

lousewort

hill and sand prairies; mesic to dry prairies; savannas;

N, C, S

0.5-1.5'

bees

capsules with tiny seeds

   

seeds and transplants, difficult to establish

prefers slightly acidic soils

Penstemon digitalis

foxglove beardstongue

mesic prairies; woods;

N, C, S

3-5'

bees

capsules with tiny seeds

 

readily self-sows

easy from seed or transplants

a very tolerent species

Penstemon pallidus

pale beardstongue

hill and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies

N, C, S

1-3'

bees

capsules with tiny seeds

 

readily self-sows

easy despite fine seed

needs well drained soil

Perideridea americana

perideridia

mesic prairies; floodplains; woods

N, C, S

2-3.5'

insects

nutets

butterflies, small mammals

     

Petalostemum candidum

white prairie clover

hill, gravel, and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies; savannas

N, C, S

1-3'

long-tongued bees (4), short-tongued bees (11), other Hymenoptera (7), Diptera (7), Lepidoptera (1)

one seeded legumes

small mammals, butterfly larvae; highly sought by herbivores

nitrogen fixing; attractive flowers which riseabove grasses; some damping off problems with seedlings

easy from scarified, inoculated and moist stratified seeds, also transplants

 

Petalostemum purpureum

purple prairie clover

hill, gravel, and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies; savannas; usually slightly moister sites than P. candidum

N, C, S

1-3'

long-tongued bees (37), short-tongued bees (18), Diptera (12), Lepidoptera (6), Coleoptera (4), Hemiptera (2), other Hymenoptera (15)

one seeded legumes

small mammals, butterfly larvae; highly sought by herbivores

nitrogen fixing; attractive wherever grown

easy from scarified, inoculated and moist stratified seeds, also transplants

 

Phlox glaberrima

smooth phlox

wet prairies; fens

N, C, S

1.5-3'

Lepidoptera (7), Diptera (1)

capsules

hummingbirds

attractive flowers

easy from cold stratified seed

 

Phlox pilosa

downy phlox

hill prairies; dry to mesic prairies

N, C, S

1-2'

long-tongued bees (7), Diptera (1), Lepidoptera (12)

capsules

small mammals, gamebirds

attractive flowers

easy from moist stratified seeds

can be subject to pests

Physalis heterophylla

ground cherry

hill and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies; degraded prairies

N, C, S

1-4'

bees

berry

small mammals, gamebirds

 

easy by seed and division

 

Physalis subglabrata

smooth ground cherry

mesic prairies; degraded prairies

N, C, S

1-4'

short-tongued bees (1)

berry

   

easy by seed and division

 

Physostegia virginiana

false dragonhead

hill and sand prairies; dry, mesic, and wet prairies

N, C, S

2-3'

birds (1), long-tongued bees (4), Lepidoptera (2)

nutlets

   

easy from seeds and spot planting

 

Polytaenia nuttallii

prairie parsley

hill and gravel prairies; dry prairies

N, C, S

2-3'

long-tongued bees (4), short-tongued bees (20), other Hymenoptera (20), Diptera (17), Coleoptera (1), Hemiptera (3)

nutlets

butterflies

 

use dry stratified seeds

 

Potentilla arguta

prairie cinquefoil

hill and gravel prairies; dry to mesic prairies

N, C

1-3'

bees

achenes

   

easy from stratified seed

 

Prenanthes aspera

rough white lettuce

mesic prairies

N, C, S

3-4'

long-tongued bees (1)

achenes with tufts of hair

   

easy from seed

 

Prenanthes racemosa

glaucous white lettuce

mesic to wet prairies

N, C, S

2-4'

bees

achenes with tufts of hair

   

easy from seed

 

Prunella vulgaris

self-heal

mesic prairies; woodlands

N, C, S

8-10''

long-tongued bees (9), short-tongued bees(3), other Hymenoptera (1), Diptera (2), Lepidoptera (8)

nutlets

   

easy

 

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium

slender mountain mint

mesic to dry prairies

N, C, S

2-3'

long-tongued bees (44), short-tongued bees (38), other Hymenoptera (88), Diptera (54), Lepidoptera (29), Coleoptera (9), Hemiptera (5)

nutlets

   

reliable by seed

 

Pycnanthemum virginianum

common mountain mint

hill prairies; dry, mesic, wet prairies; fens

N, C, S

2-3'

long-tongued bees (10), short-tongued bees (15), other Hymenoptera (23), Diptera (14), Lepidoptera (2)

nutlets

   

reliable by seed

 

