Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Practical Uses of Native Illinois Plants by Carolyn Nixon


Many native Illinois plants were used by the Native Americans and later by the European settlers.  Some are still used today.  See how many of the plants in the left column you can match with the uses in the right column.  Some plants have more than one use, and some uses apply to more than one plant!   You may even know other uses not listed below for some of these plants.





1.  Compass plant (Silphium laciniatum)                           

2.  Bloodroot (Sanquinariea canadensis)                              

3.  Violets (Viola spp.)                                                    

4.  Purple coneflowers (Echinacea spp.)                              

5.  Goldenrods (Solidago spp.)                                        

6.  Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.)                                      

7.  Blazing stars (Liatris spp.)                                         

8.  Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)                              

9.  Touch-me-nots (Impatiens spp.)                                    

10.  Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)                            

11.  Morning glories and sweet potatoes (Ipomoea spp.)        

12.  Solomon’s-seal  (Polygonatum spp.) 

13.  Wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)                     

14.  Phlox (Phlox spp.)                                            

15.  Cattails (Typha spp.)                                                           


To read more about uses of Illinois plants,  check out the following book from the library: Life and Lore of Illinois Wildflowers by  William E. Werner, Jr. 1988. Illinois State Museum.


Credits for Images
• Carie Nixon—Compass plant

• Prairie Plants of Illinois  by John W. Voigt and Robert H. Mohlenbrock,  illustrations by Miriam Wysong Meryer.  Illinois Department of Conservation, Division of Forestry—Blazing star, Goldenrod, Wild strawberry, and Pale purple coneflower
• Dover clipart—Pokeweed, Solomon's-seal, Bloodroot


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A. Stains or dyes

B. To treat toothaches

C. Treatment for poison ivy

D.  Food

E.  Cancer treatment

F.  Treat colds or fever

G.  Treatment for malaria

H.  Ornamental

I. Treating wounds

J.  Basket weaving

K.  Chewing gum

L.  Control bleeding

M.  Pain relief 

N.  Insecticide

O.  Basket weaving

Answers (use mouse to highlight answers): 

1. K

2. A, B, C, F, L

3. D, E, H, M

4. B, F, H

5. A, B, F, I, L 

6. A, D, H, N

7. D, E, H

8. A, D

9. A, C

10. F, G, M

11. D, H

12. C, D, I, M

13. D

14. H

15. D, O

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