Ratibida pinnata

drooping coneflower

hill and gravel prairies; dry to mesic prairies

N, C, S

3-4'

bees

achenes

upland gamebirds, songbirds, ungulates

binds soil; very aggressive; tall showy species

very easy from moist stratified seed

 

Rosa carolina

pasture rose

hill and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies

N, C, S

2-4'

bees, Coleoptera, probably similar to R. setigera

fleshy hips with achenes

upland gamebirds, songbirds, ungulates

 

best establishment from cuttings

 

Rosa setigera

prairie rose; Illinois rose

mesic prairies; woods; thickets; clearings

N, C, S

2'

long-tongued bees (12), short-tongued bees (6), Diptera (16), Coleoptera (1)

fleshy hips with achenes

songbirds

 

best establishment from cuttings

 

Rudbeckia hirta

black-eyed Susan

hill, gravel, and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies; degraded prairies

N, C, S

1-3'

long-tongued bees (14), short-tongued bees (13), other Hymenoptera (7), Diptera (31), Lepidoptera (12), Coleoptera (6), Hemipteras (1)

achenes

songbirds

attractive sunflower

from transplants and moist stratified seeds

a very flexibleand adaptable species; prefers dry, poor acid soil

Rudbeckia subtomentosa

fragrant coneflower; sweet black-eyed Susan

sand prairies; prairie/woodland borders

N, C, S

3-5'

long-tongued bees (13), short-tongued bees (14), other Hymenoptera (16), Diptera (35), Lepidoptera (12), Coleoptera (3), Hemiptera (4)

achenes

songbirds

attractive sunflower

probably similar to R. hirta

 

Rudbeckia triloba

brown-eyed Susan

wet prairies; open woods; along streams

N, C, S

1-4'

long-tongue bees (23), short-tongued bees (25), other Hymenoptera (12), Diptera (37), Lepidoptera (7),

achenes

songbirds

attractive sunflower

probably similar to R. hirta

 

Ruellia humilis

wild petunia

hill and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies

N, C, S

1-1.5'

insects

capsules

songbirds, gamebirds, small mammals

     

Salix humilis

see "Shrubs" table

       

see "Shrubs" table

       

Schizachyrium scoparium

little bluestem

hill, gravel, and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies; roadsides

N, C, S

3-4'

long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, Diptera

hairy grain

songbirds, small mammals, gamebirds

moderately aggressive; excellent nesting cover

easy from dry stratified seed

prefers drier soils, but very adaptable

Schrankia uncinata

cat-claw

dry prairies

N, C

3'

wind

prickly legumes

       

Scirpus pendulus

bulrush

mesic prairies; low woods; along streams

N, C, S

3'

wind

achenes

 

good nesting cover

   

Senecio plattensis

prairie groundsel

hill and gravel prairies; bluff tops

N, C

1-1.5'

Diptera, Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera

achenes with tufts of hair

   

establish from moist stratified seed or transplants

needs rich, moist soils

Silphium integrifolium

rosinweed

hill prairies; dry, mesic, wet prairies

N, C, S

3-5'

long-tongued bees (18), short-tongued bees (3), Diptera (3)

achenes

small mammals, songbirds

soil forming

easy from seeds, transplants

 

Silphium laciniatum

compass plant

mesic prairies

N, C, S

4-9'

long-tongued bees (13), short-tongued bees (5), Diptera (9), Lepidoptera (2)

achenes

small mammals, songbirds

soil forming; very aggressive

easy from moist stratified seeds, and transplants

 

Silphium terebinthinaceum

prairie-dock

mesic to wet prairies

N, C, S

5-10'

long-tongued bees (7), short-tongued bees (2), other Hymenoptera (1), Diptera (2)

achenes

small mammmals

classic prairie species

easy from moist stratified seeds, and transplants

 

Sisyrinchium albidum

blue-eyed grass

hill, gravel, and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies

N, C, S

6-10''

long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, Diptera

capsules with round seeds

underground rhizomes eaten by herbivores

lovely flowers

easy from fresh or dry stratified seeds

 

Solanum carolinense

horse-nettle

sand prairies; disturbed areas

N, C, S

3'

long-tongued bees (3), probably many other insects

berry

 

weedy, but attracts many pollinators

easy from seed; readily self-sows

 

Solidago canadensis

tall goldenrod

mesic prairies; roadsides; open fields

N, C, S

1-4'

long-tongued bees (22), short-tongued bees (28), other Hymenoptera (81), Diptera (62), Lepidoptera (8), Coleoptera (14), Hemiptera (3)

achenes with tufts of hair

songbirds, small mammals

spreads rapidly; binds soil; does not cause allergies; somewhat weedy

easy from stratified seeds, or transplants

 

Solidago juncea

early goldenrod

dry to mesic prairies; open woods; old fields

N, C, S

2-4'

probably similar to S. missouriensis

achenes with tufts of hair

songbirds, small mammals

soil binding; spreads rapidly; does not cause allergies

easy from stratified seeds, or transplants

 

Solidago missouriensis

Missouri goldenrod

mesic prairies; degraded prairies; old fields

N, C, S

1-3'

long-tongued bees (6), short-tongued bees (10), other Hymenoptera (31), diptera (17), Coleoptera (3), Hemiptera (1)

achenes with tufts of hair

songbirds, small mammals

soil binding; spreads rapidly; does not cause allergies

easy from stratified seeds, or transplants

 

Solidago nemoralis

field goldenrod

hill prairies; dry to mesic prairies; old fields

N, C, S

1-3'

long-tongued bees (8), short-tongued bees (15), other Hymenoptera (28), Diptera (27), Lepidoptera (6), Coleoptera (5), Hemiptera (3)

achenes with tufts of hair

songbirds, small mammals

soil binding; spreads rapidly; does not cause allergies

easy by division, can also use dry stratified seed

 

Solidago riddellii

Riddell goldenrod

mesic to wet prairies; fens and seeps

N, C, S

2-3'

bees, flies

achenes with tufts of hair

songbirds, small mammals

soil binding

easy from seeds

adaptable to moist situations

Solidago rigida

rigid goldenrod

hill prairies; dry to mesic prairies; degraded prairies

N, C, S

2-4'

long-tongued bees (9), short-tongued (3), other Hymenoptera (16), Diptera (13), Lepidoptera (7), Coleoptera (3)

achenes with tufts of hair

songbirds, small mammals

soil binding; too aggressive for small plantings

easy from seeds

often envades roadsides and disturbed areas, especially if moist sites

Solidago speciosa

showy goldenrod

hill and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies; open woods

N, C, S

2-6'

long-tongued bees (5), other Hymenoptera (1), Lepidoptera (2)

achenes with tufts of hair

songbirds

soil binding; becomes aggressive with increasing moisture

from dry stratified seeds

adaptable to various moisture regimes

Sorghastrum nutans

Indian grass

hill and sand prairies; dry, mesic, wet prairies

N, C, S

4-8'

wind

hairy grain

waterfowl, marshbirds, songbirds; muskrats eat roots

soil forming; aggressive; excellent nesting cover

from cold stratified seeds

 

Spartina pectinata

cord grass

wet to wet prairies; wet ditches

N, C, S

3-6'

wind

grain

small mammals, songbirds, gamebirds

excellent nesting cover

from cold stratified seeds, viability often poor

 

Spiranthes cernua

nodding ladies' tresses

sand prairies; fens; dry woodlands; old fields

N, C, S

1-2'

long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees

capsules with minute seeds

 

viability low

not difficult to transplant

 

Spiranthes mag-nicamporum

fragrant ladies' tresses

hill and sand prairies; mesic prairies; dry upland wood

N, C

1-2'

long-tongued bees, short-tongeud bees

capsules with minute seeds

gamebirds, songbirds

     

Sporobolus heterolepis

northern prairie dropseed

dry to mesic prairies; dry uplands

N, C, S

2-3'

wind

grain

songbirds, small mammals

very important food source; beautiful tufted clumps

easy from dry stratified seed

 

Stipa spartea

porcupine grass

hill and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies

N, C

2-4'

wind

grain

gamebirds

very important food source

from cold stratified seeds

 

Tephrosia virginiana

goat's rue

hill and sand prairies; dry prairies; upland sites

N, C, S

1-2'

long-tongued bees (5)

legumes

gamebirds

nitrogen fixing; attractive flowers

best establishment from scarified, inoculated, and moist stratified seed

thrives on dry soil

Thalictrum dasycarpum

purple meadow rue

mesic to wet prairies; sedge meadows; streambanks

N, C, S

3-4'

mostly dioecious; wind, Diptera, bees

achenes

 

attractive plant

transplants or stratified seeds

 

Thaspium barbinode

hairy meadow parsnip

mesic prairies; savannas

N, C

3'

insects, especially Diptera

nutlets

butterflies

 

easily grown

 

Tradescantia ohiensis

spiderwort

hill, gravel, and sand prairies; dry, mesic, wet prairies; savannas

N, C, S

2-3'

probably similar to T. virginiana

capsules

songbirds

 

easy from fresh or moist stratified seeds

drought resistant

Tradescantia virginiana

spiderwort

sand prairies; savannas; woodlands

C, S

1'

long-tongued bees (7), short-tongued bees (2), Coleoptera (1)

capsules

songbirds

 

easy from fresh or moist stratified seeds

drought resistant

Verbena strica

hoary vervain

hill prairies; dry prairies; degraded prairies; pastures; fields

N, C, S

2-3'

long-tongued bees (59), short-tongued bees (11), other Hymenoptera (5), Diptera (15), Lepidoptera (30)

nutlets

songbirds, butterflies

somewhat weedy

easily grown from cold stratified seeds

 

Vernonia fasciculata

common ironweed

mesic to wet prairies

N, C, S

2-4'

long-tongued bees (20), short-tongued bees (6), Diptera (3), Lepidoptera (16)

achenes with tufts of hair

butterflies

aggressive establisher

easily grown from cold stratified seeds

 

Veronicastrum virginicum

Culver's root

mesic to wet prairies

N, C, S

3-6'

bees, other Hymenoptera

capsules with many tiny seeds

ants, gamebirds

seeds small and difficult to germinate, although spreads easily once established

from seed and stem cuttings

 

Viola pedata

birdfoot violet

gravel and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies; savannas

N, C, S

3-6''

long-tongued bees (6), Diptera (1), Lepidoptera (7)

capsules

ants, gamebirds eat roots, butterfly larvae

difficult to grow; showy flowers; only moderately competitive

best from dry stratified seeds

 

Viola pedatifida

prairie violet

dry to mesic prairie; upland prairies

N, C

3-6''

long-tongued bees (1)

capsules

ants, gamebirds eat roots, butterflies larvae

showy flower

use fresh seeds

 

Zizia aptera

heart-leafed meadow parsnip

gravel prairies; dry prairies

N

1-2'

bees, Diptera

nutlets

butterfly larvae

attractive early lowers

use fresh seeds which need long period of stratification

 

Zizia aurea

golden Alexanders

mesic to wet prairies; fens; woodlands

N, C, S

1-3'

long-tongued bees (19), short-tongued bees (42), other Hymenoptera (32), Diptera (65), Lepidoptera (5), Coleoptera (13)

nutlets

butterfly larvae

attractive early flowers

use fresh seeds which need long period of stratification

 

Click here for published references consulted for this project.

  1. Almost all species of prairie plants occur in habitats other than prairies; in this column the emphasis is on the different types of prairies in which the species occur. Information on habitat based primarily on Evers (1955); Kirt (1995); Korling (1972); Lunn (1982); Mohlenbrock (1986); Runkel & Roosa (1989); Swink & Wilhelm (1994); Voight & Mohlenbrock (1979); White (1978) as well as personal observations.
  2. Information on region based primarily on Mohlenbrock & Ladd (1978); Mohlenbrock (1986); "n" = north of Interstate 80; "c" = central, between Interstate 80 and Interstate 64; "s" = south of Interstate 64; a capital letter indicates that the species is native to that region while a lower case letter indicates that the species can be cultivated in the region although it is not native there.
  3. Information on height based primarily on Kirt (1995); Korling (1972); Lunn (1982); Mohlenbrock (1986); Runkel & Roosa (1989); Voight & Mohlenbrock (1979).
  4. All flowers perfect unless otherwise mentioned; information on pollination mostly from Robertson (1929). Perfect flowers = flowers have both female & male parts; monoecious = separate female and male flowers on the same plant; dioecious = separate female and male flowers on different plants; polygamous = a mix of perfect and/or female and male flowers on the same plant. The numbers in parentheses refer to the number of species reported visiting this species by Robertson (1929).
  5. Information of fruits largely from Fernald (1950) and personal observations by K. R. Robertson.
  6. Information on wildlife primarily based on: DeGraaf & Witman (1979); Ehrlich et al. (1988); Gill & Healy (1974); Martin et al. (1951).
  7. Information on special largely from Kirt (1995); Runkel & Roosa (1989); Voss & Mohlenbrock (1979).
  8. Information on Establishment and Adaptability mostly from McClain (1986); Rock (1979).
  9. Go to Part 1. I - Z of this table



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